A 5.1 surround sound system uses 6 channels (front left and right, center, rear left and right, and subwoofer) to create surround sound. A 7.1 surround sound systems use 8 channels (front left and right, center, side left and right, rear left and right, and subwoofer).The two extra channels provide enhanced effects and greater acoustic depth during playback.
5.1 surround has long been the industry standard. Best suited for small or medium sized rooms, it is obviously a bit easier to install and configure as it incorporates fewer speakers. Fewer channels also translate into fewer dollars, relatively speaking. 7.1 surround is quickly becoming more prevalent in home theater applications, and works best in larger rooms that can accommodate the additional loudspeakers as well as the associated audio information.
Dolby Digital and DTS are the common encoding technologies that generate 5.1 surround sound and are used in most Blu Ray discs, DVDs, game consoles and HDTV broadcasts. Higher quality “lossless audio” is achieved using 7.1 Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master audio, and can be found on an increasing number of home theater sources and components.
“I have a medium sized room, and technically it can fit all speakers of a 7.1 system – wouldn’t I get a better experience that way?” Perhaps, but in most cases, too much audio crammed into a smaller, more confined space might have the opposite effect. The sound generated by your speakers travels, reflects and bounces around the room. If your speakers do not have the “leg room” they need, this could cause things to sound ‘muddy’ and a loss of definition may result. When a sound effect in a movie is designed to occur behind and to the left of the main action, your ability to localize that sound depends on proper placement of that channel relative to your location in the room. With your sofa against the rear wall, a pair of side speakers and another pair of rear speakers in close proximity to each other and the listener will result in diminished localization.
At Enhanced Home Systems, we are expert in determining the best system for the space in which you intend to deploy it. Better quality will often outshine greater quantity. The same goes for amplifier power, screen size and other elements of a well-designed home theater system. Contact us to get started on the design of your 5.1 or 7.1 entertainment solution.