As home entertainment systems are becoming more common, new innovations and state of the art sound systems have started to play a significant role. A proper sound system lends added layers to the enjoyment of various digital entertainment platforms. Sound systems include rear surround speakers, but are these speakers necessary?
Rear surround speakers are necessary if you want to have an immersive sound experience. It captures the sounds that help set a scene and gives more depth to the audio. The background noise in a building or the indistinct murmur of voices is more pronounced with a rear surround speaker.
Whether rear surround speakers are necessary depends on a lot of factors, starting from your budget to your room’s size. These speakers make a difference in the sound quality and help you achieve an almost realistic atmosphere in the surroundings. In this article, we will look into these factors that show how the rear surround speakers make a difference.
Table of Contents
Evolution of Rear Surround Speakers
Originally, surround sound systems were made for movies. The idea was to create a highly immersive sound experience for the movie-goers. As the technology itself evolved over the last few years, surround sound systems were developed for home theaters as well.
Rear surround speakers started being used alongside the front speakers. They are usually placed behind the audience, and just like the front speaker, the rear surround speakers are placed on the right and left sides as well.
These rear surround speakers can produce a whole range of frequency and can play tunes at amplified levels. These rear surround speakers are mostly used to play special effects and background sounds.
Do Front and Rear Speakers Function in the Same Way?
Front speakers are placed on both left and right sides of the home theater system, and they provide mid-range and high frequencies, while rear speakers are placed behind the audience and provide an amplified full range of frequencies that adds ambiance and layers of depth to the audio. Rear surround speakers are usually of the same size or smaller than the front speakers.
In simpler terms, a front-end speaker concentrates more on the sound emitting from the foreground, where two characters are speaking to each other. In contrast, rear surround speakers also breathe life to the background noise, such as the sounds of a passing car in the background, or the busy murmurs of a coffee shop.
The rear surround speaker is largely responsible for any given movie or game’s sound effects. The front speakers are more often used to relay the core dialogues of the corresponding visual.
Moreover, these days, soundtracks are mixed for multi-channel surround sound effects, and rear surround speakers come in handy to playback these sounds.
Is It Essential to Have Rear Surround Speakers?
While one may argue that rear surround systems are used less often as they produce a similar range of frequencies as the front speakers, it is not entirely true. The amount of depth that the rear surround speakers can produce helps in creating more depth to the audio and in understanding the surroundings where a particular scene is set.
Rear surround speakers are called so because they aid in providing a surround sound effect. They add more depth to the sound as the sound is now emitted across four speakers instead of two. This results in a more directed and immersive sound.
Also, having the rear surround speakers are especially helpful when you have a larger room to fill. Having merely two front speakers will not have the same reach and effect as adding a set of rear surround speakers.
Of course, whether rear surround systems are essential or not is largely dependent on individual choices. If you need to have that ambiance and greater depth and clarity of sound, rear surround speakers can be considered essential in your home theater system.
Even though it may not be essential to have rear speakers for your home theater system, it does help create a truly engaging aural experience.
Things to Consider on The Rear Surround Speaker Placement
To have a complete surround sound system, you will have to invest in rear surround speakers. Then it is not just a question about the positioning of these rear surround speakers but also the number of such speakers that you will need.
The Number of Rear Surround Speakers
Regarding the number of such rear surround speakers that you will need, the answer is that you can invest in as many as you would like, but ideally, two such rear surround speakers should suffice in an average room.
An ideal surround sound set-up should have at least five speakers – two in the front, two rear surround speakers, and a subwoofer. This is the minimum number of speakers recommended. The rear speakers need to be placed at the back of where the audience is sitting, in your living room, usually behind the sofa, to improve the level of immersion with the audio.
The Added Depth to the Audio
A standard television will have left and right speakers at the front to cover for all frequencies, including the bass. This kind of setting will not be able to give you a surround sound effect. If you are upgrading to a home theater system, then investing in rear surround speakers will add to the depth of the audio.
The 5.1 Channel Systems
Commonly found, the 5.1 channel systems support surround sound in different media platforms. They help in creating a surround sound effect for the television, web-streamed media, or even disc based media.
In this video, you will get a more detailed guide on setting up a 5.1 surround sound speaker system:
The rear speakers in this 5.1 channel system should ideally be placed just behind or to the side of the listening positions. These speakers also help in creating a sense of space in your room. There are also the 3.1 and the 7.1 channel sound systems, but these are not commonly used on a day to day basis.
Certain companies specialize in these products, such as Dolby. They recommend that the rear speakers be placed at an angle of 110° to 120° from the place where the audience may be seated for ideal listening.
In case positioning the rear speakers here is not an option, you can consider placing them at 90° from the audience’s position. These rear speakers also need to be placed a little higher than the front speakers to create an ambient sound in the room.
The Room Configuration
Depending on the room’s configuration and the way the walls, windows, and furniture are placed, you might have to find a workaround if the places at exactly 110° or 90° are not easily available.
The idea is to place the speakers at a place that is as close to these positions as possible, and ultimately you should experiment and let your ears guide you in deciding which positioning sounds the best.
Should Rear Surround Speakers Need to Belong to the Same Brand?
The beauty of setting up a home theater system is that you can customize it as you like. The same applies to rear surround speakers as well. Rear speakers do not necessarily need to match the others in the home theater system, but there are a few things that you need to consider before purchasing your rear speakers.
Front Speakers Need to Be a Brand Match, but Not Rear Speakers
As long as the front speakers and center speakers are a brand match, it is good to go as these are the speakers that output the voices from the main sound source. They need to be brand-matched so that the source’s timbre and output are more in sync with the original source. Some of these sets also include a subwoofer, but the subwoofer doesn’t need to be brand matched.
Rear Speakers Only Focus on Ambient Noise
With rear surround speakers, the timbre of voices is not important as they only generate a fraction of the total sound output. These speakers focus on amplifying the ambient noise rather than the main sounds from the source, such as the protagonist’s voice.
Even though they provide an amplified sound, these rear speakers do not generate as much sound as the front speakers. The sound from the rear speakers should be lower than or just as loud as, but never louder than the front speakers. This makes it possible to go for rear surround speakers that can be smaller than the front speakers.
Opting for Rear Speakers From a Different Brand Gives Greater Flexibility to Your Budget
Using different speakers can also give greater flexibility in your budget while setting up the surround sound system. You can invest more in buying a high-end front speaker and supplement these with a subwoofer and rear speakers from another brand, probably a little less expensive, known for their surround sound capabilities.
Rear Speakers Should Be of a Lower Wattage Than Front Speakers
Lastly, keep in mind that when you purchase rear speakers from a different brand, they need to be of a similar wattage. Rear speakers with a higher wattage than the front speakers will give out louder sounds, defeating the purpose of surround sound.
Choosing speakers that have a relatively lower wattage than the front speakers will be an ideal match and work well in the surround sound system of your home.
Are Rear Speakers Feasible for Your Surround Sound Setup?
Before deciding whether rear speakers are suited for the surround sound set up in your space, many things need to be considered. These factors need to be weighed in no matter what stage of setting up the surrounding sound system.
It is better to plan your needs, whether you are starting from scratch or adding an extension to an existing system before you splurge on a set of rear surround speakers.
The Space Where You Plan to Use the Surround Sound System
This is probably the first thing you should consider when setting up the surround sound system in your room. The size of the room plays a crucial part in your decision to purchase the rear speakers.
If the room size is big, you can go for rear surround speakers that take up a lot more space, but if it is a smaller space, you might want to consider getting tiny satellite speakers to manage the sound these speakers will create.
The Samsung SWA-9000S Rear Wireless Speaker Kit is a set of wireless rear speakers that is wall mountable and creates an immersive surround sound experience to make the viewing of your favorite movies and sports more realistic.
To elaborate further, consider a small room that has a large rear surround sound speaker in it. It would not truly make sense because the sound waves will bounce off one another, resulting in a muddy and patchy sound.
On the other hand, investing in a greater number of rear surround speakers in a large room becomes essential if you want to fill the space with good quality sound that also helps in comfortably filling the space.
Budget is always an important factor before making any kind of purchase, especially big investments such as a home theater system. It is known that good speakers are not cheap, and frequently, the budget might not have taken into consideration the cost of rear speakers.
If anything, rear surround speakers give you the flexibility that you need by providing some wriggle room in your budget when you are setting up the home theater system.
It is always good to invest in high-quality front speakers and then add the subwoofer and rear surround speakers at your convenience, after pooling in some more cash. This option allows you to focus on the front sound system, which carries the audio’s main voice, and then supplement it with rear surround speakers at a later date when you have saved up for it.
The Intended Use of the Rear Surround Speakers
Another big factor that needs to be taken into consideration when purchasing the rear surround speakers is how often you plan to use them. If you are not an avid television or other media enthusiast and resort more often to reading or active sports, then perhaps a surround sound system will not be much appreciated, even less those rear surround speakers.
Investing in a set of good rear surround systems will be great if you are into music, games, and movies and find yourself a voracious consumer of these forms of entertainment. And if you enjoy both the auditory and the visual aspects of the media.
Also, suppose you are only planning on using your home theater system to listen to music. In that case, then again, it makes little sense in investing in high-quality rear speakers as music is mostly produced in stereo and does not come in a surround sound format.
Movies, games, Blu-rays and DVDs, on the other hand, have the option of stereo as well as surround sound. So if the home theater system is used for these entertainment mediums, it makes sense to invest in rear surround speaker systems, as it makes a noticeable difference in the sound quality.
Do Rear Speakers Make a Difference?
If you are looking for the ultimate sound experience, then having rear speakers will help achieve that. These speakers mimic the ambient sounds from the surroundings where the main scene is captured. These speakers also provide not only the background noise but also a full auditory guide to the area and the surroundings where the scene takes place.
For instance, imagine watching a movie with a scene in the middle of the forest. The scene essentially is a dialogue between the two lead characters in the movie. We hear the voices of these two characters as they speak, but with a surround sound effect, which is possible with rear speakers, you can also hear the gurgling brook in the background, the gentle rain in the background, or the sounds of birds perched on the nearby tree branches.
Though these background sounds are not absolutely necessary to carry the story forward, it helps complete the auditory picture, if you will. It gives the audience a sense of the surroundings where the conversation is being held, thereby making it more realistic. Rear speakers help create this surround sound system that transforms the home theater into a truly immersive experience.
So far, we have seen how the rear surround speakers can make a difference in the audio quality and improve the level of immersion. Aside from the budget, because rear surround speakers will add to the cost, there are not many reasons not to opt for a set of these speakers. When properly tweaked, even a small space can benefit from these speakers.
You will need to choose a system that best suits your tastes and preferences. Use this article as a guide, but lay your trust in your instincts and ears as well.