Do you listen to the speakers built into your TV, tablet, or phone?

Most people aren't audiophiles and couldn't care less about sound quality. Are you one of them?

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Steve Guttenberg/CNET

I see it happening all the time: people listening to the tinny sound of tiny speakers on their phones. I get it; most people aren't audiophiles, and as long as they hear some sound they're perfectly happy. That's fine with me -- I'm not trying to convert anybody, but if they want better, I'm here to help.

Did you ever go to a store and listen to a bunch of TVs, and then you bought the one that sounded better than the others? Today's displays are thinner than ever and have smaller "bezels" around the edge of the display, so the space allotted to internal speakers is shrinking. The skinniest TVs have no room for front speakers, so they're placed on the back of the display, which has to sound bad and plays havoc with dialogue intelligibility.

Sony, LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Vizio, et al must know that most people don't ever listen to their TVs in a store, so they put no effort into improving sound quality. They figure customers who care enough will buy better speakers. But most people never do, so TVs sound worse, year after year.

Of course if you suddenly realized how bad your TV sound is, or you hear a sound bar at a friend's house, it's easy enough to upgrade.

It's not just TVs -- do you listen to the speaker built into your tablet or phone? Is that sound good enough? An audiophile friend of mine who has two musician sons tells me they rarely plug headphones into their phones; the speaker's puny sound doesn't seem to bother them. They're musicians who grew up playing tunes on their dad's high-end audio systems, but they're totally uninterested in listening to decent sound. That fascinates me.

I'm not suggesting they have to buy high-end audio systems -- even the $24 Monoprice 8323 headphones, or Dayton Audio's B652 speakers and the Lepai LP2020A+ stereo integrated amplifier for around $70, would be a giant improvement over the phone or TV's built-in speakers.

If you think your TV, tablet, or phone's speakers sound good enough, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.

 

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