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Sound systems: the different abbreviations

When you're on the hunt for the right sound system you will come across various numbered abbreviations, such as 2.1, 5.1, 7.1 or 5.2. and so on - but what does that all mean?

2.1-Set: Stereo loudspeakers with a subwoofer

A stereo system consists of two loudspeakers. If this system comes with a subwoofer then it is abbreviated as 2.1.  The first number represents the number of loudspeakers in the sound system or the output channels that a receiver or amplifier has. The second digit (here 1) represents the number of subwoofers. 2.1 systems are often used as a PC sound system to make sure that the gaming experience is a real blast.

5.1 systems: Home cinema feeling and gaming action

The first number 5 again indicates the number of speakers in the sound system, i.e. a total of 5 plus 1 additional subwoofer. In addition to the left and right speakers, the 5.1 sound system has three more speakers. These are the centre and two surround speakers. All speakers receive a separate sound signal. The centre speaker, for example, is located in the middle between the left and right speakers. The placement should therefore also correspond to the intended position.

7.1 systems: lush home cinema sound

With a 7.1 system, i.e. a proud 7 speakers and subwoofer, the surround sound is further enhanced. The listener can thus be accurately exposed to sound from four sources. The loudspeaker set-up of a 7.1 system provides for two additional satellites for this purpose.

From 5.2.2 to 9.4.4 - 3D sound from everywhere

With the introduction of Dolby Atmos and thus the three-dimensional sound, the number series becomes even longer. The third number stands for the number of effect boxes that output the sound signal from above, directly or reflected by the ceiling. So if you can't get enough sound, you can theoretically expand to 9.4.4.

The placement of the speakers is decisive for the sound image. The number of speakers is not necessarily important for the sound image, but the placement of the speakers in the listening area. Read here to find out about the best positioning.