5.1 Surround Sound Systems

Written by Serena Berger
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The intention behind 5.1 channel surround systems is complete immersion in a realistic sound environment. This effect is created by positioning speakers around the room, each transmitting a different part of the total soundscape. Two speakers are positioned in front (one on the left and one on the right), and two speakers are placed in the rear. The center channel is positioned in line with the television and carries most of the dialog in movies. Finally, the subwoofer puts out the low frequency bass.

Creating a Realistic Environment with 5.1 Channel Surround Sound
While the speakers must be carefully positioned, the subwoofer can be placed anywhere within the room. To take full advantage of 5.1 surround sound, you will need a receiver that has inputs for each of the channels. Older receivers may have inputs for the left and right channels and the subwoofer, but may not have separate inputs for the front and rear channels.

While additional speakers with a 2 or 2.1 channel system can envelope you in a vortex of sound, they will not convey the sound of a realistic environment. 5.1 channel sound systems gained significantly in popularity as DVDs became more popular because they can recreate the sound from a movie theater. You can hear the action move from the front to the rear, or the suspense can build as something approaches from behind you.

If you already have components with which you are satisfied, you may only need to purchase a few additional components to complete your 5.1 channel surround sound system. If you are interested in purchasing a new system, you can buy either the individual components or packages that retailers have prepared and usually offer at a discount. While the most important components for sound systems are the speakers and the receiver, don't try to skimp and save money on the cables, because it is through them that sound is transmitted to the speakers.

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