Multi-channel sound system

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Loudspeaker set of a multi-channel home theater system . The speakers are located in the front left, right and in the middle as well as in the back

This article gives an overview of multi-channel sound systems and their predecessors, especially in the context of sound reproduction in the cinema and so-called home cinema technology. The aim of multi-channel sound systems is to enable the most realistic spatial sound experience possible, the spatial sound . In home entertainment electronics today, AV receivers , which are technically complex multi-channel audio amplifiers , are used in combination with at least six loudspeaker boxes, which are necessary for the DVD standard sound format Dolby Digital 5.1.

1 0 channels (mono) label.svg 1 channel

Schematic representation of the monophony

Before the introduction of multi-channel systems, there was only mono . The first mono recording was made in 1877, and the first monaural video cassette appeared in 1972 .

  • every sound reproduction system also allows mono reproduction, with the same signal being reproduced via all channels or speakers. The specific properties of the respective sound reproduction system (e.g. stereo) are omitted. Instead of the room sound specific to the respective sound reproduction system, the mono signal is only reproduced on a broader basis and usually sounds fuller than when reproducing via just one loudspeaker.

2 0 channels (stereo) label.svg 2 channels

Schematic representation of the stereophony

With this method, both channels have the same bandwidth . The stereophonic sound reproduction system was developed in the 1930s, but has only been used since the 1960s.

  • Stereo uses both channels to convey spatial sound information.
  • The listener selects one of 2 channels (bilingual transmission or commentary track).

3 channels

Schematic representation of the 3-stereophony

2 1 channels (stereo subwoofer) label.svg 2 channels and auxiliary channel

The auxiliary channel does not have the full bandwidth and is used for films such. B. as an additional center speaker for dialogues.

3 equivalent channels

  • Dolby Digital as a storage medium for old analog recordings
  • 3 0 channels (stereo front-center) label.svg In what is known as 3-stereo, the sound field is divided into three front channels.
  • 2 0-1 channels (dolby surround) label.svg It is a transition from stereophony to quadrofony.

4 0 channels (quadrophonic) (quadrophonie) label.svg 4 channels

Schematic representation of the Quadrofonie

2 channels and 2 auxiliary channels

4 channels

  • 4 0 channels (quadrophonic) (quadrophonie) label.svg Quadraphony
  • In the case of film recordings, for example, the sound was recorded with four separate microphones, although there were problems with the channel separation. In the beginning it was not possible to design the recording in such a way that the desired spatial effects occurred with the required intensity.
  • 3 0-1 channels (muse laserdisc) label.svg MUSE - LD : Left - Center - Right - Back

5 0 channels (surround sound) label.svg 5 channels

Schematic representation of Dolby Surround Pro Logic I.

The first sound system with five loudspeakers is the Surround Pro Logic I developed by Dolby in the 1980s . In contrast to quadraphony, a center loudspeaker was added, thus introducing a new channel that can be used to reproduce dialogues in films. However, with Dolby Surround Pro Logic I. the two rear speakers reproduce the same thing.

5 1 channels (surround sound) label.svg 6 channels

Schematic representation of Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Dolby Digital is the first sound system with six speakers and also the first digital . The variety of sounds is expanded here by adding a subwoofer . All 6 channels are recorded separately from each other.
  • Dolby Pro Logic II - Extension of the analog Dolby Pro Logic I by an additional return channel and a subwoofer channel
  • DTS
  • IMAX : Left - Middle - Middle Top - Right - Back Left - Back Right - LFE channel in the middle bottom
  • 2 + 2 + 2 : left-front-down, right-front-down, left-back, right-back, left-front-up, right-front-up: 6 channels with which the vertical position of a sound source is reproduced can be
  • Ensonido : The software mixes the six-channel audio track down into a two-channel stereo downmix that contains the acoustic room and head information.

6 1 channels (extended surround sound) label.svg 7 channels

6 channels and one LFE channel . ( 6.1 ): Left - Center - Right - Back Left - Back Center - Back Right - Effect

  • Dolby Digital EX
  • DTS -ES - Can simulate or control a 6.1 system from a 5.1 recording without an additional channel for DTS-ES matrix and with an additional channel for DTS-ES discrete
  • Dolby Pro Logic IIx - Can simulate a 6.1 system from a stereo or 5.1 recording

7 1 channels (extended surround sound) label.png 8 channels

7 channels and one LFE channel: Left - Middle - Right - Back Left - Back Middle Left - Back Middle Right - Back Right - Effect


  • Christian Birkner: Surround. PPVMedien, Bergkirchen 2002, 2nd edition, ISBN 3-932275-39-X .

Web links

See also