Dolby Surround Sound

I would like to explain the different formats of Surround Sound for your Home Theater or Media Room. Because back in the day, surround sound was a little simpler to understand and there was not many variations of it.

For me, it started in a very quiet electronics store in Brick Town, NJ. It was 1997… and then…


The launch of DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) and Home Theater Receivers with separate stand-alone processors for encoding Dolby Digital and DTS.

Now, I know some people may think that Laserdisc was the firsts and to a point, they are correct. However, Laserdisc used digital sound that was used for the analog audio track. On the other hand, in 1995, Clear and Present Danger was the first Dolby Digital or AC-3 movie released in Dolby Digital on Laserdisc. Additionally, these Laserdisc players would need a special “AC-3 RF” output and an external demodulator in addition to an AC-3 decoder. But, I digress. 

I still remember one of my favorite AVRs to sell with Dolby Digital and DTS. It was the Technics SA-AX7 / SH-AC500! So awesome!

The SH-AC500 could except Optical and Digital Coax Inputs, however to connect the SH-AC500 to the SA-AX7, you would need to use separate RCA Cables, six of them to send the discrete audio to the receiver and amplify the 5.1 surround sound. So cool!

And here I go again… Moving on.

Dolby Digital and DTS were the two compediting surround formats when Multi Channel Digital Sound were available for the home. So first we will talk about Dolby Surround Formats and then we will talk about DTS’s Surround Formats from a High Level.

Click Here for DTS Surround Sound and the different… flavors of them. (High Level)


  • Dolby Digital 5.1

    • Dolby Digital 5.1
      • With 5.1 channels of high-quality audio, Dolby Digital places you in the center of the action. It expands the Left and Right traditional stereo channels to deliver an enveloping 360 degrees of sound with and added Center channel, Surround Left and Right channels and the .1 would be the LFE (Low-Frequency Effects) for the Subwoofer.

  • Dolby Digital 7.1

    • Dolby Digital EX
      • Dolby Digital EX technology employs highly advanced Dolby Matrix Decoding to add a third surround channel to Dolby Digital 5.1-channel soundtracks. Located at the center back position, this additional rear surround channel complements the left and right surround channels of Dolby Digital 5.1-channel audio to produce an intensified degree of realism, further immersing movie viewers in the on-screen action.
        • DVD Discs
        • Matrixed from Surround Left and Right
        • You can use (1) Surround Back or (2) Surround Back Speakers for this.


    • Dolby Digital Plus
      • Dolby Digital Plus was Dolby’s new-generation multichannel audio technology
        developed to enhance the premium experience of high-definition media.
        Built on industry-standard Dolby Digital technology, Dolby Digital Plus as
        implemented in Blu-ray Disc features more channels, less compression, and
        higher data rates for a warmer, richer, more compelling audio experience
        than you get from standard-definition DVDs.

        • Blu-ray Discs
        • Discrete Channels Up to 7.1 and Dolby Atmos


    • Dolby TrueHD
      • On Blu-ray, Dolby TrueHD supports up to eight full-range channels of 96 kHz/24-bit audio and six full-range channels of 192 kHz/24-bit audio. It also features advanced 96k upsampling to produce the highest-quality Blu-ray audio from material originally recorded at 48k. Unlike most audio formats, Dolby TrueHD is 100 percent lossless. This means that what you hear is bit-for-bit identical to the master recording.
        • Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Discs
        • Discrete Channels Up to 7.1 (With Support Up to 16 Channels) and Dolby Atmos
        • Lossless Audio

Dolby TrueHD from Craig Eggers of Dolby himself:



  • Dolby Atmos

    • Dolby Atmos
      • Brings two key innovations to deliver an exceptional, immersive entertainment experience. The first is a pair of overhead bed channels, resulting in a 7.1.2 surround mix. If you have more then one pair, like two pairs, it would be a 7.1.4 surround mix. The second key development is the introduction of audio objects — individual sources that can be placed anywhere in the room, independent of the surround beds, informed by metadata that places them based on X, Y, Z coordinates and the number of speakers available in the room.


Because Dolby Atmos is not “channel based” there are many different configurations that you can use from how many speakers to placement of the speakers and the AVR will deliver the best possible surround sound in the environment you have setup. However, I’m going to focus on “expanding” the already 5.1 surround or 7.1 surround sound you currently have or should “in my opinion”, start from.

The great addition to Dolby Atmos in your Home Theater or Media Room, is that you do not have to upgrade your Blu-ray Player or your 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player! However, you will need an AVR that will support the additional Height Channels needed for Dolby Atmos.

  • Dolby Atmos 9 Channel (Building up from 5.1)

    • For smaller rooms, you can chose to go with a 5.1.2 setup that will give you one pair a Height Channels to give you the Dolby Atmos experience.
  • Dolby Atmos 7 Channel (Building up from 5.1)

  • Dolby Atmos 11 Channel (Building up from 7.1)

    • For smaller rooms, you can chose to go with a 7.1.2 setup that will give you one pair a Height Channels to give you the Dolby Atmos experience.
  • Dolby Atmos 9 Channel (Building up from 7.1)