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Does surround sound actually work?

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Old 07-20-2014, 08:26 AM   #1  
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Default Does surround sound actually work?

What is the purpose of surround sound? We only have 2 ears, the sounds waves from all the speakers be it 5.1 or 7.1 will eventually 'merge' and be detected by our two ear drums. Why not just have stereo? We listen in stereo.

Last edited by shnabz; 07-20-2014 at 08:26 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 07-20-2014, 08:54 AM   #2  
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Welcome to the forum.

Actually we hear in more directions than stereo. Just like with two eyes we are able to see in more than two dimensions, with two ears we are able to hear from multiple directions. Are you saying you can't tell when a sound is from behind you as opposed to a sound in front of you?
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Old 07-20-2014, 08:56 AM   #3  
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Welcome to the forum.

Actually we hear in more directions than stereo. Just like with two eyes we are able to see in more than two dimensions, with two ears we are able to hear from multiple directions. Are you saying you can't tell when a sound is from behind you as opposed to a sound in front of you?
Being able to hear from multiple directions IS stereo. We have two eyes, so we 'see in stereo' too! Two images give us a sense of depth to help with localizing the position of what we are looking at, just like with sound, two ears allow us to hear in a way in which our brains can localize the position of the sound.

Our ears hear sounds coming from all directions, and get mixed together into two tracks, left and right. So why have more channels other than L & R?

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Old 07-20-2014, 09:53 AM   #4  
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Being able to hear from multiple directions IS stereo. We have two eyes, so we 'see in stereo' too! Two images give us a sense of depth to help with localizing the position of what we are looking at, just like with sound, two ears allow us to hear in a way in which our brains can localize the position of the sound.

Our ears hear sounds coming from all directions, and get mixed together into two tracks, left and right. So why have more channels other than L & R?
I can only assume you have not listened to a good 5.1 or 7.1 surround system otherwise you would not be questioning a systems ability to establish an accurate soundfield and your ears/minds ability to decipher those sounds.
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Old 07-20-2014, 10:41 AM   #5  
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The sound around us doesn't originate in stereo. It comes from all directions.
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Old 07-20-2014, 10:41 AM   #6  
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two ears allow us to hear in a way in which our brains can localize the position of the sound.
You just answered your own question. Of course. That's why surround sound does work in a way that two speakers wouldn't. Two ears process the sound, but it has to be localized externally for us to process it that way.
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:12 PM   #7  
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You just answered your own question. Of course. That's why surround sound does work in a way that two speakers wouldn't. Two ears process the sound, but it has to be localized externally for us to process it that way.
It's not localised externally, the position of the sounds are localised in our brains. We have two ears, we can only hear two streams of audio.
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:31 PM   #8  
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I can only assume you have not listened to a good 5.1 or 7.1 surround system otherwise you would not be questioning a systems ability to establish an accurate soundfield and your ears/minds ability to decipher those sounds.
When did I question a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound systems ability to to establish an accurate sound field?

My question is why can't two speakers accompolish the same thing?
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:31 PM   #9  
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If you are convinced then stay with stereo.
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:33 PM   #10  
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If you are convinced then stay with stereo.
Why stay on stereo when I can have the benefits of surround sound!? Whatever they are... I am merely trying to understand why it is better than stereo
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:34 PM   #11  
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It's not localised externally, the position of the sounds are localised in our brains. We have two ears, we can only hear two streams of audio.
But it's reliant upon the position of the things around you. For instance if a bird is chirping behind you to your left right, you hear a little more sound in your right ear, a little less in your left so your mind can position exactly where it's coming from.

Same with surround sound, if your watching a movie & the same bird is supposed to be chirping behind you, it will come from the right rear speaker. And that creates an entirely different effect than if it were coming from one of your front two speakers. Your mind still places the sound from where it's coming from.

Maybe you only have hearing in one ear or something & don't realize it? True surround sound is VERY obvious.
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Old 07-20-2014, 12:39 PM   #12  
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But it's reliant upon the position of the things around you. For instance if a bird is chirping behind you to your left right, you hear a little more sound in your right ear, a little less in your left so your mind can position exactly where it's coming from.

Same with surround sound, if your watching a movie & the same bird is supposed to be chirping behind you, it will come from the right rear speaker. And that creates an entirely different effect than if it were coming from one of your front two speakers. Your mind still places the sound from where it's coming from.

Maybe you only have hearing in one ear or something & don't realize it? True surround sound is VERY obvious.
Oh I am very much aware of the joys of the illusion of 'positional sound' I enjoy listening to movies on my surround sound at home. I think you have misinterpreted my question though, when I said stereo, I didn't mean stereo from a TV speakers, I meant from headphones, sorry I didn't make the question clear enough.
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:16 PM   #13  
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For instance if a bird is chirping behind you to your left right, you hear a little more sound in your right ear, a little less in your left so your mind can position exactly where it's coming from.
With a set of headphones (stereo), I beleieve you would get the same positional effect of the chirping birds.
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:26 PM   #14  
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Do you agree that when using full range speakers that the surround effects are better in a 5.1 configuration than when just using a stereo pair?
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Old 07-20-2014, 01:41 PM   #15  
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Why stay on stereo when I can have the benefits of surround sound!? Whatever they are... I am merely trying to understand why it is better than stereo
It's not always. If something (like music for example) is mastered in stereo then stereo is the way to go. If something has a 5.1 or 7.1 track then the discrete channels would make surround the better choice.
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