Is 5.1 or 2.1 Surround Sound Better?
Whether 5.1 or 2.1 surround sound is better is a difficult question to answer. The right choice for you will actually be based on a range of factors, including your own requirements and priorities. To help you make the choice, let’s take a look at the two options and why they could be a good fit for you.
Differences between 5.1 and 2.1
In general, 2.1 surround sound will often make use of a pair of speakers working in stereo. This may be accompanied by a subwoofer such as the Totem Kin Subwoofer to enhance the lower frequency range. With a 2.1 system, one speaker is usually placed on either side of your display.
5.1 surround sound, meanwhile, makes use of five speakers, which are placed around the room in a bid to create an immersive sound experience. These systems are usually made up of a right, center and left channel and right and left surround channels, along with a subwoofer.
Many people believe that the 5.1 option offers a superior experience, but this system does not work for everyone. Other factors should be taken into consideration, such as personal preference, budget, and space considerations.
When might 2.1 be best?
A 2.1 system may be the best choice for a smaller room where there is simply not space for a 5.1 surround sound system. It may also be a better option if finances are a major consideration and you want an affordable upgrade to your TV’s built-in audio.
The benefits of a 5.1 surround sound system
There are many people who would never consider anything but a 5.1 system such as the Martin Logan Motion 5.1 Home Theatre Speaker System. This is largely because it does offer a far more immersive sound experience than the cheaper 2.1 alternative. In addition to the left and right speakers that you would have with the latter, a 5.1 system will offer you a greater depth of audio experience thanks to two rear speakers and a center channel. This can really enhance the home theatre experience, with characters speaking off camera feeling like they are right behind you, for example.
Some systems offer even more audio options. If a third number is present in the description, this indicates upward firing 3D or ceiling speakers. This adds yet another dynamic to the sound experience, delivering sounds from above you as well as from all around.
The numbers used to describe surround sound systems tell you lots about the systems themselves. The first number indicates how many ear-level speakers there are, while the second is how many subwoofers there are. This means that a 5.1.2 system would have five ear-level speakers and one subwoofer, along with two ceiling or upward-firing speakers.
More to consider
While 5.1 systems may seem like the better-quality choice, this is not always the case when it comes to receiving better audio. You could have a really poor-quality 5.1 system that cannot hold a torch to the audio quality offered by a great 2.1 system. That is why it is important to consider quality as well as the number of the components included in the system.
Some inferior 5.1 setups can have problems with abrasive speakers producing low-quality sound, while some 2.1 systems have superior-quality speakers that are much better than average 5.1 setups. It is vital, therefore, to consider the pricing of a system in relation to the quality offered by the speakers.
If your budget and home allow it, however, a quality 5.1 system would be the best choice. This is because this setup is the best way to benefit from directional audio and create a more immersive experience. Other benefits of a good 5.1 setup include the fact that they offer the potential to increase the value of a property, offer plenty of price choices, and make it fairly simple to replace or add pieces without having to buy a whole new surround sound system.
You could start out with a 5.1 system but add to this over time to create a 7.1 or a 9.1 sound setup. If you are planning on adding to your system, however, just be wary of mixing speaker types and brands. If you want more speakers, you may also get the best value if you decide to add these straight away and take advantage of bundle offers that may be available.
Another important factor to consider is installation. A 5.1 setup needs some knowledge to install, so make sure you get help if you need it.