Two Channel or Surround Sound


New member
Username: Ehrawn

Post Number: 1
Registered: Mar-08
I've got a brand new job and a decent signing bonus, so I've decided it was time for me to upgrade from my old CRT and desktop radio, and get a real home theater setup. I'm pretty much settled on the "visual" parts of the A/V system, but I'm having trouble deciding which route to take for the sound system.

Although I do watch movies at home, they probably constitute about 5% of what I will be using the stereo for. I have never been one who really likes the whole surround sound thing anyways (when I want the theater experience, I would rather go to a movie theater than stay at home). What I am looking for is a solid music and TV experience, and a tolerable movie experience. I am trying to decided if I am better off purchasing a 2.1 or 5.1/7.1 receiver. If I go with a 2.1, will the voice track on the movies be impossible to hear like it is on my TV?

My budget is tighter than I would like, so I don't want to waste money on features I won't be using. I already know I will not be purchasing rear channel/ surround speakers. Instead, I will be looking at better quality bookshelf speakers (because of size restrictions), and a sub. I would also like to put the money I would have spent on a center channel into a better quality receiver.

This is my first real home audio set up. I'm not expecting miracles with my budget ($1500-$3000 for audio), but I do want equipment that will sound good and last a few years.

Silver Member
Username: Shawnharman

Post Number: 186
Registered: Dec-05
I would go with a 2 channel stereo if I were you, it will be the best bet for you

check this out

you wont be dissapointed in this combo

and it will sound great when you do watch a movie every now and then.

Bronze Member
Username: Afj


Post Number: 26
Registered: Jan-08
if youre using a sub a good pair of bookshelf speakers is the jbl studio L820's. excellent clarity and life like sound. the bass isn;t so hot but shouldnt matter if you go for a sub. i would assume the centres in the same studio series should be good as well. couldnt really comment on the sub as i havent heard it.

another option on the amp is the nad c372 if you get it at a better price than the combo that shawn recommmended

Gold Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 2782
Registered: Sep-04
If movies only constitute 5% of your listening pleasure then buy a standard 2-channel stereo system. Don't go 2.1 either, just go straight 2-channel. This will almost invariably give a better integrated response than spreading the money over a subwoofer as well.

Silver Member
Username: Dmitchell

Ottawa, Ontario Canada

Post Number: 723
Registered: Feb-07
I agree... if 95% of your listening is going to be 2 channel music, then focus on a 2 channel rig. The combo that Shawn recommended is a solid one. The C272 is a good entry level seperate (I have 2 of them). I've found you have to be relatively careful with what speakers you pair them with, though.

Another option is the Outlaw rr-2150.

I haven't personally heard it, but it is very well reviewed.

Gold Member
Username: Stu_pitt

Irvington, New York USA

Post Number: 2555
Registered: May-05

To answer your "If I go with a 2.1, will the voice track on the movies be impossible to hear like it is on my TV?" question - It'll sound better.

If you set the speakers up right and the system's quality is good enough, then it'll sound right. Voices will come from the actors mouths, not the speakers. The only thing you'll miss is surround information, like things happening behind you. If you're not a surround sound fanatic and/or what you're watching doesn't have this, you won't miss a thing.

When I first started putting a stereo together, I was going down the surround route. An honest salesman showed me how good a 2 channel system can sound for movies.

You're so much better off buying a 2 channel system (with ot without a sub) for the money if you don't care much about movies and special effects. For your budget, you're going to get far better sound and build quality from a 2 channel system than a surround system.

There are a lot of very good brands to look into. I don't know your exact budget, listening preferences, etc to make a recommendation. My advice is to go to a few hifi shops - not Best Buy, etc - and listen to what gear what they have to offer. Listen to stuff above and below your budget to see what you can expect for the money. You may save a few dollars, or may save up for a few more weeks/months. Either way, you'll have what you want.
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