AVS Addicted Member
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Monterey Park, CA
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If your seating area is at least a few feet away from the back wall, then consider doing a 7.1 layout, since you'll be able to get meaningful separation between your side speakers and rear speakers. If your seating is at or near the back wall, then stick with a 5.1 layout, since there won't be enough space behind you for the rear speakers.
Whether you buy a 7.1 or 9.1 receiver, you can connect as many speakers as you want, even if you decide to start off with just 2 speakers initially. Also, modern receivers can scale the number of channels in the source material to the number of speakers in your set-up. A 5.1-channel soundtrack can be downmixed for 2 speakers or upmixed for 7.1 speakers, without throwing away or adding anything to the soundtrack.
So buy the receiver that has the features you want. Don't worry about the number of speakers you'll be using.