2.1 Surround SoundHome cinema systems normally consists of 5 speakers plus a subwoofer to make what is commonly known as 5.1 surround sound. The means that there are 2 front speakers, a centre speaker, 2 rear ‘surround’ speakers and the .1 which is the subwoofer. It is a tried and trusted method of re-creating an encompassing audio experience.

A 2.1 surround sound system is obviously lacking 3 speakers, but does this really make a difference to your home cinema experience, and if so, why are they so popular?

The Disadvantages of a 2.1 Home Cinema System

The 3 missing speakers in a 2.1 set up (the centre speaker and the two rears) are at the very heart of the surround sound concept and do very important jobs. Therefore, at first it would appear that the overall experience will be substantially inferior, but sound engineers can do clever things these days and the effects might be better than you think:

  • The centre speaker is used for the characters speech – it ensures the actors voices are clear and audible and is important so the other audio effects don’t muddy the sound. However, this speaker is the most easy to replicate using the 2 front speakers, so lacking this one is not normally a problem.
  • The surround sound effects from the rear speakers are difficult to reproduce. However, manufacturers have developed clever ways to manipulate the audio signal to create a ‘virtual’ surround sound effect. Generally it works well, and as long as you don’t expect quite the same level of experience that 5.1 gives, you should be satisfied.

The Advantages of 2.1 Surround Sound Systems

Despite their shortcomings, 2.1 systems have a few major benefits over the five speaker alternative, and where they really come into their own:

  • A 2.1 system is very easy to set up. Simply place the front speakers an equal distance each side of your television, and the subwoofer next to the speakers or just behind your television. Subwoofers can get a little ‘boomy’ if they are positioned right next to the wall so try and avoid if possible;
  • Because there are only two front speakers, there is no need to trail wires around your lounge or bedroom to rear speakers, so are more convenient too;
  • A 2.1 set up makes an ideal improvement to the tinny and low powered speakers we often see on flat screen televisions these day and will increase your enjoyment of films, television and games;
  • Many of the 2.1 home cinema systems available today are some of the most attractive home electronics devices around, so if you value good looks, then a 2.1 surround sound system could be the right choice.

In this short guide we’ve seen that although there are a few disadvantages with two speaker systems, they really can bring you an improved audio experience and help you enjoy your television and films a little more. If you value style, and don’t want the hassle of having to connect extra speakers, or the inconvenience of trailing wires around the room, and you wasnt to get your system set up as quickly and easily as possible, then a 2.1 system is for you.

  • If a 2.1 system is not right for you, perhaps consider a soundbar which is even easier to set up.

Latest 2.1 Home Cinema Systems

Our reviews of 2.1 home cinema systems will help you choose the right system, and show you the best prices available online. Click one of the products below for more details.

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