How Surround Sound Works

By: Tom Harris

Going to the movies today is a very different experience from going to the movies 70 years ago -- the picture is clearer, most of the movies are in color, and the admission price is a lot higher. But the biggest change is probably the sound experience. In movie theaters of the 1930s, the entire soundtrack was played on a single speaker or collection of speakers positioned behind the movie screen. Today, theater audiences expect to hear sound coming from every direction; and the technology that once characterized only movie theaters is now fairly standard in home entertainment centers.

In this article, we'll take a look at the surround-sound systems that have become standard movie theater equipment. We'll also look at home-theater surround-sound setups and get you started building your own.