Is Surround Sound better than stereo for gaming?

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Surround sound is an audio standard that seeks to guarantee the user a higher level of immersion and an experience closer to reality. The feature works both indoors and in the cinema room, or even on headphones with multiple audio channels. The term has become synonymous with quality audio and multiple channels, simulating the reproduction of effects and noise from several different directions. Below, you will understand what surround sound is, know how to identify it, and know the difference between 5.1 or 7.1 channels.
In a simplified way, the term “surround” (which comes from English and can be understood as “around”) determines a sound pattern that aims to reproduce audio from different directions, creating an environment that involves the listener in order to produce a more immersive feeling. This mode of reproduction can be obtained from complex systems with multiple speakers. Therefore, the technology can be present in movie theaters, spaces with home-theater, or even headphones that simulate the experience – the so-called virtual surround.
The advantage of surround sound systems is linked to the idea of ​​immersion, allowing the user to have a more natural and accurate experience in relation to the content consumed, which can range from games to music.

Is surround sound better than stereo for gaming

What is surround sound vs. stereo?

Is there anything better than watching movies or series with family and friends? Even better is being able to enjoy this leisure activity with quality equipment. Home theater audio systems are perfect for the moment. However, there are differences between a surround system and a stereo, as well as which is the best option for your home or environment.

For those who like to watch a good movie, surround systems are the most suitable, as the speakers are spread around the environment, creating a 360 degree sound field. Also, the system divides the audio between the boxes, making the broadcast coincide with the microphones used in the recording of the scene, giving greater reality.

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Ten reasons why stereo is better than surround sound         

1: For music, stereo allows you to feel the sound of space as well as the placement of instruments and singers.

2: Stereo is better than mono because mono is one ear Bluetooth surrounds Bluetooth and stereo.

3: Video stereo is based on the synchronized use of 2 cameras to produce a 3-dimensional image.

4: In stereophonic sound, more channels are used (typically two).

5: You can use two different channels and make one feed one speaker and the second channel feed a second speaker (which is the most common stereo setup)

6: Left and Right, one channel is sent to the left speaker, and the other track is sent to the right speaker.

7: The best way to check if a recording is a stereo is to hear applause.

8: The stereophonic sound, commonly called stereo, is a method of sound reproduction to reconstruct the distribution in the sources of space.

9: Stereophonic capture aims to restore, as well as possible, an existing sound space.

10: Stereophony can also be, either in music or in cinema and audiovisual, the project of creating an original sound space without wishing to reproduce the perception of the acoustic field in a particular place.

10 reasons why surround sound is better.

1: Surround sound, also known as multichannel audio, is a type of sound created to make the sound appear to “surround the listener” in 360 degrees.

2: Surround sound can be created if there are at least four audio channels, for example, up to seven tracks.

3: In order to be able to reproduce a surround sound, it is necessary a receiver that has support for a system of at least four channels, a processor for video (graphics processor) and audio ( DAC ) with amplifier multichannel (AV preamp/processor) and high speakers.

4: One way to hear surround sound is through the encoding/decoding process.

5: Another way to access surround sound is through processing.

6: The surround sound is an audio standard that seeks to ensure the user greater immersion and a closer experience of reality.

7: The feature works both indoors and in the cinema room, or even on headphones with multiple audio channels.

8: Almost all film surround tracks are created in a mixing studio

9: Surround sound is an audio standard that guarantees the user a higher level of immersion and an experience closer to reality.

10: The surround technology uses autonomous channels for the sound output and guarantees more depth and directed audio

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Is surround sound good for gaming

When you buy a gaming headset, you can see advertised surround sound, but it is not always as good as they say – there is a difference between “true” surround sound and “virtual” surround sound. Let’s begin by talking about how stereo headphones work and how different types of surround sound improve the sound.

These are your simple, essential headphones – the kind you can buy at any electronics or department store, or the headphones that come with your phone. You probably already have a few pairs around the house. They will do the job in terms of pure sound, and many include a built-in microphone for communication. But with only two driver units (also known as speakers – one in each ear), they are limited in terms of surround sound performance – all you have to work on are the left and right audio channels.

More stereo headphones can reproduce an excellent range of sound frequencies. It is much easier to get quality sound from headphones than from speakers, as the headphones are relatively small and the environment of the audio itself (your ears and ear canals) is more or less controlled. But for surround effects that enhance a gaming experience, you’ll probably need something more.

Headphones vs. surround sound for gaming

Moviegoers already know the bliss of a good surround sound setup, but PC gamers have even more reason to invest in a little audio immersion: beating the snot out of their online opponents. A good surround sound system can make a fantastic difference in fast-paced competitive games, helping you hear where other players are on the map.

When shopping for a gaming headset, you may see the advertised ‘surround’ sound, but it’s not always as good as it claims – there’s a difference between ‘real’ sound and ‘virtual’ sound. “. Let’s start by talking about how stereo headphones work and how to improve the different types of surround sound.

Virtual Surround Sound: more immersive games on a budget

working on ways to simulate a surround sound setup on more limited hardware. There are many different methods of doing this. Still, all of them boil down to “fooling” your brain into hearing a more complex directional component than a simple 2-channel setup would be able to deliver in stereo.

Imagine someone directly to your left talking to you. You’ll hear the sound of their voices in your left ear, sure, but you’ll also hear it in your right, just with a lower volume and almost imperceptible delay.

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Is stereo better than 7.1 for gaming

First of all, it must be outlined that, for many audiophile enthusiasts, the real 5.1 or 7.1 feature does not even exist. For them, this resource is nothing more than a marketing tool that brands use to attract lay people, mostly from the gamer market, in which spatiality is something essential, especially in competitive games.

In general, both effects follow the same principle: Simulating a multichannel audio system with specific positions. With the left, center, and right sound channels, left and right surrounded channels, and also a subwoofer in the case of the 5.1 system, two more surround channels being added in the 7.1 system.

Why doesn’t this effect work?

To function, a multichannel audio system needs not only an exact number of audio sources but also correct placement and appropriate space. Therefore, it is physically impossible for a headset to reproduce that environment necessary for the effect to function correctly. As the audio channels are next to your ear, this spatiality becomes impossible, primarily through the central channel, as your ears are only on the sides of your head and not on your nose.

In practice, what brands usually deliver on headphones with this supposed feature is a terrible reverberation effect.

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Are stereo headphones good for gaming?

When we talk about gaming-oriented headphones, for the vast majority of people, the image of a gamer headset (headphone with attached microphone) with multichannel and sometimes with RGB lights appears.

In stereo headphones (2 channels), open (with the grid in the cups), with dynamic or planar magnetic drivers, and with a well-designed house (body of the phone), the characteristics mentioned above can be raised to an excellent level. This is the opposite of what you usually have when using multichannel headphones, as there is a need for the distance between drivers and correct angulation, as is done with speakers, but what happens is an agglutination, concentration, of drivers in one small space in the headphones (when the multichannel is real) generating a sound without tonal balance and good definition.

When a headphone is opened, although it loses its isolation, it gains in spatiality, in definition, in the separation of sounds, making it easier to distinguish where the sounds are coming from because it can more easily generate a larger stage together with a more natural sound, with right tonal balance (without excess). Of course, it is possible to have good positioning and separation of instruments in a closed phone, too; however, it is more difficult to obtain these characteristics.

Is surround sound better than stereo for gaming?

Before going into more detail in the explanations, let’s lay down the audio basics by explaining the difference between stereo and surround headphones for gaming.

Stereo, the most common format, manages two channels. One channel for sounds coming from the right and a second channel for sounds coming from the left. All helmets have at least compatibility with stereo.

The surround is a more advanced format than stereo. The objective is to transcribe sound coming from the right or left and from the front or the rear, thanks to additional speakers. We generally speak of 5.1 or 7.1 (6.1 remains a bastard format). The center speaker is dedicated to vocals and the subwoofer to low frequencies (20Hz – 120Hz).

On the other hand, for a helmet, it gets complicated. With the earphones being “glued” to the ears, it becomes much more challenging to give direction to a sound. And this is where the various solutions offered by manufacturers come into play.

There are three ways to simulate surround sound with headphones. A physical solution consists of having several speakers per earpiece, the hardware solutions integrated directly into the helmet or in an external box, and finally, the software solutions to be installed now on your PC or console.

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When it comes to the subject, whether we talk about playback or recording in stereo or mono, there’s always a lot to learn. Knowing how each type of signal works and how to work with it is a start. Recurring questions will always arise, and this is precisely where two very important tools come in when it comes to this and other subjects. They are research and practice. Knowledge comes from somewhere and is essential, but nothing can replace the right old way. We hope this article helped, and if you have any questions, talk to us in the comments section.

Surround sound or multichannel audio in headphones does not exist. It is a myth that the industry has created to sell headphones at a high price and deliver less than a “simple stereo headset” of the same value. Ultimately, the headset that was made “thinking about the gamer audience” ends up failing to deliver efficiently what they promise compared to “regular headphones.”

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Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.