Home theater technology has progressed at a rapid pace making 7.1 receivers widely available for affordable prices. If you have bought a 7.1 receiver and own 5.1 speakers, you may be wondering whether the speakers will work with a 7.1 receiver.
You can connect 5.1 speakers to most 7.1 receivers, but the output quality is not the same as a 7.1 sound system. To maximize the home theater experience, you should have a total of seven speakers.
The rest of this article explains how you can make the most of your home theater. It discusses topics like using 5.1 speakers as 7.1 speakers, positioning the speakers for an optimal experience, and the most affordable high-quality speakers on the market.
Check out my 2.1 vs 5.1 vs 7.1 surround sound article which brings out in detail, the differences between the three.
What Is the Difference Between 5.1 Speakers and 7.1 Speakers?
To make things simpler, you must understand that 5.1 and 7.1 refer to the number of speakers in a system. In other words, a system that splits the sound across seven speakers is a 7.1 system. The system where only five speakers are used is its predecessor called 5.1 home theater.
The 5.1 sound system consists of a receiver with 5-channel speakers. Besides a center speaker, two additional speakers are placed in the front (front-right and the front-left). The remaining two speakers are placed towards the rear in the left and right at equal length apart.
Check out my recommended 5.1 speakers for home theater.
In a 7.1 sound system, the rear sound is split into two speakers. Instead of having a left-rear speaker and a right-rear speaker only, you have the right speaker and a right-rear speaker. Similarly, there is a left-speaker and a left-rear speaker.
This allows the speakers to properly surround the entire area with a rich and compact sound similar to the experience of watching movies at the cinema. The 7.1 system encapsulates all the correct proportions of sound vibration, timbre, and intensity.
This is not limited to just movies and television shows. You can enjoy the benefits of a surround system when engaging in karaoke competitions at home, and you can get the most out of steaming your favorite music!
Since most night clubs use four speakers to surround an area, it is possible to enjoy a better quality of music at home with a surround system, be it 5.1 or 7.1.
How to Turn a 5.1 System Into a 7.1 System
If you have not yet bought a 7.1 system and would like to upgrade your experience cost-effectively, the following video will teach you how:
How to Take Care of Your 5.1 Speakers
Proper maintenance and care play an integral part in the longevity and usability of your 5.1 speakers. Here are some of the few tips that you can use to ensure that your speakers will remain in top condition and last for years:
- Schedule a regular clean up. Dust particles can accumulate and clog the speakers over time. A clean damp microfiber cloth is ideal for cleaning your speakers.
- While microfiber cloth is great for wiping the exterior, it is important not to let dust get in the interiors and crevices of your speakers as it will affect its performance. A handheld soft brush is recommended to get rid of dust that goes inside the speakers. But it is better to be safe than to be brushing speakers daily, so you should keep dust from entering the environment altogether.
- Shield your speakers away from direct sunlight. After all, they are made of plastic or similar materials, and continuous exposure to heat will make the components weak and brittle in the long run.
- Speakers should not come in contact with water or any other liquid. Otherwise, it will damage the internal components and cablings inside. Since surround systems involve placing speakers in multiple locations, you should pay attention to the risk of liquids getting spilled in all areas occupied by the speakers.
- Make room for the speakers to breathe, especially in hot places where there is not enough air circulation. This is relevant to those engaging in regular movie marathons, television show binging, and gaming. It is easy to forget the passage of time, and extended usage can affect the receiver.
- Humidifying your living room can extend the lifespan of your speakers. That is because the friction-related electrical charge produced by dry environments is detrimental to the lifespan of your speakers. In addition to humidifying your home, you can position your speakers far enough apart and at the correct angles to avoid an electrical charge to build up to a degree where it starts affecting your speakers.
What Are the Benefits of 5.1 Speakers?
There are a few reasons why 5.1 sound systems populate the market despite the release of six-speaker systems and seven-speaker setups. Below are some of the benefits of a 5.1 system.
- 5.1 speakers produce better quality sound than stereo speakers and result in a more immersive experience when watching a movie or a television show.
- For most rooms, a 5.1 system surrounds for the optimal experience. 7.1 sound systems bring a better surround experience noticeable only in large rooms.
- The speakers pick up a wide range of frequencies, including deep bass. Therefore, the quality of music is substantially better when it is played on a 5.1 system. Most night clubs use only four speakers to surround an area. A 5.1 system uses five, and thus, surrounds better than an average nightclub.
- When watching movies or television shows, it is possible to miss significant details in a noisy environment. A 5.1 sound system makes sure the distractions are drowned out by quality surround sound experience.
- Movie theaters use surround sound to pull you into the viewing experience. By having environmental sound play through rear speakers, the viewer is given the impression of being inside the movie. The 5.1 system brings a similar surround experience to your home.
7.1 systems are the latest upgrade to surround sound experience. Instead of the standard five speakers, the 7.1 system relies on seven speakers. Since the difference is barely noticeable in small rooms, most 7.1 receivers are compatible with 5.1 systems.
While you can convert a five-speaker system into a seven-speaker setup at home, you only need five speakers to have a great home theater experience.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.