Dolby Surround or 5.1: Choosing The Best Surround Experience!

Let it be a movie or music, we all crave high-quality sound. And to get that high-quality experience, we often need to distinguish two different sound setups. 

Dolby surround and 5.1 are two different sound setups preferred by many to enjoy movies.

So, which is the better option, Dolby surround or 5.1?

Dolby surround sound systems require 3 outputs. Albeit, 5.1 surround has 5 outputs including 1 subwoofer. Also, The sound quality of Dolby surround is lower than 5.1. Dolby surround is supported by Dolby digital 3.0. Whereas, 5.1  surround sound is supported by Dolby Digital Live.

You might be wondering that’s all you need to know. But, to gain that sweet zone you need to dive deeper. I will guide you in this interesting article.

So, sit tight and read along!

Quick Review

Dolby audio is a reliable technology that developed 5.1 surround sound and Dolby surround. But, these two sound systems have huge differences.

Even differences between 5.1-2 and 7.1-4 surround sound exist. So, you get that each sound system will provide a unique experience. That’s why I will assist you to differentiate each sound system.


With that said, let’s look at a short comparison of each sound system.

Differentiating FactorsDolby Surround5.1 Surround
Channels3 Output (2 Standard + 1 Subwoofer)5 (4 Standard + 1 Subwoofer)
Sound QualityHigh-QualityBetter Than Dolby Surround
Area CoverageMediumMedium to Large
Supported DevicesPC, Laptop, Television, MP3 Player, etc.Industry-standard DVDs, video games, and other media.
FormatsDolby Digital 3.0Dolby Digital Live
Frequency Bandwidth100 Hz to 7Khz80 Hz to 9Khz

These are the quick reviews of each sound system. But, this short comparison won’t give a brief idea of each sound system.

Let’s jump to the next section for a head-to-head comparison of each sound system.

Head to Head Comparison

This is where things get interesting and confusing. But don’t get perplexed. I will provide what each sound system will offer in a simple manner.

We all know how popular Logitech is. It provides both the 5.1 surround sound and Dolby surround. But, the Logitech subwoofer may stop functioning. So, you should keep this in mind. Nevertheless, it is a very reliable brand.

So, without further ado, let’s start with the head-to-head comparison.


One of the core competencies of any sound system is its features. From dynamic range of sound to giving real-life feeling, this thing matters the most.

Dolby surround can provide the best output with only 3 speakers. Combined with Dolby Atmos, it can provide a 360° artificial sound. Also, it can reduce noise using the same software. But, it also faces issues like noise distortion, lag, jitter, etc.

On the other hand, 5.1 surround sound has more speakers. The dynamic range, technology, realistic sounding, etc. will be top-notch and better than Dolby surround. However, it isn’t supported by Dolby Atmos.

Summary: With Dolby Surround, you have better software support. But you get better hardware support with 5.1 surround sound.


The channels of any sound system refer to how many audio outputs are available. It can give you a whole new experience with music, movies, audio podcasts, etc.

Dolby surround outputs are in total 3. This includes 1 subwoofer and 2 standard speakers. You get sound coming from the front 2 speakers and depth effect from the subwoofer.

Nevertheless, 5.1 surround sound outputs are in total 5. This includes 1 subwoofer and 2 standard speakers, which is more than Dolby surround. So, the dynamic range of audio and audio depth is more than Dolby surround.

Summary: 5.1 surround sound provides more channels than Dolby Surround.

An amplifier is an essential device to provide enough gain to power up your speakers. If you’re in search of some quality amplifiers for your surround sound, try these out:

These amplifiers have Bluetooth features. So you can get more ease in using them without needing any wires or cables.

Sound Quality

The sound quality largely depends on the audio format. However, it also depends on the audio sample rate.

Now, Dolby surround supports Dolby digital 3.0. The file format for this is AC-3. The sample rate of this sort of file is up to 48Khz. So, the audio quality won’t drop as it can convert audio files efficiently.

Yet, 5.1 surround sound supports Dolby digital live. The sample rate of this is 44.1 Khz to 192 Khz. It can work more efficiently than Dolby surround. So, the audio quality is better for 5.1 surround sound.

Nevertheless, Dolby surround sound system has high-quality audio too. But, compared to Dolby digital live, it is slightly backdated.

Summary: 5.1 surround sound has better audio quality than Dolby surround.

Coverage Area

We expect that any sound system will cover our expected area. So, let’s see what each surround sound system has to offer.

Dolby surround is perfect for a small to medium room. It can cover every bit and provide a loud sound too.


However, 5.1 surround sound is perfect for medium to a large room. So, it has a larger coverage area than Dolby surround. Also, 5.1 surround sound has a better audio focus than Dolby surround. Because 5 devices can confine the audio well than 3 outputs.

Summary: 5.1 surround sound has a larger coverage area than Dolby surround.

Supported Devices

Surround sound system is widely used in many things. So, let’s see what devices are supported.

Dolby surround can be used in almost every old and new technology. Mostly, it is integrated. But, you can also add external speakers to use the feature.

However, 5.1 surround sound is widely used in cinema halls, home theaters, and games. The 5.1 surround sound system was used in 1975 in the movie “Tommy”. Since then, it is widely used almost everywhere.

Summary: Dolby surround is famous as an integrated part. 5.1 surround sound is famous for home theaters or watching movies.


Lastly, we need to see the cost of each sound system. It is an important factor as it should match your budget.

Within $100, you can get a good quality Dolby surround system. I’ll recommend some of the best and most reliable Dolby surround speakers on the market.

However, the 5.1 surround sound system will cost more than the Dolby surround. It will take more than $100 to buy a full set. So, let’s see some of the best 5.1 surround sound speakers on the market.

Summary: Dolby Surround costs less than 5.1 surround speaker.

That’s all regarding the in-depth analysis. Also, don’t forget to calibrate your surround sound system. That way you will get the optimal performance.

If you are still confused, don’t worry. In the next section, I will give my final opinion.

So, let’s jump right to the next section!

So, Which Surround Sound Is Better?

You’ve seen what each sound system has to offer. Yet, it’s hard to choose a sound system. So, let’s see what each will offer if you choose one.

A Dolby surround system will cost less than a 5.1 surround system. So, if budget is a concern go for Dolby surround. Also, it has better software support so the audio will give a 360° range.

Nevertheless, the 5.1 surround system is more dynamic than Dolby surround sound. It is perfect for a home theater setting. The depth of the audio will be more than the Dolby surround sound. 


So, it’s up to what you want. You can also explore the 5.2 4 and 7.2 4 sound systems. Each surround sound system is unique and high-quality.


What Is The Best Placement for 5.1 Surround Sound System Speakers and Subwoofers?

The best placement of a 5.1 surround sound system is two speakers forward right and left, the subwoofer in the middle, and two speakers behind right and left. The angle of each speaker should be 110° to 120°.

Can A HDMI Cable Deliver a 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound System?

No, HDMI cables cannot deliver any surround sound system. Because HDMI cables are used for television, computer, projector, etc. And these devices aren’t designed to deliver a surround sound system. So, you need to buy an external surround sound system for that.

Is Netflix Compatible to Surround Sound Systems?

Yes, Netflix provides a 5.1 surround sound system and Dolby Atmos. During playing, make sure that option is chosen in the Audio & Subtitles menu. However, you need a surround sound system setup to enjoy the dynamic range of high-quality audio. 


That’s all regarding Dolby Surround or 5.1. I hope the article will assist you to choose the audio setup you desire.

Here’s a tip, using Dolby Atmos software will provide better sound for Dolby Surround.

Have a good day!

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