Full frontals: can one speaker surround you with sound?

Can one or two speakers at the front of the room create surround sound that comes from behind you? Thomas Bartlett investigates with four front surround systems.

As we all know, surround sound means 5.1 sound, or 6.1 sound, or even 7.1 sound (available on Blu-ray and HD DVD). That means just about lining the walls of your home cinema room with loudspeakers.

But we don’t all have a dedicated home cinema. In fact, most such systems go into family rooms and the like. The prospect of running cables from the front of the room to the two (or three, or four) loudspeakers down the back is not pleasant. Are there doorways to traverse with the cables? Will you have to feed (tediously, and with great difficulty) the cables through wall cavities? Do you even have suitable places to site the surround loudspeakers?