Is Surround Sound Worth It?

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When building a home theater, the most important aspect is the levels of immersion, and there are many things that contribute to that. Having a decent display, and having a decent sound system all contribute to immersion, and can vastly influence the quality of the movie.

Surround sound systems work in a specific setup, for example, 5 speakers and 1 center speaker, and a subwoofer, this type of setup describes the 5.1 surround sound setup. The goal for surround sound is to have speakers in every corner of the room to project audio at you, this gives the effect of realism.

Answer: Surround sound is definitely worth it, especially if you’re building a home theater setup, this is because it vastly improves the levels of immersion making the movies seem more realistic. Surround sound is also great for gamers, especially competitive gamers as it makes it easier to pinpoint your enemies.

Surround Sound Is Great For Immersiveness

surround sound speakers

Surround sound projects a level of immersion that TV speakers cannot replicate, this makes it ideal for home theaters, sports, and gaming.

When building a surround sound setup, you have to build it correctly, or else it’ll seem like a gimmick, hence why a lot of people swear that surround sound is a waste of money.

The basic surround-sound setup is the 5.1 setup, and it is far superior to the levels of immersion a 2.1 setup can offer. This is mainly due to the 2 rear speakers that give the impression that the sounds are 3 dimensional.

There are also 7.1 surround sound setups that have two extra speakers at the back but in other words, it operates just like a 5.1 setup.

The reason you would want to use a 7.1 setup over the 5.1 setups is if you have a large enough room, the goal is to have an effective setup that can work with your room size.

If your room is too small, using a 7.1 setup in a small room can ruin the immersive effect and is practically a waste of money.

Evaluating your room size is the best thing you can do before installing a surround sound setup, this guide should help with that.

Surround Sound Can Be Great For Games

surround sound for gaming

For gamers, surround sound can greatly improve the immersive experience allowing the game to seem as realistic as possible. Games nowadays are quite visually immersive, so if you can implement the sound aspect, then it can change the way you perceive video games.

For competitive games where any benefit can come to your advantage, surround sound can help you get the upper edge, this is because it can allow you to hear enemies behind you.

Games such as CSGO, Destiny, and games with other PVP aspects will allow such a setup to work, hearing enemies around you, through walls, and behind you means you’ll be ready for anything.

If you’re not fond of building a 5.1 or a 7.1 surround sound setup because you think it might be too overkill for games, you can pick up affordable surround sound headphones which can replicate the same effect.

Many people will actually swear that surround sound headphones are superior to surround sound setups in immersiveness, this may have to do with it actually being headphones and having clearer sound quality.

Is 5.1 Worth It?

For home theaters, a 5.1 setup is definitely worth it, you can never go wrong with such a setup unless your room cannot physically support such setup.

5.1 setup

Even users that switch from a 3.1 setup to a 5.1 setup say they can tell the visual experience is much better, the 5.1 rear speakers allow for better depth allowing you to hear small details.

For the family, the surround sound setup allows everyone to enjoy the experience, this is something expensive headphones won’t be able to replicate.

Without surround sound, movies would sound bland and non-immersive, a high-quality home theater setup will always have some sort of surround sound setup, you’ll never find them using TV speakers.

With surround sound, a 5.1 Dolby atmos setup can range anywhere between $1000 and $7000, but you do not need to overspend, but don’t have high expectations for any budget surround sound setups.

5.1 surround sound setups are the most common surround sound setup which means it’s easier to understand and work with, this is because most rooms aren’t big enough to warrant a 7.1 setup.

Is 7.1 Worth It?

7.1 surround sound setups are superior in the sense that they work better in larger rooms, this is due to the two extra speakers at the back. Realistically, 5.1 and 7.1 setups aren’t better than the other, it just depends on how big your room is.

7.1 setup

You really shouldn’t install a 7.1 setup in a small room that cannot support such a large setup, this is because you can inflict adverse effects such as overpowering the rear speakers, which can make voices harder to understand.

However, if your room is large enough, having a 7.1 setup is warranted as a 5.1 setup won’t be as effective in a large room. A 7.1 setup is necessary as large rooms require more power to generate decent surround sound effects.

7.1 surround sound setups are more expensive than 5.1 setups, this is obviously due to the two extra rear speakers. This means they’re more expensive and take longer to set up.

Essentially, having a 7.1 over a 5.1 completely depends on your room size however, 7.1 does have its disadvantages such as consuming much more power and being harder to set up.

Surround Sound Vs Soundbars

The obvious advantage with soundbars is that they’re cheaper, they do not require extensive setup and multiple speakers to replicate the surround sound effect.

Also, soundbars are far easier to set up and require far fewer wires making them ideal for really small rooms. Surround sound is only warranted if your room is big and no soundbars can help.

Surround sound setups are more immersive in bigger rooms, for example, the 5.1 setup is a great option if your room can support it, also the quality of the 3D surround sound is far better compared to soundbars.

If you really value the genuine theater experience, then surround sound is the way to go, a soundbar is good at emulating it, but it isn’t the real experience.

Surround sound is better for multiple reasons, it is a great option for gaming, TV shows, and movies. The addition of rear speakers really gives the impression that you’re really experiencing what you’re hearing.

The setup process for surround sound setups can be quite extensive, often requiring tuning for the best results. This can take hours or even days if you’re really invested in emulating the best results.

Surround-Sound With Soundbars

With soundbars, they use multiple speakers in an attempt to recreate a convincing surround-sound effect, while they’re not as great as true surround-sound setups, they do have their benefits.

Soundbars are great if you’re looking for something that’s easy to set up, up and doesn’t take up a lot of space you usually place the soundbar right underneath your TV, and it should work its magic.

When you purchase a soundbar, it will usually come with a set number of speakers or channels, for example, a 5.1.2 surround-sound config has 5 main channels, one subwoofer, and 2 upfiring channels.

Also, there are some features you should watch out for, these features have a huge effect on the surround-sound quality. While the soundbar channels are important, features such as – Dolby Atmos, DTS, and DTS:X are crucial for a competent soundbar.

Surround Sound Formats

  • Dolby Atmos – Supports height with upwards firing drivers.
  • DTS – Alternative to Dolby Digital
  • Dolby Digital – Contains up to 6 discrete audio channels.
  • DTS:X – Supports upwards firing drivers for height sound effects

What Size Soundbar Do I Need For The TV?

You can’t just pick up any random soundbar, and expect it to look and work well with your display, you should always aim for your soundbar to be identical in “width” to your display.

Not only does this have an aesthetic advantage, but it helps the viewer identify the audio coming from both sides of the TV, so it has an immersive surround-sound effect.

We’re not saying your soundbar should match your TV width exactly, but it’s ideal to have the soundbar slightly smaller or slightly larger than the TVs width.

Identifying TVs Width This is pretty easy, there are calculators you can use online such as Omnicalculator, just enter your TV’s diagonal size, and it should output the width.

TV width

If you’re looking for a quick answer, follow the table down below, it has the ideal soundbar sizes for specific TV sizes(diagonal).

Keep in mind, very few manufacturers have soundbars that are 60 inches or larger, so if you have a 75-inch TV, you may find it difficult to find the right soundbar for you.

Screen Size(In)Screen Width(In)Ideal Soundbar Size(In)
42″36.6″30-40″
50″44″40-50″
55″48″40-50″
65″57″50-60″
75″65″60″

Also Read: What Size Soundbar Do I Need For TV

Verdict

The verdict is that surround sound is definitely worth it if you value a genuine home theater experience, true they can be quite expensive but it’s very rewarding once you get it done correctly. Home theaters are great when everyone can experience it with you, and surround sounds share that immersive experience unlike soundbars and headphones.