Advantages of Surround Sound

Why invest in surround sound?

Surround sound systems are popular with people who want to replicate the experience of a movie theater in their own homes. However, these systems do come at a price, as you require additional speakers and equipment which are not part of a standard television or home theater projector. Before discussing the different types of surround sound systems, let's take a look at why you might choose to invest in one in the first place.

The sound designers who work on movies, TV shows and video games go to great lengths to create an immersive experience for the viewer. Think about how different the experience of watching a movie in a theater is versus watching it at home, purely from a sound perspective. In the movie theater, sounds rumble from different directions and can have a major impact on the way you perceive the unfolding action. Without surround sound, all the different directional sounds are amalgamated into a single signal, which comes out of your TV or computer speakers. This flattens the sound out, and greatly diminishes its impact.

5.1 Surround Sound Systems vs. 7.1 Surround Sound Systems

There are two types of surround sound setups: 5.1 and 7.1. A 5.1 surround sound system plays back sound on five different "channels," each of which is assigned to its own speaker. A 7.1 surround sound system uses seven channels for sound playback, which is more closely akin to the kind of sound experience you'd get in a movie theater. While some people say that the difference between a 5.1 and a 7.1 surround sound system is virtually undetectable, there are others who say that 7.1 systems are far superior to their 5.1 counterparts. It all depends on how sensitive your hearing is, and how closely you want to recreate the actual movie theater experience.

If you're wondering how to set up surround sound, the answer depends on which of these two systems you choose. However, there are some common elements. Both systems use three front speakers -- left, center, and right. 5.1 systems add two "surround" speakers: one on the left side, one on the right side. A 7.1 system adds two rear speakers, centered behind the viewing area. When you buy a surround sound system, you'll receive detailed setup information; some vendors will even dispatch a technician to your home to optimize the system for you.

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