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Surround Sound Vs Stereo Sound – Which Audio System Is Good?

In today’s world, wireless devices are becoming increasingly popular and convenient. If you have a speaker that you love, but it’s not wireless, you may be wondering if it’s possible to make it wireless. The good news is that it is possible to make a speaker wireless, and there are several methods you can use to do so. Some popular methods to make your regular speakers wireless include Bluetooth adapters, Wi-Fi adapters, and wireless speaker kits. In this blog post, we’ll explore these methods in more detail and show you how to make your favourite speaker wireless

What is Stereo Sound?


Stereo Sound, which is short for Stereophonic Sound is a two-channel system i.e., it features two speakers to produce sound. These two speakers are called Left and Right speakers as they are often placed on the left and right side of a music system, a TV, or a performing stage, as viewed by the user.

Often, these two channels are complemented with a sub-woofer, which is used to produce those punchy, tight low frequency bass. If the system consists of a left speaker, a right speaker and a sub-woofer, then it is often called as a 2.1 stereo sound system. Without the sub-woofer, it is simply referred to as a 2.0 stereo system.

All our headphones, earphones, laptop speakers, boomboxes etc. are in fact stereo sound systems. An important point to note here is that almost all music is recorded in two-channels. Hence, those fancy CD player and DVD music players use stereo sound.

What is Surround Sound?


Surround sound, which is sometimes known as multi-channel sound, consists of 5 or more channels to produce sound. One of the popular configurations is the 5.1 surround sound, which, as the name suggests, consists of 5 channels/speakers and one sub-woofer.

These five channels are named center, left, right, surround left (or rear left) and surround right (or rear right). Some people consider the three-channel setup of center, left and right as surround sound but it doesn’t fulfill the ‘surround’ criteria in the surround sound system. For this you need at least 5 channels.

Another popular surround sound system is the 7.1 surround sound system, whcih contains all the channels/speakers that are in a 5.1 surround sound system and additionally there are two mid-left and mid right channels/speakers. The ‘.1’ in 5.1 and 7.1 indicates a sub-woofer.

The main advantage of surround sound system is its immersive sound experience. And this is important when you are watching movies on your big screen TV or a projector, especially action and thriller movies with lot of explosions, car chases, transforming robots etc.

Surround sound Pros:

  • Very good sound system for watching movies, especially action and science fiction movies
  • Home theatre setup requires a surround sound system to properly enjoy the movie
  • Can easily fill a large room
  • PC and console games can make use of surround sound system to enhance depth of sound in racing and FPS games

Surround sound Cons:

  • You can listen to music but it is not an ideal setup
  • Needs a proper amplifier to drive all the channels
  • Requires proper cable management
  • Can be expensive if intended to watch TV shows or listen to music

Where is Stereo Sound Useful?

As mentioned before, essentially all types of music is recorded in stereo sound. So, if you are an avid music listener, then a stereo sound system is one of the simplest yet fulfilling solution.

Does this mean we cannot use surround sound setup for listening music? You can definitely use a surround sound system to listen to music but the amplifier system has to work a little bit to convert the original 2-channel sound to multi-channel sound.

If you are watching a lot of TV shows (comedies and dramas) and also movies that doesn’t have big explosions and action scenes, then a good stereo sound system with a sub-woofer is more than enough to enhance the TV and movie watching experience.

Where is Surround Sound Useful?

If you are a movie lover and want to have that immersive sound effect, then a surround sound system is the best option. 5.1 and 7.1 are the popular surround sound speaker setups but with the increasing availability of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in streaming and Blu-Ray media, even more channels are being added to create a movie theatre experience.

The Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 surround sound system is slowing becoming the norm for home theatres, which has four additional speakers to the regular 7.1 channel system. These four speakers are called Dolby Atmos enable speakers and are usually placed overhead on the ceiling.

Most PlayStation, Xbox and PC games often have multi-channel audio. So, in order to properly experience the game with all the sound effects, a surround sound system is very important.

Stereo sound Pros:

  • Excellent sound system for listening to music
  • Stereo speakers are often high-quality speakers and produce high quality music
  • Very easy to install
  • Very minimum cable management is required
  • Can be easily upgraded in the future with more speakers and proper amplifier
  • An affordable option, especially if you are on a tight budget
  • Suitable for music, TV Shows and comedy and drama movies

Stereo sound cons:

  • Not suitable for immersive movie experience or action movies
  • Sound output might fill a large room

Surround Sound Vs Stereo Sound – Comparison Chart

Now than we have seen a little bit about surround sound and stereo sound, let us build a comparison chart of surround sound vs stereo sound for a better understanding.

Comparison Feature Stereo Sound Surround Sound
No. of Channels 2 At least 5
Ideal use case Music and TV Shows Movies and Games
Room Size Small to medium Large
Popular configuration(s) 2.1 (left, right and sub-woofer) 5.1 and 7.1
Ease of installation Very easy Difficult
Cable management Minimum Needs proper cable management
Price Affordable, but expensive options are also available Expensive, needs proper amplifier

Differences Between Surround Sound Vs Stereo Sound

You don’t have to be an audiophile to figure out the right sound system for audio needs. With some proper research and help of friends and forums, you can easily pick the right sound system that perfectly fits your budget and also fulfils your audio requirements.

To help you out in making the decision, we will see the differences between surround sound and stereo sound with respect to four factor, which you must consider while making a purchase.


The first and important factor to consider is the purpose of the sound system. Do you need a sound system for listening to music? Are looking for a movie theatre experience with your sound system? Do you enjoy music as well as movies? If you have a clear idea on the requirements of your sound system, then the buying decision can become easy.

As music is a 2-channel sound, investing in an expensive surround sound system just for listening music is not a wise move. That being said, a proper stereo sound system with a sub-woofer is sufficient for music, TV shows and movies (comedy and drama).

If you want to experience action, thriller and sci-fi movies with all the sound effects, then a proper 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system is a better option.

Sound quality

Stereo speakers will come with just two speakers while surround sound speakers have 5 or 7 (or even more) speakers. There are stereo speakers that are expensive than some surround sound systems. Does this mean they have a better sound quality? In general, the answer is yes. But even such expensive stereo speakers with better quality cannot deliver an immersive sound experience that a surround sound system does.

Room size

Another important factor to consider is the room size. Do you need the sound system for a large space or are you trying to fill the sound in a small room? Room size definitely matters. If you have a small room and wanted a surround sound setup, then you will have problems with respect to speaker placement, cable management, more power requirement etc.

Generally, stereo speakers are suitable for small rooms and surround sound speakers have a completely different requirements in terms of spacing, placement and angle of speakers.


The last and the important factor is the cost. Apart from the cost of the speakers, you also have to consider the set-up cost, amplifier cost, ambience etc. Stereo speakers will generally have small power requirements and as a result the amplifier is also small. Some stereo speakers come with integrated amplifier. But high-end speakers need a 2-channel amplifier, but usually a simple one.

Surround sound speakers need a dedicated amplifier (or a good AV receiver) to drive all the channels. It definitely drives up the overall cost of the system.


Whether you chose a stereo sound system or a surround sound system, make sure you do a lot of research before the actual purchase. Read reviews, go to stores and ask for a demo (some audio / video stores even have dedicated sound and visual experiencing rooms) and make a good investing decision.

Surround Sound vs Stereo Sound – Which one’s Better For You?

There is no straight forward answer to this. It all depends on your requirements and budget limitations. But we have a couple suggestion which might be helpful. For music, TV shows, comedy and drama movies, a stereo sound system with a sub-woofer i.e., a 2.1 stereo sound system is more than enough. With this setup, you have an upgrade path in the future.

If you are a movie lover and watches action, sci-fi and thriller movies and want to have a movie theatre like experience, then a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system is the one for you. If you are flexible on budget, then we suggest you to invest in Dolby Atmos setup as it is one of the best immersive sound systems available out there.

That being said, do not buy an expensive sound system (either stereo or surround) and leave it collect dust.

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