2.1 or 5.1 is better?

Guru

Senior member
May 5, 2017
585
164
86
#1
I'm looking into buying new speakers and I was wondering if buying 2.1 is better than 5.1.

I used to like 5.1 more in the past, but with all the cables that go on, the reduced rms wattage for the satellites as there are more, etc... makes me feel like 2.1 might be a bit better.

The 5.1 system I'm looking at is 135W or 70W RMS, the 2.1 is 80W peak or 50W RMS
 

Billb2

Diamond Member
Mar 25, 2005
3,035
1
86
#2
Which is bigger, red or blue?

As above, there isn't enough information to answer your question.

Generally, 2.1 for music. multichannel for gaming/movies.
 

rchunter

Senior member
Feb 26, 2015
931
23
91
#3
If it's for a main living room. 5.1 or higher and hide the cables.
Everything else 2.1.
Hell a lot of tv's are coming with pretty good internal speakers these days. I've got a 55" LG in my bedroom that I don't have hooked to anything, still sounds good.
 

Hans Gruber

Senior member
Dec 23, 2006
481
24
91
#4
7.1 is your best bet. Atmos is overkill and difficult to assemble.
 
Dec 12, 2001
26,391
5
106
#5
7.1 is your best bet. Atmos is overkill and difficult to assemble.
No it's not on both accounts. It's very easy to setup as a good AVR will do the room correction for you. It also does sound much better than regular 5.1/7.1 but not everyone can dedicate the room for it.

Anyway for the OP don't go 5.1 if you are going to go with cheap speakers. What I mean is if your budget is $2000 then dedicate the majority of the budget to speakers. Going 2.1 can allow you to buy higher end speakers which contribute much more to the quality of the audio experience than the AVR or other components. So basically if it's a choice between a good 2.1 setup you can add on to as you go by purchasing a center and then your surrounds down the road vs a low end 5.1 setup then I'd go 2.1. You will end up with better audio in the long run.

Also Wattage ratings mean very little from the manufacturer. It doesn't tell you the THD, the sensitivity ratings, the crossover frequencies, the frequency range they handle, the amount of extension you will get from the sub on the low end etc. All important factors to look at.
 

mdram

Golden Member
Jan 2, 2014
1,466
13
106
#6
i stayed at 3.1
the center channel does wonders for voice clarity imho
 

RearAdmiral

Golden Member
Jun 24, 2004
1,991
6
91
#7
I'm looking into buying new speakers and I was wondering if buying 2.1 is better than 5.1.

I used to like 5.1 more in the past, but with all the cables that go on, the reduced rms wattage for the satellites as there are more, etc... makes me feel like 2.1 might be a bit better.

The 5.1 system I'm looking at is 135W or 70W RMS, the 2.1 is 80W peak or 50W RMS
How on earth is there a 5.1 system with 70W RMS? That seems awfully low. Link please. Are you able to run cables below your floor? It's a pain but worth it.

Or do you mean 70W/channel?
 

Hans Gruber

Senior member
Dec 23, 2006
481
24
91
#8
No it's not on both accounts. It's very easy to setup as a good AVR will do the room correction for you. It also does sound much better than regular 5.1/7.1 but not everyone can dedicate the room for it.

Anyway for the OP don't go 5.1 if you are going to go with cheap speakers. What I mean is if your budget is $2000 then dedicate the majority of the budget to speakers. Going 2.1 can allow you to buy higher end speakers which contribute much more to the quality of the audio experience than the AVR or other components. So basically if it's a choice between a good 2.1 setup you can add on to as you go by purchasing a center and then your surrounds down the road vs a low end 5.1 setup then I'd go 2.1. You will end up with better audio in the long run.

Also Wattage ratings mean very little from the manufacturer. It doesn't tell you the THD, the sensitivity ratings, the crossover frequencies, the frequency range they handle, the amount of extension you will get from the sub on the low end etc. All important factors to look at.
The OP would be better off with a soundbar if he listens to your advice. Would be better off going to a real theater than assembling what you are describing. 5.1 or 7.1 could both be run as a 2.1 or 3.1 setup.
 

FeuerFrei

Diamond Member
Mar 30, 2005
8,814
97
126
#9
i stayed at 3.1
the center channel does wonders for voice clarity imho
How does that work? Is there a special 3-channel encoding format? Or does the receiver matrix the right / left channels to create a center channel?
 
Dec 12, 2001
26,391
5
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#10
The OP would be better off with a soundbar if he listens to your advice. Would be better off going to a real theater than assembling what you are describing. 5.1 or 7.1 could both be run as a 2.1 or 3.1 setup.
Many sound bars come with a decent sub and are not bad options for some people. It’s another option yes. I’m just saying that going a bit higher end and using 2.1 for now and expanding later offers better quality in the long run.

It’s a fact that the majority of the audio quality comes from good speakers. That’s where I would place the priority first. If that means going 2.1 to get better speakers then that’s the better plan. You can always add on to a 2.1 system and expand it to 3.1 or 5.1/7.1 in the future as funds allow. Also don’t overlook the used market. There are often great deals to be had if you look on A/V forums in the classified adds. Speakers don’t really degrade unless they are blown but going to a specialized forum has lots of people who take care of their gear and you may find a nice setup.
 
Last edited:
Dec 12, 2001
26,391
5
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#11
How does that work? Is there a special 3-channel encoding format? Or does the receiver matrix the right / left channels to create a center channel?
Left, center, right plus sub. 3.1
 

FeuerFrei

Diamond Member
Mar 30, 2005
8,814
97
126
#12
Left, center, right plus sub. 3.1
I understand the speaker layout / positioning. Just haven't heard of a 3.1-channel encoding format.
So what's happening with mdram's 3.1 setup is ... he's lost the RR and LR channel content because he didn't bother to hook them up - or he's matrixing the LF and RF (stereo output) to get the center channel output.
I'm curious which.
 
Dec 12, 2001
26,391
5
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#13
I understand the speaker layout / positioning. Just haven't heard of a 3.1-channel encoding format.
So what's happening with mdram's 3.1 setup is ... he's lost the RR and LR channel content because he didn't bother to hook them up - or he's matrixing the LF and RF (stereo output) to get the center channel output.
I'm curious which.
The audio is 5.1 or 7.1 but the surrounds simply aren’t used. Similar to how a 7.1 soundtrack works on a 5.1 system. The rest of the audio goes to the proper channels. The AVR doesn’t send any surround audio to the fronts.
 

Zeze

Diamond Member
Mar 4, 2011
9,884
45
126
#14
If it's for a main living room. 5.1 or higher and hide the cables.
Everything else 2.1.
Hell a lot of tv's are coming with pretty good internal speakers these days. I've got a 55" LG in my bedroom that I don't have hooked to anything, still sounds good.
Please no.

And I'm not even close to being an audiophile.
 
Dec 12, 2001
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#16
Did you even read what I wrote? You might want to read it slowly.
See for some people audio is nott a priority because of the room layout, wife acceptance factor, cables, or just no physical space. I get that but you don’t need 5.1 or better for good audio. Like I mentioned before the major factor in audio quality is speakers and source. If the source is lossless then the speakers are the single most important thing to get quality sound. So to me, going 5.1 and skimping on the speakers because of budget may not be the best idea in the long run. Speakers can last nearly forever, I have some that are pushing 40years old and still function as brand new. You can always invest a bit into 2.1 and expand it later with more speakers as funds allow.
 

rchunter

Senior member
Feb 26, 2015
931
23
91
#17
See for some people audio is nott a priority because of the room layout, wife acceptance factor, cables, or just no physical space. I get that but you don’t need 5.1 or better for good audio. Like I mentioned before the major factor in audio quality is speakers and source. If the source is lossless then the speakers are the single most important thing to get quality sound. So to me, going 5.1 and skimping on the speakers because of budget may not be the best idea in the long run. Speakers can last nearly forever, I have some that are pushing 40years old and still function as brand new. You can always invest a bit into 2.1 and expand it later with more speakers as funds allow.
Yeah It just depends on the situation. For a small bedroom these internal LG speakers are fine. I agree though buy the best speakers you can because you will more than likely have to live with them for a long time. My living room setup is decent with JBL 5.1, psa sub, etc. I'd love to have a dolby atmos setup but the room size prevents me from doing more.
 
Jul 15, 2003
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#19
Generally I prefer high quality stereo over everything else. BUT, in our next house we will have an unfinished basement, so I plan to make a decent little home theater and run a surround system, ideally with no wires showing. Then I may revisit 5.1 or 7.1 audio, for the television.
For gaming, I always use a high power stereo home theater. I have NEVER found any tactical advantage in surround audio, despite what most CounterStrike and Battlefield players would like me to believe.
 

Guru

Senior member
May 5, 2017
585
164
86
#20
Yeah, I guess the most powerful 2.1 system it is for me then.
 
Dec 12, 2001
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#21
Generally I prefer high quality stereo over everything else. BUT, in our next house we will have an unfinished basement, so I plan to make a decent little home theater and run a surround system, ideally with no wires showing. Then I may revisit 5.1 or 7.1 audio, for the television.
For gaming, I always use a high power stereo home theater. I have NEVER found any tactical advantage in surround audio, despite what most CounterStrike and Battlefield players would like me to believe.
Well for gaming it’s the immersion factor. I like hearing the action all around me.
 
Jul 15, 2003
71,409
750
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#23
WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT:

Has anybody ever used 6.1 regularly, for movies or games?
 
Dec 12, 2001
26,391
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#24
WHILE WE'RE ON THE SUBJECT:

Has anybody ever used 6.1 regularly, for movies or games?
I do t think it was very popular. Didn’t 7.1 come out quickly after? Not sure how many movies have 6.1 soundtracks either.
 

alcoholbob

Diamond Member
May 24, 2005
5,893
74
106
#25
More speakers is better for movies or gaming, provided the speakers are of the same quality. If you are comparing a crappy 5.1 system with a slightly less crappy 2.1 system, I would take the 2.1 system.
 

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