A perspective on surround sound

I’ve been holding off on a fairly lengthy update regarding surround sound on Freeview HD because I’m waiting for a raft of answers from a wide range of people; some of those will, I think, alter some of the suppositions that I would have originally made, and I would rather wait to have more information than rush and then have to correct things.

Meanwhile, of course, plenty of people are concerned, and asking about whether or not they will get surround sound with a specific piece of equipment. It’s certainly annoying, especially if you’ve just bought or are planning to buy, a Freeview HD receiver or television set. I’m also working on various product reviews for Register Hardware and I’ll be checking surround functionality as I go along.

This being the internet, I expect some feelings will run very high; doubtless unhelpful words will be bandied around on forums, and so on. But it’s important to remember that, right now, the biggest reason for not getting surround sound when you’re watching Freeview HD will not be the kit you’re using.

It will be that there actually aren’t that many programmes being broadcast with 5.1 audio. Now, that doesn’t really diminish the annoyance of people who want to hear Doctor Who in surround sound, and find that it’s not possible with the Freeview HD box they’ve bought. But it would certainly be more pressing if every programme was in surround, rather than stereo.

I hope that, long before we reach that stage, most equipment will have been updated where possible, or labelled clearly with its capabilities, and the majority of people will indeed be able to get surround sound from Freeview HD, without having to replace their existing AV gear.

And in the shorter term, I hope to have answers to some of the pressing questions about this topic very soon. Watch this space!

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