5.1 home cinema system is a term that most people will have heard of at some time or another if they are at all interested in home cinema systems. For those of you that don’t know I will give a quick overview below of what it actually means but then I want to drill down into whether a 5.1 home cinema system is what you should be going for or if there are other options.
5.1 Home Cinema System Explained
Whenever we talk about home cinema we quite often refer to the number of speakers in a system using the number definition above, in this case 5.1 home cinema system. https://genuinehomecinema.com/ When used in this regard the first number always refers to the number of standard speakers you have in your system and the second number refers to the number of subwoofers you have. A subwoofer is just a very low frequency speaker really but they tend to have a category all of their own.
So in our case the 5.1 means that the system has 5 standard speakers which will most likely be a front left, center and right and a rear right and left. You will then have 1 subwoofer somewhere in the system setup.
Is 5.1 The Magic Number?
Most people are used to hearing about a 5.1 home cinema system because this was the most common setup many years ago. However, with the advent of new technology 5.1 is no longer the standard setup for higher end systems. It is just about staying the default for lower end systems but even this will not stay that way for long.
When we are talking higher end systems we are usually talking larger rooms and dedicated home cinema systems. This means that there is more space to fill and so we start to look at 7.1 or 9.1 systems which simply add additional speakers at the sides and rear of the room to get a better sound distribution. You will have noticed this at a standard mainstream cinema if you have ever looked around the room and seen the large numbers of surround speakers they usually have. It’s not uncommon to see 12-20 rear speakers in this type of cinema and this is largely due to having a massive space to fill and making sure that everyone in each and every seat gets the best listening experience that they can.
1 or 2 Subwoofers?
When it comes to subwoofers you will again usually find that most higher end systems have 2 or more subs rather than 1. This is once again mainly due to sound distribution and to make sure that the space you have for your home cinema system is adequately filled.
The other factor in using multiple subs is that although you will probably have heard that subs are non-directional, meaning that you just hear the low frequency but you couldn’t point to where the sub was physically located if you couldn’t see it. However, this is not precisely true and when it comes to the higher end you don’t want to be distracted by hearing the low frequency bass coming from a certain part of the room, it’s much nicer and smoother to have the sound evenly distributed which can be created from using multiple subwoofers.
So, What’s The Best Setup?
This will mainly come down to your room design and size but I would suggest that a 5.1 home cinema system is a good place to start and then if you feel that you need additional speakers to make it sound better then you can add them on.
Because home cinema is such a specialist subject you will usually get 10 different answers if you asked 10 different people their opinion but at the end of the day you just want you own home cinema system to sound the way you like it and so it really is a lot down to personal preference.