What Is Multi-Channel Surround Sound? (Types, Benefits and More!)

Jul 13, 2022
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what is multi channel surround sound

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Do you love movies and TV shows? Do you like to watch them with that massive surround sound experience just like in the theaters? 

If you said yes to both of those, then you need to know about multi-channel surround sound for your home!

If you're curious to learn more about what it is, how it works, and the benefits they offer–you've come to the right place! 

In this article, I'll explore everything you need to know about what part, signal, and surround sound output you can choose from.

So keep reading to learn more. It will be fun!

What is a Multi-Channel Surround Sound System?

Multi-channel surround sound is a technology used in home audio systems that allow users to experience cinematic surround sound in the comfort of their home.

It does this by delivering sound signals from multiple channels (one speaker per channel), which creates a more realistic and immersive audio experience. In short, you'll hear sounds coming at you from multiple directions!

There are typically five or more channels of audio in a multi-channel surround sound system and scales upwards, with the most common being 5.1 (left, right, center, left surround, right surround, and a bass).

Why Use Multi-Channel?

There are a bunch of reasons why you might want to consider using multi-channel surround sound in your home. 

Here are a few:

  1. It creates a realistic and immersive audio experience.

  2. It helps you feel like you're right in the middle of the action.

  3. It provides a more spacious soundstage, making it feel like the sound is coming from all around you.

  4. It's perfect for movies, TV shows, video games, and more!

The sound reproduction system that you choose for your home theater will have a big impact on how realistic the experience feels.

It's a great way to improve your movie-watching experience. With the right system, you'll feel like you're in the theater, and don't even have to leave your house.

But that's not all, multi-channel surround sound can also be used for gaming, music listening, and just even for watching your favorite Netflix shows.

The performance of a multi-channel surround sound can make it way better, and I mean it's not even comparable to a regular TV. 

With the right speakers, you can get an immersive experience that will make you feel like you're in the middle of the action.

It's like going from good old TVs (you know before TVs became flat) to 1080p HD quality video that you're used to watching today.

Types of Surround Sound and Multichannel Audio

There are so many options when it comes to surround sound setups for your home theater that it can be overwhelming. 

Do you want 5.1, 7.1, or 9.1 setups? Or do you want to go all out with a 10.2, 11.2, or even a 12.2 setup? 

And that's not even considering the various Dolby and DTS codecs such as Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS:X options that are available.

The complete list of products and options are as follows: 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, 10.2, 11.2, 12.2, 13.2, 14.2, 15.2, 16.2, 17.2, 18.2, 19.2.... you get it, it's crazy.

But don't worry, I'll only cover the most common setups that you'll be dealing with.

| Stereo sound is the standard

When it comes to audio, most people think of stereo sound. 

In fact, stereo sound IS the standard for TVs, computer speakers, devices, and Bluetooth headphones.

Stereo sound is created when media from a device with two channels of audio is sent to two separate speakers on the sides. This creates a sense of width for the ears. 

While the stereo sound is still an ok experience, it can't compare to the immersive feeling of surround sound options.

| 5.1 Channel Sound

The most common type of surround sound system is 5.1 channel sound which you buy in almost any home electronics store. 

The 5.1 surround sound function includes five channels —left, right, and center front speakers, a left and right surround speaker (those that are behind you)—and one subwoofer.

This type is generally recommended for smaller rooms, as it doesn't create "as immersive" an experience as the other two main types. 

But for the price and performance, they offer great sound quality for an improved listening experience, be that for regular content, music tracks, and movies.

| 7.1 Channel Sound

7.1 surround sound includes seven channels: left front, right front, left rear, right rear, center front, center rear, and subwoofer (sometimes even two subwoofers which makes it 7.2). 

This type is perfect for medium to large rooms, as it provides a more realistic and immersive experience than 5.1 surround sound, but of course, it costs more money.

| 9.1 Channel Sound

So now we're getting to the big boy power home theater systems with the best design and control options.

9.1 surround sound includes nine channels: left front, right front, left rear, right rear, center front, center rear, left side surround, right side surround, and subwoofers. 

This type is perfect for large rooms with high ceilings, as it creates the most immersive experience possible through Dolby Atmos, where you have dedicated speakers firing audio upwards! 

This feature will make you turn your head around and peek and extra time if there is a chopper above your head.

Which Surround Sound Configuration Is Better?

There's a lot of debate surrounding surround sound configurations, and people often wonder which one is better: 5.1 or 7.1? 

The answer to this question really depends on your needs and preferences. Here are some of the key differences between the two setups:

5.1 surround sound uses five channels and one subwoofer, while 7.2 uses seven channels and two subwoofers. 

This gives you a wider range of audio to work with, which can be great for immersive gaming or movie-watching experiences.

7.1 surround sound naturally has a higher price tag than 5.1, due to the extra speakers involved and all of the extra performance. 

However, some people believe that the improved audio quality is worth the extra expense, especially audiophiles.

So it really comes down to what you value most in your audio experience. In the case of multi-channel surround sound, more is better!

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Multi-Channel Surround Sound System

If you're like me, you love watching movies and TV shows. And if you're like me, you want to get the best possible experience as a listener.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of your surround sound system. 

First, make sure you set up your speakers correctly. You should place them in an arc or circle around your seating area for the best effect.

Also, be sure to calibrate your system in the audio menu settings on either your TV, the surround sound system and its accompanying software, or the receiver. 

This will ensure that the levels are balanced and that all the channels are working properly. 

Frequently Asked Questions

| What does the receiver do?

To get multi-channel surround sound, you need three things: a multi-channel surround sound receiver, multi-channel surround sound speakers, and a source of audio (like a movie or game).

The receiver is the hub of your system. It's responsible for decoding and amplifying the audio signal and routing it to the proper speakers.

Receivers come in all shapes and sizes, but they all do the same basic thing. They take an incoming audio signal and split it up into separate channels. 

This allows each speaker to play a different part of the audio signal, creating an immersive surround sound experience.

| What is the difference between multi-channel surround sound and stereo sound?

Multi-channel surround sound typically uses five or more speakers, including a subwoofer, to create a three-dimensional sound field. 

Stereo sound, on the other hand, is a two-channel audio system that creates a left and right channel to create a more directional sound experience.

| How do I set up multi-channel surround sound?

There are a few things you need in order to set up a multi-channel surround sound system: 

  1. A receiver that can decode and amplify multiple channels of audio. 

  2. A set of speakers that can reproduce the various channels of audio. 

  3. Cables to connect the receiver to the speakers. 

  4. A source of multichannel audio, such as a Blu-ray player or a game console.

The receiver is the heart of the system and allows you to connect all of your components together. It also amplifies the sound and sends it to the speakers. 

Next, you need speakers obviously. You need at least five speakers for a true surround sound experience. The speakers should be placed around the room, with the front left, and right speakers being the most important. 

The left and right speakers should be placed at an equal distance from the center of the TV, and the front and rear speakers should be placed at an equal distance from the side walls. 

The subwoofer should be placed in the corner of the room for the best sound quality. This will allow the sound to bounce off of the walls and create a fuller sound. 

Additionally, make sure that the speaker is placed in a strategic location in the room. For example, if you place the speaker in the corner of the room, the sound will be more concentrated and focused. 

However, if you place the speaker in the middle of the room, the sound will be more evenly distributed throughout the space. 

Another important factor to consider is the size of the room. If you have a small room, you might want to consider a more compact design of the surround sound system (not those massive floor-standing towers). 

However, if you have a large room, you can go for a more dramatic and all-inclusive theater look. 

| What are the different types of multi-channel surround sound formats?

There are several different types of multi-channel surround sound formats, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. 

The most common types are Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS, and THX. 

Dolby Digital is the most widely used format and is found in most commercial movie theaters. 

It offers excellent sound quality and is compatible with a wide range of equipment. 

| Who are the leading manufacturers of surround sound systems?

There are many leading manufacturers of surround sound systems, each with its own unique features and signature sounds. 

Some of the most popular brands include Klipsch, Bose, Polk Audio, Sony, Yamaha, and now even Sonos. 

Bose is a well-known name in the audio world, known for its sleek designs and powerful sound quality. 

Polk Audio is another leading manufacturer of surround sound systems, as is Klipsch. Their systems are known for their own signature audio sounds and exceptional quality.

Sonos is a newcomer and with its ultra-portable speakers and easy wireless setup has come into the space as a serious contender.

| Where did multi-channel surround sound originate?

The origins of multi-channel surround sound are somewhat disputed, but it is generally agreed that the first true pioneer was the engineer and inventor Alan Blumlein in the early 1930s. 

Blumlein was working on many inventions, one being stereophonic sound, also known as binaural sound.

| Where can you buy multi-channel surround sound systems?

There are many places where you can buy multi-channel surround sound systems. Some common places include electronic stores, department stores, and of course online retailers. 

When looking for a multi-channel surround sound system, it is important to consider what you will be using it for, good thing that I have ranked and reviewed the absolute best ones on the market.

Conclusion

There are many different types of surround sound audio channels and each offers its own set of benefits. 

By understanding the different types and their features, you can choose the surround sound technology that is best for your needs.

And no matter what they are, multi-channel surround sound is a great way to improve your audio experience and take your movies and games to the next level. 

Thanks for reading!

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