Week 52, 2018: TCL 5 Series TV sound quality, Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 52, 2018

Q. In your review of the 55-inch TCL 5 Series 4K Roku TV, you didn’t rate the sound quality of the television. I have read that some folks end up using aftermarket speakers for their TVs due to poor sound. How is the TCL’s sound?

-K.T., Minneapolis, MN

A. I don’t know of any flat panel television that has great sound from the built-in speakers. I am happy to report the TCL 5 Series TV has passable sound, and using it to watch movies in a mid-size room everyone was able to hear clearly. The dialogue was quite intelligible, too.

I always recommend using a soundbar with any modern television, and the TCL 5 Series is no exception. A soundbar will not only make dialogue easier to hear, it will provide richer, more nuanced, more wide-ranging sound to complete the home entertainment experience. If you can’t bring yourself to get a soundbar you may be OK without one depending on the room and your hearing ability. But to reiterate, I really think every TV needs a soundbar (or a surround sound system,) especially a TV with a picture as good as this one. As George Lucas said, “Sound is half the picture.”

In the few weeks that have passed since I first reviewed the TCL 55-inch 5 Series TV I have become even more enthusiastic about it. I ended up giving one as a Christmas gift to my best friend and his family, and to say they are delighted with it is an understatement. When we set it up on Christmas Eve the picture looked as fantastic as ever, and a cute winter scene complete with falling snowflakes graced the main Roku screen. It’s not just the overall quality and value of the TV that make it great, it is the thoughtful little touches like the winter scene that make it extra fun for the owner.

As they logged into their Netflix account they upgraded their account to 4K streaming, so I got to see how the TV looked with 4K streaming with a wireless connection from Verizon FiOS Internet service. Watching Thor: Ragnarok the picture was sharp with a wide gamut of accurate, beautifully rendered colors. Occasionally there was some break up and pixelization, but that is a function of the streaming service and the Internet connection, not the television itself.

Over the holidays the TV was on sale for $399 in a lot of places, making it an even better buy. It makes me excited to see what TCL has in store for 2019. My personal wish is a 75-inch version. Hopefully I will see one at CES in January! tclusa.com

Vibes High Fidelity Earplugs: This fine product, selling for only $25.99, was an accidental and regrettable omission from my 2018 holiday gift guide. Vibes reduce volume without changing the sonic character of the sound, making them perfect for attending loud concerts because they reduce the danger of hearing loss. I was told by one hearing expert that if you go to an extremely loud rock concert without protecting your hearing, you will come out with a little less hearing then you went in with. (I have not attended many big rock concerts, and after hearing that I have not been to one since!) Vibes are also useful when operating loud power equipment. Using these earplugs now, when appropriate, when could be the difference between needing a hearing aid or not later in life. Please protect your hearing!