The Best Film Scenes for Auditioning Surround Sound

Big screen televisions are a common sight in many people’s homes nowadays, and the best sets can provide a compelling alternative to the cinema when it comes to watching a new film. However, as any true movie fan will tell you, the large-format cinema screen only makes up half of the experience of visiting the local multiplex. 

To truly recreate the experience of the silver screen at home, you’ll need to invest in a high-quality sound and speaker setup as well as that glorious wall-sized TV! You may be shocked by how much it can cost to purchase such equipment, but it will all be worth it the first time you hear three-dimensional sound effects coming towards you from every direction!

If you think you have created the perfect audio experience in your home cinema, then why not put it to the test? Find out how good your setup really is with our picks of the best film scenes for auditioning a surround sound audio system! 

Taxi Driver (1976)

Let’s kick things off with a classic! Taxi Driver may not seem like an obvious choice for testing a surround setup as it’s a little light on sound effects. What it lacks in booms and lasers, however, it more than makes up for in the music and dialogue departments.

The first chapter of the BD/DVD makes a perfect test for your center speaker, as the job interview dialogue can be a little bit sketchy when played back on a simple stereo system. With a correctly configured surround setup, however, you can hear every troubled mumble in all its glory; if you are left with a distinct feeling of something being not quite right, then your system passes the test!

The Matrix (1999)

The latest 4K Blu-Ray version of Keanu Reeves most famous action hero outing boasts a Dolby Atmos soundtrack for the first time, and it’s a marked improvement over the previous DVD and Blu-Ray variants of the movie. Skip straight to chapter 30 in the third act for an ideal test scene, starting with the iconic words: “We need guns… Lots of guns.”

As Neo and Trinity enter the building, we are treated to an awesome visual spectacle filled with bullet time sequences which are now accompanied by the same audio panning effects that you would have been treated to if you had visited the cinema to watch this film all the way back in 1999. So many effects combined with stacks of tight, punchy bass will guarantee a tough test for any home cinema system – if you can’t help but reach for the rewind button when the last bullet hits the floor, then you will know you are onto a winner.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016)

We couldn’t make a list like this without including at least one film from this legendary sci-fi saga. The older films occupy a special place in many people’s hearts, but when it comes to sound staging and production there really is no comparison between those and the more modern incarnations of the story.

In chapter seven of the Blu-Ray release we get to meet Rey for the first time inside the ruins of a star destroyer. The atmosphere of this scene in the enormous, cavernous space of the destroyed spaceship is beautifully captured here and is sure to fill you with awe and wonder when played back on a high-quality AV setup.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut (2017)

This is another classic film that has recently received a HD Blu-Ray update, and once again we have been treated to the addition of a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. This is a movie that was dying out for a full surround sound rework, and the results are breathtakingly deep and dynamic. 

There are countless great scenes for testing your sound system in Blade Runner, but our pick of the bunch has to be chapter 17. A large crowd gathers in this scene, so there are voices coming from every direction. This lively environment has been captured spectacularly here, with each voice and sound effect being placed perfectly within the soundscape. And listen to the rain, too! You’ll soon be wondering why you aren’t getting wet…

Gravity (2013)

This is one of the tensest movies of the decade, and the spectacular visuals will come alive even more now that the film has been given an Oscar-winning Dolby Atmos upgrade. The first chapter is an obvious surround sound test, as Sandra Bullock is thrown into the vacuum of space when the satellite she is repairing is hit by a meteor whilst in orbit. 

Every one of your speakers will be used to the fullest here, as even the dialogue has been allowed to pan throughout the soundstage following the actors as they are thrown around on their tethers. The entire musical score has been mixed for surround too – it’s a breathtaking audio track that is well deserving of its Oscar win.