7.1 Surround Sound. Worth the Money?

Lots of folks are beefing up their home theater systems to go with the new HDTV flat screen. A common question is should I get a 5.1, 6.1 or 7.1 surround system.

The answer is fairly straight forward but lets review the variables.

A home theater speaker system is made up of several components:

Front speakers; Left - Center - Right
Surround Speaker - Left Rear - Right Rear
Surround Back - Left Back - Right Back
Subwoofer - This is the "1" in all of the systems

The Graphic below shows approximate positions for surround speakers for 5.1,6.1 and 7.1 systems

It is IMPORTANT to note that a 6.1 system is similar to a 7.1 system in that they both offer a BACK Channel but the 6.1 only does so in MONO. So you either have 1 speaker in the BACK with a 6.1 and 2 speakers in the back with 7.1

Do I need a 6.1 or 7.1 system?
In most cases your room size will dictate if you can even have one! If you cannot place your BACK speaker in back of you then don't bother.

If you have room to put them AND your budget allows you could consider doing so.

What is the benefit of a 6.1 or 7.1 system?
The benefit would be the extra sound effects a movie might provide in the back channels. Please note however that many or most movies on standard DVD's do NOT have 7,1 available and almost no Cable or Satellite companies do NOT transmit higher than 5.1

Recommendation
If you really really want to have a 6.1 or 7.1 system and have the room and money to do so then buy one. If you're not sure, then purchase a 5.1 system that you can upgrade to a 6.1 or 7.1 with identical speakers to your surround speakers. Either way upgrading to a 5.1 system will greatly increase your movie and in some cases music enjoyment.

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