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The history of surround sound prior to Premium Audio

The history of surround sound prior to Premium Audio

Do you know your history? Your history of surround sound that is? Don’t worry, Premium Audio is here to help! Today we will go over the history of surround sound prior to Premium Audio.

Originally when watching a film we used the speaker(s) built into our televisions. I remember those days and sound was, as you can imagine, not very good. Then we started hooking up a receiver to the tv and using the left and right speakers (like we would for music) for listening to movies. This was a dramatic improvement as the clarity was much better do to having larger speakers and the ability to adjust the tone.

Eventually receivers had a simulated surround sound referred to as “matrix surround” which was different but I would not say better than just plain stereo sound from the left and right speakers. The idea was that it would create some distance and make the speakers appear further apart.

Then Dolby Laboratories (Dolby Labs, Dolby) came up with a major improvement in how we watched movies and it eventually evolved from there to what we have today as options. The surround sound they came up with was called Dolby Pro-Logic.

Dolby Pro Logic (aka 4.0)

With this we had a left front and right front speaker like you would use for listening to music with. They also introduced the center channel which we now know to be the most important speaker of all for any film we watch since 70 to 80 percent of all sound in a film comes out. Pro Logic also introduced a pair of rear speakers. One was on the left and the other on the right. They did not think there would be much sound there so they made them in mono (meaning same sound out of each speaker instead of stereo).

Dolby Digital (aka 5.1)

This added a powered sub woofer into the mix and separated the rear speakers from mono to stereo. To this day, over 20 years later, this is still the industry standard for surround sound. Nice job, Dolby. This was a game changer in how we listened to movies.


About the same time as Dolby Digital came out there was a competitor who arrived on the scene; DTS.


DTS

DTS made their version of 5.1 and it was in some ways better since the center was easier to hear. Their surround sound was best with any films that were heavy on dialogue instead of action. Movies are now encoded with this along side Dolby Digital 5.1. Movie theaters are also setup to play movies back in this format as well.


Over the years Dolby created other surround sound formats to bring music up to the same level as movies so that you could recreate the concert setting in your own home (complete with different tones and incorporating all five speakers at varying volumes). For the focus of this posting I am not going to go into this and will instead stick to movies and how it pertains to them.


Somewhere along the way the manufacturers of receivers decided to help differentiate themselves from their competitors by coming up with their own versions of surround sounds. This was mostly for music. Sony did come up with a movie format that is still offered on their models called SDDS. It was so successful that movies are encoded with it and movie theaters are setup to play back the films with it.


Dolby 6.1

This is a great surround sound and is my personal favorite that they made. Too bad they quickly replaced it. This surround sound adds a rear center, which I believe is crucial to action films.


About this time Premium Audio came to be.


Dolby 7.1 and Dolby 7.2

This replaced 6.1, yet 5.1 is still being made, not really sure why! This removed the rear center and replaced it with a pair of side speakers. These were to be placed to the left and right of where you sit and were to be aimed directly at your ears (and placed at ear level).

Later they also offered 7.2 which adds a second powered sub. With two subs running simultaneously it sounds even better. For this to work they have you place them both up front (one on the left side and the other on the right).


Premium Audio started posting about different surround sound formats exclusive to them. This started with the book: “Customize Your Home Theater: 5.1 channel to 15.2 and everything in between.


Dolby Atmos (9.2)

This was created because we are not really watching films currently in a 3 dimensional sound field. The reason for this is because in a film we can see visually that there is height and not just distance in the room, yet we have no way of perceiving the sound coming from a higher elevation. To fill this void of sound they created a second pair of speakers above the left and right front speakers just for that purpose. These speakers are to be placed at or just about at ceiling level.

Dolby Atmos (11.2)

This surround sound added onto the original Atmos format to make it even better. This one added a rear pair of speakers above the left and right rear speakers already being used. These speakers are to be placed at or just about at ceiling level.


  • Premium Audio takes it to a whole new level creating surround sounds that are “Way beyond home theatre” with 17.2, 19.2, and 21.2 channel surround sound.
  • It took awhile, but Premium Audio released their improvements to Dolby Atmos with 22.4 channel surround. This involves eight ceiling height speakers and four powered subs instead of only two.

 

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The implementation of “pseudo subs” into existing surround sound formats

The implementation of “pseudo subs” into existing surround sound formats

This is another concept of mine that I feel is worth mentioning. To be clear this is not a new surround sound, but rather a new approach to existing surround sounds to make them sound even better. This can be used with any surround sound format (from 3.1 all the way up to 22.4 and above). I refer to it as the implementation of “pseudo subs” into existing surround sound formats. The idea is simple really…if the speakers you are using are small speakers why not enhance their sound without really taking up much more space? With that being said, I want to make it clear that any surround sound using medium to large size speakers will not benefit much (if at all) from this concept. For further clarification I refer to a large speaker as an 8″ or larger woofer and a medium speaker as a 5 1/4″ or 6 1/2″ woofer.

Who is going to benefit from this setup you may ask. The answer is someone using or about to use small speakers and does not want to use powered sub woofers either do to the additional cost or because they do not believe them to be necessary. For those of you whom have not already read my book: “Customize your home theater….” I make mention in one chapter to what I like to refer to as a “pseudo sub.” I define a “pseudo sub” as a regular speaker being modified to be used just like a passive sub woofer would be.

As I write this, I think of my dad. I think of him because he has a pretty nice, yet traditional surround sound (5.0). He is one of those people who believes that powered sub woofers or even sub woofers are too overbearing for music and not needed with movies. He is not a believer in natural sound meaning he would want to keep the bass and treble set to flat to hear the music and movies the way they were originally intended. Instead he turns the bass up and adjusts the treble as needed. His speakers are large and therefore more than capable of reproducing a wide range of sound including bass. This is precisely his argument for why subs are not needed. Up until recently he was using old school 12’s for the main speakers and switched to modern high end speakers that are tall and slim by design with dual mid’s for bass. In his case this new concept I am about to reveal to you would not be of use with his main speakers, but would definitely further enhance his rear speakers and possibly his center channel too.

The beauty of this new concept is that it does not require wire splicing and re-amplification of any kind (like so many of my other surround sounds). Also it does not require a huge expense (in most cases).  I say in most cases because there are people (such as myself) whom have old school speakers that are just sitting around waiting to be played again, but have been replaced with a modern smaller speaker setup to conserve space or simply because they were told this is better than what they had before. For those who have these old speakers laying around you can rejoice in knowing that thanks to this posting those speakers can be found to have a purpose again! You can also use passive sub woofers in place of large speakers if you have them lying around too. Your only additional expense if you have these speakers to use will be in purchasing speaker selector boxes and speaker wire (unless you have that laying around too, which perhaps you do).

So here is the concept; each satellite speaker (small speaker) is lacking in bass on its own, but does a good job of spreading around sound rapidly thru the room so why take away the sound movement by replacing them with larger speakers and why add the at times overpowering bass that a powered sub woofer brings? Here is the solution for you…. instead of hooking up your speakers directly to your surround sound receiver, why not connect a speaker selector box to where the speakers would normally connect to? Now I know what you are thinking…you are thinking I am just trying to get you to buy more speakers. Quite the contrary, I can assure you; I want you to use your existing old large speakers to further complement your existing home theatre setup. Now if you choose to purchase large speakers here, that’s fine too, but remember you do not have to use this setup, no one is making you spend the money, that decision is on you and you alone.

Getting back to this extraordinary concept all you do is connect all the speakers (small and large) to the appropriate speaker selector boxes. You want to have each small speaker also have a large speaker to go with it. The large speaker will need to be aimed at the wall and not towards the seating area like normal. To further enhance this sound you will want to temporarily cover over the mid (if it has it) and the tweeter to the large speaker cabinets. This will help to muffle the sound so you pretty much only hear the bass output from the large woofers. How I do this is I take a piece of cardboard that I trim down to fit and poke holes in the cardboard so that the removable speaker covers (grills) can hold the cardboard in place between the grills and the speaker cabinets. Most speaker covers (grills) push into a hole into the front of the speaker cabinet to hold them on. The holes in the cardboard will allow the cardboard to fit over the part of the speaker covers that go into the front of the speaker cabinet. This is temporary since the cardboard can be easily slid off of the speaker grills. No tape or glue will be needed for this which means you will not in any way damage the speakers.

As a result of doing this each speaker can play at the same time. This means you will still hear the sound from the small speakers, but will also gain a little bit of boom from the large speakers. Best of all the boom will come from the proper direction in the room so it will sound like it should. You will have to experiment with the volume level since you are using more speakers and will most likely have to turn it up some. I would recommend you keep the speakers on the small setting in the receiver settings and not changing them to large. As an added bonus, now that you have these larger speakers you can have them double up as speaker stands for your small speakers to rest on. This will only decrease the floor space of your room marginally (if you were already using speaker stands) and will eliminate the need for putting holes into the walls to mount the small speakers. In the end this is a trade off well worth considering.

-As always, this has been another idea created and written by me (Anthony Di Chiaro) – owner of Premium Audio. This is yet another example of how we go “Way beyond home theatre” by not just selling stuff online, but by providing you free information to make your setup better than the rest. 10/30/16

 

 

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Variation to 22.4 Channel Surround Sound

Now that we have released the info about the 22.4 channel surround sound it is time to show a variation that can be used to make it easier to build for your home theatre with 22.4 speakers ….

Option 1:

This would be the one already posted. I will refer to it as the original to make this less confusing.

Option 2:

This requires one 7.1 channel receiver, one 5.1 channel receiver, one stereo receiver, four speaker selector boxes, 22 speakers, 4 powered subs and minimal wire splicing.

Because there is not as much wire splicing being done with this setup you cannot adjust the volume and tone as much as with the original version of this. The advantages to this system are that it is much easier to put together and costs less money to put together as well.

The 7.1 channel receiver will be connected as labeled by the manufacturer (mostly). You will use it for the ceiling height speakers mostly. You will use a speaker selector box to connect from the receivers side speaker connectors and another speaker selector box from the receivers main speakers (front). Each speaker selector box connected to this receiver will run two pairs of speakers. You will need to connect two powered subs to this receiver.

The stereo receiver will be connected by splicing into the 5.1 channel receiver. Use this receiver to adjust the volume and tone for both rear speakers. Use the balance control for adjusting which speaker plays louder than the other (if you find it needs to be adjusted).

The 5.1 channel receiver: Connect the center channel speaker like normal to the receiver.  For the main speakers (front) you will connect a speaker selector box to the receiver. The speaker selector box will be using two pairs of speakers. You will need another speaker selector box for connecting the rear speakers. This speaker selector box will connect to this receiver where the rear speakers go. Connect two powered subs to the receiver.

For any clarification of how to do the wire splicing and re-amplification to make this work for either versions of this surround sound (or any others mentioned on this website), please refer to this book. It will also explain how to run dual subs off of a receiver that this only designed for a single sub woofer.

Copyright 10/17/16 Premium Audio

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Updates for Fall 2016

There is about to be lot’s of activity here at Premium Audio:

  • The launching of our own You Tube Channel. The initial role out will include some how to videos and then onto the 22.4 channel surround sound series of videos.
  • More products and more brands to choose from.
  • Our Facebook site is about to get much more activity as we launch advertising there. Also, we are looking into having a Facebook store so you can order there too.
  • Something so special that we have to wait to show you. Stay tuned to learn more.