More and more people are becoming familiar with the concept of 7.1 surround sound; all this means is that it is a sound system which incorporates seven surround sound speakers or “satellites” is used in conjunction with a single subwoofer. This has been a trend among the most high-end surround sound systems and the most gung ho audio enthusiasts, however the technology is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, and many people are considering it for alternative uses. A common question is whether or not 7.1 systems can be used for PC audio, and if there are any that are specifically designed for such a use.
7.1 PC Audio
The answer is “yes” to both counts — there is a growing number of PC users who are taking advantage of 7.1 technology for everything from music playback to gaming to movie watching. 7 channels of surround sound can definitely make a big difference for people immersed in HD action movies or intensive, all-encompassing fantasy environments. And while the selection of specially made 7.1 PC speaker systems isn’t quite as extensive as traditional 7.1 setups you’ve still got plenty to choose from.
What to Know about 7.1 for PC
In order to make use of 7.1 sound systems with your computer, you’ll need a specially designed sound card that supports 7.1. In addition, you’ll also need to make sure the speakers you use are compatible with the rest of the hardware, though this is generally not an issue. Currently the biggest name for 7.1 computer audio is Creative, though you can also find products from Gigaworks and several other brands.
Configuring 7.1 Computer Audio
Perhaps the biggest consideration for setting up 7.1 for your PC is in the physical configuration of the system. Because it is a high-end, quality-intensive and specialized system, 7.1 setups are unfortunately not plug and play. For one thing, all of the speakers must be carefully positioned both at the same height (usually ear-level with the listener) and equal distance from the seating area. Depending on the layout of your room this can be tricky, and may likely even require the use of additional hardware like stands and/or mounts. Calibration is also must, which may or may not required third-party software and tools.
7.1 is definitely a viable option for hardcore PC users. Keep in mind, however, that all that superior quality comes at a price, and there is also some rudimentary technical know-how required for setup, installation and calibration.