Stereo and Surround Sound, Understanding the Difference

Planning the right kind of audio system for the various spaces in a home can be an involved process, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Custom Audio Video designers are among the very best at finding the right combination of quality and budget for any room. Below is some introductory information on the kinds and uses of audio systems for the home.


Custom Audio Video designed stereo system for living room

Stereo, Still a Standard

In the 1970’s advances in stereo technology created a fervor for new stereo systems that were leaps ahead in quality from what came before. Two speakers placed just so could make the ears believe amazing illusions of sound that could transport the listener to the concert venue of a favorite band. In all the time since engineers have slowly and incrementally improved the quality of stereo speakers and electronics without any real fundamental change to the basics of how it works.

Today, stereo can be found in a few different forms in the home; as shelf top speakers often wireless and streaming internet music, as whole house audio systems playing from speakers cleverly hidden in ceilings and cabinets, and as classic one room high-performance systems. Each of these has the appropriate place and use in the home and Custom Audio Video has a long history of careful design practices that can provide the right balance of quality components, practicality, and design.


Custom Audio Video designed home theater

Surround Sound

For the last two decades surround sound has become the staple for how to treat the main television viewing room of a home, be that a dedicated home theater or a comfortable den. While stereo technology has its roots in music, surround sound developed as a way to improve the cinematic and TV viewing experience. There are a variety of configurations and adaptations to surround sound that will allow most rooms to accept a system, albeit with varying degrees hidden speakers. This is where the decades of experience of Custom Audio Video’s designers can be the greatest benefit. Whether a home has an open floor plan or a dedicated media room, surround sound will bring the best quality sound to match the best quality video.

The biggest factor on fitting a surround sound system to a room is the placement and quantity of speakers. Unlike stereo, which uses only two speakers, surround sound uses at minimum five speakers plus a subwoofer in most rooms and even more speakers for dedicated home theaters where the latest Dolby Atmos configurations are to be employed. Some amount of symmetry is needed for a good design, so rooms with a fireplace can be tricky but not impossible to design around. This is where Custom Audio Video’s extensive experience comes into play.


The Right Way to Utilize Soundbars

Custom Audio Video installed television and soundbar

In recent years, manufacturers have introduced soundbars, log thin speakers that usually mount to the bottom of a television and are, according to many marketing departments, as good as a quality surround sound or stereo system. The truth is that they are not, but that does not mean they do not have their place in the home. In rooms where the layout will not allow for multiple speakers or in rooms where budgets or expected usage would not warrant a stereo or surround sound system, soundbars can be a useful and practical way to achieve a quality of audio that it better than built-in television speakers, but not as good as an actual stereo or surround sound system.

In the soundbar marketplace there are many exaggerations made and Custom Audio Video is here to cut through that noise and give homeowners a realistic measure of the capabilities and uses of soundbars in a home.


Contact Custom Audio Video today to find out how to best employ stereo, surround sound, or soundbars in your home.