What Is 5.1 Audio?

DTS THX Dolby Digital logos

Want to know what 5.1 audio stands for? The audio format found on Blu-rays, 4k Blu-rays, streaming/broadcast movies and TV series, and other types of media represents a 5-channel audio speaker system. The “5” stands for the number of separate “full bandwidth” speakers that can be used (for example a center, two sides, and two rear/side speakers). The “1” stands for a subwoofer, a speaker that handles the low frequencies of an audio stream, often called the “bass” speaker.


In a typical 5.1 audio setup, there would be 3 channels in the front (one center speaker with speakers on the right and left) and two in the rear (left and right). The subwoofer is typically placed to the left or right of the center speaker close to the screen or display.


The most common formats for 5.1 audio include Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS, SDDS, and THX. The 5.1 configuration is also the standard surround sound format for digital broadcasting and music.

How To Hear 5.1 Audio

To hear 5.1 audio you’ll need a receiver or sound bar that supports 5.1 channels such as the YAMAHA RX-A4A AVENTAGE 7.1-Channel AV Receiver (Amazon), Marantz NR1510 UHD AV Receiver (Amazon) Sony STRDH590 5.2 4K HDR AV Receiver (Amazon). Most new receivers also support Bluetooth for connecting devices such as phones and tablets., as well as HDMI inputs for disc players, satellite and cable, streaming media players, gaming consoles, and older analog AV devices.


You may have noticed the 5.2 channel Sony receiver mentioned above. The “2” means there are two outputs for subwoofers. This would allow a home theater to have a subwoofer on two sides of the display, providing even more output of bass frequencies.

Furthermore, a 7.1 channel or 7.2 channel setup would increase the number of separate speakers to 8, or 9, respectively. In a home theater or home audio setup a subwoofer counts as one speaker. So, a 7.1 channel system could be called an 8-speaker setup.

Also Read

What is 2.1 Audio?

What is 7.1 Audio?

What is Dolby Atmos?