Last Updated on September 1, 2020 by Thomas C. Bell
Many people become confused between the surround sound and stereo because they don’t know the differences between these two sound systems. What type of sound system will suit you depend on your requirements and on what you know about them. If you are listening to music or watching movies on your computer, iPod or TV then it’s ok to say that you are listening to the stereo. If you are listing to 5.1 channel home theater then you’re listening in surround sound. If you are curious to know more about the surround sound and stereo then read the article thoroughly.
What is Surround Sound?
Surround sound is a multi-channel system to enrich the fidelity and depth of sound reproduction by using multiple audio channels like the speakers that surround the listener. This sound system generally has a set of stereo front speakers and a set of surround speakers to offer a sound-field behind you, to your side, in front of you, and even above you. Most surround sound has a subwoofer and five speakers but for a long or big room, it might be a subwoofer and seven speakers settings. The main target of a surround sound system is to plunge you with a sonic surrounding that is suggested by what you’re watching on your TV. There are three types of surround sound configurations available. They are:
- 5.1 Surround Sound
- 6.1 Surround Sound
- 7.1 Surround Sound
5.1 Surround Sound
This is a standard sound format for music and movies where five major sound channels plus a point-one channel available. There are two popular 5.1 channel formats available, DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Digital 5.1. You can use 5.1 surround sounds to listen to music from a DVD or Blu-ray Disc or an audio file for playback on a computer. It will create a sound field that encloses the listener with the sound coming from the front and behind.
6.1 Surround Sound
This is an improved format from the 5.1 surround sound. In this format, there is an additional rear center channel speaker included with the existing 5.1 surround sound setup. With the extra rear center speaker there will be three speakers in front, two as surround, and then one dedicated at the rear. So if you want to experience greater realism, this rear-center speaker will help to create more precise positioning and imaging of sound. But you have to make sure that the source of the sound is encoded to support this type of playback.
7.1 Surround Sound
This is a much-improved sound system compared to 5.1 and 6.1 surround sound. This system has two extra side-surround speakers positioned to the sides of the listener, three front channels, and then two rear channels. This type of sound setup is best for more accurate sound positioning and greater sound envelopment. You will have the chance to enjoy the convincing, movie-like experience in your own home. Don’t forget to check the sound source and see if the sound source is encoded to support this type of playback or not.
What is Stereo?
Stereo is a multi-directional sound system that features two speakers, right and left. This type of sound system allows sound mixers to vary between the right, center and left. The stereo sound system creates a soundtrack that seems like there is a performance stage located in front of the listener. If you are listing from a DVD player, MP3 player, or TV, then basically you are enjoying a stereo sound system. There is a subwoofer available that complement the two speakers. This type of sound is more popular among the music recording and nowadays almost all modern-day music is recorded in stereo. Moreover, if you want to capture a more realistic image of a sound source as much as the original source then stereo is the best option.
Key Differences between Surround Sound and Stereo Sound
|Surround Sound||Stereo Sound|
|A multichannel system||A two-channel system|
|5 speakers||2 speakers|
|All audio is mixed to produce a sound-field||Audio is mixed into two tracks|
|Best for recorded movies||Best for recorded music|
I hope you found the above information helpful and understand the difference between the surround sound and stereo sound. So you can easily choose a sound system that best suits you. If you love watching movies or want an electrifying cinema experience, then surround sound is the best choice for you. On the other hand, if you love listing music and not a big fan of movies then you should settle for a stereo system. Let us know in the comment section which music system you have picked and what your experience with that music system is.