Posted by Matthew Cupper on August 28, 2018
Matthew Cupper

This blog post covers the critical elements of audio formats for your cinema experience and also the sound system which delivers that cinematic detail and that immersive experience.

Item 1: Audio Formats

There are a wealth of different options for audio formats and speaker set ups so I have started with the least number of speakers first. Please note that this is a simplified document as again this could become a book if we were to consider every recommended format in depth!

Explaining the format (Numbers) bellow the first number suggests the amount of speakers for the surround sound, the second is the number of subwoofers and the third, if present suggests the number of height (immersive) speakers.

NB: If is often recommended to have more than one subwoofer as it can help to even out the bass response in the room.


Dolby Atmos-344632-edited


  • 5.1 = Five speakers comprising of three left, centre and right speakers plus two side surround speakers and a subwoofer. If you are on a budget our recommendation is to always start with better speakers and a smaller system as you will get more pleasure from it. A great 5.1 set up will deliver hours of pleasure to anyone listening.
  • 7.1 = Add two more rear speakers, usually you change the location of the side speakers. This set up adds more movement and space for a slightly larger room.
  • 9.1 = Generally with a 9.1 set up you would add two more speakers at the front sound stage, these would either be front height left and right speakers or more commonly, I think a slightly better result, front wide speakers left and right. This again widens the sound space and opens up the room more.
  • 11.1 = As above but with both height and width speakers together OR a set of front height and rear height speakers depending on the format!

You can find out more information here regarding the main audio formats, Dolby Labs, DTS, and Auro3D.

With the following set ups and to keep things simple with descriptions we are going to discuss two formats together and a third separately:-

Dolby Atmos and DTS X immersive Audio Formats:-




  • 5.1.2 Add two height channels to the 5.1 set up above
  • 5.1.4 Add four height channels to the 5.1 set up above

This goes on for ALL formats up to 11.1.X formats. The only thing to consider in some cases is the addition of more side surround speakers for really long rooms.

Auro 3D has a slightly different speaker layout but does follow some principals:-



  • Auro 9.1 is a 5.1 set up with 4 height speakers which go above the Left, Right and Surround speakers.
  • Auro 10.1 adds a centre height speaker above the listener.
  • Auro 11.1 adds a height centre speaker or 4 height speakers to a 7.1 set up!
  • Auro 13.1 adds Height Left, Centre, Right, Side Surround and Centre speaker to 7.1 set up.

ALL of the above formats have capacity to go larger with more speakers!

I appreciate this is all very complexed however FEAR NOT a good home cinema installations company can assist to ensure you make the right decisions!

Item 2: Sound Systems

When we talk about a professional luxury home cinema installation we are looking to create the experience that the director intended when creating the film.

These film tracks are laid out in various surround sound formats using specific sound systems that deliver the very best performance.

A good home cinema installer will have options available to enable you to replicate the effects exactly how they should be experienced.

Some of the most famous speakers used in cinema mastering are MK Sound, Procella Audio, Meyer Sound and Alcons Audio to name a few.

However, a great home cinema speaker does not necessarily guarantee a great cinema sound! Pairing the right speaker with the wrong sound processor or amplifier can have disappointing results. Some manufacturers actually care so much about the quality of the source of the sound to the speaker that they have developed their own electronics packages and room correction software.

Brands such as Steinway Lyngdorf, Meridian Audio, Pro Audio Technology, dARTS Digital Theater, Meyer Sound and Alconis Audio all have their own approach to guaranteeing the best possible signal to their speaker systems.

A good home cinema company will have access to a wide range of product enabling them to offer the best possible solution for the room that you have.

Not only this but a GREAT home cinema installation company will get every ounce of performance out of the system they have specified delivering the absolute pinnacle of performance for your ultimate viewing pleasure.

In an industry where there are so many enthusiasts only a handful know the Black Art of Acoustics and the Secrets that allow your home cinema installation to perform at its peak performance.

 Access the definitive guide to luxury home cinema design