Eavesdropping on a conversation and only catching the odd word is one of life's great frustrations. Asking people to speak up or moving your chair to join their table is not likely to be met with much enthusiasm.
So what's to be done?
Whether using a parabolic microphone, ear horn, bugging device or even a well placed glass against the wall, you are basically pumping up the volume.
5.1 surround is great in a movie theatre, but setting it up properly in a home is a Herculean task and very little music is produced for it, so you are really only getting stereo anyway.
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