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How to Test a Surround Sound System: Step-by-Step Guide

Trying to figure out the best your surround sound system can accomplish? If you feel unsatisfied with the sound of your home theater audio, it is time to test its capability. But how do you test your surround sound?

Most receivers offer a test mode to verify if your speakers’ installation is correct. If not, you can either download a surround-sound file. Or, for Netflix-supported systems, you can run the test patterns from within the streaming app. Windows 10 can use utility software to accomplish this task.

In the meantime, refrain from using media players or streaming apps that do not support surround sound effects. Otherwise, you might not get the whole experience even when the setup is done properly. Read the article to find out how to test your surround sound in detail.

What is a Surround Sound System?

As the name suggests, a surround sound system allows users to diversify the audio intensity and depth. Precisely, you can feel the powerful bass when there is thunder and subtle effects of rain falling. It makes it seem as if the sounds are coming from all around you, making the experience enveloping and more realistic.

In general, this audio system uses a set of speakers, at least five. To complete the setup, you need a subwoofer along with the speakers to create bass effects. This is why the overall configuration is called a 5.1 surround sound system.

While this is the minimum speaker requirement to create the surround sound effect, you can add more depending on the room size. The other common surround sound setups are 6.1, 7.1, and 10.2.

So, if you are creating a home theater in a small room, a 5.1 setup will be good enough. However, for halls or living rooms that require more space to cover, you might want to step up to a 7.1 configuration.

Whichever setup you choose, there are a few core components of the surround sound setup you must include in your home theatre.

Center Speaker

Used for dialogues along with the most significant sound effects, the center speaker is the base of the entire setup. This typically hosts more cones than the satellite speakers. Therefore, it is powerful and a highly versatile speaker.


Surround sound speakers come with a subwoofer to give users access to low-frequency sounds. Essentially used for creating bass, a subwoofer plays with the air pressure to produce powerful rumbling effects.

If you want to maximize its use, you must place the subwoofer in the room’s corner on the floor.

Add-On or Satellite Speakers

Speakers placed on the different sides of the room are termed the satellite speakers. In a 5.1 setup, there are four satellite speakers, two placed on each left and right side. As the configuration steps up, the number of satellite speakers increases too.

For instance, in a 7.1 configuration, there are a total of six satellite speakers.

How to Test a Surround Sound System

There are times when users do not feel much difference even after adding multiple speakers, apart from just the extra sound power. If that is the case, you might want to test if the surround sound is active on your hardware.

However, make sure you are using the surround sound-enabled content or streaming media to test the audio. Using a YouTube video isn’t advisable because the platform only supports 2.1 stereo sound, not actual surround sound.

Testing with a Media Player (Fire TV, Apple TV, etc.)

If you are streaming your video using a Fire TV or smart TV, installing speakers in the right position would allow the best possible experience.  

For a 5.1 setup, you can test the surround sound system in a few ways.

Use the Sound Receiver App

When using a sound receiver, check if it offers the test mode. If it does, once started, the test mode will check all the connected speakers to provide visual indications. Typically, the app will show the colors of the speakers in red and green, confirming which are working and which aren’t.

For red ones, test the wired connection and make sure the speakers are plugged in tightly.

Download a Surround Sound File Online

If your receivers do not have a test mode, you can still check the setup for ensuring proper surround sound effects. Download a file with surround audio and play it using your Blu-Ray player or thumb drive.

Test Patterns on Netflix

The task becomes even simpler for Fire TV or a media player offering access to Netflix streaming. Use an array of various test patterns available on Netflix to verify the surround sound channels.

Testing on Windows 10

Managing multiple speakers and ensuring that the placements align together to offer proper surround sound effects is more difficult. This is especially true if you haven’t configured such systems before.

Thankfully, using Window 10’s built-in program, the setup won’t be too hectic to accomplish. Offering its utility software, the operating system turns the testing of surround sound speakers into a fun process.

Go to Sounds in Settings

Locate the speaker icon, usually available on the right corner of the taskbar. Right-click on this icon and select “Sound.”

Check the Playback Option

After you will select “Sound,” a new window will pop up. From the various options on the top, choose “Playback.”

Choose the Speaker to Configure

From the list of different speakers, click on the one that you wish to test. Usually, the connected speaker will have a green tick next to its name. Choose the one that’s connected and click “Configure.”

Test the Surround Channel

Once the Speaker setup window is up, choose the surround sound setup you wish to test, either 5.1 or 7.1. Select “Test” to continue.

Alternatively, you can click on the specific speaker’s icon available on the right of the screen to test the sound on a particular receiver. If everything is working fine, you will hear a chime sound from the selected speaker.

Configure the Speaker

Click on “Next” after testing the surround sound. This will bring you to the configuration window. Tick all the speakers from the list (center, subwoofer, side pair, and rear pair). Then click on “Next” to finish the process.

Best Movie Scenes to Test Surround Sound

Still not sure if you can wrap up your testing? How about experiencing the sound in real-time while playing the content that supports the channels?

Here are some of the best videos you can watch to test surround sound. These movies combine various sound effects, enabling users to enjoy versatile audio output signals.

Ford v. Ferrari

One of the top movies that I like to stream surround sound is Ford v. Ferrari. This movie has it all. This is an all-around great example of surround sound from the action, explosions, and everything in-between.


A movie from 2014, Interstellar is one of the most popular additions to this list. With diverse sound effects, the scenes from the movie would take you through different twists and turns. The audio enhances the streaming experience.

Every now and then, you will feel the bass coming to life. Notably, you will notice this just before the ship dives through the black.

Baby Driver

Right from the opening scene, the movie uses the right speakers at the right time. That said, the beginning catches up with the satellite speakers, leaving the center one away from the action. The integration to the center speaker does not happen until the gateway begins.

Spider Man – Homecoming

When it comes to Marvel movies, you can expect amazing action scenes coupled with wonderful sound effects. Spider-Man is one of the best examples of the same.

If you can recall the scene where Spider-Man meets the Vulture for the first time, you can remember quickly how beautifully the scene was executed.

The gunshots take us through the 360 round experience, along with the ferry splitting in two ends with the low-frequency sounds. This lets the subwoofer take credit for the powerful attention to detail.  

Guardians of Galaxy

In the second sequel of Guardians of Galaxy, you can turn to the scene where Peter Quill is looking for the Infinity Stone.

At first, the feel of the deserted city awakens with a little spur of the soundtrack played by Peter, followed by the action between Peter and Ronan’s force.

You can experience the bass in action at the beginning and then offer other speakers the power to control the sound effects moving forward.