TV-sound-badWhy can’t I understand what people say on TV anymore? Even when I turn the volume up they all seem to mumble, or the noise just interferes. What can I do to help?

 We asked Doctor of Audiology, Teresa Burns, from Teresa Burns Hearing Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand, to respond to this reader’s question.


TV technology and size have evolved in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Unfortunately TV sound quality has suffered. Most of us have spent thousands of dollars on gorgeous slim line flat TVs with amazing visuals and a sleek look. The problem is when the TV is so slim there really isn’t room for good quality speakers.

Size matters when it comes to speakers and sound quality.  Modern TV are only a few inches wide so the speakers are teeny tiny. The speakers also face backwards or down. Today’s TVs have no vents on the front of the screen. There is no space and they are considered unattractive. Sound-wise, you would be better off with a big fat 1970’s TV.

Here are some tips that can help.

  • Check where the speakers on your TV are and where the outlets point. If they point down, make sure the TV is lifted to let sound come out, not blocked by part of the wall or table.
  • Get external speakers. You can either get traditional ‘bookshelf’ speakers and an amplifier (usually come in pairs and provide stereo sound) or a ‘sound bar’ which sits below the screen. Either will be better than what is in your TV.
  • Hook up your external speakers to the Audio out port of your Sky/Cable TV box or FreeView box. I’ve heard this can result in better sound quality than connecting to the Audio Out port of the TV itself.
  • You could also try wireless headphones that connect to the TV.
  • Last tip – get your hearing checked. You might have some hearing loss which can also affect sound quality and speech understanding.
To contact Teresa Burns Hearing,
call 09 475 9849, or visit for more information.

Do you have any other suggestions you would like to share with readers?