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How to Provide a Brilliant Surround for Movies/Games

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The sound is an inseparable part, some people may underestimate it and focus more on video, but the sound can create the special atmosphere and make the movie scarier. Building a great audio setup is quite challenging and there are many factors that you should consider.

Connecting everything up

There are different ways to connect everything up. If you do not want to bother with the whole system, then you can just use digital player outputs and connect them to TV inputs. The main advantage of this connection is that it is very simple and you do not need to use any special equipment, just a digital player, and a TV. The main cons are the poor level of sound quality.
Of course, you may have a great 4K with great speakers TV, but they cannot create the surrounding system, since two speakers are located right in front of you, and even if the video file contains the information that certain sound should be transmitted to the rear speakers, it will be transmitted to the TV speakers.
The same is true for games. If you use a video game console, you can connect its audio outputs with TV inputs and you will get the same as described above.
To get the surrounding effects, you need a special device that will receive a signal and then distribute it among several speakers according to the input signal. Therefore, if a certain sound is meant to be played by rear speakers, it will be played by rear speakers.
The whole setup with an AV receiver is a bit more complex since we need to introduce a new component – the receiver itself. If you use a receiver, then outputs of a digital player or a video game console should be connected with inputs of an AV receiver. Then, you connect outputs of the AV receiver with inputs of TV and a set of speakers.
The receiver performs an important function – it processes the input signals. It can modify both audio and the video signal and generate a high-quality output signal.
Moreover, modern receivers have many wonderful features that are able to enhance an audio and a video signal. For example, it can upscale video to 4K or enhance sound via different technologies and make it “deeper”.
The new setup (the one that includes the AV receiver) works the following way:

i. A digital player or a video game console generates the output signal.
ii. A receiver “gets” the signal, processes it and generates a new output signal.
iii. The new output signal is transmitted to a TV and surrounds speakers.

The new setup is a bit complex since you need to connect everything with cables and it can make the room quite messy, but in return, you get stunning sound.

Speakers for the surround sound set

The challenge is to decide what kind of a surround system you are going to build. There are 5.1, 7.1, 9.2 and even

11.2 surround systems.
You may ask what do those numbers mean? – Everything is simple, the first number is the number of speakers, the second number is the number of subwoofers. Subwoofers are used for low-frequency noises and sound, like stomping or heavy steps. Therefore, a 7.1 setup means that there are 7 speakers and two subwoofers.

Building a surrounding sound system you should be sure that speakers cover the whole area of the room. It is not a big problem if you have not a very large room. Here is the main issue with the room size. If it is too small, then speakers will be located too close to each other and the sound from will mix together. However, it is not a very big problem. Locating all speakers can be quite challenging since you need enough space. Therefore, if you have a small room, then the 11.2 setups might be not an option for you.
It is necessary to understand where the speakers are located. Here is a simple map for you:

a. One subwoofer.
b. Two speakers in front on both sides.
c. One center speaker.
d. Two rear speakers (behind a person).
e. A subwoofer (in front).
f. A center speaker.
g. Two speakers in front.
h. Two rear speakers.
i. Two speakers on the left and the right side relative to a person.
j. Two subwoofers on the left and the right side relative to a person.
k. Two speakers on the left and the right side relative to a person.
l. Four speakers in front.
m. One center speaker in front.
n. Two rear speakers.
o. Two subwoofers on the left and the right side relative to a person.
p. Four speakers in front.
q. One center speaker.
r. Two speakers on the left and the right side relative to a person.
s. Four rear speakers.

It is necessary to study the manual provided with a speakers set, it should include the information on how to place speakers correctly.

A processing device – an AV receiver

The input signal is processed by an AV receiver. There are different receivers and they have different functions, so the first thing you should do is to understand what you expect from it and what you are going to use it for and only then you can proceed to choose the device – compare AV receivers paying attention to such factors as:

i. Inputs
ii. Supported sound set
iii. Audio enhancement technologies

You should not forget about other minor special features, like the ability to control the device via a smartphone. Again, modern receivers may be quite expensive and that is the case when you need to find something a bit simpler. You may not need some functions or features. For example, if you use it with modern devices, you do not need a receiver with inputs that are used to connect old devices.


A receiver is a great device that processes an input signal, but it is not a magic device, that is able to generate something from nothing. Some receivers are able to scale up a video signal to 4K, but in this case, you need a 4K TV. However, scaling up, we may still lose some quality. It is close to the situation when we scale up an image on a computer. It becomes larger but it starts to blur and we lose some details. The same is true for the audio signal. The device (a digital player or a video game console) should generate the signal that suits your surround sound system. To put it in a simpler way, an AV receiver does not know what sound is intended to be played by rear speakers. However, some devices can split the input signal and distribute it evenly among all speakers. The sound will still “surround” you, but the effect may be not the one you are looking for.

Get the best from your receiver

Building a good sound system is not an easy task since you need to consider many factors. Here is a short list of things to keep in mind:
Decide what surround sound set you are going to build
Compare different models of receivers paying attention to inputs, outputs and supported surround sound setups
Make sure a digital player or a video game console can provide the right output signal (you should not worry about it if you have modern devices)
After that, you can start connecting everything together. Remember that speakers should be placed correctly, pay attention to the manual provided with speakers. The sound is an inseparable part of a game or a movie. Surround sound will provide you with the unique experience when you can “feel” a movie or a game. It is worth building a good sound system.

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