How to Achieve True Surround Sound

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How to Achieve True Surround Sound

Surround sound can bring a film, television programme, and music to life, projecting audio at the listener from all sides for an immersive experience. It is an ideal choice for any home cinema system. Surround sound takes many forms, ranging from 2.1 channels of sound to 11.1 channels. However, true surround sound is considered to start at 5.1 channels. A/V receivers, which are at the heart of a system, are designed to support many surround sound formats. These can vary in the amount of data compression used and the number of channels that they support, two factors that affect the sound quality. Speakers in a surround sound system have specific roles that affect their placement in a room.

Another option to obtain surround sound is by using a pair of headphones, although buyers should pay attention to whether the headphones use simulated or true surround sound. While buyers can obtain true surround sound systems from electronics retailers and department stores, shopping online through a site like eBay gives them a wide array of options to choose from.

How True Surround Sound Works

True surround sound uses multi-channel audio, which means that the original recording is broken down into different pieces of information that are fed to different speakers. Each speaker produces sound based on the information in the channel to create the original sound. Most true surround sound uses at least six channels, but some minimalist systems use just three. In both cases, most of the channels are considered full bandwidth, which means that they produce a wide range of sounds. All surround sound systems also incorporate a sound channel dedicated to producing low frequency effects (LFE), or bass. The bass is handled by the subwoofer.. The speakers are positioned around the listener to create a directional effect. True surround sound is especially suited to film, television, and gaming.

Channels for True Surround Sound

True surround sound systems are named according to the number of channels that they support. However, the LFE channel is not a full bandwidth channel, so it is labeled as ".1". For example, a six channel system has 5.1 channels,, and a three channel system has 2.1 channels. Some high quality systems may have support for configurations of 7.1, 9.1, 9.2, or 11.1 channels. The ".2" configuration allows for right and left subwoofers.

Discrete vs. Matrixed Channels for True Surround Sound

True surround sound formats vary in whether they use discrete or matrixed channels. In a system with discrete channels, the sound information in each channel is entirely independent. In a system with matrixed channels, some information is extrapolated to create additional channels of sound. For example, a two channel stereo sound can be converted to 5.1 channel surround sound. While formats using discrete channels offer more precise sound, matrixed channels still provide an immersive audio experience.

Receivers for True Surround Sound

Any audio recording is encoded in some way, which means that the information is written so that another device can read it. That process is known as decoding. Surround sound systems incorporate a receiver,, which handles the decoding process and then sends the signals to each of the speakers. In order to play the audio, the surround sound receiver must be able to decode the source format. As surround sound formats vary in the number of channels that they use, a particular receiver may be able to support multiple channel arrangements.

Compression for True Surround Sound

The encoding process often involves compression of data, which helps to conserve the space needed, for example, on a disc. Compression takes two forms: lossy or lossless. Lossy compression means that some of the information that is deemed irrelevant is discarded during the encoding process. The resulting sound quality can vary. Lossless compression means that all of the critical information is preserved, which results in a higher quality of sound. This technology is often available with high-definition sources such as Blu-ray discs..

True Surround Sound Formats

Films and other media encode surround sound in a variety of formats. When buying a surround sound system, buyers should look for a receiver that supports a variety of formats. A 5.1 channel system has long been considered the standard, but newer receivers with high-definition support may allow for 7.1 channels or more. The table below highlights some of the most common formats and what they are used for, including whether the compression is lossless and whether they use matrixed or discrete channels.

Format Name

Channels

Type of Channel

Lossy or Lossless

Used for

Dolby Pro Logic II

5.1

2 discrete full bandwidth

3 matrixed full bandwidth

1 matrixed LFE

Lossy

VHS films

Stereo music and television

Some video games

Dolby Digital

5.a1

5 discrete full bandwidth

1 discrete LFE

Lossy

All DVDs

Some video games

Some high-definition television

DTS

5.1

5 discrete full bandwidth

1 discrete LFE

Lossy

Some DVDs

Some CDs

Dolby Pro Logic IIx

7.1

2 discrete full bandwidth

5 matrixed full bandwidth

1 matrixed LFE

Lossy

Sources connected to compatible receiver

Dolby Digital Plus

7.1

7 discrete full bandwidth

1 discrete LFE

Lossy

Some Blu-ray discs

Dolby TrueHD

7.1

7 discrete full bandwidth

1 discrete LFE

Lossless

Some Blu-ray discs

DTS-HD

7.1

7 discrete full bandwidth

1 discrete LFE

Lossy

Some Blu-ray discs

DTS-HD Master Audio

7.1

7 discrete full bandwidth

1 discrete LFE

Lossless

Some Blu-ray discs

Dolby Pro Logic IIz

Up to 9.1

2 to 7 discrete full bandwidth

2 to 7 matrixed full bandwidth

1 discrete or matrixed LFE

Lossy

Sources connected to compatible receiver

Other high quality receivers may be equipped to support Audyssey DSX, another surround sound format. Audyssey DSX takes 5.1 channel systems and converts them into 7.1 channel, 9.1 channel, or even 11.1 channel systems using matrix technology.

Achieving True Surround Sound with Speakers

True surround sound begins with 5.1 channel systems. A 2.1 channel system is convenient because it reduces the space needed, but it rarely provides the directional effect offered by true surround sound systems with 5.1 channels or more. This is because 2.1 channel systems use virtual surround sound, which has a special signal process to create directional effects rather than using the actual speakers.

Speaker Placement for True Surround Sound

Speaker placement is key to achieving the true surround sound effect. A surround sound system has several types of speakers, each with a different purpose. The table below summarises the types of speakers used in a true surround sound system, their purpose, and placement.

Type of Speaker

Function

Placement

Number Needed

Centre channel

Delivers dialogue and soundtrack

Above or below the television, aligned with the centre

1

Front left and right

Delivers the bulk of special sound effects

Either side of television, equal distances from the screen and listeners

2

Surrounds (rear, wide, and height)

Provides directional and special sound effects

Scattered throughout the room, depending on number of channels

2 to 8

Subwoofer

Provides bass effects

Anywhere in the room, but best in a corner or near to a wall

1 to 2

The number of surround speakers in a true surround sound system depends on the number of channels in the system. In a 5.1 channel system, only two surround speakers are required at the rear. A 7.1 channel system has four surround speakers: the rear surrounds as well as left and right surrounds. In 9.1 channel and 11.1 channel systems, buyers can add wide and height surround speakers. Wide speakers are typically placed between the right and left surrounds and the front left and right speakers. Height speakers are placed at the front of the room, near to the ceiling and angled down at the listeners.

Achieving True Surround Sound with Headphones

Buyers who want the power of surround sound on the move or without the effort of having to wire an entire system can turn to surround sound headphones.. These headphones have a variety of features and may even have a microphone, which makes them ideal for gaming. However, the most important feature is whether the speakers use simulated or true surround sound. As with 2.1 channel systems, headphones with virtual surround sound create the directional effect by processing the signals with a special algorithm. By contrast, headphones with true surround sound use multiple drivers, essentially mini speakers, to produce the same directional effects as multiple speakers in a standard surround sound system.

Buying True Surround Sound Systems on eBay

When you are ready to buy a true surround sound system, visit the eBay homepage.. You can search for whatever you are looking for by entering a keyword, such as "5.1 channel home cinema system" in the search box. If you are composing a system yourself, you can look for individual speakers based on their size, such as bookshelf speakers.. As you shop, keep an eye out for listings from Top-rated sellers, who have been recognised by eBay for consistently exceptional customer service, fast delivery, and high feedback ratings. Choosing Top-rated sellers and others who have high feedback ratings is a good way to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable and reliable seller.

Starting on eBay

If you have never made a purchase on eBay before, consider registering before you start browsing for products. After you have set-up the account and chosen your preferred payment method, you can to start buy products. Signing in before you search can speed up the checkout process and provide other benefits. For example, while logged into your My eBay account, you can save searches that you want to come back to later, save specific items to a wish list, and even create a list of saved sellers that you can use to browse for items.

Conclusion

Achieving true surround sound depends on a variety of factors. The most important is the type of system buyers choose. A 5.1 channel system has long been considered the standard for true surround sound, but newer high-definition sources frequently support 7.1 channel configurations. Smaller 2.1 channel systems are not considered true surround sound because they use special sound processing techniques rather speakers to achieve immersive sound with directional effects. Buyers should consider the receiver used. Many receivers are equipped to support multiple surround sound formats and even more than one channel arrangement, which allows for a greater variety of media sources.

The formats used also affect audio quality. For example, the encoding processes used to create media also incorporate varying degrees of compression. This determines how much information from the original recording is discarded. Surround sound systems either use matrixed or discrete channels, with discrete channels offering more precise sound. Buyers also have the option of choosing surround sound headphones, which can produce the same immersive listening experience as an entire room of speakers. However, they should pay attention to whether the headphones use virtual technology to simulate surround sound, or whether they have separate drivers that produce individual channels of sound like speakers. eBay offers a wide selection of speakers for buyers to achieve true surround sound.

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