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Two Channel Audio (Stereo)

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5.1 Channel Audio

 

Two channel audio, stereo, 2.0 audio or any audio system comprised of two 'channel's of audio data is the term coined for most music systems.

Conventionally, a stereo is made up of a source (be it CD, a record, an iPod, computer or one of many other devices), a two channel amplifier, and two speakers (a pair).

Stereo gets it's name from Stereophonic, which is a method of sound reproduction that creates an illusion of multi-directional audible perspective. By using two speakers, the recording and mastering engineers are able to create 'stereo imaging'. A technique that allows the stereo system to imitate certain sounds coming from certain directions.

 

For an example, by playing a saxophone recording solely on the left hand speaker, it would sound as though the saxophonist is playing to the left of centre stage.
A drummer could be played solely through the right speaker, as if audibly appearing to the right. The singer's voice can be played at equal levels through both speakers to appear as though his voice is coming from the centre of the stage.
By tweaking these parameters, the engineers are able to create a full sound stage, and also create audible effects, such as albums like Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd.

 

 

Multi Channel and 5.1

For more information on multichannel audio, please read this glossary entry.

 

Jumping to surround sound amplifiers, these essentially accomplish an extended version of what a stereo amp does. By using a 'centre' channel as well as a left and right, it can more accurately depict and centre focused sound stage.
Adding a surround left and right, situated generally slightly behind the listener, the sound stage can be extended to behind the music / movie listener.
This is where you start to get the different formats. A single channel is called Mono, or 1.0 audio. Two channel, aka 2.0. 5 channel (5.0) and so on.


What's the point(.1)?

 

Commonly, you will see a .1 or .2 added on. These are what's known as sub channels for subwoofers producing low frequency sound.
More commonly for home theatre and five or more channels, however quite commonly now, as the appeal of smaller speakers grow, a lot of people are using subwoofers for stereo listening, say as a 2.1 or 2.2 configuration.

 

 

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