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A Beginner's Guide to 7.1 Surround Sound Speakers

After working extra hours at the office for several weeks (if not months), you finally have enough money saved to upgrade your TV. You browse each option carefully and weigh the benefits against your budget. You want the ultimate entertainment experience, so you choose a 3D HD flat screen TV.

You hire a professional to mount your new equipment to your wall, and you love how it practically fills one side of your living room without hazardous cords lining the floor.

But when you turn it on, you feel a twinge of disappointment. The sound seems to barely squeak out of the built-in speakers.

For a completely immersive experience, you need a sound system that lives up to your magnificent display. And no other system compares to a 7.1 surround sound setup. Each of the speakers channels audio output directly to your ears, so you feel as though you've become a part of the movie. Read on to learn more.

The Centre Channel Speaker

This speaker sits under your TV so it faces you head on. It generates most of the dialogue in the movie. To ensure speech comes out as full and natural as possible, these speakers need a wider, flatter design that broadens the stage.

Additionally, the centre speaker occasionally plays sound effects that occur in the front of the movie, so they seem to jump straight to your ears.

The Front Right and Left Speakers

These two speakers rest on either side of your screen, and you'll want them slightly angled toward you. They deliver a wide sound stage and range of frequencies, and they work alongside the centre channel speaker to recreate on-screen effects that move left and right. For example, if your favourite action hero drives his motorcycle down the street, you'd hear his wheels shift from the left speaker, to the centre and then onto the right speaker as he moves.

Additionally, right and left speakers play most of the music from the movie's soundtrack. If you plan to listen to iTunes and other media through the same system, these speakers will do a lot of the heavy lifting, so to speak.

The Back Right and Left Speakers

The four back right and left speakers should mount slightly behind your couch or viewing position. As with the front speakers, you'll want them angled slightly toward you to ensure the best sound.

These speakers create a three-dimensional sound stage that helps you feel as though you are a key participant in the film. They envelop you with additional sound effects and background noise, such as cats meowing, ocean waves, etc. When action moves from behind you to in front of the screen, the extra speakers help the audio transition more convincingly.

And depending on the system you purchase and the way you mount your speakers, you may be able to use these speakers to create an overhead layer of sound. If a plane passes by in the movie, you'll feel as though you sit directly under the aircraft.

The Subwoofer Speakers

The subwoofer typically rests somewhere along the front wall of the room. However, the shape of your room and the placement of your other furniture will affect how well you hear the sound. If needed, you can place the subwoofer to the side or even behind you and still enjoy what it has to offer.

But unlike the other speakers in the system, the subwoofer only has one purpose: to generate low bass frequencies, usually between 20 and 200 Hz. At these low frequencies, you'll likely feel the sound more than hear it. It delivers a rumbling audio punch that works wonders for crashes, explosions and other dramatic effects.

Ready to Amp Your Entertainment?

As you can see, each speaker will affect how you perceive the film you watch. For the best movie-watching experience, ask a professional to install a surround sound system that matches your TV.

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