Surround Sound Channels Explained: 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, and More!

Imagine you have decided to set up a surround sound system, and you are going to run across numbers 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, 7.1.2, 9.1, etc. As you see them again and again, you may begin to realize what they actually are. What is meant by the different speaker channels?

When it is about the surround sound channels, the first number destine the number of main speakers. The second number destine the number of subwoofers, and the third number destine the number of “height” speakers.

Let’s get acknowledged about the details of the different speaker systems and what their channel structure actually looks like. For getting the sound setup you are looking for, click any of the links.

What Do The Numbers in Speaker Channels Mean?

The First Number (ex: The “7” in 7.1)

Numbers in Speaker Channels

The first number of any speaker system configuration destines the number of principle speakers in the setup.
When it is about the main speakers, we refer to the front left, front right, center, and various surrounding speakers.

The Second Number (ex: The “1” in 2.1)

Number of Subwoofers

The second number of any speaker system configuration destines the number of subwoofers in the surround sound setup.
It is common to see a 1, which means there is one subwoofer in the setup, but you may come across a two now and then. While most surround sound systems could work great with one subwoofer, some people prefer the sound of two for their unique rooms.

The Third Number (ex: The “2” in 7.1.2)

Number of Height Speaker

The third number of any speaker system configuration destines the number of “height” of a speaker.
If two numbers are not enough, you may come across numbers like 7.1.2 or 9.1.2 in the home theater product search. While these numbers seem pretty complex, it simply gives room to define “height” speakers in the home theater surround sound system. Height speakers are usually located in the home theater room ceiling, but they could also be upward-firing speakers.

Stereo System: 2.0 and 2.1 Channel Speaker System

The 2.0 Surround Sound System

2.0 Surround Sound System

There will be two speakers beside your TV in this system – one to the left side and one to the right side. Your speakers will be powered by a well-manufactured receiver or even by an amplifier. Sometimes, the speakers are active, and they do not require a different power source. There will not have any subwoofer, and speakers, which would be compatible with any TV, DVD, and mobile devices, like phones and laptops.

The 2.0 stereo system is a basic stereo setup, which has no surround sound and is used to listen to music. It may be a start to a home theater, and it helps keep things simple in this type of setup. It could give a better sound than the tiny speakers that TVs come with, so there is nothing wrong with this simple setup.

The 2.1 Surround Sound System

2.1

2.0 stereo sound system could give the home theater a better sound compared to the two-speaker setup. You could have your left and right speakers on each side of the television. With the addition of one subwoofer, you could add bass and depth to the home theater sound system.

There are no surrounding speakers. For that, this setup is still pretty basic. But if you add the subwoofer, it will provide a more complex experience. You could hear lower frequencies better. You could enjoy a clutter-free home theater without those wires running everywhere!

Many soundbars are 2.1-channel setup. This setup is used to enjoy movies, TV, and music.

The 3.1 Surround Sound System

3.1 Surround Sound System

The 3.1 sound system is one kind of four-channel sound system with three main speakers and a subwoofer. The speakers have a left, a center, and a right speaker positioned accordingly. It would help if you positioned your subwoofer on the floor in the center of the setup; however, carpeting or hardwood can affect the sound. So please be attentive.

To reproduce dialogue, this addition of the center channel speaker is commonly used. While effects, music, and other stereo sounds will use the left and right speakers. The 3.1 system setup is still focused on only sound in the front and has no surround sound speakers. This feature is a great setup to create cinematic sound.

The 5.1 Surround Sound Systems

5.1

This 5.1 home theater system is a true surround sound system, and it is probably the most common home theater configuration. You must have seen it mentioned very frequently when browsing home theater products. Home theaters of any shape and sizes rely on a 5.1 surround system for a better audio experience.

It has six channels, including five principal speakers and a subwoofer. Three speakers are located in the front. One in the left. One in the center and one in the right. Two surround sound speakers are in the back of the room—one on the left side and one on the right side.

While there are so many configurations for this setup, the ideal setup is with the front left and front right speakers. It might be a 22-30 degree angle from the center speaker/TV. And the surround sound speakers need to be at a 90-110 degree angle from the center speaker or the TV.

 For delivering surround sound, the 5.1 surround sound is the most common format. People could easily use it in everything, from DVD to movie theaters and TV. Many laptops and desktops come with a 5.1 sound card, which is accessible with this surround sound setup.

7.1 and 7.1.2 Surround Sound Systems

The 7.1 Surround Sound Systems

7.1

A 7.1 surround system has all of the elements of a 5.1 channel system and adds two more back speakers. It is an eight-channel system and is generally used in home theaters. In any 7.1 home theater surround system, the addition of two speakers in the rear gives a full experience of rounded sound because the two sides surround speakers would not be liable for both back and surround sound.

Location of the speaker for the original six channels of a 5.1 surround system, but the two back speakers should be placed ideally at a 135-degree to a 150-degree angle from the center channel for an optimal surround sound experience.

The 7.1.2 Surround Sound Systems

This configuration may seem complex when looking at the numbers, but the 7.1.2 surround system means a 7.1 surround sound setup. It has an additional two celling or upward-firing speakers. This setup is generally created with the help of Dolby Atmos if you want to learn more new things about the Dolby Atmos 7.1.2 speaker configuration and setup.

This surround system is best to use on a flat ceiling made of drywall or plaster. The height of the ceiling shouldn’t be more than 14 feet. This system is a higher-end experience of home theater.

This technology has become more common in home theaters. It gives a top-of-the-line, realistic, and immersive home theater experience. It also creates a dome of sound in the home theater. As long as the receiver is Dolby Atmos compatible, it could achieve this configuration.

The 7.2 Surround Sound Systems

7.2

The 7.2 home theater surround system is becoming a more wide surround sound speaker layout. Nowadays, more receivers are supporting this configuration. It has all of the elements of the 7.1 surround sound setup. But if you are adding one more subwoofer for a receiver to support this configuration. It will need two subwoofer outputs.

Some people are happy with one subwoofer. Other people use the 7.2 set up to balance bass in home theater. It is better than instead of loud or soft bass in different places of the room. The bass is equally distributed, and no matter wherever you are sitting, you could get the same bass experience.

If you love bass and you want to invest in an additional subwoofer, the 7.2 home theater surround system would be the best choice for you. Be careful; your neighbors could get annoyed with too much bass sound.

The Ultimate Experiences of 9.1 and 9.1.2 Surround Sound Systems

The 9.1 Home Theater Surround Systems

9.1

Any 9.1. home theater system is a ten-channel surround sound system. It includes nine speakers and one subwoofer. In addition to the components, it includes a 7.1 home theater surround system. The 9.1 surround sound also has two front-height speakers. The front-height speakers need to be placed on the front side of the room. Place it above the left and right main speakers. Remember that it needs to be about three feet above your left and right front speaker and face directly at the listener for the optimal sound.

This system is a very high-end home theater surround sound setup. It isn’t as typical as 7.1, 5.1, or lower. Highly dedicated home theater gurus use this. But you may achieve it by slowly adding components to the home theater system.

Consultants or experts could do this work properly. But there are many components and specs to be considered to set up this type of system properly.

The 9.1.2 Home Theater Surround Systems

This 9.1.2 home theater surround system has a slightly different setup than the 9.1 home theater system. While you may think that you’ll be adding two ceiling or upward-firing speakers to the 9.1 surround system configuration, you’re going to have two wide front speakers instead of two front-height speakers – in collation to the two ceiling speakers.

The total staff has left and right front speakers. One center speaker. One subwoofer. One left and one right front wide speaker. One left, and one right surrounds the speaker. One left and one right rear speaker. One left and one right ceiling speaker.

You could check out more information about the Dolby Atmos 9.1.2 speaker from google. This setup could create the immersive, high-end dome sound experience that the 7.1.2 had but adds a tier of sound with the left and right front roomy speakers.

Are There More?

You might be thinking that the setups we reviewed are enough to satisfy any home theater. But there are more options available for home theaters. So if you have not found the perfect setup for you, do not fret. Let’s talk about those new setups.

The 4.1 Surround Sound System

4.1

This 4.1 home theater surround sound system is another roomy configuration, and it includes one front left, one front right, one rear left, and one rear right speaker with one subwoofer. It is a five-channel setup. It could not include the metaphor center channel speaker.

The 6.1 Surround Sound System

This 6.1 home theater surround sound configuration is like a 5.1 surround system but includes an additional speaker. This additional speaker needs to be located in the center rear of home theaters. It helps to adjust another dimension except going to a full 7.1 surround sound setup. It could create a more realistic sound experience and makes for a roomy and fuller sound in home theater with only one collation.

In place of investing in two rear speakers, you’ll start with one and get a great effect on your money. Many people start with one and end up adding another later to move up to the 7.1 setups. But others see the addition of one back speaker as unimportant.

Surround Sound

The 10.2 Home Theater Surround Sound System

THX is the developer of the 10.2 home theater surround sound system. The running slogan for the setup is “twice as good as 5.1”. The configuration of this setup includes seven front channels: Left and right side speakers, height speakers, front speakers, and center front speakers. There are three surround speakers, including a left, a back, a right, and two subwoofers.

This surround sound system is the best way to set up a home theater. Some of the products are currently sold to accommodate this aspect. Only the most dedicated home theater experts will pursue this surround home theater sound system.

The 13.1 Home Theater Surround Sound and Beyond

The Dolby Digital Plus system supports this surround system up to 13.1 and many other surround sound configurations as 12.2, 22.2, etc. While these surround sound setups are difficult. They are rare in home theater. But they are fun to research and learn about, and there’s nothing wrong with dreaming of the possibilities!

FAQs

Question

Are any Home Theater Surround Systems, which have an even number of speakers?

If you need an even number of speakers, you will want to go with a 2.0 stereo system. You will find one 5.1 home theater surround system, one 7.1 or 7.1.2 surround system, and one 9.1 surround system. The 2.0 stereo method has two parts. One 5.1 surround system has six channels, 7.1 has eight channels, 7.1.2 has ten channels, and 9.1 also has ten channels.

What is the best number for a home theater speaker channel?

The aptitude number of home theater speakers channels depends on your room. Especially the size. If you have a little room, you will want to go with a smaller number of speaker channels, and it will optimize a bigger room with a huge number of speaker channels.

However, a small room could benefit from speakers placed in the front, the sides, the back, and on the ceiling (unless it’s a particularly low ceiling). Typically, you will get a good sound with a large number of speakers optimally placed everywhere in the room, based on the size.

Conclusion

Once you know what you are looking at, you will realize that surround sound channels are not all that confusing. I hope this article was helpful to you! I spent several hours researching and testing to find the best speakers out there for the best price!

-our editorial board has reviewed this article and has been approved for publication according to our editorial policy.

Best Seller List Of Surround Sound Systems:

SaleBestseller No. 1
Polk True Surround III 5.1 Channel Wireless Surround Sound System, Includes Sound Bar, L & R Rear...
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  • MULTIPLE CONNECTION OPTIONS - With built-in Bluetooth, pair your compatible iOS/Android devices and wirelessly stream music from your music library or popular streaming services. Features a HDMI ARC, an Aux, and an Optical Input for versatile connectivity
  • SIMPLE, QUICK SETUP - Connect the sound bar to virtually any TV with the included cable and sync the surround speakers and the subwoofer with the sound bar by just pressing a few buttons. Works with its own remote control and virtually every TV remote
Bestseller No. 2
Klipsch Black Reference Theater Pack 5.1 Surround Sound System
  • The Klipsch reference theater pack delivers a superior acoustic performance while keeping an incredibly minimal footprint
  • Klipsch's exclusive Tractrix Horn technology and aluminum Tweeters deliver the cleanest, most natural sound possible. The down-firing wireless subwoofer is designed to deliver room-filling low frequencies without requiring too much floor space
  • To complement the easy placement of the wireless subwoofer, each satellite speaker has a keyhole mount and a threaded insert for maximum mounting flexibility
  • The reference theater pack brings the Klipsch cinematic sound into your home with an incredibly minimal footprint
SaleBestseller No. 3
SAMSUNG HW-Q60T 5.1ch Soundbar with 3D Surround Sound and Acoustic Beam (2020) , Black
  • 3D SURROUND SOUND - The powerful 3D surround sound of DTS Virtual: X turns your living room into a theater.
  • SAMSUNG ACOUSTIC BEAM - Acoustic Beam technology delivers sound that seems to come from precisely where the action is happening
  • Q-SYMPHONY - Syncs your Q-Series Soundbar speakers with your Samsung QLED TV speakers for the most immersive sound
  • MULTI-CONNECTION - Bluetooth multi connectionConveniently switch between two different connected smart devices
  • ADAPTIVE SOUND - Adaptive sound technology optimizes sound for every scene, allowing you to hear voices clearly even at the lowest volumes
Bestseller No. 4
Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1 Channel Home Theater System/Bluetooth/USB+8" Subwoofer
  • HTS56 5.1 Channel Home Theater System with LED Light Effects. Plug and play system with everything you need right out of the box. 1000-Watts Peak Power. 500-Watts Program Power. 250-Watts Continuous RMS Power. 8” Subwoofer with Built-In Receiver. 1x 3” Center Channel Speaker.
  • 2x 3” Full Range Front Channel Speakers. 2x 3” Full Range Rear Channel Speakers. Top Quality MDF Wood Cabinets with Plastic Front Panels. Built-In FM Receiver with Amazing Reception. Built-In Optical input to connect to your Television. Digital Display. Selectable preset equalizer curves.
  • You can independently control the volume of each speaker and the subwoofer. Bluetooth v2.1. USB Input (max file size 16Gb). SD Input (max file size 16Gb). 2 ¼” MIC Inputs with Echo function for karaoke. 5 RCA Audio Outputs. 6 RCA DVD Audio Inputs. 2 RCA AUX Inputs.
  • Optical input to connect to your TV. FM Antenna Input. Full Function Remote. The Subwoofer unit has 4 LED lighting modes: (blink to the beat, solid on, spectrum EQ analyzer, off) and selectable with 7 colors or multi-color mode.
  • Zero distortion can be heard even with volume and bass settings all the way up! The sound on this system is better than anything even that cost twice the price!. Cable Length: Front L/F: 12Ft, Rear L/R: 30Ft, Center: 10Ft. Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20KHz. Certification: CE and RoHS Compliant. Signal to noise ratio: ≥70dB (Maximum output with THD+N
SaleBestseller No. 5
Logitech Z906 5.1 Surround Sound Speaker System - THX, Dolby Digital and DTS Digital Certified -...
  • 5.1 digital surround sound: Hear every detail in your Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks the way the studio intended. Sub woofer: 165 Watts
  • THX certified home theater speakers: Your assurance of true cinema quality sound. Satellites : 4 x 67 W, wall mountable
  • Delivers a continuous 500 watts of power, with the ability to deliver a peak of 1,000 watts under certain circumstances: Thunderous, room shaking audio with deep bass you can feel
  • Flexible setup: Connect upto six devices : Computer, music player, TV, game console and more; Infared remote
  • Easy sound control: Compact control console and wireless remote let you instantly personalize your surround sound experience
Bestseller No. 6
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 Channel 1000W Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar with Dual 10' Subwoofers...
3,206 Reviews
Nakamichi Shockwafe Ultra 9.2.4 Channel 1000W Dolby Atmos/DTS:X Soundbar with Dual 10" Subwoofers...
  • With 70+ years of audio excellence, experience the absolute best audio no other soundbar can replicate. Feel the roomshaking bass with industry’s only Dual Wireless Subwoofers & 360° 9.2 channel audio from every direction with our soundbar + four modular surround effects speakers. This plug and play solution’s designed to bring the acoustics of a high performance cinema into your living room in approx 30 minutes. Winner of the best Dolby Atmos soundbar battle (hosted by Brian Tong, Ex-Cnet host)
  • Our DUAL 10" WIRELESS SUBWOOFERS (industry's 1st!), the new soundbar reference standard for bass, produce ground-shaking rumbles that turn your living room into an epicenter of adrenaline-pumping action. They merge to distribute bass evenly throughout the room with zero localization. The sound bar, surrounds and subwoofers replicate the perfect theater experience, reaching cinema-level volumes with no distortion. Agreed among experts, TWO subwoofers are a must for ultimate home theaters.
  • FOUR 2-WAY SURROUND SPEAKERS (industry's 1st!). Each of them (connected to sub via RCA wires) is constructed with a tweeter that reproduces high frequencies with captivating clarity, and a full-range driver that delivers surround effects with power and precision. MODULAR in form, they are designed to work perfectly for any room size or shape. Attach them as dipoles to disperse expanded surround effects or detach as 4 individual speakers (signature setup) to deliver our 360° surround sound
  • Redefine soundbar expectations and surround performance with our exclusive SSE Technology. Featuring 3 advanced audio processing engines working in harmony to enhance directionality, enlarge spaciousness and unlock extra details of any audio soundtrack. Envelop your home theater with up to 9.2.4 channels of Dolby Atmos or DTS:X object based multi-dimensional audio that flows around, above and through you. Unleash the full dynamics of your audio experience with 110dB of room-filling sound
  • All units sold since Aug '19 can receive Dolby Atmos surround via TV’s eARC when streaming with TV’s smart apps like Netflix (Note: not all TVs can output Atmos. Refer to your TV brand’s audio output specs). Enjoy advanced connectivity with Dolby Vision, 4K UHD pass-thru and High Dynamic Range (HDR). Connect up to 6 devices via 1 HDMI ARC, 3 HDMI, 1 Optical and 1 Coaxial inputs. The 52-key backlit remote allows seamless control of sources, DSP modes, individual channel and room size optimization
SaleBestseller No. 7
Sound Bars for TV with Subwoofer, 3D / DSP/Bluetooth/HDMI-ARC Home Speakers, Bass Treble Adjustable,...
  • [Elevate your TV sound with powerful bass] Add amazing sound bar for your TV with the 2.1 ch Soundbar BT100. Surround Sound let you experience great 3D effects, the included wired subwoofer delivers Powerful Bass, and whether it's sport, TV or music, Smart DSP Sound Mode can optimize audio to suit your content. The device features five sound units, 4 full-range speaker and one bass woofers, offers not only excellent sound quality but also awesome bass sounds. Guarantees a great listening experience.
  • [Versatile sound system?] The Bluetooth soundbar connects to your devices in various ways. You can use an optical cable, a SPDIF line, Auxiliary cables and HDMI ARC lines. The TV soundbar provides cinema-quality sounds. It adds a significant effect when watching movies, playing games, and more. The device works with most Bluetooth gadgets. You can also use these speakers with your music players, iPods, tablets, cellphones, TVs and more.
  • [Sound Bar / Dual Speaker?] This is a sound bar that can be split in half to form two upright standing speakers. When it’s in tower form, there’s two bases you attach the speaker to for wider footing. The sound bar format is great for TVs while the standing speakers work great for computers/desks. Very neat!
  • [Soundbar are must haves!] for all kinds of home entertainment. They can turn a regular TV or sound system into a state-of-the-art, big-tech setup that will impress everyone. Soundbars are perfect for use with: TVs, Movies, Gaming, Projectors, Music and media streaming.
  • [Set up your sound bar in minutes] The included HDMI, optical, coaxial, aux, aux to RCA cables quickly connect your TV & subwoofer to the sound bar. Plug in TV's audio out source via HDMI ARC, optical, coaxial & 3.5mm audio jack to sound bar's input port. And then set your TV's audio digital format into PCM to enjoy the wonderful world.
Bestseller No. 8
Vizio V51x-J6 36-inch 5.1 Channel Home Theater Soundbar System (Renewed)
  • Low-Profile Design and Brilliant Clarity with 6 Full-range Speakers
  • Powerful 5" Wireless Subwoofer and Bluetooth Music Streaming
  • Complete Immersion with Discreet Volume Adjustable Surround Speakers
  • Optimized for 4K TVs with Dolby Audio 5.1 and HDMI (Cable Included)
  • Control with TV Remote using HDMI, Audio Cables Included for Easy Setup
SaleBestseller No. 9
Portable Bluetooth Speaker,SANAG Bluetooth 5.0 Dual Pairing Loud Wireless Mini Speaker, 360 HD...
  • 🎼【HiFi Sound Quality】: The portable bluetooth speaker has shocking rich bass,large volume without voice break,360° all around sound effect.Equipped with high-quality speaker.Smooth and supple appearance gives you a great visual experience.High-frequency is transparent and bright sound,medium-frequency is clear and clean and low-frequency reaches pretty low but powerful with a full sound. It offers a rich sound and an enhanced bass that goes far beyond its size.
  • 📱【Bluetooth 5.0】: A new generation of Bluetooth 5.0 technology,transmitted by A2DP technology,has lower power consumption than Bluetooth 4.2 but with faster transmission,stronger anti-interference ability and more stable signal without any delay.This wireless speaker is compatible with multiple devices such as tablets,laptops,desktop computers,televisions and mobile phones.
  • 🚿【IP67 Waterproof 】: Fully wrapped design with IP67 waterproof makes it not afraid of rain.Playing music at ease.You are never alone to sing in the shower with the bluetooth speaker.It is also anti-shock and anti-damage.Even if the bluetooth speaker falls down at 1.5m high,it can still keep intact.It can even be used in harsh environments such as lakes,forests and deserts.
  • 🔋【Long Battery Life】: Small size and large capacity.Let you experience your music uninterrupted from day to night and meet your needs all day long.With a full charge and playing at medium volume,it can bring you 18-24 hours of uninterrupted music journey.
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Bestseller No. 10
Bobtot Home Theater System Surround Sound Speakers - 800 Watts 6.5 inch Subwoofer 5.1/2.1 Channel...
  • 5.1 Channel Surround Stereo Sound: Bobtot speaker has two modes of 5.1/2.1 channel, switch via remote control. Pro surround function provides you with more advanced enjoyment. You can independently control the volume of each speaker and the subwoofer
  • 800 Watts Peak Power: Home theater system speakers can reach up to 800 watts of power, 6.5 inch Subwoofer with built-in receiver, high volume but with professional sound quality and excellent bass sound, deliver the cleanest, most natural sound possible. Bring you and your family with full cinema experience at home
  • Multimedia Support: 5.0 Bluetooth speakers can connect various smart devices, which are compatible with USB/SD/DVD/OPT/COA/AUX, also have a Built-In FM Receiver with Amazing Reception. USB/SD input (max file size 16Gb). 2 ¼” MIC Inputs with Echo function for karaoke
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  • Bobtot Speakers: Bobtot home theater system speakers use Top quality MDF wood cabinets with plastics front pannels, and has LED lighting effect and digital display function. With longer built-in cable, the speakers can be placed anywhere: Front Speakers L/F: 13Ft, Rear Speakers L/R: 31Ft, Center Speaker: 10Ft

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Last update on 2022-05-21

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