Nothing brings the magic of a big movie theater home quite like surround sound; with objects flying all around you and deep rumbling bass it’s easy to get lost in the movies and TV shows that you watch. The only problem is surround sound is littered with terms and numbers that can make shopping for a system confusing. By the end of this video, we want you to have a better understanding of the difference around speaker configurations, audio formats–like DTS and Dolby Digital–and how even sound bars can give you surround sound.
A stereo system would be called a 2.0 system. Surround sound starts when you add a center channel, is called a 3.0 system. The center channel handles 85% of the dialogue, so if you want to understand what’s being said on screen and feel like the effects are coming from the center of the screen, the center channel is essential.
Next, we have the LFE channel (which stands for low frequency effects) and this is where all the rumble and punch from a home surround system comes from. When it comes to our surround sound system number, then the subwoofer is the second digit (think of the “1” in “3.1”).
Next, comes the surround speakers–you’ll need two of them to have a true surround sound system. A 5.1 system will work great for the vast majority of surround sound signals that you’re going to get, but there are two new different types of surround sound called Dolby Atmos and DTS X that come from above you. In the number diagram, this would be represented in the third digit (think “3” in a “5.1.3” system).
Now, if you’re tight on space, certain sound bars can produce a surround sound system. Some of them do it virtually–that is, they fake surround sound using special processing to make it seem like sound is coming from the side and behind you. The left, center, and right channels will all be located within the sound bar.
If you want the very best surround sound experience you can get, you’re going to want to get an AV receiver and separate speakers. If you’re not up for all those speakers and wiring though, take a look at a sound bar. It all comes down the sound quality you want to get, and the physical space you have to practically work with.
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