Many people equate surround sound with a 5.1 home cinema system. This is the classic loudspeaker setup for a home cinema system. However, there are a number of other audio systems that can reproduce sound effects from different directions. Examples of other setup options are 5.2-, 7.1-, and 5.1.2. Furthermore, a single subwoofer can also produce surround sound – because surround sound can essentially be simulated.
What does 5.1 actually mean?
Number combinations such as 5.1 indicate the number of speakers within a system. The number after the dot stands for the subwoofer(s). A 5.2 system therefore has two subwoofers. The number before the dot indicates the number of front and ‘effect’ speakers. If a third number is listed, as in 5.1.2, this indicates that it is a system with ceiling or 3D speakers. These represent the height dimension. The prerequisite for this is that the audio data is available in a 3D sound format and can also be played back by the receiver.
The three most common formats are:
- ✔ Dolby Atmos
- ✔ DTS:X
- ✔Auro 3D
In addition, a soundbar can also be designated as a multi-channel system – often 2.1. This means that several satellites for different frequencies are integrated within the speaker.
The difference between surround sound from a 5.1 or 7.1 system
When movie sound is played back through a 5.1 set, it is usually very impressive and simply cannot be compared to the sound produced by the speakers integrated in the TV set. You will also often read on many Blu-rays discs and AV receivers that they also support a 7.1 setup. The two additional speakers are used as effect loudspeakers behind the listening area (centre rear speakers). What are the advantages of such an extension?
- ✔ Better localisation of sound
- ✔ No “sound gaps” in larger rooms
- ✔ Higher overall sound level
- ✔ An extension of the sweet spot (optimal listening position))
➦ You can see how many channels a receiver supports by the power rating. For example, 7 x 100 Watts indicate how many Watts are used to control the individual channels.
Dipole or direct radiator for surround sound?
At Teufel, you can choose whether you want to equip your home cinema set with dipoles (“Cinema version”) or direct radiators (“Concert-version”) for sound reinforcement in the rear area of the room. Dipole speakers not only deliver sound to the front, but also to the rear. This construction means that if you sit on an axis between the speakers, the direct sound cancels itself out and you mainly hear room reflections. This diffused sound impression comes close to the sound field of a cinema, in which enveloping surround sound is also reproduced by several surround speakers.
The following factors determine whether a direct emitter or dipole is the right choice for surround sound:
❶ If the distance between the rear speakers and the listening position is less than 1.5 metres, we recommend the cinema version with dipoles. If it is not possible to mount the rear speakers on a wall and the distance is more than 1.5 metres, we recommend the concert version with direct radiators. You can place them on stands or on a shelf.
❷ If you are able to place both dipoles and direct emitters in the recommended position in your home cinema, you can make a decision about the area of operation depending on your device.
❸ If you especially want to watch movies, the cinema version is probably more appropriate. We would recommend dipole speakers if you want to enjoy music in stereo.
❹ For those who primarily want to listen to music with immersive surround sound, we recommend the concert version with a direct emitter. Don’t worry – impressive surround sound effects such as spatial aircraft effects in the room are also unrestricted with concert mode.
Dolby surround systems from Teufel:
Tips for installing surround sound systems
The ideal position of speakers always depends on the room conditions. Therefore, you should start off placing your speaker according to the recommendations, but you can also try different positions. In the end, the ideal position is the one that delivers the best sound to your ear.
The two front speakers of a 5.1 or 7.1 system should be placed at the same distance to the left and right of the TV as with stereo speakers. Their height should be at least 40 cm and not more than 1.2 metres. Using speaker stands automatically ensures an optimal reproduction height.
The centre speaker should be placed directly above or below the TV. It plays the voices and should therefore form a unit with the television. You should also angle it so that it emits the sound at head height.
You are mostly free to choose the location of your subwoofer. On the one hand, it has no direct influence on the other loudspeakers, and on the other hand its sound cannot be “located” anyway. Make sure, however, that the sound waves can be properly transmitted throughout the room. Somewhere between the two front satellites is usually suitable.
Simulated surround sound – real impact
Our ability to locate the direction of sound sources can actually be manipulated. The ear determines the direction from which the sound originates through differences in time of travel, differences in sound pressure and the modulation of sound waves. If a speaker emits certain sound components with temporal differences or different levels, it can therefore simulate directions. Find out more about virtual surround sound in this article.
This is exactly what happens to sound bars and sound decks with virtual surround sound formats.
- ▶ Cinebar 52 THX SE: The THX soundbar and the flat subwoofer form the perfect pair. The soundbar houses seven transducers in a 2-way system. Combined with the integrated Dolby Virtual Speaker technology, the result is enveloping surround sound. For bass levels (at a crossover frequency of 120 Hz) the wireless subwoofer takes over.
- ▶ Teufel Streaming Soundbar: Get superior quality film sound and music streaming with minimal cable fuss – the streaming soundbar masters several disciplines at the highest level. You can access them via Raumfeld app or Chromecast built-in via Wi-Fi from your iPhone, smartphone and tablet.
- ▶ Teufel Streaming Sounddeck: Everything that demands powerful sound playback is accommodated by the streaming sound deck. The cabinet contains not only 6 high-end transducers but also 2 down-firing subwoofers. It is controlled via Wi-Fi and Raumfeld technology with our free app.