5.1 Surround Sound vs. 7.1 Surround Sound

When it comes to choosing a music system for your home or office, it is important to be aware of all the specifications and features and whether you can get a better set of features at a decent rate. You must have heard about two varied types of surround system categories: 5.1 surround sound and 7.1 surround sound.

While both are very popular across the world and produce high quality audio, both have their positives and negatives when compared with each other. The following is a detailed comparison between 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound.

5.1 surround sound vs. 7.1 surround sound

Set Up

As far as the set up is concerned, a 5.1 surround sound system consists of 6 sound channels or 6 speakers.  It includes of a center speaker, a subwoofer, left and right front speakers, and left and right rear speakers.  It is much simpler to set up, cheaper and ideal for small or medium sized rooms. On the other hand, a 7.1 surround sound system consists of 8 speakers. It uses the same 6 speakers as above but also has 2 additional ones.  This is thus a more expensive option, a slight bit difficult to set up and suitable only for large rooms.

Supported Devices

The 5.1 surround sound system is the industry standard and supports many devices including DVDs, Blu-Ray disks, HDTVs and video games.  It is also used in commercial theatres. On the other hand, 7.1 surround sound supports not just the mentioned devices but also PS3s, DVDs and most Blu-ray players.


Another factor of comparison between the 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound system is the price.  The price for a 7.1 surround system is always more than that of 5.1 surround system, even if it is from the same manufacturer and of the same class.  But there can often be wide differences in prices of the same system produced by different manufacturers.  The price for a 5.1 surround system can range between $80 and even upto $1700 whereas the price of the 7.1 surround system an range between $265 and can go upto thousands of dollars.


Another point of comparison between the two is the format. A 5.1 surround sound system is usually achieved with Dolby Digital or DTS.  This technology uses less compression. On the other hand, 7.1 surround sound systems is usually achieved with Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master audio.  This technology is considered lossless which means that there is no loss in audio quality.


As far as the history of both these systems is concerned, the 5.1 surround sound was developed in and by Dolby Labs in 1976 and the first time it was used was during the theatrical release of Batman Returns in the year 1992. On the other hand, the 7.1 surround sound was first time used in Toy Story 3 in the year 2010.  Disney plans and intends to use this system for all its future 3D releases and it may become more popular in the coming years.


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