What’s the Difference between a 5.1 vs. 7.1 Surround Sound Installation in Chicago?

September 1, 2016 4:57 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Ready for the incredible sound of a new surround sound system, but not sure what type to install? Choosing the right surround sound installation in Chicago can be a real challenge. With all the choices, technical jargon, reviews, and recommendations, you may be unsure where to even start.

A good place to start your research and decision making process is to determine if you need a 5.1 or a 7.1 surround sound system. The biggest difference between these two systems is the number of speakers. The 5.1 system has 6 channels of sound and the 7.1 system has 8. The following post will highlight some of the differences of each system so you can decide which one will work best for you and your home.


Each sound channel involved in your surround system feeds into a speaker. So simply put, the more channels you have, the more speakers there are to set up. Your 5.1 system comes with 6 speakers; a center speaker, subwoofer, and then two front and two back speakers. The 7.1 system comes with two extra speakers; one to be placed parallel to the listener on both the left and right side. Because of the additional speakers, you will need to think about speaker placement when deciding which system is best for you.

Sound quality

Generally speaking, a 7.1 system will always provide a better sound than a 5.1 system from the same class and manufacturer. That being said, you need to think about the space you are installing your system in. The sound from a 7.1 system is not suitable for small or even medium-sized room. The sound from a 7.1 system is best for larger rooms while a 5.1 system is ideal for a medium or small space.


Because a 7.1 system is “bigger” (has more speakers), it will almost always be more expensive than a 5.1 system from the same class and manufacturer. However, there is a wide range of prices for both systems. A 5.1 system can run anywhere from around $100 to $2,000. While a 7.1 system usually starts around $200 or so and can cost up to several thousand dollars for a more advanced system.

Device compatibility

A 5.1 system is the industry standard and is, therefore, the more compatible of the two systems. You can use a 5.1 system with most DVDs, Blu-ray disks, video games, and HDTV. Most Blu-ray players and the PS3 support a 7.1 system; however, most Blu-ray disks, DVDs, and video games are still only made using the 5.1 system. Think about the main uses of your entertainment system so you can choose the most compatible surround sound installation.

Whether you are looking to upgrade your surround sound or want new surround sound installation in Chicago, be sure to do your research before you buy. Making the right decision between a 5.1 system and a 7.1 system can save you money and help ensure that you get the best sound possible for your space and budget.

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