Most people are familiar with surround sound systems for home theaters and media rooms. Usually these audio setups have the following loudspeakers:

  • A center channel speaker: this is placed in the middle of the front of the room. Most of the dialog from a movie or television show comes from this loudspeaker.
  • Two speakers in the front of the room, one on the left side, one on the right.
  • Two speakers behind where you sit, once again, one left and one right. These speakers are usually installed a few feet above you when seated.
  • And finally a subwoofer to reproduce the lowest frequencies—the bass. In some systems a subwoofer is not used when the speakers, typically the front left and right, have the capability to handle the bass.

This is commonly called a 5.1 surround sound system—5 main speakers plus a subwoofer. The sub is named .1 because it only reproduces part of the audio spectrum, the bass.

Properly set up, this does a good job of putting you in the center of the sound, whether it is a plane flying overhead in an action movie or the subtle reflected sound in a concert hall. The 5.1 setup has been around for a couple of decades. And most DVDs and many channels on over the air, cable and satellite have 5.1 audio. More recently, systems with six, seven or more main speakers have come to the market. To complement these systems, many Blu-ray discs have seven main audio channels plus the subwoofer track.

A 7.1 system adds two more speakers at the back. With this you will end up with four speakers behind you: one pair on the sides of the room slightly behind where you sit and the other pair in the back of the room. In a 6.1 system, two speakers are on the sides and one speaker is in the back. (Note: there are a very few systems that use additional speakers in the front of the room. If this is something you feel you need, definitely work with us to understand options.)

7.1 audio creates a more involving surround experience. And it expands the ‘sweet spot’ for the sound coming from behind; more of the seating locations will enjoy the surround effects. Don’t worry if some of the content that you have only has 5.1audio, your receiver or preamp can up-mix these to take advantage of all of the speakers.

The charge 7.1 audio benefits decrease if a room is modestly sized. In a very small room, the benefits of two additional speakers may be minimal. However, if the hesitation to go to 7.1 audio is space – for example, if you have a couch that is against the back ball – there are plenty of options to accommodate that. There is a wide range of incredible sounding in-wall or in-ceiling speakers that can be setup and calibrated to excel in virtually any environment.

In the right room, a 7.1 or 6.1 can be a great step up from a 5.1 system. Rely on the experts. We can help you choose and install the right loudspeakers, in the right location and then calibrate them for the best sound in your room. The end result is sure to amaze.