As technology advances, everything is multiplying and diversifying. For the image on our screens, you have to talk about 1080p and 15, 30 or 60 FPS, and for the sound, far from the stereo or mono, we hear about stereo, surround, 5.1, and even 7.1 in some cases grouped under the name of multichannel sound.

But what are these appellations? Why some sound connoisseurs reject the novelties that are multichannel sounds in favor of the stereo which is older? And if the stereo sound is really better, why since the late 2000s, multi channels 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1 continue to develop? Let’s know about the stereo vs surround sound option.

Recording method

If you record a sound with a non-directional microphone (which is becoming rare, even smartphones all have directional microphones now), it records everything in one go without differentiating between the different sounds or between their origin , and restore all of it in one go, through a single speaker or even through all the speakers that make up your sound equipment.

Let’s see about the surround sound vs stereo.

sound equipment 5.1 stereo

Then the sound recording in stereo, the most popular for over 20 years

This one can be recorded with one or more microphones, but will have to come out through at least two speakers in your sound equipment. This allows you to gain a 3D impression: the sound is distributed among the speakers, which allows you to feel if the sound comes from your right, from your left, and even from before or behind you. It allows a great clarity of the sound, as well as a better adjustment of the different sound tracks, in the case for example of a musical recording, each instrument and the voice has their own track which is then mixed together. This is the first of the multichannel sounds.

The recording in 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 and even 7.2 and 12.4 is a little more complex: it is the number of points of origin of the sound possible. In other words, they allow a much more precise localization of the origin of the sounds, as well as the sensation of being surrounded by the sound, to feel for example like in a concert hall, or instead hero in some movies and video games. The number after the dot indicates the number of subwoofers.

Popular sound equipment: 5.1 stereo

For the attentive reader, the difference has already appeared: if the stereo is popular and therefore used everywhere, the 5.1 on the other hand requires a particular installation and a particular recording. Due to the popularity of stereo, most movie, music and other recordings are still in stereo, which means that those who enjoy sound equipment capable of rendering 5.1 have only a selection Limited enough to enjoy this material.

And for the broadcast of a stereo sound, a stereo system and a 5.1 system will do a job equal, the sound will just come from behind you as part of a diffusion 5.1 home. These are the options for the difference between stereo and surround sound.


It’s up to you to choose which of these two systems you prefer, but remember that stereo has reached its full potential, while other multichannel systems will still have a lot to offer in the future!