What is Surround Sound?

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Updated June 27, 2022

Choosing the best speakers to create the ultimate at-home sound experience is not for the faint of heart. But as daunting as it may seem, you don’t have to go to the movie theaters to get the full intended sound effects, core-vibrating bass levels, and sweeping music scores. Instead, you can do this right at home. So, below, we’ll explore what is surround sound. And, hopefully, by the end, you’ll know if it’s what your heart desires.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Surround sound is a method of dispersing a wide range of frequencies throughout a room to provide a rich theater sound quality. But, if your speakers are not wired correctly, the sound may not be as rich.
  • A popular format for this immersive experience is a bass speaker, two front and two rear speakers, and a center speaker.
  • Each of the stereo speakers can be individually adjusted and positioned to bring out the best possible sound effects.

If you want a look into one specific piece of the surround sound system, you can check out our article that explains what a subwoofer is.

Surround Sound Explained

Ultimately, surround sound is a method that uses diversification of sound and space to formulate the best possible audio experience. It requires dedicated speakers to be positioned in designated locations throughout a room so that the listener gets the sensation of realistic sound coming from all directions.

Insider Tip

Most experts say the most essential speaker to invest in is the center speaker, and if you’re looking to save, go with more affordable front and rear speakers.

There is no specific way to set up a surround sound system, but there are general methods for achieving the ultimate setup. And for those wondering about how to get the best setup for their car, we have a great article to help answer, “what size of speakers are in my car”?

Bass Speakers

A typical surround sound setup will have at least one powered subwoofer. The subwoofer channel focuses on the bass frequencies that produce thunderous, rumbling sounds. These can be good for music with instruments such as a pipe organ or bass guitar or action sequences with explosions, helicopters, or avalanches.

To make the most out of your bass frequency response, try putting it in the corner of a room, about six inches from the wall. You may want to compare in-wall vs on-wall speakers, in case you go this route.

Center Speaker

The center channel speaker is said to be the most important. This reason is that the center speaker produces the sound of the movie dialogue. Because of the type of sound, the center speaker is placed between the left and right front speaker.

Surround Speakers

The surround speakers are two sets of speakers, one going upfront and the other behind the listener. These speakers are full range, meaning they produce a large spectrum of frequencies and are used to play the atmospheric noise intended to create a real-life effect.

Warning

If you are looking to cut down on wires or save on space, you should probably avoid buying a surround sound system.

F.A.Q.S

What does it mean for speakers to be Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos speakers are designed to provide a life-like sound by directing sound upward towards the ceiling. If you’re interested in installing ceiling speakers, read our article on mounting speakers on the ceiling.


What is 7.1 surround sound?

The 7.1 refers to the number of sound channels that come with this setup. In this case, 7.1 has three sets of left and right speakers (front, side, and rear), a center speaker, and a separate subwoofer. However, 3.1 and 5.1 soundbars could hold a candle to an entire home theater setup.


How big should my surround speakers be?

You’ll need to consider the size of your speaker in relation to the size of your room and any obstruction that might impede the sound waves from reaching the listening area.


STAT: Subwoofers cover the low-frequency range of 20-200Hz. (source)

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