5.1 vs 7.1: Surround Sound Explained and Examine for Home Theater?

If you are a fan of “The Big Bang Theory” then you surely know how Sheldon suffers from the dilemma of buying a PS4 or X-box 1 on season 8. Apparently, he spent the whole day at the shop but still couldn’t decide which one he wanted to buy. We are all familiar with such indecisions whenever we are willing to buy something expensive. Such dilemmas come from the lack of information regarding those certain products. Today you can read 5.1 vs 7.1 surrounding sound comparison and decide which one is suitable for your home.

But if you are aware of the features then you can easily decide which one is the perfect fit for you. And we are here to guide you throughout this rigorous process by providing all the information you require.

The sound system for home theatres has upgraded from 2.1 , 3.1 to 7.1 currently. Now if you are willing to upgrade yours and trying to find out which one you need among the latest 5.1 or 7.1 then you are at the right place. Continue reading you will be able to decide at the end of the article.

5.1 Vs 7.1: Major Differences

The most significant difference that you already know from the names is the number of speakers. The 5.1 consists of five small speakers and one subwoofer whereas the 7.1 has a similar number of speakers with an extra two channels. Two extra channels mean a better sound quality.

The 5.1 provides a standard surround sound but with extra two speakers, the 7.1 adds more depth and precision to the sound you hear. On something like a general level, 5.1 systems are more popular than 7.1 systems, so troubleshooting manuals are easier to find online.

More detailed differences will be discussed later on and accumulated altogether in a table so keep reading. But before that, you must know some of the trendy 5.1 and 7.1 speakers.

In the 5.1 arrays the best speakers that you will find are:

Logitech Z906 5.1

Key Features:

  • It has a THX certificate for home theater speakers

  • Comes with the latest sound technology and provide the best music experience
  • It can produce a maximum of 1000 watts power with 500 watts continues power
  • Can connect with the various device in your home
  • Easy to use and comes with a remote control system
  • It also has wall mounts facility to place at your home
  • The product weight is only 35 pounds and dimensions are 15.2 x 17 x 17.3 inches

Rockville HTS56 1000w 5.1:

Key Features: 

  • Can produce 1000 watts peak power with 500 and 250 watts continues power
  • The Subwoofer comes with a built-in receiver
  • Comes with digital display and builtin FM receiver
  • Speaker and Subwoofer volume can control separately
  • Has Bluetooth connect with USB port facility
  • You can also use an SD card and DVD to play music
  • The dimensions of this speaker are 17.3 x 17.7 x 22.3 inches and weight is only 28.7 pounds

JBL Bar 5.1:

Key Features: 

  • Complete wireless sound system and easy to control
  • Sound clarity 20Hz and can produce Ultra HD sound
  • Comes with two detachable battery and can standby for 10 hours
  • It has 510 watts of a power system to provide clear sound
  • Comes with a 10-inch wireless Subwoofer
  • Also has three HDMI inputs to connect 4K devices
  • Its only 37.3 pounds and dimensions are 14.93 x 17.91 x 39.69 inches

The best 7.1 home theatres are:

Klipsch Reference Premiere 7.1.2:

Key Features: 

  • The frequency response of 32-25000 Hz
  • The sensitivity of 98 dB
  • Power handling up to 150 watts
  • Bass reflex design
  • Durable polymer veneer finish

  • Can place perfectly at home for the best music experience
  • The whole system weight is 344 pounds

Fluance Signature Series 7.1:

Key Features: 

  • The easy installation process with easy control panel
  • Speaker can produce a maximum 400 watts power with 250 watts continues
  • 12 inches Subwoofers that provide cinema-inspired bass
  • Midrange that accentuates the vocals
  • Tweeters to enhance each and every detail
  • 8″ woofers produce deep, clear, undistorted bass
  • The complete sound system weight 250 pounds

Samsung HW-Q67CT 38.6″ 7.1:

Key Features:

  • Wireless sound system with easy control panel
  • Comes with 38.6″ acoustic beam soundbar
  • Can use with DTS Virtual:X and 4k devices
  • HDMI input to connect 4k device and also has an optical cable option
  • Comes with a remote control system with Bluetooth facility
  • Produce clear, deep bass and 3D sound
  • Works with various types of devices and easy to place at your home.

5.1 Surround Sound Setup Process

As you have come to know that the 5.1 comes with 6 channels including a subwoofer for that extra detail on the sounds that are of low frequency. Since the home theatre consists of a fewer number of speakers so it has to be placed in the right way in order to get the maximum result.

Now, if you use the 5.1 in a huge room then it will sound like a pocket speaker if no less. A medium-sized room is mostly preferred for setting up a 5.1.

In such a room you will have to place the center speaker in the middle directly in front of your listening position. Specifically, below the television. The rest four speakers are two for the front (left and right) which can either be small satellites or floor standing speakers and two for the rear (left and right) sound. Understand LCR Speakers to get a better grip of the surround sound system.

The front and rear speakers are preferably placed at a thirty-degree and a hundred ten degrees angle from where you will be sitting. You can place the subwoofer anywhere you like. Mostly used around the corner of the room.

7.1 Surround Sound Setup Process

On the other hand, 7.1 has a similar setup with two extra speakers. Things might seem a little complicated now. These two speakers are the same ones as the side speakers which has to be placed behind them. It can be the height speakers that you can hang on the wall and get the actual surround sound feeling. Take a glance at these Center Channel Speakers for Dialogue.

The two speakers outshine the 5.1 in case of providing precise sound quality. Now as the 5.1 was suitable for only medium-sized rooms, we prefer the 7.1 for large rooms. It is only in large rooms you will get the best experience of surround sound.

Surround sound might not even feel as engulfing in large spaces as it does in small rooms if there really is a lot of space around your hearing area. Some media arrives pre-configured with 7.1 sound, which a 5.1 device would not be able to produce as clearly or reliably.

Additional Components: 5.1 vs 7.1

5.1 is self-contained. That is they don’t require any additional equipment. It comes in a box with everything it requires to create the sound it is supposed to. For example the Onkyo HT- S7800. It comes with its own receiver which is actually the hub for the speakers. You will have to connect every speaker with it to the TV.  Find out more about 7.1 channel in Blu-Ray Home Theater System.

As you know that big speakers don’t come with their own receivers which are not so uncommon. Similar is the case with the 7.1. It doesn’t have its own hub. As a result, you will have to spend some extra bucks on buying that extra equipment.

Formats: 5.1 vs 7.1

You are probably familiar with how the formats affect the sound. If you are not then simply understand it is basically the technology of compression of sound. And the more compressed the sound the more realistic it is. Now that you are known about this technology lets come to the difference in the format of 5.1 and 7.1.

The 5.1 is achieved with DTS or Dolby Digital. On the other hand, DTS uses lesser compression but is more common than Dolby Digital.

The 7.1 is achieved using Dolby True- HD or DTS-HD Master Audio. In combination with the surround sound system, this technology provides the sound of the movie studio.

Supported Device: 5.1 vs 7.1

From the previous point, you have come to know which technologies are used to produce sound in both the speakers. Now you might be thinking which devices are supported by this technology. The 5.1 supports DVDs and Blu-Ray disks. It also keeps up with HDTV as well as video games. Have you ever imagined which technology the theatres used to produce such a sound? You won’t believe it’s the same as the 5.1.

Most Blu- Ray and DVD disks are prepared with 5.1 audio. But nowadays a huge number of disks are produced for the 7.1. It also supports all games as well as PS3. You will be getting both the speakers with almost similar kind of technology.

Size of the Room: 5.1 vs 7.1

As we have previously mentioned that the 5.1 works better in the medium-sized rooms and 7.1 is more appropriate for larger ones. You must keep in mind the size of your room in order to get the maximum out of each speaker. Click Understanding speaker placement to place your speaker according to your room size, in a perfect way.

Price: 5.1 vs 7.1

Definitely, the price of 7.1 is more than the price of 5.1. But the price varies much higher then it’s supposed to be. From the same manufacturer speakers of the same class are supposed to vary a little lesser. But considering the extra two speakers and surround sound quality the home theatre is worth the money.

Throughout the market the price of 5.1 ranges from $80 to $1700. Whereas the market price of 7.1 starts from $265 and goes up to thousands of dollars. From here you can see the difference in the price range. Quite a huge right? But as we have said earlier you will also get better quality along with the depth of sound. So, it’s totally worth it.

Things to keep in mind before buying a home theatre

  • Size of the room
  • Furnishings of the room
  • Listening position
  • If you are willing to upgrade your home theatre anytime soon. If so then go for the one with a smaller price range.
  • Sound quality
  • Price Range/ Budget
  • Purpose of buying the home theatre
  • Preference for wired and wireless speakers.

If you consider these points before deciding which speaker is the most suitable for you then you will be able to find out the best one for you.

Verdict: 5.1 vs 7.1

You are probably more aware of the two home theatres. Now you can have clarity in your decision about which one is more appropriate for you. Whether you want clear sound while playing video games or the distinct noise of an explosion in a movie the 5.1 vs 7.1 has your back.

You can blindly trust these home theatres in order to get the best out of everything.  The 5.1 will give you a surround feeling but for depth and precision, 7.1 is good to go. So, fix your mind on the purpose and all the other criteria required to understand which speaker is the most suitable one for you.

Editor’s pick: 7.1 Channel

Because lastly, everything depends on you and your preferences. Keep in mind all the information we have provided and supposedly you will be able to take your decision at the end of the day unlike Sheldon cooper from TBBT. And if you’re still confused about which one to buy, try 7.2  or 5.1.2  Surround Sound System.