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5.1 vs 7.1 vs 7.2 vs 9.2

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by frankcastle1975, Mar 10, 2010.

  1. frankcastle1975

    frankcastle1975 Standard Member

    Mar 7, 2010
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    Okay reading about amps has led me to the conclusion that there is a world of knowledge out there and I am in kindergarten.

    I didn't even know about the whole 7.2 and 9.2 development.

    So I have a 2.1 system primarily set up for music but with the addition of a HD projector and high end screen I feel I'd like the sound to catch up to the visuals.

    Furthermore, and correct me if I'm wrong but it seems movies will be moving away from 2.1 and if I want to fully appreciate the home theatre experience it's time to step up to the table and join the multi channel world.

    With 5 vs 7 available how does one choose? Is it a matter of space? Will one be phased out?

    What about this whole 2 sub business? Is it worth getting into or too new?

    And what;s the point of 9 channels does anyone offer movies or music in that format? Or is it a gimmick?

    Where is the sweet spot for multi channel and where is the wind blowing? I'll use TVs as an analogy with 3D TV coming out I don't feel the need to add another HD TV to my house (since I have a projector) right now because non 3D TVs will probably start dropping in price and 3D TVs are probably too new to invest in the first generation (heard they will be coming out in a month and starting at 2.5 K Canadian).
  2. PSM1

    PSM1 Distinguished Member

    Dec 20, 2008
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    This post and associated links may be worth a read:

    There seems to be mixed reviews on 9.1 (with front height speakers).
    There are not many films with proper 7.1 encoding and the benefits of 7.1 imho depends on the space you have and the ability to place the speakers in close to the ideal locations. Even then the move from 2.1 to 5.1 will be more profound compared to that from 5.1 to either 7.1 or 9.2.
    The benefit of 2 subs is more spl (volume) and maybe the ability to tune out any room issues. The problem with 2 subs is getting them set up so you do not get cancellation of sound etc. Also you will get more volume but you will not get a lower bass. IMHO it is better to get one good quality sub that will give you the volume and depth of bass compared to getting 2 mediocre ones.
    I have the same feelings for 5.1 compared to 7.1 or 9.1. Better to get a good quality 5.1 compared to spreading the same budget over more speakers and hence having cheaper components.
  3. Mark.Yudkin

    Mark.Yudkin Well-known Member

    Sep 19, 2007
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    Zurich, CH
    Actually it's very easy:
    5.1: the HDTV, SACD and DVD-A norm, and basically the DVD norm
    6.1: sometimes used on DVD (Dolby 5.1EX or dts 6.1). The 6th speaker is a centre rear.
    7.1: the Bluray norm.

    All formats above 7.1 are artificial or proposals for future expansion (e.g. height channels). They can safely be ignored as the market is currently concentrating on HDMI 1.4, 3D and higher display resolutions, not more audio channels.

    There is a common misuse of "7.2" to mean 7.1 with 2 physical subs (and 7.3 for 3 subs, etc). Such a setup is correctly 7.1 as there is only 1 actual LFE channel in all cases. In practice of course, you can attach as many subs as you want / can physically fit, and often you can tie the sub to a non-LFE channel, so for example a popular model (at least with the Subwoofer manufacturers) is an LFE sub, a Left Front sub and a Right Front Sub.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2010
  4. Passingbat

    Passingbat Well-known Member

    Feb 20, 2003
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    That may be the norm, but the vast majority of BR discs are 5.1. I don't think, as far as amp purchase is concerned, you need to worry about 5.1/7.1 --- all the amps above the bottom of the range HD audio capable amps are 7.1 anyway, and even some bottom of the range ones are 7.1. If you want to run rear surrounds and height speakers, then you need a 9.1 amp. A 7.1 amp will give you the choice of 5.1 plus either height speakers or rear surround speakers.

    As someone who has run a 7.1 system, because I had some spare speakers, in a room that is really only suitable for a 5.1 setup, I can tell you that the 7.1 sounded worse, so room layout is a very important factor.

    I would echo PSM1's thoughts: unless you have a very large budget, spend what you have on better 5.1 speakers than spread the budget over an extra two speakers. They can always be added later if you do want to go to 7.1.

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