Two Extra Channels of Surround Sound
So what makes this unit so exceptional? It's the 7.1-channel surround sound system. Things seem to come at you from every angle because the system powers two rear speakers, two front main speakers, a subwoofer, a center speaker and two side speakers. Did you catch that: two side speakers? That's what makes a 7.1 system different from a 5.1 system, which does not have side speakers.
The side speakers combine a little of the front and a little of the back channels to bring everything together to totally engulf you in the action. And with the advent of 7.1 systems and Blu-ray, you can expect more programming for the side speakers as more people own 7.1 systems. For example, you may hear someone standing right next to you that you cannot hear in the other speakers. Watch out for Freddy Krueger!
Don't worry about trying to coordinate all of these speakers to sound their best in your home theater environment. Sony's Digital Cinema Auto Calibration takes care of that. They have included a microphone with the unit to make sure everything is as perfect as it can be in that room. Just set the microphone where you will be sitting while watching movies, and then instruct the receiver to optimize the audio. It does it for you automatically.
The audio that is sent to your speakers is state-of-the-art. For your DVDs that have uncompressed audio, the integrated decoder plays LPCM audio. That's just a convenience, though, because the finest audio that you get from Blu-ray is decoded, too, just like in the movie theater, including formats used by Dolby Labs and DTS. That means you will hear the original mix the engineers made in the studio with little to no loss of quality.