Surround Sound vs. 2.0 Speakers: Which Sound System is Best for You?

If you’re investing in speakers for your home, you don’t want to choose ones that leave you underwhelmed. You want the best, something that fits the environment perfectly. 

Finding what sound system is right for your home depends on several factors. But you’re busy —  you just want to know what to choose and why instead of agonizing over every detail. 

We recommend two great options for your sound setup, no matter how you’d like to use your speakers: 2.0 speakers (also known as two-channel speakers) or surround sound speakers. 

By the end of this blog, you’ll have all the information you need to pick the right sound system for your home, including:

  • What each sound system is
  • The similarities and differences between the two
  • What sound experience they can provide
  • Where you can place each system to get the most out of them
  • How they might differ in price

Hive is the premier home automation company in Tampa Bay. We can provide and set up both 2.0 and surround sound speakers, but we're far from the only option available. 

Ultimately, we want you to have the information to make the best decision for your needs, whether you choose to work with us or not. 

What are 2.0 speakers?

Have you ever been listening to some music in your headphones and the audio on one side goes out? It's annoying to only have sound on one side, but it's equally bothersome to have a song's bass line or background vocals disappear too. Why is the sound split like that?

It’s because music is traditionally recorded in two channels, a left speaker and a right speaker. The audio engineer puts some parts of the song on one side or the other, depending on the effect they want to produce. 

2.0 speakers reflect that; they’re two speakers, one left and one right, without an added subwoofer. In other words, they’re playing sound from two channels. 

Watch the video below to see what a 2.0 setup might look like.

What are surround sound speakers?

Surround sound speakers include more than one speaker plus a subwoofer, placed in different areas of a room. For this blog, we’ll focus on 5.1, 7.1, and 7.2 surround sound systems, as they’re the systems we see most frequently.

The first number refers to the number of speakers in the system, and the second refers to the number of subwoofers. So a 5.1 speaker system has five speakers and one subwoofer. 

The formation of the speakers depends on the number of them. A 5.1 setup has three speakers in the front (one left, one right, and one center) and two in the back (one left, one right). A 7.1 set-up would add two more speakers to the left and right of the primary seating position. Add a second subwoofer to that and you have a 7.2 speaker set-up. 

The speakers can be floor-standing, in-ceiling, or in-wall as well.

The video below shows how a surround sound system can be set up in your walls.

What do 2.0 speakers and surround sound have in common?

The speaker systems have more in common than you’d expect. 

Both two-channel and surround sound speakers can be set up with any kind of speaker you’d like – any brand or price range can be in either configuration. 

That also means that they can be invisible, in-wall, in-ceiling, or freestanding. However, this can affect your project’s cost. If you want to put the speakers in the wall, you’ll have to pay for the labor associated with installation.

Lastly, both systems can be hardwired or wireless. We recommend wired speakers because of their reliability. Also, wireless speakers aren’t necessarily completely wireless or more convenient  – they still need a power supply.

The Differences

To make their differences as clear as possible, we’ll compare them on the following criteria:

  • Sound experience
  • Ideal placement within your home
  • Cost

Sound experience

2.0 Speakers

Like our example at the beginning, 2.0 speakers produce the kind of sound we’re used to when we use headphones. Depending on the quality of the speaker, you can get a clean, but more one-dimensional sound.

But just because the sound is only coming from two angles doesn’t mean it’s inferior. As we’ll get into when we talk about the ideal space for each kind of speaker, 2.0 speakers are just right depending on the situation.

Surround sound

If you’ve been to a movie in theaters, you’ve heard surround sound. Surround sound is just as its name describes. The sound comes from multiple angles, creating a more immersive experience.

Say you're watching a movie. The sound of a plane will travel from a speaker behind you to in front of you, as it would in real life. The more speakers in your system, the smoother the sound will transition from back to front. If you have additional subwoofers, the lower sound frequencies will be even more prominent.

It’s perfect for when you want to focus on what you’re hearing, whether it’s your favorite band or an action-packed movie.

Ideal space

We should note that either kind of speaker setup can be placed wherever you'd like, with construction and space requirements aside. But you can get the most out of each of them if you carefully consider where the speakers will go.

2.0 speakers

Two-channel speakers are better in areas where you might be listening to something passively, as it's not as immersive as surround sound speakers. For instance, you don't necessarily need bass and sound from every angle to enjoy your favorite podcast.

Some spaces where people typically put 2.0 speakers are their offices, lanais, or dining rooms. The living room is another common space, depending on what sound experience someone wants while they watch TV.

Surround sound

Surround sound is ideal for rooms where you want an engrossing experience. Home theaters are a natural fit, as are rooms where you might watch a lot of TV or movies. 


The good thing about these two kinds of speakers is that you can use whichever ones you’d like. You could go to a big box store and buy speakers on clearance and set them up yourself. Or, you could buy high-end speakers and have them installed in your walls by professionals. 

But the nature of the different kinds of speakers can, on average, affect the price. For the sake of this article, let’s say the equipment in both systems is at the same price point.

2.0 speakers

2.0 speakers are less expensive because there are just two speakers and no subwoofer. 

Surround sound

A surround sound setup is more expensive because of the number of components involved. 

It also requires a more powerful receiver or amplifier to drive it. Think of it like a cart with more objects on it needing more force to move it. 


By now you probably have a good idea of what might work for you. But let’s break down the similarities and differences for easy reference:


  • Both can be comprised of any kind of speaker you’d like, in any price range
  • Both can be freestanding, in-wall, in-ceiling, or invisible
  • Both can be wired or hardwired, though we highly recommend hardwired

2.0 Speakers:

  • Great for when you want to listen to something in the background
  • A good fit for a kitchen, dining room, office, or lanai
  • Can be less expensive because you only need two speakers

Surround sound:

  • A good option for when you want an immersive sound experience
  • Great for home theaters or living rooms 
  • Can be more expensive because you need one or more subwoofers, additional speakers, and a more powerful receiver or amplifier.

Which sound system should I choose? 

As with many options in the sphere of home automation, deciding on a sound system depends on several factors.

But now that you know about both options, here are a few questions to help you nail down your decision:

  • What do I want to listen to with these speakers? Movies, music, podcasts, or something else?
  • Where do I want to listen to these things?
  • What do I want to experience while using my speakers? Something that'll make you feel like you're in the middle of it, or something clear and clean?

If you’d like to learn more about how speakers can be a part of your life, check out this article on your potential options for outdoor speakers or this article on the average cost of having an audio-visual system installed in your home. 

Are you based in the Tampa Bay area and interested in having speakers installed? Feel free to reach out to us to schedule a free consultation. We can answer any additional questions you might have about what speakers fit your needs.

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