Posted by & filed under Surround Sound / Home Audio.

Whether you’re a would be (or actual) movie or commercial director – and you crave a precise surround sound system; or you’re just an audiophile freak who wants a top performing system, enjoy this analysis of the pros and cons of simulated surround sound.

When 7.1 Surround Sound7.1-Surround Sound

More audio firepower

A 7.1 system has two more speakers than a 5.1 system. The extra audio “fire power” gives you more flexibility, allows you to make subtler and keener distinctions – and also to play with more soundscapes – simply by virtue of the law of permutations.

Bragging rights

Let’s just be totally, brutally honest here. When you opt for the more complex system — wireless versus wired; 7.1 versus 5.1 — you gain bragging rights. When you invite friends over – or prospective boyfriends or girlfriends – your 7.1 system will just be slightly more impressive.

If you are a professional, the 7.1 trumps 5.1.

If you are someone who needs a complex sound system to do subtle work – editing, directing, evaluating multimedia presentations – you might need  the detail, flexibility, etc of the 7.1.

5.1-surround sound

When 5.1 Surround Sound

Price Zings You

When you purchase more speakers, you pay more.

More Speakers Means More Cabling Means More “Mess”

When you opt for the more complex 7.1 surround system, you have to be more logistically creative. The main cables can cause tripping hazards and create an aesthetically unappealing situation. With wireless options available, you can eliminate the cable problem, however.

It all goes to show: for every problem, there is a surprising fix; for every surprising fix, there is a surprising new problem, and so on, recursively, until you go mad contemplating the never ending fun house mirror.

The Tendency to Habituate Gives the 5.1 an Edge

Human beings experience something called hedonic adaptation. This means that we get used to things in our environment and tune them out over time. So, the smell of fresh hot bread piping through your window in the morning will stimulate your senses and make you hungry. But if you smell the bread all morning and afternoon, you will eventually cease to notice it.

Same thing goes with your sound system. Your experience with a 5.1 system might come to be hedonically identical to your experience with the 7.1 system; even if, at first listen, you notice a big difference between the two sound systems.

To maximize your home stereo system, consult with the tried and true professionals of Karbon Home Theater Consulting, the Bay Area’s leader in home theater systems since 2003. Visit, or call 925-798-7600 for a free estimate.

We can solve all your home theater system dilemmas.

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