5.1 Surround Sound vs. 7.1 Surround Sound – What’s the Difference?

5.1 Surround Sound vs. 7.1 Surround Sound – What’s the Difference?

One question we are asked often is, what is the difference between 5.1 surround sound vs. 7.1 surround sound?  Let’s explore the differences between the two systems, both of which are great solutions to adding surround sound to your home.

5.1 Surround Sound System Overview
5.1 Surround Sound System
5.1 Surround Sound System

A 5.1 Surround Sound system includes the following equipment.

5 total speakers:

  • A pair in the front – one left speaker and one right speaker. These are typically in-wall speakers. The front speakers are primarily used for music and sound effects.
  • A center channel, which is the most important speaker you could have because it produces about 90% of the dialogue (sound). As the name of this speaker alludes to, it sits on the center of the console (or in-wall) since it produces the majority of the sound output.
  • A pair of surround (sides) – one left surround speaker and one right surround speaker, installed on the sides of the room (hence the name surround sound). The surround speakers are primarily used for music and sound effects, same as the front speakers.

A sub-woofer, which typically sits in the corner of room (back or front). The sub-woofer produces the low-frequency effects (LFE), which is most commonly known as the deep, base sounds coming from the show/movie being watched.  The best location for the sub-woofer is corner of the room,as it helps to reverberate the sound.

A receiver, which all components are connected to for running the system. Any basic receiver manufactured will support a 5.1 surround sound system.

All network TV stations are broadcast in 5.1, so anything produced for televsision will have the ability to be played through a 5.1 surround sound system.

7.1 Surround Sound System Overview
7.1 Surround Sound System
7.1 Surround Sound System

With a 7.1 surround sound system, there are 7 total speakers. The system is the same as the 5.1 system listed previously, with an additional two speakers.

The additional speakers are installed as two rear speakers, making it a 7.1 system (7 total speakers, 1 sub-woofer). This gives you a wider range of effects. The effects/sound coming from the surround (side) speakers, are the same effects/sounds that come through the rear speakers. Essentially, giving you a greater field of depth for those effects and sounds.

If you want to hear more base, then good news. You can add a second sub-woofer to a 7.1 system, and as a result, making it a 7.2 system (7 speakers, 2 subs).

The receiver for a 7.1 surround sound system will need to be different than the 5.1 system. The receiver will need to have inputs for 7 speakers. If you opt for a 7.2 system (2 subs), be sure to get a receiver that supports 7 speakers and 2 subs.

For a visual on the difference between a 5.1 surround sound vs. 7.1 surround sound system, check out this Dolby Labs link.

Both systems can be installed in a family room or media room. If you want to go really big with your speaker system, you can upgrade to Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 or Dolby Atmos 7.1.4. These put out some serious sound!

Best home theater installation Frisco, TX

Center Stage A/V
2831 Eldorado Pkwy.
Ste. 103-172
Frisco, TX 75033

Center Stage A/V services the northern Collin County, TX area: Frisco, Prosper, Celina, McKinney, Allen, Anna, Plano, Lucas, Savannah, Little Elm, Denton.