Surround sound is a method of separating sounds in a movie and delivering them to speakers arrayed around the room to make you feel in the center of the action on screen. See our complete article for more information on Surround Sound, Dolby, DTS and THX.
I have a 5.1 surround receiver. Is it worth upgrading to 7.1?
There are many new features on new A/V receivers that might make an upgrade worthwhile. For instance component upconversion on the video signal, or the ability to play music from your PC or the internet. But the upgrade to 7.1 surround shouldn't drive your decision. It is an enhancement, not a must have feature. Furthermore, there is little material available that makes full use of 7.1 playback.
Where should I place my surround speakers?
The optimum placement for the front left and front right speakers is far enough apart for a good stereo effect, and at roughly the height of the listener's head. The center speaker is best placed immediately above or below the screen, whichever is closer to the height of the listener. The left and right surround speakers should be placed above the head of the listener and roughly next to them, not behind the listener. Keep the distance from the surround speaker to the listener roughly the same as the distance from the front speakers to the listener. If you have a 6.1 or 7.1 surround system, then place the rear surround speaker(s) behind the listener. Place them at the same height and distance as the surround speakers. Placement of the subwoofer is less critical. It can be placed out of sight. Placement close to a wall or in a corner tends to increase the bass effect.