Is Virtual Surround Sound Really Worth It?
The integration of virtual surround when using headphones or a headset has become an interesting topic. Many people like the extra spatial awareness that it will provide, which is definitely an edge that you want on your side. If you’re a pro or you take online multiplayer very seriously. The let’s start with something more elementary for now, namely what is virtual surround, how does it work and most importantly is it worth it for answers to all of these questions and more stick around.
Let’s start with the basics and the types of audio configurations out there and quickly work our way up to virtual surround sound. First we have the 1.0 configuration or mono as it’s better known as the name implies, this configuration uses only one speaker and with just one speaker we can’t really talk about surround sound. Then their stereo or the 2.0 configuration and this is by far the most popular and widespread configuration. It makes use of two speakers and because of this and the fact that they’re positioned on either side of the listener, we can start to talk about spatial awareness here, but stereo is still not what people refer to when they say surround sound nor is it the 2.1 configuration which is basically stereo with a dedicated subwoofer for bed, low frequency sounds. The first surround configuration is actually the 5.1 this means five speakers and the subwoofer and the speakers are generally set up like this, a speaker on either side in front of the listener and three speakers behind them. This configuration offers excellent spatial awareness just because of the number of speakers, but it gets better. There’s also the 7.1 configurations. This means seven speakers and a subwoofer and by now you should be able to guess how they’re arranged. These last two configurations are known as true surround which serves as the opposite of virtual surround, which is what the rest of this review will be concerned with.
The first thing we have to mention is that virtual surround can work with any set of stereo headphones. Sure of the quality will depend on the headphones in questions, but don’t be fooled. We have till emphasizes because there are headphones that are marketed as virtual surround headphones. Now they make sell it this, but any old pair of headphones can achieve this. Okay, so with that out of the way, let’s take a look at how it’s done. Well, it actually relies on clever manipulation of a person’s perspective to fool them into believing that they are surrounded by many audio sources. Probably the best example of this is the virtual barbershop video and if you haven’t seen it already you should definitely check it out. We just can’t describe the feeling you’ll have listening to that with me or words. Of course you shouldn’t expect anything like that in gaming. That video was recorded using directional microphones and most game devs won’t bother with such things. Still you can definitely bring in an extra layer of immersion to your gaming either by using your sound cards, virtual surround capabilities, or more advanced software like Razer snips.
So his virtual surround worth it? The answer is most definitely, yes. It will raise your spatial awareness in the game and provide you with deeper immersion. Just remember any set of headphones can support for Chelsea surround so you don’t need virtual surround headphones because that’s just a marketing gimmick. All had phones, our virtual surround headphones also in case you were wondering, there is actually such a thing as true surround headphones. Oh, we can’t really see the value in buying them. They work by shoving as many drivers as they can into the ear cups, but because the drivers are all packed so close together, you won’t hear any significant difference when different drivers are used. The ACEs strict 7.1 headset, for example, has no less than 10 drivers in each ear cup, but the benefits of this are very limited and the price is quite hefty as you’d expect from a headset with so many drivers.
Now don’t get us wrong, it’s more immersive than virtual surround for sure, but it’ll also never feel as immersive as a real 7.1 speaker configuration. Now, if you really want the best immersion that headphones can give, then we suggest getting open-back headphones. They let a portion of the soundscape that your cups, and this makes for a more natural audio experience. And that’s that. So what do you think and what kind of experience have you had before channel surround? We’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.