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)

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)

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)

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

2.0 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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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:

Bestseller No. 1
Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1 Channel Home Theater System/Bluetooth/USB+8' Subwoofer
5,068 Reviews
Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1 Channel Home Theater System/Bluetooth/USB+8" Subwoofer
  • 5.1 Channel 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.
  • 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. 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. FM Antenna Input. Full Function Remote.
  • The Subwoofer unit has 4 LED lighting modes: selectable with 7 colors or multi-color mode. Zero distortion can be heard even with volume and bass settings all the way up!
Bestseller No. 2
Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar | Works with 4K & HD TVs | Wireless Subwoofer | Includes...
13,153 Reviews
Polk Audio Signa S2 Ultra-Slim TV Sound Bar | Works with 4K & HD TVs | Wireless Subwoofer | Includes...
  • A PREMIUM ULTRA-SLIM SOUND BAR WITH INCLUDED WIRELESS SUBWOOFER – 5 powerful full-range drivers deliver BEAUTFUL RICH SOUND WITH DEEP BASS. POLK’S EXCLUSIVE VOICE ADJUST TECHNOLOGY & Dolby Digital Decoding maximizes sound clarity & reduces voice delays
  • EXCELLENT SOUND AND VALUE on par with any mid- to high-range sound bars available in the market. At just over 2" tall, it fits most spaces — easily wall-mount it or place in front of your TV. It won’t block your TV’s bottom edge or IR remote sensor
  • UPGRADE YOUR HOME THEATER EXPERIENCE – Watch your favorite shows on your 4K HD Smart TV with exceptional picture quality & crystal clear sound. With numerous connection possibilities, plug in any audio source via HDMI ARC, optical input & AUX
  • WIRELESSLY STREAM MUSIC from your favorite streaming apps like Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, and others directly from your smartphone, tablet or other compatible device through the built-in Bluetooth technology
  • SET UP YOUR SOUND BAR IN MINUTES — With the included subwoofer, HDMI and optical cables quickly connect your TV to the sound bar. Get set up and listening in minutes
Bestseller No. 3
Sony HT-S350 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer: S350 2.1ch Sound Bar and Powerful Subwoofer - Home...
4,933 Reviews
Sony HT-S350 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer: S350 2.1ch Sound Bar and Powerful Subwoofer - Home...
  • Ultimate Home Theater Upgrade: Sony 2.1 Channel Sound Bar System With Wireless Subwoofer for Optimized Audio
  • Audio Comes Alive:320W total power output brings content to life with incredible volume and clarity
  • Powerful Subwoofer: Large 6.30 Inches Speaker Unit and 6.16 Gallon Volume for a Deeper, Richer Bass Sound
  • S-Force Pro: Virtual Surround Sound Technology Emulates a Theater-Style Surround Sound Experience
  • 7 Sound Modes: Choose from Auto Sound, Cinema, Music, Game, News, Sports, and Standard Audio Mode
Bestseller No. 4
Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio (2021) , Black
2,261 Reviews
Samsung HW-A450/ZA 2.1ch Soundbar with Dolby Audio (2021) , Black
  • SUBWOOFER INCLUDED - Wireless subwoofer is included so you can enjoy deep bass right out of the box All-in-one
  • BASS BOOST - Give your bass an instant boost with the push of a button on the soundbar
  • ADAPTIVE SOUND LITE - Enhanced audio tracking for your content in real time, with technology that equalizes background music and consistent volume control
  • BLUETOOTH TV CONNECTION - Set up is a breeze. Easily connect your soundbar to your TV by connecting wirelessly
  • GAME MODE - Boost your gaming experience with perfectly synced directional audio that moves with the action on-screen and crosstalk cancellation that minimizes distractions
SaleBestseller No. 5
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. 6
Saiyin Soundbar, Sound Bars for TV with Subwoofer, Ultra Slim 24 Inch Bluetooth, 2.1 Channel TV...
  • [2.1 CHANNEL SPEAKER SYSTEM ] Sound bar with wired subwoofer delivers powerful bass and surround sound, letting you enjoy an immersive sound experience. The 24 inch sound bar is built with 2 full range speakers, allowing you enjoy all details of music and movies. Total harmonic distortion is about 0.5% even at the highest volume.
  • [MULTIPLE INPUT OPTIONS]The sound bar for TV supports advanced Bluetooth 5.0 wireless connection, with which you can connect easily with iphones, ipads, tablets, PC and other Bluetooth enabled devices to stream music; and also wired connection including optical, coaxial, RCA inputs (all cables included).
  • [THREE DISTINCT SOUND MODES] Music, Movie and TV shows modes adjusted by using the remote control included, catering to different needs of sound bar users. You can also control the volume, switch between different modes with buttons on sound bar. Remote control is not compatible with universal or TV remotes
  • [SET UP IN MINUTES]Connect the subwoofer with sound bar via cable included, and hook up TV with sound bar via Bluetooth or optical, coxial, RCA cables, then you are ready to go! The TV sound bar can be placed under TV on desktop or mounted on wall with provided mounting kits.
  • [ULTRA SLIM & ELEGANT DESIGN] The sound bar is built with 2 full range speakers and elegant slim design with piano paint which is compatible with modern TVs, and never block the TV screen. The wired 4 inch subwoofer easily fits in most spaces and adds rich bass from anywhere in the room.
Bestseller No. 7
Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Channel 600W Soundbar with 8" Wireless Subwoofer, 2 Rear Surround...
  • With 70+ years of audio excellence, transform your living room into a state-of-the-art movie theater with 360° Dolby Atmos surround flowing around, above and beyond you. Like cinemas with speakers located around you, SHOCKWAFE Pro 7.1.4 SSE duplicates the same experience, courtesy of 2 rear surround speakers (Wired) & Spatial Surround Elevation (SSE) technology. Created with our flagship Shockwafe Ultra SSE’s DNA, Winner of Best Dolby Atmos Soundbar Battle (hosted by Brian Tong, Ex-Cnet host)
  • Experience a whole new level of surround performance with our exclusive SSE Technology. Featuring 3 advanced audio processing engines working in harmony to enhance directionality, enlarge spaciousness & unlock extra details of any audio soundtrack. Envelop your home theater with up to 7.1.4 channels of uncompromising moving audio that flows all around you. Unleash the full dynamics of your audio experience with 105dB of room filling sound.
  • TWO 2-WAY REAR SPEAKERS (industry's 1st!) produce spacious and dynamic surround sound. 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. Simply put, the surround sound performance from simulated/virtual 2.1 or other 5.1 channel surround soundbars does not come anywhere close to this.
  • The main soundbar unit features upgraded high performance speaker drivers. The signature front surround effects tweeters deliver a 35% wider soundstage. Our newly-designed 8" down-firing wireless subwoofer delivers tight, room shaking low frequencies that enhances the impact of your home theater. Bass effects are fired onto the floor surface and distributed equally in all directions across the entire room for maximum immersiveness.
  • 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. 8
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. 9
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. 10
Bose TV Speaker - Soundbar for TV with Bluetooth and HDMI-ARC Connectivity, Black, Includes Remote...
4,022 Reviews
Bose TV Speaker - Soundbar for TV with Bluetooth and HDMI-ARC Connectivity, Black, Includes Remote...
  • Hear your TV better: Designed with simplicity in mind, the Bose TV Speaker is a small soundbar that clarifies speech and is a simple fix for better TV sound.
  • Wide, natural sound: 2 angled full-range drivers deliver a more realistic, spatial audio experience for overall better TV sound from a small soundbar.
  • Enhanced dialogue: This TV speaker is designed to specifically focus on clarifying and elevating vocals and pronunciation.
  • Bluetooth TV speaker: Pair your device to this Bluetooth soundbar to wirelessly stream your favorite music and podcasts.
  • Simple setup: A single connection from this compact soundbar to the TV via an optical audio cable (included) or an HDMI cable (sold separately) has you up and running in minutes.

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Last update on 2021-12-01

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