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16 Oct 2012

Channel surfing – two-channel sound and surround sound

Surround sound has a way of bringing you into the movie the way no picture technology can. And while that can make a scary movie a little too scary or a war film a little too real, you won’t be able to experience a movie the way it was meant to be experienced without the right home audio system. But with multi-channel audio scratching the movie itch, is there still a place for the classic two-channel sound?

Two-channel sound still reigns supreme for music lovers, because that is the way music is mixed. You will probably notice the effect most pointedly when listening to a guitar duo; often while the left channel speaker pumps out one guitar’s backing riff, the right channel supplies the other guitarist’s lead playing – although it can get a lot more complex and detailed than that.

When you’re watching a movie in traditional two-channel sound, you can experience many subtleties, such as objects moving from left to right on the screen, which may be fine for most. But you won’t experience all of the effects and ambience that makes you feel as though you’re on the battlefield or in the car chase. Surround sound fills in that missing front-to-back effect, which makes the viewing truly immersive.

The video below covers the basics in a fairly simple manner but be sure to come in and ask our experts about setting up a system that will work best for you!

If immersion is what you seek from your home theatre, then your new speakers should reflect that. For a long time this has meant 5.1 surround sound, or five speakers plus a sub-woofer for low-end frequencies like explosions and car chases. Now you might even encounter 6.1 or 7.1, both of which take things further. You can learn more about speaker set up on Dolby’s Lab website here and if you’re looking to test the performance of your 7.1 surround system check out get a copy of The Art of FLIGHT on Blu-Ray which was mastered with Dolby’s assistance specifically for a 7.1 system.

On the back of a DVD or Blu-ray you will notice audio specs that tell you how the movie was mixed. You might not be missing out on much by watching in two-channel sound a romantic comedy that was mixed in 5.1 Dolby Digital. But action, suspense and horror films – even classic films, many of which have been re-mastered for surround sound – cry out to sympathetic ears for justice.

We can show you firsthand the difference between two-channel and multi-channel sound and help you decide which will work best for you. To browse our speaker and receiver brands, come in to our showroom for a complete demonstration