A Home Theatre is an amazing thing to have because you get the experience of the big screen in your own home! On the other hand, home theatre systems are expensive, especially multi channel home theatre systems.
You must be wondering- “will a soundbar be a better choice?”, “is it worth it to upgrade my stereo system?” or “what is surround sound?”. The answers to these questions are important ones, so you make an informed choice at the end of the day. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about the Multi-Channel Home Theatre.
To understand everything you need to know about Multi-Channel Home Theatre, you should first understand a few basic but important terms. This will help you make a more informed choice later on as well.
Surround sound, also referred to as multi-channel audio, uses many speakers (audio channels) in a circle around the listener, in order to enhance audio, give it depth, and improve the life-likeness of sound reproduction. It is possible to truly hear the noises coming from all directions with this channel arrangement.
Owing to its interesting and innovative design, you are essentially the center of the action taking place. With surround sound, you are far more engaged than just a passive listener, and you are essentially taking part in the movie, tv show, or documentary you are watching.
Stereo Sound is also known as two-channel audio, because of the two channels that its design utilizes, left and right. It is the most common and widely used sort of audio and is still employed in both music and film. A 3D multidimensional audible perspective is created by the good two-channel audio recordings.
To put it another way, even two-channel audio is meant to provide the sense that the sound is coming from different directions, like surround sound, but that rarely happens. The depth and width of the soundstage can, at most, be felt, but the surround effect is not really perceptible. You hardly ever get the sense of being in the thick of things.
Hence, surround sound is widely considered a better alternative to stereo sound.
A soundbar is also much better than a stereo system, for multiple reasons. Depending on their complexity, soundbars may contain two, three, or more channels, which are basically a number of built-in speakers that are grouped into three, five, or more channels.
Even height effects can be simulated and different surround sound formats can be reproduced by some soundbars, which makes it a great option! Soundbars all share the characteristics of being small, rather slender, and simple to set up.
When dealing with particular space restrictions or relatively small rooms, they can be a useful option, as they barely take up any space, as opposed to the other alternatives. The majority of audiophiles would contend that a pair of high-end speakers will always sound better than a high-end soundbar. However, even a cheap soundbar will sound significantly better than your TV regardless of whether you couple it with a subwoofer or not.
What is a Multi-Channel Home Theatre System?
A Multi-Channel Home Theatre uses numerous speakers and strategically positions them above or around the viewer to create a surround sound-like experience.
A multi-channel home theatre system’s key benefit is that it immerses you in the sound of the movie, video game, or sporting event you are currently watching. The best way to appreciate blockbuster action and science fiction films is by using this setup. You are placed in the center of the action by the Surround Sound coming from each of these channels or speakers, and you will feel almost like you belong inside the film!
A Multi-channel Home Theatre is actually quite expensive, as you may have already guessed. This is primarily because of the multiple parts that go into making you the center of a movie-like experience, all in the comfort of your home.
Parts of a Multi-Channel Home Theatre
A Multi-Channel Home Theatre requires a number of essential parts, so let us go through them.
The speakers are, very obviously, the main part of this system. A Multi-Channel Home Theatre Set consists of about 5 speakers, which are the left speaker, right speaker, center speaker, and surround speakers. Most people upgrade their 5-speaker setup with a subwoofer as well to improve sound quality and better reproduce bass as well.
A soundbar, rather than several speakers, is included with some systems. The stereo, multi-channel audio is delivered through several channels by soundbars, which are placed close to the display. For this reason, they are referred to as 5.1 systems, since they include 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer.
Users also like the 3.1 and 7.1 operating systems. The left, right, and center speakers are included with the 3.1 systems instead of the surround speakers. The 7.1 systems, on the other hand, have an additional pair of surround speakers that are often placed toward the back of the audience.
Multi-Channel Home Theatre Systems also give you the liberty to customize your setup, based on your unique considerations.
Your home entertainment system must have an AV receiver. It is a gadget that decodes your audio files and makes sure that power is sent to all speakers. The size of your home theatre determines how well the receiver works. This is explained in detail below.
You will need to get a more appropriate AV receiver if the multi-channel home theatre is fairly large. The amount of amplification you need, and the speaker wattage are other variables that affect the reliability of the receiver. The size of your home theatre system affects how much these receivers cost as well.
Unfortunately, AV Receivers can be expensive, especially if you are looking for quality in your purchase. However, an AV receiver is absolutely integral to your multi-channel home theatre system, so that is an investment you will have to make.
Interconnects And Speaker Wires
You will need the required speaker wires and interconnects to complete your setup, of course. You will want wires of various lengths depending on the configuration of your multi-channel system as well as the number and placement of the speakers.
This also means that you will need a good power manager, which is essential to powering your multi-channel home theatre system.
By source, we are referring specifically to the platform, such as a Blu-ray disc or an internet streaming service (Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc.) on which the film is presented. You will basically need a source that supports the surround sound format that matches your sound system in order for your multi-channel home theatre system to function properly.
Multi-channel audio recordings are now supported by several online streaming services, including Netflix, Apple TV, Disney, and Amazon Prime. Nowadays, the majority of Blu-ray discs not only support several multi-channel audio formats but also 5.1 surround sound, so this should not be much of an issue.
To find out if a source supports multi-channel audio, all you need to do is look at the label. 5.1 surround sound is denoted by Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Plus, while Dolby Atmos and DTS:X indicate that the source supports numerous multi-channel sound codecs. The latter is what you are looking for.
Obviously, you will need something to actually watch the movie, tv show, documentary, etc. on. This medium will be referred to as the “display device”. This can be anything that lets you watch some kind of video on it, like a TV or a projector.
If you have all the parts, check out the video below to learn how to install your multi-channel home theatre system!
Types of Multi Channel Home Theatre Systems
There are several types of Multi-Channel Home Theatre Systems, and the perfect one for you depends on a wide array of factors. We have explained the specifics of each type, so you can make a decision, keeping in mind your needs and wants.
Stereo System (2.0 and 2.1)
Since a stereo system uses two different channels to produce sound, it is technically a multi-channel audio system. The 2.0 and 2.1 Stereo Systems are the most widely used and commonly found models, owing to their ease of access and use.
When we use “2.0”, we mean that the stereo system only has two speakers—one for the left channel and one for the right channel, as we mentioned earlier as well. There is no particular speaker to provide the low-frequency effects, as shown by the “.0” (the bass frequency).
The LFE Channel, or bass, is produced by a subwoofer. Therefore, a stereo system becomes a 2.1 Stereo System if a subwoofer is used.
Three Channel Stereo (3.0 and 3.1)
A three-channel stereo system is created by adding a center channel (C) to the left and right channels, as in the 2.0 stereo system. Whether or not you pair a subwoofer is completely your choice, based on your preference for bass. If you add a subwoofer to the 3.0 setup, it will become a 3.1 three-channel stereo system, which is also a multi-channel home theatre.
The 3.0 or 3.1 Sound Systems are Multi-Channel Audio Systems in theory, but they lack immersion, which makes them resemble Stereo Systems more closely than Multi-Channel Home Theatre systems. The benefit of a 3.0 or 3.1 sound system is that the Left (L) and Right (R) Channels handle the music, while the Center Channel (C) deals with the vocal portion of the sound (instruments). Additionally, to a certain extent, these channels (L and R) can also offer a sense of direction.
Although two- and three-channel stereo systems are the most basic multi-channel home theatre systems, they are unable to create surround sound effects. A few more channels are required to get the complete surround sound feeling.
5.1 Multi-Channel Home Theatre System
The 5.1 Surround Sound System is one of the most widely used and most popular multi-channel home theatre systems, and there is definitely a good reason for it. Similar to the Three-Channel System, this has three major channels: Center (C), Left (L), and Right (R), which are known as the Front Channels. We also have two additional channels that are referred to as surround or rear channels.
They transform into the Surround Left (or Rear Left) and Surround Right (or Rear Right) Channels depending on where they are placed. The extra “.1” comes from the subwoofer, similar to the models discussed above. The placement of the speakers in relation to the audience is crucial when configuring a multi-channel home theatre system to achieve surround sound.
The Center Channel (C), assuming the listener is seated directly in front of the screen, is also directly in front of them. At +30° and -30°, respectively, are where the Front Right and Left Channels are situated. The rear speakers—Rear Right and Rear Left—come next. You can set them at +100 to +120 degrees and -100 to -120 degrees for the viewer, respectively.
This setup has a number of advantages, and is, all in all, a great setup. It does the job well and is not too hard to figure out. Told you that there was a reason why this setup of multi-channel home theatre systems was so popular!
6.1 Multi-Channel Home Theatre System
The 5.1 Surround Sound System becomes a 6.1 Sound System by adding an additional speaker, as you may have already guessed. The Rear Center or Surround Back Speaker is the extra speaker. The 6.1 Multi-Channel Home Theatre Setup is not as popular as the 5.1 System, though.
The placement of the three rear speakers is slightly altered by the inclusion of external speakers in the rear or surround channels. We have the setup laid down for you perfectly.
The Center (C), Left (L), and Right (R) speakers in the front remain in their original positions. The Surround Left and Surround Right speakers now alternately travel to +90° and -90°. With regard to the new channel, the Surround Back, this speaker faces the listener from the back (180°).
7.1 Multi-Channel Home Theatre System
The 7.1 Multi-Channel System is another surround sound system that is quite popular. It expands the 5.1 Surround Sound System with two more speakers for a more in-depth experience. As a result, when watching action or science fiction movies, provides an immersive audio experience.
The Left Back and Right Back speakers are the two extra speakers in the 7.1 Multi-Channel Home Theatre System. Compared to the 6.1 Surround System’s single center back channel, this configuration is much better, and hence more popular amongst the users as well.
To make room for the two new back-channel speakers, you must reposition certain speakers. As a result, the Surround Right and Surround Left will now be 90 degrees apart. The placements of the Left Back and Right Back Speakers would now be around 150° apart.
10.2 Multi-Channel Home Theater System
The 10.2 multi-channel home theatre system is among the most cutting-edge options for multi-channel home theatre systems out there. It has two subwoofers, two LFE channels for bass reproduction, seven front channels, including left-right side, ceiling, and center speakers, three surround channels, including left, right, and back surround speakers, and three surround channels.
Two-point surround channels can be used to combine the LS (left surround) and RS (right surround) channels into a 12.2 arrangement, providing the audience with a separate 360° circle of sound.
Advantages of a Multi Channel Home Theatre
Multi-channel home theatre systems are not cheap by any means, so they must have some great utility, right? Well, yes, if you are paying so much money, you of course expect a good payoff. You can look at the advantages and decide for yourself if a multi-channel home theatre system is worth it for you.
You are free to create a multi-channel home theatre setup that meets your requirements. If you like certain setups more than others, you are free to change it your way. You are not restricted by any preconceived notions of what your setup should look like, and have the freedom to customize.
It looks good
This is one special advantage of a home theatre. In addition to providing an excellent entertainment experience, home theatres make a house more appealing. Additionally, they raise the value of your house, which is advantageous if you want to sell it.
This is especially true if you install a high-end multi-channel home theatre system, which will act as a status symbol, and make your house a popular spot for all your friends’ sleepovers.
Increases your appeal as a Host
It’s relaxing to have some time to unwind and watch a Netflix series. When your friends visit your house and are treated to a popular film, it is more energizing. They will cherish these moments and ask you to host them again and again as a result. If you have a nice home theatre system, your house might turn into a movie theatre.
An Immersive Experience
If you have a multi-channel home theatre, you can watch sports in the traditional way. You feel like you’re in a stadium thanks to the large screen and reality-like sound system. You’ll have a sense of belonging to the football team you’re supporting.
Better sound quality and soundstage when viewing a movie, playing a video game, or listening to music are the main benefits of a multi-channel home theatre. Home theatre systems bring the cinema experience to your living room, complete with distinctive sound effects and a more enjoyable overall experience.
Disadvantages of a Multi Channel Home Theatre
Nothing is perfect, unfortunately. Where there are a number of advantages, there are reasons that may deter you from buying a multi-channel home theatre as well. You should know these disadvantages so you can weigh them against the advantages and make an informed choice for yourself.
A multi-channel home theatre installation is not as simple as advertisements may lead you to believe. It will take time, so you will need to plan carefully because you need to make sure the cables are properly fixed and hidden, and the wiring is quite complicated. You might not have the degree of skill needed for this, which makes the installation an even more cumbersome process.
There are a number of different components that make up a multi-channel home theatre system. Individually, these are already quite expensive. But then you have to buy all of them together for the perfect setup, and that is a very big investment to make. Such a degree of investment requires a ton of research beforehand so you can make an informed decision.
It costs a lot to purchase a multi-channel home theatre, especially if you choose a modern version of one. You must make a budget and plan because they are a substantial investment.
A multi-channel home theatre system is quite loud, obviously. However, this may be a disadvantage. Your ears, if exposed to loud sounds for an extended period of time, can get damaged. If it is not controlled, this could harm your ears and the ears of your loved ones. Poor setup is the main culprit here, so make sure to do your research and set it up as best as you can.
Our Top Picks
If you have gone through the above considerations and decided that you do, in fact, want to buy a multi-channel home theatre system, we have some suggestions for you. We have taken a lot of factors into account and made a list of our top picks, curated especially for you.
SONOS 5.1 (SONOS ARC + SONOS SUB GEN3 + SONOS ONE SL)
SONOS speakers are among the most feature-rich, dependable, and user-friendly wireless speakers available.
They are not prohibitively expensive, quite affordable considering their quality. The performance of the SONOS system is still more than satisfactory, even though the sound quality isn’t quite as good as some other wired systems around the same price point. Remember that there are other combinations besides SONOS ARC + SONOS SUB (GEN 3) + SONOS ONE SL.
You can use SONOS Beam (which is smaller and less expensive) in place of SONOS ARC, and some larger SONOS speakers can be used in place of two ONE SL speakers (like SONOS Five). The fact that you don’t have to purchase the full SONOS wireless system at once is one of its best features. Purchase SONOS ARC/Beam first, then add a subwoofer and surround speakers later to build it out gradually.
The updated version of SONOS PLAYBAR is SONOS Arc. It is more adaptable and has a far nicer appearance than the PLAYBAR. It contains an optical input and an HDMI eARC input. Additionally, it features one Ethernet port and is Wi-Fi compatible (but lacks Bluetooth). You may operate it via the SONOS S2 app, the built-in Alexa feature on your TV remote, or by using your voice.
All of the initial settings, multiroom integration, music streaming, and many other functions are also done through the app. Apple Airplay 2 is another function of SONOS Arc. 11 drivers are placed in 7 channels in Arc (FL, FR, C, two side-firing, and two upward-firing drivers). It supports all of the most widely used surround sound formats (Dolby Atmos included).
When used with two SONOS ONE SL wireless speakers and the third generation of SONOS SUB, Arc produces well-balanced audio that is quite immersive. The system is extremely dependable and simple to use. Arc includes unique DSP settings like Night Mode and Speech Enhancement mode, just like other SONOS soundbars.
Polk Audio T-Series 5.1 System
For a 5.1 system, the Polk Audio T-Series is notably large, but don’t let this deter you from buying it. It can be regarded as a low-cost choice, so it’s good for your budget as well. The speakers in the system are split into two T50 floor standers, two T15 surround channels (bookshelf speakers), one T30 center channel, and one PSW10 subwoofer.
One 1′′ tweeter, two 6.5′′ passive bass radiators, and one 6.5′′ woofer are all included in each T50. One 5.25-inch midwoofer, a.75-inch tweeter, and a front-firing bass reflex port are all included in each T15’s 2-way design. Two 5.25′′ mid-woofers and one 1′′ tweeter are used in the T30 center channel. One front-firing 10″ woofer and a front-firing bass-reflex port are features of the subwoofer.
Each speaker can produce 150W of peak power. T30 and T50 have a sensitivity of 89dB, whereas T15 has a sensitivity of 90 dB. The PSW10 has a 100W peak and 50W RMS. It can operate between 40 and 160 Hz. The crossover can change (80-160 Hz).
Klipsch Black Reference
A great multi-channel home entertainment system for tiny rooms is Klipsch Black Reference. The system consists of a wireless subwoofer, four mini satellites, and a center channel (comes with a wireless transmitter that you can connect to the sub out on your AVR).
The recognizable spun copper woofers and Tractrix horn tweeters from Klipsch are found in every speaker. Two-way speakers, the satellites have a 3.5″ woofer and a.75″ tweeter each. Two 3.5′′ woofers and a.75′′ tweeter are in the center channel. The central channel and all satellites can be mounted on walls. The subwoofer has a down-firing bass-reflex port and an 8″ woofer.
The center channel can handle 75W continuously (300W peak), the satellites can handle 50W constantly (200W peak), and the subwoofer can output 50W. (150W peak). The impedance of speakers is 8 ohms. The center channel has a sensitivity of 94dB (2.83V/1m), compared to 91dB for each satellite. The subwoofer’s maximum acoustic output is 108 dB.
The system produces a sound that is highly natural and clean with powerful lows, expressive and well-balanced mids, and generally reliable highs. At loud volumes, you might detect some brightness, but it’s neither jarring nor harsh.
How does a multi-channel receiver work?
From media sources like a DVD player, a receiver gathers audio and visual signals and transmits them to attached speakers. Additionally, it decodes surround sound codecs and amplifies audio signals for many speakers so that the appropriate speaker receives the sound.
How does multi-channel audio work?
There are several saved surround sound audio tracks included with the movie you’re watching. You must choose the appropriate audio track (the one that matches your home theatre system). Your AVR receives the audio from the source. Each channel receives the necessary (and amplified) signal after the AVR processes the sound, decodes the soundtrack, and does so (each speaker). An immersive surround sound experience is then produced by the speakers.
How many channels can audio have?
Depending on the format, an audio transmission might include one or more channels. A mind-boggling number of channels can be carried by some surround sound systems. For instance, 24.1.10 channels are theoretically supported by Dolby Atmos.
Buying a multi-channel home theatre system is a huge task, that also costs quite a lot of money. Before you choose to buy one, you should do your research, see the price, advantages, disadvantages, etc. of a multi-channel home theatre system, and then make a decision for yourself.
Our top picks are flexible, and not rigid suggestions. They can be paired with some of your favorite parts and turned into the perfect multi-channel home theatre system for you.
Loud sounds can be quite damaging to your ears, as we told you before. Additionally, there are some devices that may not be very healthy to use on a daily basis. Are noise-canceling headphones one of them? Click this link to find out! Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Safe for Ears?