Can You Use Front Speakers As Surround? (How & How Not?)

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The front speakers are the most important in the surround sound. But can you use front speakers for surround sound?

At A Glance: You can use front speakers for virtual surround sound, but they can’t alone give you true surround sound. In virtual surround sound, many newer AV receivers create a surround sound from just the front two speakers and this is just a simulation, not a true surround sound.

Keep reading as we will be discussing many more possibilities of using front speakers for surround sound. 

How can you use it for surround and how can’t you?

You Can Use (the 1st way)

There are three answers to this single question. First, you can use the front speakers as virtual surround sound. 

Many newer AV receivers come with this feature to throughout a virtual surround sound from just the front speakers in use.

In this feature, you don’t need to place speakers at every needed position of the surround sound. In complete and true surround sound, you need to keep 5 to 7 speakers all around you.

But newer AV receivers through sound signals from the front speakers in a way that creates illusions of surround sound. Your brain believes that it is a surround sound. It feels like surround sound, but it can’t match the quality of true surround sound. We will come to this topic later.

Read my this review about the top 7 best av receivers under $100. Few are providing this virtual surround sound feature.

You Can Use (the 2nd Way)

If you want to install the front speakers for each speaker position in the surround sound, then it is the best idea. In more clear words. If you want to have 5 speakers for the 5.1, but you want to use front speakers for all these 5 positions, then this is the best idea.

Because these speakers’ tonality and frequency will be the same. They will be able to communicate and synchronize with each other pretty well.

You will get the best possible sound out of it.

Read my this review about the best satellite speakers for home theater. They are cheaper and can be installed in each position of the home theater.

You Can’t Use

If you want to have just front speakers mean 3 speakers in the surround sound then it is a bad idea. You need at least 5 positions to be filled by speakers if you want a starter-level surround sound.

The only 3 speakers at the front will not be able to create true surround sound magic.

Virtual Surround Sound With Just Front Speakers

In this type of surround sound, you get the illusion of surround sound from just front speakers in the action.

Watch this video to know more about this magic.

True Surround Sound With Complete Speakers

This is the best type of surround sound. In this type, you require a physical speaker to be installed in each position of the surround sound. 

This surround sound ranges from 5.1 to 9.1 surround sound.

In 9.1, you get 3 front speakers, 2 wider right and left surround sound, 2 left and right surround sound, and 2 rear surround sound with a subwoofer.

This form of surround sound is true and provides the best experience. Thrive for this type of surround sound. You will feel all the tones in the movie sound that may be missed from just the front speakers.

Because there are many frequencies in single movie audio. Every speaker in the surround has the responsibility to play a specific set of frequencies. This responsibility differs from a speaker set to a speaker set in surround sound.

You don’t want to miss on a certain set of frequencies, that’s why you install the full set of surround sound.

Also, you feel like you are sitting in the middle of the action of the movies because every speaker speaks to you from all sides.

Read my this review about the best home theater systems under $100. The system includes speakers with a subwoofer and AV receiver.

Is virtual surround sound better as compared to stereo and True surround sound?

Stereo setup10/1
Virtual surround sound10/3
True surround sound10/10
These ratings are just for home theaters

The virtual surround is better than a just stereo setup, but it can’t be better than a complete setup of surround sound.

The stereo setup has just 2 speakers and 1 subwoofer. They can only create the audio of a helicopter on screen that will feel like the helicopter is flying from left to right in your theater room.

The virtual surround sound can just create an illusion that a helicopter is flying at the front, sides, and in the audience’s back.

But the true surround sound can also create the impact of the helicopter pilot dialogues too. The dialogue will feel like the pilot is at your back when the helicopter is flying at the rear position of the main character on the screen.

Know how to improve home theater audio to its perfection in simple 5 steps. I have added proven steps only.

Did you get something out of this front speaker guide? Hold On We Have Something Exciting To Share.

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Can I use the front speakers as the rear?

In terms of budget, it is not a good idea but in terms of sound quality, it is a good idea to use front speakers as rear.

The rear speakers don’t have that much work to do, and the front speakers have a lot of work to do. That’s why we install powerful speakers at the front to play varieties of frequencies, and we install normal speakers at the rear because they don’t have that much work to do.

It saves you money upfront and the electricity expenses coming afterward.

But if you care about the sound uniformity between the front and rear, then you can install the front speakers in the rear too. This will create an error-free and uniform sound throughout the theater room.

Should surround speakers be the same as front speakers?

There is no “must” word here, but if you want to use the front speaker for all the positions in the surround sound then it is the best thing to do.

The same tonality, frequencies, and same brand speakers will work better together than the different tonality speakers.

Can any speakers be used for surround sound?

You can use any speaker for surround sound as long as they are kept in the style in which they are meant. When a speaker is meant to be placed vertically, then place it vertically otherwise it will ruin the surround sound experience.

Also, you need those speakers that can play all frequencies between the mid to high frequencies. The lower frequencies will be handled by the subwoofer.

Can I use small speakers for the surround?

You can use it as long as they can fill your theater room properly. If your theater room is small and well acoustically treated, then small speakers will work.

But if your room is from medium to high, then you require larger speakers to do this job.

Can you mix speaker brands?

You can mix the speaker brands, but there is little risk. They might work properly or not. No one can give you a straight answer to this, but when you use speakers from the same brand then they will always work error-free.

Because each brand engineers their speakers in a way that they must work properly with each other in harmony.

Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More

  1. This was my opinion, read more about it from AVsforum thread. (Resource for the first answer)
  2. This was my opinion read more from this Crutchfield blog. (Resource for the third answer)
  3. This was my opinion, read more about it from Audioholics Blog. (Resource for the fifth answer)
This article was first posted on
Ayaan Khan
Ayaan Khan

Ayaan khan is a freelancer and a Computer Science degree holder from P.E.S. College. After his degree, he started an internship with his father in his home theater showroom. After working for a month he realized that this is the best job in the world for him and it could be turned into a passion. Fast forward to when his internship ended, he joined his father as a full-time home theater equipment tester. He tests new equipment and approves it before it can be installed in the customer's house. He loves to test equipment and sometimes loves to install it by himself in the customer's theater room. Ayyan has the right experience and knowledge to learn from his articles. In my Free time I write & answer questions here on AVSFORUM. Every Article on Homelytainment is curated according to Homelytainment's Editorial Policy and Sponsorship Policy.

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