The external speaker for TV should be powerful enough to be room-filling. The speaker must have enough power to fill your room size. Along with that, a center channel and punchier bass from a dedicated subwoofer is must to enjoy movies. If you are serious about movie vocals, choose a 3.1 system with a center channel driver or speaker.
The latest TV versions from famous manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Sony often have HDMI and optical ports. If you don’t want the hassle of wires or find wiring complex, it is recommended not to include a receiver or use active speakers.
How immersive you want the audio to be will depend on the number of speakers or channels. A 5.1 or 7.1 will be quite powerful than 2.1. Again a 5.1 self-powered speaker system will be better in some cases than a 5.1 soundbar.
While choosing the best external speaker, make sure it will be enough for your room, then match the speaker’s or the receiver’s ports with your TV. If you like the height effect, make sure soundbar has up-firing drivers and supports Dolby Atmos.
Best External Speaker For TV: Detailed Analysis
A certain speaker model can be said to be the best external speaker for TV if it has versatility along with performance.
Different Budget Options for External Tv Speaker:
A few years back, when I explore external speakers for my Tv, I found different budget options, So here I include what I found.
External Speaker for TV Under $100: Roku Streambar
Features at a glance:
- Four 1.9″ full-range drivers
- Supports PCM, Dolby Audio
- Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless streaming
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant
To improve your TV audio at a decent level under $100, you can look into Roku Streambar.
This Roku soundbar has two front drivers and two side-firing speakers to create a wider soundstage. Although it is smaller in size compared to standard soundbars, the audio quality is bigger and better. The ‘advanced audio engineering within the Roku OS’ increases the loudness and focus on voice clarity.
It has dialogue enhancement feature that improves the vocal even more. It supports 5.1 audio so if you wish you can include surround speakers and subwoofer with this. The soundbar also supports Wi-Fi and Apple AirPlay 2.
The loudness is decent and best for small to medium sized rooms. With EQ presets you can customize your audio. It has an HDMI 2.0 port and supports HDR10 and HLG. The Roku Streambar has a voice remote which you can also use to control some basic functions of TV.
You can use it with TV or projectors like the Epson 1060. Overall the audio quality from this HDMI soundbar is room-filling, natural yet powerful.
Connect to TV:
The rear side of the soundbar shows there are two inputs:
- Optical: you should use optical connection to connect this Roku soundbar with TV in case your TV doesn’t have HDMI connection.
- HDMI: with HDMI connection, the Roku Streambar will be compatible with recent TV models.
Soundbar for TV Under $200: TCL Alto 8i 2.1
Features at a glance:
- 73″ x 2.91″ driver
- 1″ x 2 tweeter
- Dolby Atmos, HDMI ARC
- Bluetooth 4.2
- Dimension: 39.4″ x 2.6″ x 5.0″
If you want to get better sound system for TV under $200, then we recommend TCL Alto 8i. in this soundbar you will get built-in subwoofers and support for Dolby Atmos.
The TCL Alto 8i soundbar is sleek and compact. It will fit easily under 55” TVs. The sound is rich and detailed but has a bright profile. You can customize the sound with its presets options. Since it is a 2.1 system, it doesn’t have any center channel.
This means the dialogues are average and won’t be as clear as from dedicated channels. It can get quite loud as well. This soundbar is Roku TV ready. The Dolby Atmos produces multi-dimensional sound. The setup is simple and straightforward.
The subwoofer produces decent bass but not tighter or punchier which is as expected. Along with enjoying movies, the Bluetooth allows you to stream wirelessly to the soundbar from Spotify, Pandora, etc.
Connect to TV:
You can connect the soundbar in three ways:
- Aux: along with most common optical and HDMI port, the soundbar also has Aux port. You can use 3.5mm-to-RCA cable to connect this to your TV
- Optical: The soundbar comes with optical cable, if your TV has only optical port, you can easily secure a connection.
- HDMI: it also comes with HDMI cable and is best among other connections.
Surround Sound System for TV Under $500: Yamaha YHT-4950U
Features at a glance:
- 1 system with receiver
- Supports HDMI eARC, ARC and upscaling
- Frequency response (speaker): 28 Hz–25 kHz
- Front, center, rear speaker: 2-3/4″ full-range cone each
- Subwoofer: 8”
Yamaha YHT-4950U is one of the best surround sound system for TV under $500. This 5.1 system comes with a receiver so you don’t have to match one with the speakers.
This Yamaha 5.1 system uses Cinema DSP which focuses on realistic and broad soundstage. If you don’t like wired connection, you can also stream files via Bluetooth. In case your room acoustics is not very good, the YPAO can help in audio customization.
The subwoofer has a frequency response of 28-200Hz. The bass is tight and clean. It is sufficient to enjoy the rumble in movies. Although the 5.1 system is designed to place two speakers at the back, Yamaha YHT-4950U allows you to place all speakers in the front in case of space issues. In this way you can still enjoy 5.1 surround sound with Virtual Cinema Front.
The Yamaha receiver also comes with a mic. The receiver supports 4K video at 60 fps, HDR, Dolby Vision and HLG. It ensures the video and audio you are receiving have rich and detailed quality. the images are natural and vibrant.
It uses Compressed Music Enhancer to ensure consistent improvement in Bluetooth audio quality. the setup is straightforward and you can also get help from user manuals. Overall, the audio quality is immersive, you can enjoy the actions in movies, the humming, footsteps or whispering on the scene easily.
Connect to TV:
The AV receiver shows the HDMI and optical port on the rear side along with monitor out port for video. You can choose the one that matches with your TV.
Different Case Study on Best External Speaker For Tv:
Here, we will study the set-up process and requirement of the different sound systems for tv with examples:
2.1 External Speaker For Tv: (Case Study-1)
If you want a 2.1 sound system to upgrade your TV audio, you have two options: go with a pair of bookshelf speaker and a subwoofer or choose a soundbar with a subwoofer.
Rockville 2.1 Sound System for Tv: Review and Setup Guide
Rockville APM8C 8” Speakers:
- RMS 250 Watt
- 5″ Neodymium Silk Dome Tweeter, 8” woofer
- Rear port with MDF cabinet
- SNR: 91dB
- SPL: 106dB@1w/1m
- Frequency Response: 30Hz – 20 kHz
Rockville AM8C 10” subwoofer
- 10” woofer with front firing ports
- 200W RMS
- Signal to noise ratio: 98 dB
- THD: 0.8%
- Frequency Response: 34Hz – 150 KHz
Rockville Audio System Review:
This package is quite powerful to use to upgrade the TV audio. Since this is a powered or active system, you don’t need any amplifier or receiver to connect this with TV.
With MDF enclosure, the build quality of both the speakers and the subwoofer is very good. The design is simple yet elegant. It uses thick ‘wadding’ inside speaker which is known to produce audio with clarity.
The speakers are quite powerful enough to fill large rooms. It uses a very efficient Class D amplifier, the tweeter and woofer are designed with premium material. This speaker produces audiophile-grade sound quality.
It is designed to produce loud audio without distortion. To achieve room-filling sound with a thump needed for movies, we recommend using the Rockville APMC10 subwoofer. However, if you have budget constraints, you can use the speakers only and still be satisfied with bass.
The speakers can go as low as 30Hz and with rear-firing ports, the bass will be tighter. The subwoofer has 200W RMS power and can produce punchier and clean bass. It also uses a Class D efficient amplifier. With front-firing ports, it isn’t placement sensitive either. It is a powerful subwoofer which you can use with the speakers for large movie rooms.
Connectivity with TV:
The connection without any receiver makes the setup very easy.
- First, use the 4-pin connecting cable to connect the two Rockville speakers
- This is a subwoofer with RCA output, so use RCA cables to connect the subwoofer to speaker
- This setup is best for Vizio TV, especially older ones that have RCA like the Vizio M Series XLED 2017 TV
- Connect the TV with a subwoofer via RCA cables.
2.1 Soundbar for TV:(Case Study-2)
Sony HT-S350 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer
Instead of speakers, you can also use soundbars with TVs. These do no need any additional receiver and hence doesn’t make the setups complex.
Features at a glance:
- S- Master Digital amplifier
- Audio decoding: Dolby Digital, Dolby Dual Mono, LPCM
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Wireless subwoofer
- Power: 30 W (Soundbar)
- 25 W (Subwoofer)
This is a soundbar with optical output. It also has HDMI output. This decent soundbar doesn’t support DTS or Atmos. The build quality is very good. The subwoofer is front ported.
The HDMI 2.1 soundbar has drivers on both ends. It uses S-Force PRO Front Surround feature to create a virtual soundstage. The subwoofer is powerful to deliver clean and tight low end. You can also use Bluetooth technology to play audio files wirelessly from your phone.
It can be loud enough and with a decent soundstage, it can fill large rooms easily. It supports ARC but has no eARC. In terms of dialogues, it produces very good and understandable dialogues. However, they aren’t as good as the audio that comes from dedicated center channel.
This optical soundbar has dialogue enhancement feature with which you can adjust settings to improve it. The voice enhancement takes the voice and makes it loud and clear by separating it from background noise. You can choose from different modes as well: cinema, music, auto sound, voice, and night.
This soundbar allows new Sony TVs to connect wirelessly. Based on cost vs performance, it is one of the best budget soundbar with HDMI ARC.
Connectivity with TV:
Optical: This TV has optical port and comes with optical cable. If your TV has this port, then you can easily use this connection to connect the TV with soundbar.
HDMI: if you want to connect soundbar via HDMI, then use the high-speed HDMI cable which you need to buy separately. Plug in the cable into HDMI ARC port of the TV and the other end to the rear side of the soundbar.
5.1 Home Theater Sound Bar For Tv: [Case Study-3]
Features at a glance:
- Sound Bar: One 1.66″ x 2.77″ Full Range Driver for each channel (1 for left, 1 for right, 1 for center)
- Surround Speakers: One 1.66” x 2.77” Full Range Driver for each speaker (1 for left, 1 for right)
- Subwoofer size 5”
- Sound Pressure Level 96dB
- Subwoofer Frequency Response 50Hz
This 5.1 home theater with HDMI ARC is one of the best external speaker for TV. Although there is no Atmos in it, it still has impressive performance.
It supports Dolby Audio 5.1 which makes the 4k HDR content sound much better. To connect Google Assistant or Siri, you can use the 3.5mm Aux of the soundbar. Bluetooth option gives you freedom to stream anything you want wirelessly.
The design and setup is minimalist which is ideal for TV setups where we don’t want messy wires. While the subwoofer is wireless, you need to connect them to the surround speakers with wires. The audio has precise mids, good soundstage and dynamics.
The rear-ported subwoofer produces rumbling bass. The center channel produces vocals and dialogues with clarity. The dialogue enhancement feature improves the vocals even more. The balanced sound profile makes it one of the best HDMI ARC soundbar.
The surround speakers produce clear and immersive surround sound. There are several options for you to tweak. You can select from four presets: Movie, Music, Direct, and Game. The backlit remote control is user-friendly.
Connect to TV:
To connect 5.1 speakers to TV, you can choose optical connection, 3.5mm to RCA connection or the HDMI ARC.
As mentioned in the image above, HDMI connection is the best connection. If your TV doesn’t have HDMI connection, you can look for other two options. The three connections give you the freedom to connect this soundbar with older TV models as well.
Without any receiver and wireless subwoofer, the connection and setup procedure is very easy.
How To Setup 5.1 Home Theater with TV:
If you are not satisfied with soundbars, you can always look for powerful 5.1 home theater systems. You can look into Klipsch Reference Theater pack 5.1 system to connect with your TV.
This system will require an AV receiver between the home theater system and the TV. Connecting the receiver with the sound system is very easy. Follow the image below and simply insert wires from each speaker into the labeled ports.
For instance, the left and right front speakers to the Front Left, Front Right, the center speaker to the Center and so on.
You can connect the subwoofer wirelessly or through Line In (LFE) of the subwoofer to the Line Out (LFE) of the receiver. If your receiver has preout, the subwoofer can also be connected to that.
The final step is to hook up the receiver with TV.
HDMI: this is the first port to look into. Most recent TV models from Samsung, LG, Sony or any other brand has this port.
Optical: use optical or coaxial cable to connect TV with receivers. The image below is given for further clarity.
B: Audio system
C: HDMI cable (for VIDEO)
D: Coaxial Digital cable
E: Optical Digital cable
F: Coaxial Digital Audio INPUT
G: Optical Digital Audio INPUT
H: Coaxial Digital Audio OUTPUT
I: Optical Digital Audio OUTPUT
J: Analog Audio cable (for Analog Audio)
K: 3-pole stereo mini jack
L: Audio (R) INPUT
M: Audio (L) INPUT
N: Audio (R) OUTPUT
O: Audio (L) OUTPUT
P: Audio OUT/Headphone OUTPUT
RCA: with older models, you can also use RCA connections.
Surround Sound System For TV: SAMSUNG HW-Q900A 7.1.2ch Soundbar[Case Study-4]
Features at a glance:
- Total speakers: 16
- Audio processing: Dolby ATMOS, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, DTS:X, DTS 5.1ch
- Built-in Alexa
- Wireless subwoofer
- One Remote
In case you don’t have space to set up a 7.1.2 home theater system, you can always look for high-end soundbars that serve the same purpose.
Having a first look at the Samsung Q900A may misguide you. This is because it doesn’t have dedicated rear speakers which most 5.1 or 7.1 soundbars have. Samsung compensates this by deploying up-firing, side-firing drivers along with center channel.
The support for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X creates room-filling, immersive and powerful audio. If you see the image below, you will be clear about driver’s position. It has 2 up-firing and 4 side-firing drivers. Then there are 3 drivers that act as front speakers. Lastly, there is a dedicated subwoofer.
With Q-Symphony, this is one of the best external speakers for Samsung TV. This feature only works with Samsung TV where the sound gets changed and optimized in each scene. With dedicated center channel, Active Voice Amplifier feature and Voice Enhancement feature, the vocals are crystal clear.
This eARC soundbar has wide soundstage and dynamics. The audio has details and is neutral. The subwoofer produces tight bass but not earth-shaking. The Game Pro mode with 3D sound will work with Samsung 2020 and 2021 models.
The HDMI 2.1 compatibility works well with next-gen gaming consoles. It’s quite versatile as it supports Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Apple AirPlay 2. You can control the bar with TV remote or mobile app.
Connection with TV:
There are three ways to connect the soundbar with the TV.
- With HDMI: Samsung soundbar HDMI connection is preferred among the other two. If you TV has HDMI IN port, then you can use the HDMI cable to connect it with soundbar.
- With optical:
In case, the TV doesn’t have HDMI or you want to use optical, then this Samsung ARC soundbar has this option too.
The optical cable for the Samsung soundbar is not included. Simply take an optical cable, connect to Optical OUT port of the TV and Digital optical IN port of the soundbar.
Since this soundbar supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, if your TV supports any one of these, you can also connect it wirelessly. This way you don’t have to face any hassle of wires.
How To Setup 3.1 or Upgrade Sound System to TV With Receiver:[Case Study-5]
While 2.0 or 2.1 is a basic system, a 3.1 sound system with a center channel is best for TVs to watch movies. If you have a passive system, you will need a receiver.
Speakers: Things will not remain so simple if you were to use passive speakers. you can check the KEF Q150B Q150 Bookshelf Speakers and pair it with a Kef Kube 8b subwoofer
This time while connecting the passive 2.1 system, you need an AV receiver.
The you need speaker wire to connect the speaker to the Front L and R terminals of the receiver. You can connect the KEF Q650C center channel speaker to the ‘center’ ports of the receiver.
Subwoofer: Establish the connection between Line Input or LFE of the subwoofer to the LFE out of the surround amplifier or receiver.
It is versatile in terms of connection, as it has line level inputs which you can connect to the receiver or amplifier’s line level output in case it doesn’t have LFE.
TV: HDMI is one of the preferred and latest connection. If your TV is relatively new, it is most like to have HDMI ports. Again, if you want HDMI ARC speakers for TV, then you need a receiver and the Sony STR-DN1080 7.2-ch is one of the best receivers.
If you see the rear side of the receiver, then you see the varieties of connections it provides. It has HDMI port to connect in HDMI input of the TV. If the TV doesn’t have HDMI port, you can use audio cable to connect into the receiver and the other end to the Audio output of the TV labelled as B in the diagram above.
In case your TV has optical connection, you can use optical cable to complete connection between receiver and TV labelled as A on the figure. If you don’t want large receivers, you can also use mini-amp or DAC to connect speakers to TV.
How To Connect 7.1 External Speakers with TV:[Case Study-6]
What if you don’t have a self-powered system like the Samsung soundbar or don’t like soundbars at all? You can wide range of option and the Klipsch RP-250F 7.1-Ch Reference Premiere Home Theater Speaker System is worth mentioning.
As mentioned previously, all you need to do is connect the 7.1 speaker system with the receiver, then check the receiver port for TV connection. You might see an HDMI, optical or in other cases may need a 3.5mm-to-RCA cable.
How I Rated The Best External Speakers for TV:
Soundbars vs Speakers:
Now you already know that you can use both soundbars or speaker systems to hook up to your TV. Soundbars with dedicated drivers or rear speakers can create a truly immersive sound. However, bookshelf speakers in a 5.1 or 7.1 system are even better since they have independent speakers for the front, rear and center.
If you have space limitations or want a simple and sleek soundbar to go with your TV, then soundbars are best for you. On the other hand, if you don’t want to compromise sound and want to create a home theater for movies, a home theater system is best for you.
Once you have decided between soundbar and speakers, the next most important feature is connectivity. If you are a newbie or don’t want the hassle of an additional receiver or amplifier, we recommend buying a soundbar or ‘powered’ speakers.
From active vs passive speakers, active or powered speakers can be connected directly to TV. However, if the sound system you have chosen is passive or you have AV receiver or amplifier already at home, then you need it to connect the speaker to the TV.
There are few things to look for connection:
- Check the rear side of the TV for the types of ports. It may have:
- RCA (mostly in older TVs)
- Check the receiver whether it supports any one of the ports mentioned above. That is, it may have both HDMI and optical so if it matches your TV, you can use any one.
- Check the powered speaker or soundbar to match the port with your TV.
A dedicated center channel will ensure crystal clear and crisp dialogues. A 2.1 speaker system doesn’t have any center channel neither does a 2.1 soundbar. Rising above 3.1 and going for 5.1 or 7.1 are best because of independent center channel.
Some sound systems even have dialogue enhancement feature which separates audio from background noise and make them louder. This channel is very important for movies or watching TV shows.
Once the home theater system is setup, controlling the system from your couch can be a hassle if you need multiple remotes to control the receiver and the TV. In some cases, with HDMI CEC you can use the TV remote to control the receiver. Some soundbars come with remote control along with mobile app.
Passive speakers are often said to be better sounding than active speaker. This is because the drivers of passive speaker have more space to move in the cabinet. So if you are comfortable or have a receiver, you can easily choose a 3.1, 5.1 or higher speaker system.
While purchasing external speakers, make sure the impedance and power matches with the receiver. Then match the receiver’s ports with the TV’s port. If you need any additional cable like HDMI or optical cable for TV, you can easily find these at any store in a cheap price.
Buying the best external speaker for TV can be confusing, but we have listed all ports that a TV could have and alternative ways to connect speakers to TVs. Last but not the list, price is a major factor. There are some affordable soundbars but with passive speaker system, the cost may rise.
As you leave, we hope that our parting gift i.e this FAQ section will bring a smile to your face. May it be the first in what is sure to be many adventures of success! Best of luck with your purchase!
How to pair Samsung HW-Q900A soundbar to TV wirelessly?
You can consider connecting via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. For Bluetooth connectivity, follow these steps:
- Go to Samsung or other smart TV, select Bluetooth mode
- Look for Bluetooth button on the soundbar and push it.
- From the speaker list on your TV, choose the Samsung Q900A soundbar
- The process is complete.
HDMI vs optical, which is better?
HDMI is better than optical. It allows high-res audio like Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. Along with audio, HDMI can also pass video signal, so if you want less cable, then HDMI is for you. If you want 7.1 system, then you need HDMI eARC.
Connecting TV to the receiver with TV via HDMI with deliver better audio quality than optical. Then if you are a game and want to connect gaming console to the TV via receiver, then HDMI 2.1 is a must-have for you.