So what are the big differences between stereo and surround sound. Stereo sound works well for music and even with movies made with stereo sound soundtracks. However film can really be brought to life with surround sound speaker systems. Most modern movies are recorded with directional sound features. These features can really set surround and stereo sound apart.
An example of this type of effect is when a person walks across the screen and you hear them come closer and then fade away into the distance. The movement is brought to life by the sound effect. With surround sound systems many different effects can be enhanced since it adds a third dimension to the audio track of the movie.
In much the same way that stereo speakers enhanced music when they first became available, as opposed to the older mono speakers, this directional sound offered by surround sound is the next logical progression in terms of quality.
Stereo is still the most popular format for listening to music as most music is recorded in two channels for stereo playback. Only the best quality surround systems with good surround sound speaker placement can compete with stereo for music listening.
Most people still choose to have two separate systems, a surround sound home cinema setup with TV and DVD for watching movies and a separate stereo system for their music listening needs. As the quality of the home cinema systems improve we will expect this to change to having fully integrated setups. These are available now but can be very expensive.
It is possible to have a full home entertainment centre with surround sound at its core. TV, DVD or Blu-ray, games consoles, projector screens and of course your music collection all played through an amplifier or controller and one set of dedicated wireless surround sound speakers.