How many speakers do I need?

How many speakers do I need for my home theater?
Most home theaters are in the 5.1 format and consist of six speakers. Those speakers are a center speaker, one each of a left and right speaker, one each for left and right rear surround speakers and a sub-woofer. So you will need five main speakers and a powered sub-woofer which accounts for the “.1” of the 5.1 format designation.

The five main speakers can be identical however many better speaker systems will have a better/bigger speaker for the center channel because it handles the main portion of the dialog in a movie. Some systems also have larger speakers for the left and right channels to help balance the front sound-field.

Your powered sub-woofer handles the bass/low-frequency effects such as explosions and other rumble type effects. Your sub-woofer should be at least twice as powerful as your other speakers due to the fact that low frequency sound waves take more power to reproduce with clarity and punch.

6.1 systems adds a center rear surround speaker to help fill in the gap in the rear between the right and left rear surround speakers. If you want a 6.1 system you will need another speaker which will bring your total speaker count to seven.

Likewise a 7.1 system will have eight speakers with the addition of yet another rear surround channel speaker. Actually the additional speakers are used as more of a right and left “side-fill”. Those channels are decoded by the receiver from the original 5.1 mix. Frankly such systems are usually unnecessary unless you have a really large room.

In conclusion — the basic answer to “how many speakers will I need” is six. However you have a choice of six, seven or eight speaker configurations if your particular situation warrants the addition of more speakers.

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