Sound Advice: Smart TV recommendation and upcoming Super Bowl sales
Published in Tech Advice
Q. I’m looking for a small (24-inch or 32-inch) smart TV and am finding that many cannot add streaming apps. Do you have a suggestion for a small model with streaming?
A. Check out the 24-inch Westinghouse Roku TV sold at Best Buy. It is $159.99 and often on sale for much less. (I just picked one up for myself for only $79.99.) Roku is my favorite streaming platform, with its intuitive interface and over 34,000 available streaming apps available. The TV is very full-featured with built-in WiFi and a USB port for playing videos, photographs and music from a flash drive. It has a pretty good picture once adjusted, too! westinghouseelectronics.com
Q. My wife and I can barely hear the announcers when watching sports, or dialogue during programs like "Chicago Fire," "Med" and "P.D." The background music and sounds are so loud that you can't hear the actors clearly. It is very annoying! We don't have hearing problems or need hearing aids. What can we do?
—D.H., Vadnais Heights, Minnesota
A. This is by far the most common complaint sent to the column, and it did not take long into 2023 for it to come up again.
Modern flat-panel TVs have small speakers powered by weak amplifiers, and they are usually pointed downwards or backwards rather than directly at the viewer. Compounding the problem is the audio mixing from the broadcasters and content creators. When they mix the soundtrack they place the dialogue at a lower volume than the music and sound effects. I have been told by industry professionals that this is because they are trying to duplicate a motion picture experience with loud special effects. Unfortunately in a home environment when you turn the volume up loud enough to hear the voices the special effects loudness can become unbearable. I am at a loss as to why this horrible audio mixing is still going on.
You can check your TV or soundbar’s audio menus and see if there are settings for dialogue enhancement or dynamic range control. Adjusting these settings may help somewhat. If you do not have a soundbar, my usual and most effective prescription is a ZVOX TV speaker or soundbar. What makes ZVOX products so effective for this is the use of hearing aid technology (branded AccuVoice) to lift the dialogue track out of the audio mix and elevate it above the rest of the sound so it can be heard much more easily.
ZVOX is having a Super Bowl sale on the AV120 TV Speaker, which also features Bluetooth and can play music from a USB thumb drive. Normally $149, it is on sale for $119 and using the coupon code SB30 at zvox.com reduces it by $30, to $89 with free shipping. It’s a great addition to a TV for less than $100 and likely to make a world of difference in your viewing satisfaction.
TCL is now the official TV partner of the NFL: TCL and the NFL recently made this announcement and I heard through the grapevine that some great TV deals are coming as the Super Bowl approaches. If what I heard proves true the special pricing will include TCL’s XL Collection 98-inch TV, which will see a very significant price reduction that makes it much more accessible to anyone looking for an absolutely giant TV will stunning picture quality. I will have more about TCL’s fantastic 6-Series TV next week, but for now if you need a TV check Best Buy and TCL’s website in the weeks ahead. You may see an offer that will make you cheer!
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