I got my first surround sound system before Home Theater and surround sound were a common commodity. In fact I was looking for a new TV at the time and I liked of the Sony models and it had surround sound ability with the speakers and the whole deal as one package. I wanted to get the high quality screen but once I heard the sound, it was a done deal.
At the time I had no idea of the big differences between stereo and surround sound. Stereo works well for music and even movies recorded with stereo sound. But surround sound recorded movies really come to life with surround sound speaker systems. Most of the latest movies are recorded with surround sound features. A good example is when a person walks across the screen and you are listening with surround sound you hear them approach and then fade away.
With surround sound systems special effects are enhanced since it adds a third dimension while watching movies that have been recorded to facilitate surround sound. The addition of the sub woofers has added some depth to the sound produced too. But the real telling difference is that surround sound has directional sound. Sound that comes from different locations and speakers to increase this special effect.
Home theater speaker systems will need a TV, or a DVD player and a receiver or amplifier, with six channels of amplification that can handle the surround sound decoding process. If your current TV or DVD player doesn’t have these abilities, the surround sound can’t happen. So make sure that your current equipment is able to work with a Home Theater surround sound speaker system.
Many stereo systems have the “third speaker” (sub woofer) that is especially designed to hit that low bass range too. Even three way speakers (speakers that have all ranges represented in three different areas) will increase the quality of stereo sound.
But stereo speakers are still the highest sellers since most music is recorded in two channels. And many of the surround sound front and left component speakers don’t have the quality that a good pair of stereo speakers have and won’t reproduce the sound as well as stereo speakers. Home Theater systems aren’t designed to play stereo, and when you play normal stereo music you can tell.
Most people don’t listen to music with their televisions or even DVD players. They have an MP3 player or traditional stereo unit that will play CDs. So most people have two separate systems, a Home Theater surround sound system hooked into their TVs and DVD players and a different stereo setup to play music. Each system does well with it’s intended purpose but won’t cross over well. There are some newer very high-end surround systems with stereo quality front speakers but you will pay dearly for the feature.
You also see many Home Theater surround sound systems setup entirely wrong. If you don’t separate the speakers to their rightful position (2 in front, 2 in back, and 1 center of the listener and sub woofer can be anywhere) the system won’t deliver the true effect. That defeats the whole desired effect and although you still might get the separation it doesn’t create the sound effect as good.
A good pair of stereo speakers will still deliver high quality sound for most movies. Having a good range of high, mid, and low notes and throw in a sub woofer to increase the low range is good. But you won’t get the directional sounds and the surround sound effect you would with a Home Theater setup.
If you’ve bought your TV in the past two years, chances are good it does have the surround sound ability built into the unit. But if your TV doesn’t have surround sound, you can get a receiver or even a DVD player that does if necessary. Some surround sound systems are packaged that way, with a DVD player that decodes the necessary surround sound features.