Introduction to Surround Sound

We are all in search of the perfect surround sound that can deliver the ultimate home listening experience. Both experts and novices expect to hear sound coming from every direction yet sometimes find surround sound formats very confusing. We'll now spend some time explaining what this is all about.

When we say 'surround sound' we refer to the use of multiple audio tracks to enfold music listening and movie watching, creating the feeling that we're in the middle of the action. When the sound succeeds is totally captivating the audience by making it forget about the real-world surroundings, that's when you know you have a good surround sound.

There are true surround sound formats and virtual ones. The former rely on dedicated speakers, while the latter use only two right and left speakers. Audio sports several formats such as 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1.

5.1 surround sound is known as the most common home theater sound configuration. Dolby Digital, also known as Dolby AC-3, is the most popular flavor of 5.1 and the standard surround sound today, mostly thanks to DVDs. An alternative to Dolby Digital, DTS comes in a close second being considered a little more accurate.

DTS-ES ads to the regular DTS a full-bandwidth surround back channel. THX Surround EX and Dolby Digital EX add a matrixed surround back channel in a 6.1-channel surround. The channel is encoded and later decoded from those of the surround right and surround left channels.

7.1 might work as well but only if you if you want to take advantage of HD DVD or Blu-ray and have a very large room.