What Is 7.1 Audio?

Dolby TrueHD Dolby Digital Plus DTS-HD audio 7.1 format logos

Want to know what 7.1 audio stands for? The audio format found on Blu-rays, 4k Blu-rays, streaming movies and TV series, and other types of media represents a 7-channel audio speaker system. The “7” 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.


How is a 7.1 channel system configured in the audio stream? While a 5.1 system may use two surround sound channels as rear or side speakers, a 7.1 system would split those 2 L/R surround signals (while each still in full bandwidth) into 4 distinct channels. So, a common configuration would be two speakers on the left (side/rear) and two speakers on the right (side/rear).


The most common formats for 7.1 audio in home theater applications include DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby TrueHD (or uncompressed LPCM), and Dolby Digital Plus (E-AC-3 codec).

How To Hear 7.1 Audio

To hear 7.1 audio you’ll need a receiver or sound bar that supports 7.1 channels such as the YAMAHA RX-V3854K Ultra HD AV Receiver (Amazon), Pioneer VSX-834 7.2-Channel AV Receiver (Amazon) and Yamaha TSR-700 7.1 Channel AV Receiver with 8K HDMI (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.


Audio systems may also come in 7.2 channel configurations. 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 9.1-channel or 9.2-channel setup would increase the number of separate speakers to 10, or 11, respectively. In a home theater or home audio setup, a subwoofer counts as one speaker. So, a 9.1-channel system could be called a 10-speaker setup.

Also Read

What is 2.1 Audio?

What is 5.1 Audio?

What is Dolby Atmos?