Poll: Who needs home theater surround speakers?

It's a given that most home theater buyers own 5.1 or 7.1 channel receivers, but do they actually hook up five, six, or seven speakers, and a subwoofer?

I view the rising popularity of sound bar speakers as proof positive that more and more people are rejecting the notion of deploying five or more speakers in their home theaters. It's not just the number of speakers, people are also not thrilled by the idea of running wires to the far corners of their home theaters. Truly "wireless" surround speakers are a recurring fantasy, but I've yet to see a wireless surround speaker that doesn't have at least one wire; most have two (one for signal, one for power), which as far as I can tell is double the number of wires used by conventional "wired" speakers.

Steve Guttenberg

I've been writing about stereo home theater for going on 14 years. It's not because I'm against multichannel home theater, I just want people to know there are other options. Home theater 2.0 (or 2.1) isn't for everybody, but it makes a lot of sense for folks who listen to more music than watch movies, or who don't watch a lot of special effects driven films. Stereo home theater, with a great pair of $1,000 speakers, will definitely sound better than a $1,000 satellite/subwoofer packaged system. More speakers just make more sound, not better sound.

Yes, they still make stereo receivers , but if you want a center channel, consider doing a 3.0 or 3.1 system (front left, center, right speakers, plus a sub) with a 5.1 or 7.1 channel receiver.

Take the poll, and I'd love to hear about other alternatives to multichannel home theater in the Comments section.

About the author

Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Home Theater, Inner Fidelity, Tone Audio, and Stereophile.


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