Home Surround Sound VS Home Theatre System: A Comparison

home theater system
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Have you ever looked at your TV and wished you had a bigger one? Or wished for a better sound system? That is understandable, really. As fun it is with our regular TV and sound systems, they sometimes don’t do justice to the media content we get. This is noticeable when you’re into gaming, or maybe have a knack for making music. Sometimes even the movies need a step up from our regular setups to enjoy them to the max.

Well, you wouldn’t be the only one feeling this way. Lots of other people do, and that’s why home entertainment setups are so popular now. People are upgrading their setups to enjoy the max of everything. This became more common after the pandemic hit and everyone was stuck at home.

When it comes to a better home entertainment setup, you’ll see “home surround sound” and “home theatre” everywhere. What is home surround sound? What is the home theater system? How are they different? If you’re thinking about an upgrade of your home setup, keep reading for more!

You might also interested in How To Set Up Surround Sound Into Cinema Mode? 

Home Surround Sound VS Home Theater System: A Comparison

home surround sound

Both of the terms are used in the home entertainment field. In a one-liner definition, surround sound is an improved sound system and home theater is a better audio-visual setup. But they are much more than that. Let’s see what these two actually mean.

What is home surround sound?

Home surround sound is a technical setup to give you an enhanced experience. This system uses the listener’s ability to detect sound sources. The base technic is called sound localization and is seen in humans.

The surround sound system is one step up from the regular sound system. This setup makes the listeners feel like they’re surrounded by sound and it is coming from all directions. Let’s make it more simple. If you have seen Star Wars in the theaters, you’ll know the whooshing sound you hear when a spaceship flies toward the screen. It makes you feel like it is actually flying towards you.

The surround sound system is like that. It enhances the sound to make it more realistic. The sound comes from all directions instead of two and gives the user a movie theatre experience. There are multiple possible setups but all of them need at least four speakers.

A surround sound system is what the name gives you, a sound system. It doesn’t focus on the visual setup. It takes less space to set up and is cheaper too. A subwoofer isn’t always necessary for a surround sound system. Home surround sound is a part of the home theater setup, and we’ll get into the details of this in a bit.

What is a home theatre system?

home theatre system


You know the movie theatre you always go to every time a new movie comes out? Imagine that theatre but in your home. That’s what a home theatre is. This is a two-dimensional setup. The home theatre system focuses on both the audio and video part of the setup to recreate the movie theatre experience for you.

A home theatre or home movie theatre is a setup that brings the movie theatre experience to you in your own home. The system has both audio and video components to recreate the experience. The setup may have both but the most notable part of a home theatre system is the visual outlet. The whole thing is centred around a high-quality screen so the viewer gets the best viewing experience. Another reason for using a high-quality video outlet is to make sure the theatre can play the 4K videos (because 4k media doesn’t run properly on regular video equipment).

Home theatres use surround sound systems to recreate the movie theater sound. The speakers and other audio equipment are strategically placed to make it feel like the sound is coming from all directions. The sound is enhanced and it works based on the sound localization of humans. Sound localization is the ability to detect the source or the direction of the sound.

Since a home theatre uses home surround sound with video equipment, technically home surround sound is a part of the home theatre setup. Every home theatre setup uses surround sound, but surround sound is versatile and isn’t limited to home theatre use.

Comparison: Home theatre and home surround sound

Before getting into the details, here is a table to summarize the features of both setups. If you’re in a hurry, you can glance over this in a minute and be done with it.

Feature Home surround sound Home theatre
Equipment and components Audio only Audio and video
Number of speakers Minimum 4 Minimum 5
Space consumption Less More
Cost Less More

With the basics out, let’s get to the details now.

1. Equipment and components

Surround sound systems need less equipment than a home theatre setup. Home theatre focuses on both video and audio components so it includes sound equipment and visual equipment. A surround sound system only needs the audio components. Some components like subwoofers aren’t necessary for a surround system but are necessary for home theatre.

2. Number of speakers

Even though the surround system focuses more on sound, the home theatre needs more sound equipment than surround sound. The surround sound system needs at least 4 speakers to work. One on the right, one on the left, one in the front and the other in the centre. Home theatre setup needs the same as surround system sound. But it also needs an extra speaker at the back to create the movie theatre experience.

3. Space consumption

For home surround sound, you’ll just have to make room for the sound equipment like speakers. You’ll need four speakers minimum but if you add more speakers you’ll need more room. A surround system setup can take even less room if you use compact speakers (imagine soundbars).

Home theatres on the other hand need more space because it also has video components. You’ll need room for a big screen (possible curved too) and more speakers. You can use soundbars but it will still take up more space than a surround sound system.

4. Cost

Well, this is a given. A home theatre setup needs more equipment so the cost for this is high. The home surround sound is just an audio outlet so the cost is much less than a home theatre.

The home theatre system and home surround sound are both similar but not the same. The main difference is the equipment setup. Which one you’re going to get depends on your personal need. If you want a good sound system, home surround sound should do a pretty good job. If you need the whole movie theatre experience, go for the home theatre setup.

Dont forget to check Surround Sound System Vs. Home Theatre System Vs. Soundbar: Which Is Better?

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