5 of the best flat speakers

Russell Bray / 18 November 2016

The problem with slimmer televisions is the sound quality - but you can address this with speakers. Here are five of the best...

You've splashed out on the expensive flat screen television you've hankered after for ages now - and it looks great.

And after one visit from a technician, a few hours on the internet and more time fiddling with the controls, you've finally achieved a picture that's pretty close to the one that so impressed you in the shop.

But the film you watched on it last night wasn’t quite the experience you expected; if you're honest, the sound was not as good as it used to be with your old television.

The problem, as with slim laptop computers, the slimmer televisions become the less room there is for speakers.

The unfortunate fact is that because you were so focused on the display - and didn’t want to be sold up to more kit - you didn’t buy those big speaker towers they had in the showroom.

You were a bit worried that they would have made the room look like something from the industrial revolution, and there’s always the chance the dog or the grandchildren would knock them over.

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So what can you do about the sound quality?

Until recently, the best option was probably a sound bar, but these usually perform best when hung on a wall and can block sensors for the TV remote control and the like if put in front of the set.

So, assuming you haven’t gone for a wall mounted television which tends to look so hotel room; the answer is a speaker base which is sturdy enough to take the weight of the television and indeed is designed to do so.

Speaker bases have a number of plus factors including less cabling clutter, reduced obstruction to additional connections and because of the space available inside them you don’t need an extra sub-woofer speaker to increase the bass.

Usually all you have to do is connect an optical audio cable from the television to the base speaker.  A lot of base speakers now have Bluetooth connectivity as well and so can work as additional wireless speakers if needed.

All bases should be able to cope with the weight of a 55in television. 

Canton DM55

German Canton sound bases are a personal favourite. They feel exceptionally strong but like German cars they are not cheap.

The smallest unit is the sleek, glass topped DM55 in white, silver or black.

Upgraded from last year’s award winning DM50 it would be fine for small or medium-sized TVs.

Its six-driver design significantly improves TV and film sound with dialogue particularly clear. It also provides wireless music playback.

Upgrades include power-saving features, easier Bluetooth streaming and extra remote control operations.  

A useful advanced function is lip-synchronise adjustment as speaker sound can be fractionally behind the moving picture which is intensely irritating. 

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Onkyo LST10

The LS-T10 provides huge room-filling sound, but while it is very strong on bass it can lose out on speech quality; though you can chose movie, music or news sound to cater for different programmes.

A six-channel digital amplifier powers the four full-range drivers on the front, the speaker on each side, and the subwoofer on the underside to generate a 3D feel to the sound.

A USB port caters for flash memory storage devices loaded with MP3s.

Installation and operation is easy. You just plug in a cable and can work the unit from your TV remote control.

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OrbitSound SB60LX

The OrbitSound SB60 LX has two front speakers, which are good for speech, and two side mounted ones to increase general ambience.

Thanks to a large and solid wooden frame, it delivers good sound quality across a wide spectrum - providing you are not looking for too much volume.

At higher intensities some starkness becomes apparent, but if you are on a tight budget it is worth a listen.

A a pair of RCA phono inputs are fine for connecting a radio, CD player or Bluetooth receiver to turn the sound base into a sound system.

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Panasonic SC-HTE80EB-K

The Panasonic SC-HTE80EB-K speakerboard also comes with Bluetooth wireless technology. 

You can use cinema mode if watching a film or stadium mode for, say, a snooker tournament.

You can set up device pairing with a near credit-card-sized remote control. 

It also has buttons for power, volume, input, sound, mute and set-up. 

Pioneer SBX-B70

The Pioneer SBX-B70 from Richer Sounds (on offer for £249; normally £369) has a tough wooden case and with coaxial, optical and analogue 3.5mm inputs easily connects to your television and other equipment in your home network.

It will stream music from a laptop, PC or personal NAS server or from Spotify.

The device can also use AirPlay to stream from suitable Apple iOS devices.

An unusual feature for a sound base, the Pioneer SCX-B70 has a built-in radio as well.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.