Having a full virtual experience with surround sound while playing video games is ideal for gamers. With the release of surround sound headphones, gamers have been debating whether stereo or surround sound headphones create a better gaming experience.
Surround sound headphones are still a work in process, and many gamers agree that stereo headphones are better for gaming. Both headphones can offer a clear soundstage, which is critical for an optimal gaming experience. Ultimately, gamers should choose headphones based on their preference.
Whether you are deciding on using stereo or surround sound headphones for gaming specifically, there are some factors that you should weigh in to decide what type of headphones will work best for you. Gamers know that headphones are not created equally, so it’s crucial to know which type of headphones is best for you.
What Are Surround Sound Headphones
Basically, surround sound headphones are a type of headphones that have multiple speakers and one subwoofer within the two earpieces. It’s important to understand the audio configurations on these types of headphones. Surround sound headphones have two different types of audio configurations, which are 5.1 and 7.1. 5.1 means that there are 5 speakers inside of the headphone and 1 subwoofer, and 7.1 means that there are 7 speakers with one subwoofer.
Having these audio configurations are helpful so that gamers feel like they are fully immersed within their video game. However, there are two different types of surround sound headphones that gamers should be aware of. There is true and virtual surround sound.
True Surround Sound
This headphone system utilizes the 5.1 or 7.1 audio configurations. They can be quite expensive, but they are known for having great audio quality. The different speakers can give you directional awareness so that players will know exactly where certain sounds are coming from in the game.
The idea is that you can hear all these channels individually or in combination with one another depending on what’s happening in the game.
For example, if there’s gunfire going off behind you, then it’ll be heard through the subwoofer as well as the left/front speakers.
If someone says something nearby, they might only be audible by the right speaker. And so forth!
Virtual Surround Sound
Virtual surround sound can actually be used on many headphones, not just true surround sound headphones because this type of headphone only utilizes two speakers, rather than 5 or 7.
In order to utilize virtual surround sound, you only need to download software that tricks your mind into thinking that there are multiple speakers on the headset. Using virtual surround sound headsets will use delays and varying volumes to make the sounds seem like they are coming from different directions.
When using virtual surround sound, there is some getting used to and fine-tuning that might be involved. Some of the sounds might get muffled for no reason, so gamers will have to change out the software or change the way that audio is played through the headphones.
There are multiple softwares to choose from, most of which need to be paid for. Gamers should try out multiple software to see which soundstage works best for them.
What Are Stereo Headphones
Stereo headphones utilize 2 different speakers on each earpiece. These are a great option for gamers because they tend to be much more affordable in comparison to true surround sound headphones.
Stereo headphones can use virtual surround sound software so that players can have better directional awareness while playing video games. However, using this effect can make headphones have an echoing “bathroom” effect, so it would be best to stick with the stereo audio configurations.
Gamers often say that using the regular stereo sound systems in these types of headphones works best. There will still be a little bit of surround sound that comes from the stereo audio system, but it will be more limited than virtual surround sound. Different sounds will come from the right and left earpieces, depending on how the audio was originally recorded.
There are a few different types of stereo headphones: closed-back and open-back. Closed-back headphones are great for noisy rooms, as they cancel out the sounds from the location around them. Open-back headphones have ventilation, allowing air and sounds from around the room to enter into the ears. There are pros and cons to these different types of stereo headphones—it just depends on what works best for the type of gamer.
These are the most common types of headsets that are available on the market, making them easily accessible and more affordable than true surround sound headphones. They tend to be more pricey in comparison to mono headphones, but the sound quality is much better in stereo headphones.
Related article – Best Over Ear Headphones Under 500
Pros and Cons of Each Headphone Type
There are several differences between stereo and true surround sound headphones. Each type of headset has its own advantages and drawbacks, so it truly depends on what a gamer prefers.
Pros for True Surround Sound Headphones
- Provides great directional awareness
- Has multiple speakers and a subwoofer
- Immersive sound system
Cons for True Surround Sound Headphones
- Can be very expensive
- More affordable versions have an echoing or “bathroom” effect
- Compatibility issues
Pros for Stereo Headphones
- Great sound quality
- Options between open and closed-back
- Allows players to hear spatial details
Cons for Stereo Headphones
- Limited surround sound systems
- Only has two speaker channels
- Less Bass impact
With this list of pros and cons, gamers should be able to decide what they think would be best for their gaming experience.
Best Rated Headphones for Gaming in 2021
According to pro-gamers these are the best-rated headphones for gaming in 2021:
- The Razer Barracuda X – The details of this headset include a wireless, over-the-ear headset with a 7.1 true surround sound audio configuration
- The Razer Blackshark V2 – This headset has surround sound with an audio configuration of 7.1
- The Audeze Penrose – These headphones do not have a true surround sound system, but the headset is wireless and is known to have excellent sound quality and a great soundstage
Remember, choosing the correct pair of headphones for game play is important because there are certain things that make up good headphone design. Some of those factors include comfort, durability, noise isolation, and clarity. For me personally, comfort is one of the first things that comes to mind!