Remember a time when you did not hear speakers described as “surround sound”?
Speakers used to be just speakers. Sometimes the speakers were built into a particular device, like a television or a boom box. Other times speakers were connected as separate devices of their own.
And then one day I told someone about a stereo that I had gotten, and was asked, “Is it surround sound?”
“Is it what?” I asked.
“Surround sound. You don’t know what surround sound is? Surround sound is the best.”
I think I first heard the term in relation to movie theaters. Certain movie theaters had this wonderful surround sound. The term actually described the product well: You felt as if you were surrounded by the sound.
But then it got to be so that every stereo or television had to have surround sound. The phrase “with surround sound” was appended to the name of the main product so often that I began to think it was part of the product itself. Big screen TVs…with surround sound, I heard on commercials.
After a while friends stopped coming over to watch television at my house. They always had a polite excuse – the dog got sick, the toilet had to be plunged – but I knew the truth. They did not want to come over because I did not have surround sound.
I never understood what was so great about surround sound. So the sound surrounds you. After a minute you get totally used to it and the sound is no different than it was before. But when people get used to something, there’s no going back. The only sound is surround sound.