Choose Between Two Options
- $299 for TV wall-mounting with tilt bracket and wire-concealment ($650 value)
- $39 for one-hour home theater installation and free consultation ($100 value)
Surround Sound: 3D Glasses for Your Ears
Much of the cinematic experience belongs to the immersive sound, which seems to come from everywhere around you. Read on to learn more about how surround sound works.
Since the early days of talkies, audio typically projected from a single speaker at the front of the theater. The resulting sound lacked depth and wasn’t a very realistic listening experience. After all, we naturally hear from all directions, not just one. Enter surround sound, in which several audio tracks envelop an audience from virtually every direction, creating a more dynamic, immersive soundscape. First developed by Dolby Laboratories in the 1970s, modern surround sound splits audio tracks into multiple channels, feeding each one to individual speakers positioned throughout a theater or living room. Speakers at the front play the central dialogue and soundtrack, with sounds on the right side of the screen coming from the right speaker and vice versa. The speakers on the sides and in the back are mainly used for special effects—such as the TIE fighters zooming past the audience in Star Wars—and background noises—such as the faint rattle of wires hoisting the TIE fighters’ scale models. Many systems also incorporate a subwoofer, which produces low-frequency bass sounds capable of physically rattling the seats during intense scenes.
Today, surround sound comes in many forms both analog and digital, but the first film to incorporate it was Walt Disney’s Fantasia in 1941. To accomplish the feat, Disney devised a system he called Fantasound. Engineers recorded each section of the orchestra separately, mixing them into four distinct audio tracks that were then printed as optical tracks on a film reel separate from the movie itself. During Fantasia screenings, two projectors would run at once, with one entirely dedicated to the multiple-speaker setup. As the strings faded in one speaker, they swelled in another—creating a panning effect that simulated the effects of a live orchestra. Fantasound was a hit, but it required lots of additional costly equipment to implement; only two theaters in the country could afford the full set of 54 speakers.