/ Technology

Flatscreen TVs can’t beat CRT TV sound – but do you care?

CRT TV sound

Did you sit down to watch the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast yesterday? Did it sound a bit tinnier than 10 years ago? That’s probably not her fault, but the flatscreen TV you’ve got…

Whether it may be public transport or pop concerts, it’s easy for older generations to look back with a feeling that standards have gone down since the ‘good old days’.

Sometimes this notion is forged from misty nostalgia, but sometimes it’s based in cold hard facts. We always say in our reviews and advice that TVs don’t sound like they used to – well, we now have the data to back it up.

In our unique snapshot test, we found that a 17-year-old Nokia CRT TV (yes, Nokia) sounded better than any 2013 flatscreen TV. But should we expect a TV as slim as a picture frame to pack audio oomph?

A matter of space

As many modern TVs are less than an inch thick, there just isn’t the space to fit the same quality and size of speakers that would come in a CRT TV, or hi-fi system.

We expect our TVs to be slim, stylish and light so that they fit easily into our homes, whether we mount them on our walls, or place them on a piece of furniture.

By contrast, CRT TVs were a piece of furniture in themselves, and moving them required a military operation and hell of a lot of ‘bending at the knees’.

Go big and go home

The advent of flatscreen TVs has also allowed us to increase our screen size expectations so that now a 50-inch plus TV doesn’t seem all that outlandish – and you don’t need to win the lottery to afford one.

In an ideal world, we’d like modern TVs to have fantastic sound and be super-slim, but speaker technology will have to improve further before that can happen. Sound bars and home cinema systems can give you better TV audio, but that does mean extra expense.

So, are you happy to trade off good sound for a large and slim screen? Or do you think TV manufacturers should do more to improve audio standards?


This is indeed a problem for the elderly with age related hearing problems who need to resort to sub titles much to the chagrin and annoyance of younger viewers! I have found switching to HD channels vastly improves the sound quality. I have adjusted the sound in the main menu which has helped but without the sub titles I still find myself straining to hear with one ear hand adjusted in the direction of the TV screen!


This all very well and a good help to the deaf or partly deaf,but as with all captions displayed on TV they are not up long enough for me to read,being part sufferer of Age Related Macular Degeneration,and in fact anyone with sight difficulties,you get half way through reading it
,adn it’s gone.


Fully agree
Why are Which repeating a week old conversation which had plenty of comment.
See here:


Hi Robert, thanks for the comment. That’s a post on our sister site Which? Tech Daily, which has a different audience and goes deeper into the research. You’re one of the brilliant ones who uses both of our sites 🙂

We wanted to bring a snippet of the research to the Which? Convo audience, as we know TV sound is something that winds many of you up. Thanks


Speaking as someone uninformed as to the intricacies of such hi-tech matters, approximately 5 years ago I purchased a Panasonic Viera TV (then considered top of the range) with a faulty sound system from J Lewis who could only offer a repair, which I refused in favour of a replacement. I contacted Trading Standards who advised I speak to a small local independent trader for a second opinion who recommended I purchased from them a sound system costing £110 which I declined. I eventually finished up contacting the main UK Panasonic Distributor who admitted a consignment of this particular faulty model was inadvertently despatched to J Lewis who, armed with this information, conceded and eventually supplied me with a new model. The problem, I was informed, stemmed from ‘insufficient padding within the back of the set.’ The whole point being I could have been saddled with a faulty set had I not complained but I could have done without all the hassle at the time.


How about practicality rather than agony ?
I see no reason why flat screen TVs, no matter how flat, should not be supplied with separate speakers of an optimum size for adequate sound quality to be placed on the floor below the TV.


STACH, Absolutely the obvious way forwards. We have been putting off investing in a “flatty” for a long time because of their sound problems. It is just mad to produce a “modern” TV with poor sound. What a cheek that manufacturers have the audacity to produce such rubbish! ( It mirrors the spare tyre- free modern motor!)


GOOD FOR YOU whoever you are.Stuck to your guns! !and beat the system of fobing customers off,the way the dealers tried to con you was disgusting,including the seller,who must have know of problem from the manufacturer.I TAKE MY HAT OFF TO YOU.

Peter says:
27 January 2014

Bit of a shame to read this about John Lewis, often one of the highly regarded firms…