Why do people complain about sound on LCD TVs?

Gold Member
I'm looking for a 42" - 46" LED HDTV lately, and I keep looking at these TVs on sale that have incredibly low reviews and skipping over them. However, upon reading the "bad reviews" it seems everyone is saying "TV is fantastic, but the sound is bad."

Here's just one TV for example:

The sound is criminal, its SO bad. Its the worst thing Ive ever heard.
Very good on price, good image quality, very poor sound.
Good picture, controls and features. Sounds tinny and cheap.
The Good - The picture quality is fantastic. I use this TV for watching movies, gaming, and as my computer monitor and I couldn't be happier with how clear the images are.
The Bad - The sound quality is horrible.

Well, no crap, the TV is an inch thick.

It probably shouldn't even come with built-in speakers.

All of these reviews are for the same TV and each review said how great the TV was, but how bad the sound was. None of these reviews gave higher than 3 out of 5 stars. The TV as a whole has 3.1 out of 5 stars, but very few people actually have anything bad to say about the TV! (http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Westing...1218325540178&skuId=2257682&slref=10&slloc=01)

If I bought a new set of computer speakers I wouldn't give it a bad review for how awful the picture quality is. Or if I bought a new iPod dock I wouldn't complain about video latency.

It reminds me of this comic from xkcd:

Am I the only one getting frustrated with the product review system that most internet sites employ? The whole point of an aggregated score is so you don't have to read each review individually... which is what I'm forced to do anyway!

S_Happens
Gold Member

Then you'll still be amazed at how they can limbo under the bar.

I almost never use reviews from the general public, unless the score is low for some reason. Then I check out the bad ones and find out if the reason is justified or not. Obviously not the most efficient way, but it has saved me a couple times when there was a valid concern, such as the product consistently falling apart after a short time.

For TVs, I always start from scratch and make selections from my own criteria. Then I go to CNET, who is overly conservative, and compare that to the general public.

Gold Member

Then you'll still be amazed at how they can limbo under the bar.

I almost never use reviews from the general public, unless the score is low for some reason. Then I check out the bad ones and find out if the reason is justified or not. Obviously not the most efficient way, but it has saved me a couple times when there was a valid concern, such as the product consistently falling apart after a short time.

For TVs, I always start from scratch and make selections from my own criteria. Then I go to CNET, who is overly conservative, and compare that to the general public.

Usually I find highly-rated products and sort by "lowest review score" and read the biggest complaints. Usually it's morons ("this grill requires an igniter to start, I'll just use my stove, thanks for nothing" "this table required a screwdriver to build... WHICH IS NOT INCLUDED!").

How can our species be so stupid, though? How can you make enough money to afford a big ole' LED HDTV and still say something like "The sound is criminal, its SO bad. Its the worst thing Ive ever heard."

S_Happens
Gold Member
People want the best for nothing. Most don't understand what compromises are made to achieve a certain aspect of a product either.

Then you have the fact that some people complain just to complain. A good example is what I experienced yesterday when dealing with the local water supply company. There were a lot of housewives in an uproar about not having water all night, ready to burn something down and full of speculative explanations. Since I understood the equipment, I decided to deal with the supplier directly, got the info I needed, and tried to give it back to said housewives. Some countered with their own uninformed third hand accounts, and some just took me as the new target.

Next time I'll just let them squawk amongst themselves.

Gold Member
People want the best for nothing. Most don't understand what compromises are made to achieve a certain aspect of a product either.

Then you have the fact that some people complain just to complain. A good example is what I experienced yesterday when dealing with the local water supply company. There were a lot of housewives in an uproar about not having water all night, ready to burn something down and full of speculative explanations. Since I understood the equipment, I decided to deal with the supplier directly, got the info I needed, and tried to give it back to said housewives. Some countered with their own uninformed third hand accounts, and some just took me as the new target.

Next time I'll just let them squawk amongst themselves.

Hmm, I don't even understand that situation. They were upset that they didn't have water. Invented their own explanations (to calm themselves?), rejected assistance, then targeted you? As part of the problem? Weren't you also a customer?

S_Happens
Gold Member
Hmm, I don't even understand that situation. They were upset that they didn't have water. Invented their own explanations (to calm themselves?), rejected assistance, then targeted you? As part of the problem? Weren't you also a customer?

Mostly yes. I didn't realize that they were complaining just for something to do. I didn't become part of the SAME problem, but because I stepped in and suggested there was no reason to be flooding a supervisor with irate calls (while explaining what happened) I wasn't "on their side" and became a target.

My point was that some people complain just for something to do.

Gold Member
My point was that some people complain just for something to do.

Meh, sounds like a waste of time. Although, I'm complaining with this thread, I feel like the nature of it's different. I feel like I've identified an actual problem and I'm in the data-gathering stages.

Maybe you should have to find the roots of a simple quadratic equation before you're allowed to post a review. Or maybe there could be some simple questions to answer: "What is the unit of sound pressure?" "What is the resolution of this television?" "What does RGB stand for?" "What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"

My point was that some people complain just for something to do.

BobG
Homework Helper

I'd rate this clip 1 out of 5 stars.

The dialog was shallow and full of uninsightfulnessity. The animation was adequately visible, but uninspiringly soft, almost as if one were viewing it in a smoke filled room. The aroma accompanying this video was also stale and putrid, as if one were viewing it in a crowded biker bar. This video needs a better wifi connection - how many times can a 5 second video pause while waiting to load more data?! On top of everything else, some jerk spilled beer on my keyboard while trying to view the video over my shoulder!! Plus, the sound quality on this clip was poor and weak, making it almost impossible to understand what he was saying - definitely needs more volume!

Gold Member
The dialog was shallow and full of uninsightfulnessity.

Hah ha.

The animation was adequately visible, but uninspiringly soft, almost as if one were viewing it in a smoke filled room.

Heh he.

The aroma accompanying this video was also stale and putrid, as if one were viewing it in a crowded biker bar.
Hah ha ha ha!!

This video needs a better wifi connection - how many times can a 5 second video pause while waiting to load more data?!

I literally lol'd at this.

On top of everything else, some jerk spilled beer on my keyboard while trying to view the video over my shoulder!!

You're killing me!

Plus, the sound quality on this clip was poor and weak, making it almost impossible to understand what he was saying - definitely needs more volume!

Upon re-reading your post, I decided this (bold) was the funniest thing I've heard all day.

EDIT: I wish you could use the "REPORT" button to report an awesome post.

I have an LCD TV and I have no complaints about the sound quality. Isn't it possible the speakers are actually worse than the speakers on similar TVs?

DaveC426913
Gold Member
It probably shouldn't even come with built-in speakers.
And yet it does.

Sound is a required component of TV-watching; the TV-watching experience does not happen without it.

If I bought a new set of computer speakers I wouldn't give it a bad review for how awful the picture quality is. Or if I bought a new iPod dock I wouldn't complain about video latency.

If you are the type of person who hooks it up to your sound system and bypasses then more power to you. So you ignore the comments about sound.

Why do you expect someone else to determine, in their review, what's not important to you in a TV?

To be fair, your average person has no knowledge of how sound is produced or why it takes space to produce good sound.

IMO, the real problem is that they are rating the sound as "absolutely" bad rather than "relatively bad", that is, relative to the competition.

The only reason for buying an LCD is because they are cheap and, because they are a pretty mature technology, there just isn't that much difference in the picture quality between an expensive and cheap one these days. In particular the contrast sucks on LCDs making dark scenes problematic. If you want a better picture then you'll have to buy a different technology, so the reviewers are merely commenting on the other basic features of the models such as sound where real differences in quality can be found.

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DaveC426913
Gold Member
The only reason for buying an LCD is because they are cheap and there just isn't that much difference in the picture quality between an expensive and cheap one these days.
This is not true. LCD TVs have their advantages over other technologies. Notably, they weigh less, are thinner, use less energy and get less hot.

mege
I think the problem with the perception of poor sound on LCD TVs has a few different sides to it.

1) They don't have the proper equipment for a room. A great room, with a vaulted celing, and using the onboard speakers: they are going to suffer horribly. Conversely - perhaps a LCD tv sounds fine with the onboard speakers in a bedroom or small den. Location, location, location.

2) Kind of feeding off of #1 is just the raw ignorance. You're buying a TV - not a theatre. Too many people are used to the 'all in one' experience from a television. Complaining about the sound, IMO, is like complaining that your desktop PC doesn't do anything (when not hooked up to a monitor). More people understand the need for periferials for a PC than a TV it seems. (or more directly - it's like using a PC without attached speakers, if you're fond of bloops and beeps then that may be ok...)

3) Arrogance when buying a TV. There is a certain arrogance and resistance to being 'sold' additional equipment when buying a TV, but I can bet that the ads and encouragement was there to buy a sound system to go with it. I think there is a significant amount of resistance to listening to the boy in the blue shirt, so when he suggests that you need to buy this 5.1 system with your tv - the automatic answer is no ("I just came in here for a TV dang-nabit!". Many people need to come to realize their ignorance, above, on their own - else it doesn't have the same effect. But... this is again on dependant on #1.

About 4 years ago, we bought a BrandX 47" tube TV. Our surround sound went on the fritz, but the speakers gave good rich sound, so it didn't bother us. A year ago we brought the same brand in LCD, 53" and put the other TV in the kids lounge room. The LCD definitely has less fullness at both ends of the sound scale, no matter how I try to adjust it.

After having the LCD for 12 months, I think a) the cabinet doesn't have the depth for good resonance, and b) they're relying on people plugging it into a sound system if we want better quality.

Sometimes we switch the surround sound on (the bass speaker is the only circuit that is still reliable) just to get a fuller sound. When we watch the same program in both rooms, the old tube TV unquestionably beats the LCD for sound.

Well, no crap, the TV is an inch thick.

Sounds like a job for Bose
Anyone who complains about the sound on an LCD TV simply has yet to be bedazzled by the wonders of liquid crystal technology @_@

Sounds like a job for Bose
In the immortal words of Homer,

mmmmmmmmmBose...

This is not true. LCD TVs have their advantages over other technologies. Notably, they weigh less, are thinner, use less energy and get less hot.

The only major advantage for most people is they are cheaper. The difference in electricity, weight, heat, and thickness are all minor considerations at best for most people.

I read somewhere that LCD screens contain some rare earth element, also found in solar arrays and hybrid car batteries. The writer said that, until a substitute was found, it made all such technologies ecologically expensive.

Gold Member
I have an LCD TV and I have no complaints about the sound quality. Isn't it possible the speakers are actually worse than the speakers on similar TVs?

Well, sure... but in my OP I mentioned that it's an LED TV. One of the defining characteristics is the lack of depth. I can't imagine there's a single LED-lit TV on the market (regardless of cost) that sounds better than a $20 set of computer speakers. And yet it does. Sound is a required component of TV-watching; the TV-watching experience does not happen without it. Why do you expect someone else to determine, in their review, what's not important to you in a TV? Ugh, fine, Dave... I mean... you're right. Maybe my complaint is more about the scoring metrics. If you're talking about a TV where 97% of the R&D and materials cost is in the visual display component and 3% goes into sound, then you review should reflect a similar ratio; example: Hypothetical Reviewer said: Great picture and good quality. Worst sound I've ever heard... I would rather be beaten to death than listen to this TV. -5 STARS It's just frustrating. Usually you can go to Amazon for... uh... paper towels. Sort by ratings, and the best ones go to the top. But you can't do that with HDTVs because of the bleeping reviewers. To be fair, your average person has no knowledge of how sound is produced or why it takes space to produce good sound. IMO, the real problem is that they are rating the sound as "absolutely" bad rather than "relatively bad", that is, relative to the competition. I'd agree with that. Of course, they might have no measure of the competition so they only have a "relative sense" anyway. Further, they might be comparing it to an old tube TV with it's vast expanse of wasted space. The only reason for buying an LCD is because they are cheap and, because they are a pretty mature technology, there just isn't that much difference in the picture quality between an expensive and cheap one these days. In particular the contrast sucks on LCDs making dark scenes problematic. If you want a better picture then you'll have to buy a different technology, so the reviewers are merely commenting on the other basic features of the models such as sound where real differences in quality can be found. The TVs I had looked at were mostly local-dimming... although, to be honest, in the Best Buy demo, I didn't see much of a difference. I have a fluorescent backlit LCD right now, and the blacks aren't that awful in general. If I had my choice, I'd grab a 42" plasma, but getting 1080p in a plasma is expensive... you basically pay by the pixel. I think the problem with the perception of poor sound on LCD TVs has a few different sides to it. 3) Arrogance when buying a TV. There is a certain arrogance and resistance to being 'sold' additional equipment when buying a TV, but I can bet that the ads and encouragement was there to buy a sound system to go with it. I think there is a significant amount of resistance to listening to the boy in the blue shirt, so when he suggests that you need to buy this 5.1 system with your tv - the automatic answer is no ("I just came in here for a TV dang-nabit!". Many people need to come to realize their ignorance, above, on their own - else it doesn't have the same effect. But... this is again on dependant on #1. I used to work at Best Buy when I was in high school, and I was a pretty helpful sales guy. We never worked on commission and I always mentioned that before pitching something else. I would offer a disclaimer like: "Great choice on the computer, I should let you know before we go any further that I don't work on commission, but I'd like to suggest a few other items for you. You can get a printer at a discounted rate today with your purchase, and you may like to snag some blank CDs while you're in the store; it sucks to be playing with your new toy only to have to keep running to the store." But I certainly remember people who were combative about the mere idea that they might enjoy something that DOESN'T come in the big brown box. Sounds like a job for Bose Oh, for the love of... don't talk to an audiophile about Bose. Bose, while certainly better than common retail Sony, Yamaha, and KLH speakers, are basically a triumph of marketing over objective sound judgement. I have owned my share of Bose equipment for sure (all packed away or sold off now), but my in-ear monitors are Ultimate Ears, my iPod dock is Athena, my receiver is a Yamaha Aventage, my speakers are Paradigm, and my subwoofer is a Velodyne. My center channel speaker alone cost more than my current HDTV. DISCLAIMER: I do not have absurdly expensive cables or any nonsense like that. I've safely avoided the marketing hype that comes with idiot-audiophiles. I use regular 14-gauge wiring. I'd use lamp cord if it weren't so damned ugly. I read somewhere that LCD screens contain some rare earth element, also found in solar arrays and hybrid car batteries. The writer said that, until a substitute was found, it made all such technologies ecologically expensive. Yeah, unobtainium. Yeah, unobtainium. You have forced me into research!! :tongue2: There are 5 rare-earth elements that I've learned are used in LED TV's, Hybrid cars, solar cells and other more recent consumer devices: Dysprosium, Lanthanum, Europium, Erbium and Neodymium. I also learned that rare-earth elements are perhaps not so rare. Although, one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle" [Broken] says: "Nearly all the rare earth elements in the world come from China,[43] and many analysts believe that an overall increase in Chinese electronics manufacturing will consume this entire supply by 2012." (Yes, I know it's Wiki and I should not believe everything I read.) Last edited by a moderator: Gold Member There are 5 rare-earth elements that I've learned are used in LED TV's, Hybrid cars, solar cells and other more recent consumer devices: Dysprosium, Lanthanum, Europium, Erbium and Neodymium. I also learned that rare-earth elements are perhaps not so rare. Although, one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle" [Broken] says: "Nearly all the rare earth elements in the world come from China,[43] and many analysts believe that an overall increase in Chinese electronics manufacturing will consume this entire supply by 2012." (Yes, I know it's Wiki and I should not believe everything I read.) Pfft... you can synthesize all of those elements with nothing more than a supernova, and there are more supernovae happening each day in the universe than there are human births... ... I assume. Last edited by a moderator: The TVs I had looked at were mostly local-dimming... although, to be honest, in the Best Buy demo, I didn't see much of a difference. I have a fluorescent backlit LCD right now, and the blacks aren't that awful in general. If I had my choice, I'd grab a 42" plasma, but getting 1080p in a plasma is expensive... you basically pay by the pixel. These days even horror films tend to avoid extremely dark scenes in order to compensate for the limitations of LCDs. Hence all the green and red ambient light sources frequently used to try and imply the scene is darker then it is. Its similar to the music industry using compression or whatever to insure their music sounds good over cheap speakers. Until OLED or Nanodots or whatever replaces LCDs as the best cheap view screen I don't expect it to be a serious problem for anyone. DaveC426913 Gold Member These days even horror films tend to avoid extremely dark scenes in order to compensate for the limitations of LCDs. Hence all the green and red ambient light sources frequently used to try and imply the scene is darker then it is. Do you have knowledge upon which this is based, or is it conjecture? Well, sure... but in my OP I mentioned that it's an LED TV. One of the defining characteristics is the lack of depth. I can't imagine there's a single LED-lit TV on the market (regardless of cost) that sounds better than a$20 set of computer speakers.
Ah, sorry I misread your initial post. I was kind of thinking that all the LCD's I have seen aren't quite that thin...

Do you have knowledge upon which this is based, or is it conjecture?

It would make sense, LCD's have terrible contrast ratios compared to CRT's.

DaveC426913
Gold Member
It would make sense, LCD's have terrible contrast ratios compared to CRT's.

So, film producers modify the cinematography of their films to suit a TV? Not the big screen, not all TV, not even the most popular type?

Do you have knowledge upon which this is based, or is it conjecture?

Yes, I do have knowledge upon which it is based. In particular experience with building gaming PCs. Unlike a movie theater where you know the room will be dark and exactly how much contrast a scene can have and still be visible, all monitors and TVs have difficulty with low lighting because the lighting conditions in the room can vary a great deal and the screens tend to be reflective. As movies have made the transition to home viewing on DVDs they've adapted to the new medium, but LCDs pose the additional problem of the backlight bleeding through.

To compensate LCDs use "dynamic contrast" which lowers the backlighting and amplifies the signal to the screen for dark scenes. However, if the scene also contains really bright points of light these can then be exaggerated causing more headaches for movie directors. The easiest way around all these difficulties is to simulate darkness with colored ambient lighting, usually green or red. Often such scenes will also pulsate the light level using flashing red lights or whatever to ensure enough of the scene remains visible under the worst contrast conditions that the audience is never left totally in the dark for any length of time.

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DaveC426913
Gold Member
Yes, I do have knowledge upon which it is based.

Oh, for the love of... don't talk to an audiophile about Bose.

Bose, while certainly better than common retail Sony, Yamaha, and KLH speakers, are basically a triumph of marketing over objective sound judgement. I have owned my share of Bose equipment for sure (all packed away or sold off now), but my in-ear monitors are Ultimate Ears, my iPod dock is Athena, my receiver is a Yamaha Aventage, my speakers are Paradigm, and my subwoofer is a Velodyne. My center channel speaker alone cost more than my current HDTV.

The motto of the story...never mention Bose to a rich scientific male audiophile who has pet cats -_-

DoggerDan
Well, sure... but in my OP I mentioned that it's an LED TV. One of the defining characteristics is the lack of depth. I can't imagine there's a single LED-lit TV on the market (regardless of cost) that sounds better than a \$20 set of computer speakers.

My TV speakers remain muted. I listen to the sound of all programming (DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix, Hulu, etc.) as played through my 6.1 stereo.

Further, they might be comparing it to an old tube TV...

My old tube TV is a flat-screen Sony. The colors are definitely better than my hi-res LCD computer, although the latter wins in terms of resolution.

Oh, for the love of... don't talk to an audiophile about Bose.

Bose, while certainly better than common retail Sony, Yamaha, and KLH speakers, are basically a triumph of marketing over objective sound judgement. I have owned my share of Bose equipment for sure (all packed away or sold off now), but my in-ear monitors are Ultimate Ears, my iPod dock is Athena, my receiver is a Yamaha Aventage, my speakers are Paradigm, and my subwoofer is a Velodyne. My center channel speaker alone cost more than my current HDTV.

Congrats on your Yamaha purchase! My receiver is Yamaha, as well. Excellent sound. I bought 3 pair of discounted Boston Acoustics on a whim for several hundred dollars, and they're outstanding in my 6.1 system. I have a Yamaha subwoofer.

DISCLAIMER: I do not have absurdly expensive cables or any nonsense like that. I've safely avoided the marketing hype that comes with idiot-audiophiles. I use regular 14-gauge wiring. I'd use lamp cord if it weren't so damned ugly.
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Smart man.