What Are the Best External Speakers for TV?

Don’t you hate when your brand-new 4K TV can’t deliver the kind of sound you are expecting? Are you interested in upgrading your TV speakers? You’ve come to the right place. Our article about external speakers for TV is here to give you some guidelines and help you find the perfect speakers for your TV. If you are just interested in suggestions, scroll down to our selection of the best external speakers for TV.


Do I Need External Speakers for TV?

Well, if you are here, then you probably do. Joking aside, why does anyone need external speakers for their TVs?

The thing is – even those latest TVs with amazing 4K screens have really tiny speakers built inside. And they don’t sound nice. Tiny speakers simply can’t sound big.

The manufacturers may try to apply some kind of psychoacoustic technology, but that rarely results in amazing sound.

The truth is – no matter how great your built-in TV speakers are, they can never be as good as a pair of dedicated external speakers or even a soundbar.

That’s a fact and it’s pointless discussing it. Naturally, that doesn’t mean that any pair of speakers or any soundbar will sound better than your TV speakers, but you can always find at least a dozen models that do sound better.

So, the only question you should ask yourself is – are you happy with your TV speakers? If you are, then you don’t really need external speakers, and there’s no point in reading this article.

If you are not, then you definitely need external speakers.

There’s one more reason to buy external speakers. Let’s say you have a brand-new TV in your entertainment room, but you also have a turntable and an old CD player that you still want to use.

Let’s say you also want to play music from your PC/laptop or stream it wirelessly from your phone or tablet.

Buying a pair of versatile powered speakers or an integrated amp with two passive speakers will allow you to connect all of your equipment and keep the place clean and tidy.

So, if you have multiple sources that you want to use, and don’t want to have a separate pair of speakers for each unit, external speakers are the perfect solution for you.

Can I Connect External Speakers to My TV?

Practically any pair of external speakers can be connected to any TV, but it’s not always easy. It’s not always just plug-and-play.

In some cases, you may even need additional equipment. But the important thing is that it’s possible.

What determines how hard or how easy will be to connect external speakers to your TV is the type of audio outputs on the rear panel of your TV and the type of audio inputs on the rear panel of your speakers.

If you have at least one matching audio connection, then you just need a single audio cable (whether it’s an AUX, RCA, coax, or optical cable).

Connect one end to your TV’s output and the other end to your speakers’ input. Select the right output in your TV’s audio settings, and that’s pretty much it.

So, it’s practically plug-and-play.

What if you have one of those new TVs with only digital audio outputs (no RCA OUT, no headphone OUT) and you have some old powered bookshelf speakers? They are still functional, you love them and don’t want to throw them away, but they have only analog inputs.

Don’t worry, there’s still a solution. It’s just not very elegant. In this case, you can’t just use a single audio cable to connect your TV and your external speakers.

You need a device called DAC (digital-to-audio converter).

This device will serve as a bridge between your TV’s digital outputs and your speakers’ analog inputs. It will convert the digital signal coming from your TV into analog, and send it to your speakers.

Even if you have a pair of passive speakers, you can connect them to your TV. Just not directly. In this case, you need an integrated amplifier.

So, regardless of the type of speakers you have or want to buy, there’s always a way to connect them to your TV.

Powered or Passive Speakers?

Powered (or active) speakers are those with built-in amplification. They don’t require additional equipment. You can connect them to your TV, plug them in, and you’re ready to go.

Passive speakers, on the other hand, require external amplification. You need a separate unit (like an integrated amplifier) that will supply the power to the speakers.

In this case, you connect your TV to the amplifier and then connect the amplifier to the speakers.

Powered vs Passive Speaker

Powered speakers are more convenient. They are easy to install and hook up, easy to use, they don’t require a lot of space, and they can sound pretty good.

If you are looking for top-of-the-line speakers, you will probably get better audio quality from a pair of passive speakers, but you will also need a high-end amplifier.

So, you can get better audio quality from passive speakers, but you will have to pay much more.

In our opinion, powered speakers are a better solution for your TV. Passive speakers, on the other hand, are a better solution if you are building an audiophile setup.

Wired of Wireless Speakers?

If your TV has a built-in Bluetooth transmitter, you can connect it wirelessly to your Bluetooth speakers. However, unless both – your TV and your speakers support aptX LL, the chances are you will experience some audio lag. And that can be quite annoying.

Even if they do support aptX LL and if everything works fine, only a small glitch is sufficient for the audio lag to become noticeable.

Wired of Wireless Speakers

So, our advice is to stick to the good-old wired connection. We know it’s not as cool as Bluetooth or wi-fi, but it’s reliable and doesn’t cause and sync issues.

You can buy a pair of Bluetooth-enabled bookshelf speakers, but use Bluetooth only for music streaming.

To get the best performance, use an audio cable (AUX, RCA, TOSLINK, optical) to connect your external speakers to your TV.

External Speakers or Soundbar?

Both – external speakers and soundbars will sound much better than your TV speakers.

You will, almost certainly, get better sound reproduction with a nice pair of bookshelf speakers (better separation, better bass reproduction), but that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

External Speakers or Soundbar

Soundbars are getting better every day, and many models now come with an external subwoofer, so the bass reproduction is not a problem anymore.

Soundbars are also quite convenient and easy to install. If you don’t have a TV stand and don’t want to deal with speaker stands, a soundbar may be a better solution.

You don’t have to buy furniture – you can simply mount the soundbar on the wall, right under your TV.

External Bookshelf Speakers or External Computer Speakers?

Just a small clarification before we start this section – when we say computer speakers, we are referring to those small stereo speakers like Logitech Z130, Yamaha NX-50, Bose Companion 20.

If sound quality is your main priority, then you should definitely go for larger bookshelf speakers. If you are looking for something super-compact, you could try some tiny computer speakers.

The thing with computers is – you can use any pair of powered bookshelf speakers with your PC. You don’t have to buy those tiny stereo speakers if you don’t like them.

So, in a way, powered bookshelf speakers are also computer speakers. There’s no clear line between bookshelf and computer speakers.

Our Top Picks

This post contains affiliate links. See the affiliate disclaimer here.

PreviewProductReviewOur RatingPrice
Edifier R1280TRead Our Review4.7Check Price On Amazon
Audioengine A5+Read Our Review4.6Check Price On Amazon
Klipsch The SixesRead Our Review4.6Check Price On Amazon

Buyer’s Guide – Things to Look For when Buying External Speakers for TV

Buying external speakers for TV is not much different from buying speakers for any other purpose.

Besides the features we discussed in the previous sections (powered/passive, wired/wireless, speakers/soundbar), there are a few more things you should take into account.

The most important things to consider are sound quality, price, and connectivity. Sound quality is a somewhat subjective category, so it’s probably best to hear the speakers you want to buy before you actually buy them.

Some people like elevated bass, some like neutral sound, some prefer strong mid range emphasis with a subtle but present low end.

What no one likes is boomy bass that overwhelms everything else and distorts the sound. So, you should at least try to avoid those speakers.

Price is closely related to the sound quality, but it’s not like you can’t find a great-sounding set of speakers at an affordable price. You just have to look harder. Or you could check out our suggestions.

Connectivity is also crucial. Yes, we know we’ve just said that you can practically connect any TV to any speakers, but it’s better if you don’t have to buy additional equipment.

So, you should make sure that the speakers you want to buy have the inputs that match the outputs on your TV.

And also – make sure that you have enough inputs to connect all the equipment you want to use.


Now that you know all the basics, you can check out our selection of the best external speakers for TV. All three speakers that we’ve picked out for you are powered and very easy to set up and use.


Best Budget External Speakers for TV – Edifier R1280T

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Edifier is one of our go-to brands when it comes to budget-friendly speakers. Some of their speakers may not be cheap, but their price is still reasonable considering all the available connections, build quality, and overall sound quality.

They make really good speakers. If you want more budget options, check out speakers made by Polk, Monoprice, or Fluance. Micca is also a viable option if you’re looking for really cheap speakers.

Edifier R1280T is a set of powered bookshelf speakers. The speakers come with two removable grilles, a power cable (not detachable), two audio cables (RCA cable and RCA-to-AUX), speaker wire (for connecting the slave speaker to the master speaker), a 3-button remote, and a 2-year warranty.

At first glance, the speakers look the same and have the same dimensions – 9.5″ (H) x 5.75″ (W) x 7″ (D). The right speaker, which is the main one, is heavier and has all the controls.

On the right panel of the main speaker, there’s a recessed compartment with three dials – volume, treble, and bass. You can adjust the bass and treble by +/- 6dB.

On the back of the main speaker, there are two RCA inputs, power button, and a set of plastic spring-clip speaker terminals.

On the rear panel of the other speaker, there’s just a set of speaker terminals (use them to connect it to the master speaker).

Edifier R1280T doesn’t have digital audio inputs and doesn’t feature Bluetooth.

Each speaker houses two drivers – 0.5″ silk-dome tweeter and a 4″ woofer. Bass reflex ports are located on the front panel.

The RMS power output is 42W. The sound reproduction is clean, dynamic, and well-balanced.

The bass is lacking, so you won’t get the rumble you would get from a dedicated subwoofer, but that’s perfectly understandable considering the size of the speaker and the size of drivers.

The midbass is slightly elevated, which gives a nice punch to your tunes but doesn’t affect the midrange reproduction. Mids are probably the greatest highlight.


Best External Speakers for TV Under $500 – Audioengine A5+

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A huge number of powered bookshelf speakers are priced under $500. Some of the brands we love and recommend are Audioengine, Edifier, Peachtree Audio, Fluance, Jamo, Kanto, Klipsch, etc.

A5+ is a great powered stereo system from Audioengine. The speakers look great, the build quality is amazing, and the sound is even better.

Oh, and the speakers are fairly versatile and feature Bluetooth. If you want to know everything about this speaker system, read our in-depth review.

The speakers are available in three colors – black, white, and bamboo.

They come with a simple 4-button remote, a set of audio cables (RCA, AUX), speaker wire (for connecting the slave speaker to the master speaker), banana plugs (already installed), detachable Bluetooth antenna, manual, and a 3-year warranty.

The speakers look simple but still quite attractive. They have nice rounded edges, and the finish is very attractive. The speakers don’t come with grilles, but that’s fine – they still look great. The left speaker acts as the main one. The right one is the ‘’slave’’.

On the front panel of the main speaker, there’s a volume knob, power button, and IR sensor.

On the back, there are three analog inputs (RCA x2 and one 3.5mm audio input), a Bluetooth antenna, two 5-way binding posts (for connecting the other speaker), power button, voltage selector, fuse, and power input.

There are no physical digital inputs (TOSLINK/coax), which could a problem if your TV has only digital outs. On the back of the right speaker, there’s just a set of binding posts.

Note: The speaker system doesn’t have an input selector, which means that all the inputs are hot (active) at all times.

A5+ also features Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX HD support and with an extended Bluetooth range (100ft).

Each speaker features two drivers – a 5″ aramid fiber woofer and 0.75″ silk-dome tweeter. The cabinets are sealed. The combined RMS power output is 100W (the peak is 150W).

Due to a small footprint and lack of bass-reflex port, the bass lacks real rumble. The mid-bass, on the other hand, is fast, dynamic, and punchy. The rest of the spectrum is almost perfectly balanced. The mids are really sweet and detailed. The highs are consistent, accurate, even sparkling.

A5+ lacks advanced audio settings. You can’t adjust the bass and treble levels or select different EQ modes.


Best External Speakers for TV Over $500 – Klipsch The Sixes

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Even though most powered speakers are priced under $500, there’s still a bunch of great high-end options for those who don’t mind spending $500+ or even $1000+ on a speaker system or those who are just looking for the best possible sound.

High-end speaker manufacturers are more focused on passive speakers, but almost every manufacturer has to offer at least one or two powered stereo systems.

Some of the brands we recommend are DALI (Zensor), Audioengine, KEF (LSX, LS50), Focal (Shape 65), ELAC (ARB 51), Paradigm (Shift A2), etc.

Our top choice in this category is a retro-style stereo system from Klipsch called The Sixes. This is definitely not the cheapest system out there, but it’s also not crazy expensive.

Considering all the features and the overall design, build, and sound quality, The Sixes are absolutely worth the price.

The speakers are available in two colors/finishes – ebony and walnut. In our opinion, walnut looks better, but it’s just a matter of taste. The build quality is simply great. The speakers come with removable grilles.

You will also get a detachable power cable, one optical cable, one AUX cable, USB-to-micro USB cable, a proprietary speaker cable (for connecting two speakers together), remote, manual, and a limited warranty (1-year warranty on electronics and 3-year warranty on woofers, non-electrical mechanics, and cabinet).

The main speaker is the right one. On the front panel, right at the bottom, you have an IR sensor, volume dial, input selector, and an old-school power switch.

On the back, you have a series of inputs. First, there’s one set of RCA inputs with a GND terminal and phono/line switch.

The presence of a GND terminal and phono/line switch means that you can connect these speakers to your turntable (switch in phono position), or use it with any other analog audio source with standard RCA line outputs (switch in line position).

Besides the RCA inputs, there are one AUX IN, one optical input, and one USB Type-B input. Also, you have a subwoofer pre-out port (LFE) for connecting an external powered subwoofer.

Finally, there’s a proprietary 4-pin speaker output for the slave speaker. The other speaker has only one 4-pin speaker input on the back.

Besides all the physical connections, The Sixes also feature Bluetooth 4.0. They don’t support aptX codecs, which is a small downside. The good news is that Bluetooth works flawlessly and the range extends well over 50ft.

Each speaker houses two drivers – 6.5″ woofer and 1″ titanium tweeter with Klipsch’s Tractrix horn. The cabinets are ported – the bass reflex ports are on the back.

The Sixes deliver great bass – much better than the previously reviewed speaker systems. This system could easily be one of the best powered stereo systems when it comes to bass reproduction.

It’s deep but also well-controlled and dynamic. And if you need more, you can always add a subwoofer. The mids are dynamic, detailed, and balanced.

The highs are slightly elevated, which makes them more engaging. They may sound just a little bit too bright at moments, but not fatiguing or harsh. The RMS power output of the system is 200W.


FAQs

Q: How do you hook up old speakers to a new TV?

A: If your old speakers are active (powered) and if they have analog inputs, look for analog audio outputs on your TV, and use those to connect the speakers.

If there are no analog audio outs on your TV, you will have to buy a DAC.

If the speakers are passive, you must buy an amplifier (or an AVR) and use it to connect the speakers to your TV.

Q: How do I connect speakers to my Samsung Smart TV?

A: This is not different from connecting any speakers to any TV (smart or regular).

Look for the matching audio connections, connect them with an appropriate audio cable, select the audio output in audio settings, and enjoy.

If there are no matching connections, you may need a DAC. If the speakers are passive, you need an amplifier or a receiver.

Q: How do I switch my Samsung TV to external speakers?

A: If everything is already connected properly, you just have to select the right output in your TV’s settings. Press the home button – select Settings – select Sound (Audio) Settings – select Sound Output – select the right output.

Q: What is SPDIF audio out?

A: SPDIF stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interface. It’s a type of digital audio connection and can be found on numerous consumer audio and audio/video devices. To transmit the signal, you can either use an optical cable with TOSLINK connectors or a coax cable with RCA connectors.

Q: Are wireless TV speakers for hearing impaired worth it?

A: If you’re having problems hearing every sound coming from your TV and want to move speakers closer to your ears, then yeah – wireless TV speakers for hearing impaired are worth it.

They may not be the prettiest speakers on the market, but they deliver reliable wireless performance and you can move them wherever you go and place them right next to you.

If speakers are not convenient enough for you, you could also try wireless headphones for TV.

Q: What to do when there’s no sound coming out of your speakers?

A: First of all, check if everything is connected properly. If the connector is not pushed all the way in, you may not get the sound you want (or at all). Second, check your TV’s audio settings and see if the right output is selected.

Once you check the obvious, you can assume that there could be something wrong with the cable, or with your speakers, or with your TV. Begin the process of elimination by connecting speakers and TV with some other cable.

If possible, try using a different audio connection. If that doesn’t help, try connecting the speakers to your PC, your phone, or some other device with matching audio connections. If the speakers work, then there could be something wrong with your TV.

If the speakers don’t work, try contacting the manufacturer or go to the nearest repair service, and ask them to examine the speakers and fix them.

Q: How can I improve the sound clarity on my TV?

A: If your TV has different audio modes and EQ presets, you could try shifting through those modes, and see if they improve the sound output. If that doesn’t help, the only solution we can recommend is buying external speakers for your TV or maybe buying a soundbar.

Q: How do I connect Bluetooth speakers to my TV?

A: To do this, you need a TV with a built-in Bluetooth transmitter. Most TVs have only a Bluetooth receiver. Pairing a TV with a Bluetooth speaker is pretty much the same as pairing any other device.

Go to your TV’s settings, find Bluetooth settings, and enable Bluetooth transmitter. Initiate pairing on your Bluetooth speaker, and wait for them to pair.

If they don’t pair automatically, check the list of available Bluetooth devices on your TV (press search or something like that). Once your Bluetooth speaker appears, click on pair and wait a few seconds.

Note: If your TV or your Bluetooth speaker don’t support aptX LL, you will probably experience some kind of audio delay.

Q: What external speakers are the best for TV?

A: We can’t give you just one answer to this question. It all depends on your budget, your needs, your preferences, etc. If you need some suggestions, check out our list of best external speakers for TV.

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