There are so many questions that arise when investing in an audio video system. A person could spend thousands on speakers alone. Dolphin AV prides ourselves in our knowledge of surround sound speakers. All of the speakers we will recommend offer incredible value. Dolphin AV Installs 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, 9.2 surround sound.
Though most understand the concept of using multiple speakers for theater-like sound, many don’t understand the difference between all the different formats. We would like to educate you on these formats.
What are Surround Sound Speakers?
Surround sound, at its most basic, involves a set of stereo front speakers (left and right) and a set of surround speakers, which are usually placed just to the side and just behind a central listening position. The next step up involves the addition of a center channel: a speaker placed between the front left and right speakers and primarily responsible for reproducing dialogue in movies. Thus, we have five speakers involved. We’ll be adding more speakers later (lots more, actually) but for now we can use this basic five-speaker arrangement as a springboard for getting into all the different surround formats.
What is 5.1 Surround Sound?
This format improved on Pro-Logic in that it allowed for stereo surround speakers that could provide higher bandwidth sound. It also facilitated the addition of a low-frequency effects channel, adding the “.1” in 5.1, which is handled by a sub-woofer. All of the information in Dolby Digital 5.1 is discrete –no matrixing necessary. With the release of Clear and Present Danger on LD, the first Dolby Digital surround sound began to hit home theaters. To this day, Dolby Digital 5.1 is considered by many to be the surround sound standard, and is included on most Blu-ray discs.
What is 6.1 Surround Sound?
In an effort to enhance surround sound by expanding the “sound stage,” the addition of a sixth speaker to the original 5.1 configuration brought about 6.1. This sixth speaker was to be placed in the center of the back of a room and was subsequently referred to as a back surround or rear surround. This is where a lot of confusion began to swirl around surround sound. People were already used to thinking of and referring to surround speakers (incorrectly) as “rears,” because they were so often seen placed behind a seating area. Recommended speaker placement, however, has always called for surround speakers to be placed to the side and just behind the listening position. The point of this speaker is to give the listener the impression that something is approaching from behind or disappearing to the rear. It pulls off with more success what the side surrounds attempted to do by working together to fool the ear. Calling the sixth speaker a “back surround” or “surround back” speaker, while technically an accurate description, ended up being just plain confusing.
What is 7.1 Surround Sound?
Like 6.1, there are several different versions of 7.1. All of them add in a second back surround speaker. Those surround effects that once went to just one rear surround speaker can now go to two speakers which happen to be in stereo, too. The information is discrete, which means that every speaker is getting its own specific information. We can thank the massive storage potential of Blu-ray for that.
Dolby offers two different 7.1 surround versions. Dolby Digital Plus is the “lousy” version which, still involves data compression and takes up less space on a Blu-ray disc. Dolby TrueHD, on the other hand, is loss-less. Since no compression is involved, Dolby TrueHD is intended to be identical to the studio master.
What about 7.2, 9.2 or 11.2?
As we mentioned previously, the “.1” in 5.1, 7.1 and all the others refers to the LFE (low frequency effects) channel in a surround soundtrack, which is handled by a sub-woofer. Adding “.2” simply means that a receiver has two sub-woofer outputs. Both connections put out the same information since, as far as Dolby and DTS are concerned, there is only one sub-woofer track. Since A/V receiver manufacturers want to easily market the additional sub-woofer output, the notion of using “.2” was adopted.
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