Wireless Surround Sound: How Does It Work?

Jun 30, 2020 | 0 comments

Do you not yet have surround sound at home or would you rather not have too much hassle with installing? In that case we advise you Origin speakers in combination with the Axiim Q UHD. Are you looking for an extension of your current wireless surround sound set? The Origin speaker is a perfect addition. This speaker can be connected to both passive and active systems.

A term that is often used in the music and film industry is ‘surround sound’. Despite the fact that this technique has been around for years and the name already gives a little betrayal of what it stands for, there is a lot of uncertainty about it. In this article we first dive into the meaning of surround sound, then we will compare this with ‘wireless surround sound’.

WHAT IS SURROUND SOUND?

Surround sound is used to indicate the sound around a listener or viewer. By placing different speakers around the listening position, you ensure that you are in the middle of a wide sound field. As a viewer or listener you are therefore surrounded by sound, giving you the feeling that you are in the middle of the action.

HISTORY OF SURROUND SOUND

The human ear is able to determine the direction and distance to a sound source to a certain extent. Quite soon after stereo sound was invented, the need arose to mimic the sound reproduction in its entirely.

The first invention in this field is probably artificial head stereo. This recording technique used an artificial head in which two microphones were mounted in the place of the ears. Such recordings gave a very realistic picture when listened to through headphones. However, this became significantly less when it was listened to through speakers. New experiments soon followed after the invention of the stereo head. For example, as early as 1940 Disney had three-channel sound for the movie Fantasia, called ‘Fantasound’.

An artificial stereo head is used to develop the quality of stereo speakers
Image: An artificial stereo head with headphones.

WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF SURROUND SOUND?

As mentioned before, as a listener you are surrounded by music. It is often thought that surround sound is only intended for films, but this is not true. Surround sound can be used for anything that contains a distribution of the sound channels.

Dividing sound over multiple channels makes everything easier to understand. Provided the loudspeakers are positioned correctly; the more speakers, the more realistic the sound. Compare the sound that the two speakers from your phone produce with that of a cinema, where there are often 64 speakers hanging. A world of difference.

TYPES OF SURROUND SOUND

There are different variants of surround sound. The difference between them is in what type of speakers you have in your room and the source material. This source can be, for example, a DVD, Blu-ray disc or game console. It is important that for the reproduction of surround sound the source is equipped with an audio track that contains multiple channels, for multiple speakers.

Within the concept of surround sound, there are various manufacturers who work on their own systems, think of Dolby or DTS. Although all these systems have their own characteristics, the differences are mainly in the amount of speakers used in a setup.

SURROUND SOUND SETUP

The most common surround sound setup is 5.1. This means that there are five normal speakers and one subwoofer, all placed around the listener or viewer. The central speaker is placed directly in front of the listener, this is often a soundbar under a TV. Two front speakers are placed on both sides of the television. The other two speakers should be placed behind the listener.

If you have less space in your house, a 3.1 setup is also an excellent option. In this case, there are no back and sidespeakers. So you are not completely surrounded by sound here. A 3.1 setup is recommended in a listening room up to 15 m2. A 5.1 setup is more than sufficient in rooms up to 35 m2. Do you have a larger space or do you want to go for the full experience? Then the 7.1 is probably for you. This is the same setup as 5.1, but extended with two speakers on the sides. These three setups are shown in the images below.

7.1 Wireless Surround Sound setup
Image: Different speakers in a 7.1 surround sound setup.

WHAT ABOUT HEIGHTS?

With the audio software getting better, you almost wonder if there is still room for improvement? There certainly is. Nowadays, for example, you have Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, with two or four channels added in height. In this case you will get a 7.1.2 or 7.1.4 setup. This is ideal for scenes where it rains or an airplane or other object flies around. Imagine how realistic it sounds when Harry Potter is flying through your living room.

BUT WHAT IS WIRELESS SURROUND SOUND?

A common problem when placing speakers in a listening room is to lay all cables. In particular, the cables from the receiver to the side and back speakers can be an eyesore. In this case, a wireless surround sound system would be a perfect solution for you. However, anyone who thinks they are permanently rid of cables will be disappointed. Speakers cannot function without power supply. ‘Wireless’ speakers still need to be connected to the mains. However, in most cases these power cables are easier to tuck away.

WHAT DO I NEED TO GET SURROUND SOUND?

This depends entirely on what you currently have, what your wishes are and what budget you have. The great thing about the different setups is that this can be expanded slowly. So you can start with a 3.1 setup and slowly expand it until it’s 7.1.4. However, it is true that speakers from different brands all have a different sound and therefore do not match perfectly. Don’t you know audio at all? There are many different sets available that do match perfectly.

Do you want to expand your current wireless surround sound setup? Perhaps the Origin is a perfect addition. We are happy to tell you all about this during a listening session.

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