Surround Sound System Comparison
|60 – 19,000||60 – 19,000||60 – 19,000||50 – 22,000||34 – 20,000||50 – 22,000||55 – 20,000||45 – 20,000||34 – 20,000||45 – 20,000|
|DTS Digital Surround||DTS Digital Surround||THX||AIR SURROUND XTREME||Dolby Digital||AIR SURROUND XTREME||Dolby Digital||Dolby Digital||Dolby Digital||Dolby Digital|
|38.00 x 3.00 x 3.00||16.93 x 1.99 x 11.65||3.90 x 6.50 x 3.70||34.86 x 3.38 x 4.75||36.00 x 16.50 x 5.00||35.00 x 4.25 x 4.75||17.00 x 12.50 x 3.50||30.00 x 3.50 x 14.50||49.30 x 18.20 x 12.90||23.60 x 4.00 x 15.80|
|3.00 x 5.90 x 3.00||2.20 x 3.05 x 2.55||6.50 x 3.90 x 3.70||34.86 x 3.13 x 3.63||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|8.30 x 9.10 x 8.30||3.54 x 8.07 x 3.58||11.50 x 11.10 x 12.60||11.38 x 11.50 x 12.50||NA||NA||NA||NA||12.60 x 12.60 x 14.37||NA|
Surround Sound System Buying Guide
What is a Surround Sound System?
Having a high quality surround sound system can add quality sound to your television experiences. When you want to purchase a surround sound system, there are a few things you will want to do before you actually make a purchase.
First of all, check and see what connection options you have with your existing devices. Once you have done this, evaluate the room you are transforming for things like echo and size as well.
Lastly, decide whether you want a custom set up or a “surround sound system in a box” which is what the three top rated surround sound systems are that we have reviewed here.
Surround Sound System Components
There are several components that make up a surround sound system. If you are picking and choosing components these are the basic ones that you will want to include.
- Center Channel Speaker – This speaker delivers 2 channels of sound, right and left and is the one that is usually placed in the front of the room, facing the viewers. The center speaker is your anchor and is responsible for playing the dialogue and sound effects that come from the front.
- Satellite Speaker – Your satellite speaker delivers one single channel of sound and is best places in a corner or the rear of the room. Sometimes satellite speakers are called surround speakers. You can have anywhere from 2 to 11 satellite speakers and are best places in a circle around the room. Be sure that you get speakers to the sides and in the back as well.
- Subwoofer – This unit is what is responsible for those low frequency, thumping bass sounds. The subwoofer can be put anywhere you choose in the room. During set up, try placing it in different places and see what sounds good to the viewers. Avoid placing the subwoofer in a corner to avoid getting the common “boom” sound or overly muddy bass. You can have one or two subwoofers for a surround sound system.
- Receiver – The receiver is the core component that decodes the signals coming from the audio sources and sends them to the speakers to be projected out to the viewers. The receiver is usually placed next to the TV or projector screen and the center speaker. The majority of receivers on the market support a variety of formats.
Comparing Surround Sound Systems
The most popular surround sound system set ups are the 5.1 channel and 7.1 channel systems. Other options are available that are less popular which include 2.1 channel, 6.1 channel, 9.1 channel, 9.2 channel, 10.2 channel sets up. There are advantages and disadvantages of each of these set ups.
- 2.1-Channel Systems – True surround sound is going to be from a set up that is 5.1 channel or higher but it does fall under a category that is called virtual surround sound. The 2.1 channel system is comprised of 2 speakers and a subwoofer. This combination mimics a true surround sound system. If you have a 2.1 channel system, you will place this in the front of the room close to the television. Space the speakers equal distances apart. Even though a 2.1 system is more often than not, less expensive than other systems, it is limited on what it can do. The best type of room to put a system of this kind in is a small, square room that the sound will be able to bounce off of to create an illusion of true surround sound.
- 1- Channel System – The 5.1 channel system is the most commonly used surround sound format. The majority of all movies support this channel system. It is made up of a center channel speaker, 2 front satellite speakers, 2 rear satellite speakers and the subwoofer. These 5 speakers are placed evenly around the room to give the viewer a true surround sound experience. If the design of room allows for it, place the rear speakers in the corners of the room and place them just above ear level from a sitting position. The front speakers should also be set in the front corners and the center channel speaker centered with the TV directly in front of the viewing space. Make sure all of the speakers are facing the viewers.
- 1 Channel Systems – When Blu-ray HD came onto the scene, the introduction of 7.1 channel systems also came about. The 7.1 channel system adds 2 speakers to the 5.1 set up. A 7.1 system uses 4 channels two in the rear and 2 surrounds. The two additional speakers that are part of the 7.1 channel system should also be placed behind the seating area. The addition of the two speakers provides even more sound quality enhancement tht improves the viewers TV experience.
Features of a Great Surround Sound System
There are many different features that are part of a surround sound system. These features need to be part of the consideration process as you are researching various set ups. For most consumers, a 5.1 channel system or a 7.1 channel system will be plenty to provide viewers with a fantastic surround sound experience. Let’s go over other features that will be a part of the surround sound system.
- Do you want separate components or a set? – You can either choose the parts of your surround sound system separately or buy sets that are already put together. This is sometimes called a “Home Theater in a Box”. They come with all the needed components and are ready to install right out of the box. These “in the box” systems make things much easier when you are looking to create that home theater experience.
- Speaker Size and Shape – Speakers will either be wall mounted, floor standing, or can be set on a shelf or table. The front speakers will more often than not be larger than the rear and surround speakers. They can range in size from 4” to as large as 20”. If the system has floor standing models, they may be as tall as 3 or 4 feet in height.
- Wired or Wireless? – Surround sound systems come in both wired and wireless varieties. Wireless systems will create much less clutter, especially in the larger 7.1 or above channel systems. Wireless surround sound systems use infrared or radio signals to transfer the sound to the listeners. Wireless systems will still require a power cord and an available outlet. Make sure that the cables used are long enough to reach and that there are available outlets in the room.
- Receiver Choices – The receivers that are in your surround sound system will vary. Depending on the model and size of the set up, they may be integrated with Blu-ray or a DVD player. These will already be configured for the best possible performance. Don’t forget to check for HDMI connectivity and the ability of the receiver to translate the analog signals into surround sound. Thos capability will provide the most fulfilling television viewing and hearing experience.
Surround sound systems provide the ultimate viewing experience for viewers with sound effects that make you feel like you are right in the middle of all the action. They are not difficult to set up, especially with the home theater kits and set ups, so you can have your home theater ready to go in no time.
In general, users should go with the rule of thumb that small surround systems are going to be better in small rooms and if you have a large room, you will get better results from a large system. With advancing technology, there are many choices that you will have from Blu-ray integration to DVD players and much more.
Many people avoid surround sound systems thinking they are way too complicated to understand and set up but this is not the case at all. Because there are so many sets that are already put together with all the needed components all that is really necessary is to research the complete sets and read reviews to find out what customers have to say about their performance.
With the information we have provided in these reviews and the buyer’s guide, you have the information you need to make an informed decision as to the surround sound system that is perfect for your preferences, your room size and your budget as well.