I've just gotten a brand new TV and put it in my living room. The room is, however, extremely echoey. It has a linoleum floor and bare walls, a couch, two chairs, a glass coffee table, and a glass TV stand. The TV itself is mounted on a swivel mount that comes up from the back of the TV stand. It sits about 8 inches away from the wall, and the built-in speakers are on the edge of the television's bezel. It sounds absolutely horrendous and tinny as a result of this room having such poor acoustics.

What can I do to this room to reduce the echo and give the room a warmer sound? I want to avoid putting things on the walls, as the walls are old plaster and that can end up being a mess and would be difficult to negotiate with my landlord. If that's the only choice though, I'll take it.

  • Chris's suggestion "Even an inexpensive speaker bar, or a "home theater in a box" will probably give you the best bang for the buck as far as improving the sound" is a worthwhile investment (IMHO). If you still want to make the room "warmer sounding", some well placed floor standing folding screens might make a good option in your case (not wanting to attach anything to the walls. "Generally speaking" filling an empty room with "stuff" does help improve the rooms acoustics (as "user2492" states below).
    – Mike Perry
    Jul 17 '11 at 20:16
  • See some of the other questions under the noise-reduction for more ideas, e.g. diy.stackexchange.com/questions/7196/…
    – BMitch
    Jul 17 '11 at 21:53
  • The next time you are in the market for a TV, look for one with forward facing speakers. Loads of newer TVs have rear facing speakers, so the sound bounces off the wall before it reaches you resulting in muffled or echoed sound. I have one TV with rear facing speakers and one with forward facing speakers (both from the same company), and the one with forward facing speakers sounds much better.
    – Tester101
    Jul 18 '11 at 1:09
  • You obviously need these: amazon.com/AudioQuest-K2-terminated-speaker-cable/dp/B000J36XR2/… (Read the reviews) Jul 18 '11 at 15:16
  • My goodness! Yes, that's certainly the answer.
    – Mario
    Jul 18 '11 at 16:00

The quality of speakers in your TV are quite limited because flat-screen TV's don't have enough room for proper speaker cabinets. As other answers suggest, the already reduced-quality sound is bouncing off the wall, which further reduces the quality by creating an echo.

Definitely invest in some forward-facing speakers at a minimum. You may not have the room for a surround system, but strongly consider a center channel speaker because dialog will be more easily understood. Many companies sell kits that include an amplifier and speakers, up to and including surround systems. You can find very good quality in a relatively small size, so you shouldn't need to spend more than a couple hundred dollars at the most.

Next, the hard surface floor is going to reflect sound much more than a carpet or rug. Given that you're renting, you should probably get an area rug to cover the majority of the floor.

After solving these two problems, if you continue to dislike the sound quality, you should try to cancel echo from the walls. Since you don't want to hang anything directly on the wall, you might want to try the folding screens idea as suggested in a comment. Some fabric such as drapes can be a great help in softening the acoustic profile of the room, so you might want to additionally add drapes or fabric to decorate but also cancel some echo.

Finally, if your furniture has hard surfaces and is at right angles to the room, try turning things a bit so that there are fewer parallel surfaces. It could help to scatter the sound a bit and provide a slightly different acoustic profile.

But definitely fix the speakers first.

  • You are all probably correct that it is the TV. Apparently being an LED tv, it's even thinner than your average LCD, and in practice bringing it into my bedroom where there is carpeting, it still has relatively tinny sound. The room is certainly compounding this, so I will probably throw down an area rug and get a nicer sound system. It's a good excuse to get surround sound, at least. Hehe.
    – Mario
    Jul 18 '11 at 14:33

Plants, a small carpet, anything that you can find to absorb sound.

  • Bookcases and couches are great for this. Jul 18 '11 at 15:25

With newer, flat-screen TVs, there isn't much room for speakers. As a result, the sound from the build-in speakers is generally pretty poor - a very limited range, with no lows and limited highs.

I believe that the problem is not directly due to room acoustics, but rather due to the quality of the sound coming from the TV. Even an inexpensive speaker bar, or a "home theater in a box" will probably give you the best bang for the buck as far as improving the sound.

One thing to try would to take a couple of good, fluffy towels and hang them behind the TV near the speakers, and if you can manage it wrap then around a bit (so the towel is absorbing the sound coming off the sides of the TV). This might be enough to convince you that the problem is the TV, and not the room.

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