This is a great question and from this many more questions are soon to follow. In order to answer this question you will need to have an understanding of what these different numbers mean. In case you do not already know about these different options, and that is ok, allow us to explain them.

“5.1”: First off this is the industry standard and has been so for quite some time. This gives you a left and right speaker and a center channel (situated directly between the left and right speakers). In addition to this it also adds a rear left and right speaker and a subwoofer.

“6.1”: This adds a rear center speaker (placed directly behind you). Sadly, this format was out only a short time before being replaced with 7.1.

“7.1”: This takes a 5.1 channel setup and adds a pair of side speakers (one to the left and one to the right). This creates additional sound placement to make you feel more like you are there when you watch movies.

The “.1” is a subwoofer. A subwoofer is used just for deep bass.

Premium Audio feels that given enough room, the more speakers the better for movies. Which is why Premium Audio actually recommends something even better….”8.1.”  So, you are probably wondering what this is so here goes….

“8.1”: This is explained in detail in my book (that Premium Audio recommends) titled  “Customize Your Home Theater: 5.1 to 15.2 and everything in between.” For the purpose of this blog, however, I will simply say that 8.1 adds a rear center to a 7.1 channel system. How this can be done is explained in the book mentioned above. Adding a rear center accurately depicts the proper sound placement of movies. Why should something that should be heard directly behind you be forced to inaccurately be heard (out of either the left or right rear speaker or both simultaneously)? The answer is, it shouldn’t. This is why 8.1 makes sense.

If you wish to see what a 8.1 or greater (up to 15.2) surround sound system diagram would look like, then click here.


3 thoughts on “5.1, 6.1, 7.1; What surround sound to choose?

  1. A rear center channel makes sense, but if the input isn’t coded for it can you really make it sound right?

  2. Adding a rear center to a 5.1, or 7.1 channel system is not the same as a true 6.1 channel system, however it will work to improve surround sound dramatically.

    A true 6.1 channel system has a dedicated rear center for specific sounds. When adding a rear center to an actual 5.1 or 7.1 channel system it will still allow you to hear the effects directly behind you similar to that of a 6.1 channel system. The difference being that with adding a rear center to a system that is not supposed to have a rear center you will get sound out of the rear center and at the same time you will also hear the SAME sound out of left and right rear speakers.

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