Surround Sound vs. Virtual Surround Sound in Gaming Headsets

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Cinematographers fully know the importance of using a headset with Surrounding Sound. However, PC gamers have a better and more effective reason to use such headsets with Surrounding Sound: detecting enemy footsteps. Gaming headsets with Surrounding Sound can significantly impact your online gaming experience. This allows you to identify other players’ positions within the game without needing to look at a map.

When you decide to buy a gaming headset, you are faced with models that claim to have universal sound capability or Surround Sound. However, under any circumstances, using such a feature may not meet your expectations. A significant difference exists between headsets with virtual surround sound and true surround sound. To familiarize yourself with this technology, let’s start by explaining the mechanism of stereo wireless headsets and then discuss the impact of surround sound on them.

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Stereo Headsets: For Simple and Basic Uses.

Stereo headsets in UAE belong to the category you can find in any store and are considered “get-the-job-done” devices. This category includes earphones that are bundled with smartphones as original accessories. They are the ones you can find anywhere around your house right now. These types of headsets or earphones perform well in delivering clear sound, and some of them are equipped with a small microphone for voice or video calls.

However, due to having only one speaker (aka driver) on each side, this category of audio equipment has limited capability in providing surround sound. Your only access to channel adjustments is through your headset’s left or right side. Advanced stereo headsets can produce a wide range of audio frequencies. Achieving high-quality sound from a simple earphone is much easier than using a speaker system.

This is because the drivers in earphones fit well with the small environment they aim to produce sound (the inside of your ear). It is natural that for surround sound, you need broader prerequisites.

Virtual Surround Sound Headsets:

With the incredible efforts of software engineers in the audio field, technology has advanced to a point where surround sound capability can be implemented on more limited hardware. While there may be various alternative technologies to achieve a similar output, they all deceive your mind to reach the desired result. The outcome is that you perceive a portion of the sound directly, which is more complex than a simple 2-channel system and allows the desired sound to be conveyed in stereo.

Imagine someone speaking directly to you from your left side. Naturally, the volume of the sound you hear from your left ear will be louder than your right ear, and there might even be a small delay on the right side. Now, if you turn your head towards the sound source, you’ll notice that both of your ears receive the incoming sound equally and with the same timing. Ordinary stereo sound used in music and television follows this mechanism.

Regular stereo headphones utilize volume to indicate the location of the sound source, but virtual surround sound has enhanced this experience. This technology creates a slight delay even in a phone farther away from the sound source, tricking your brain into perceiving the sound as coming from one or two sides. In some cases, this delay can be exaggerated to the point where you precisely discern the location of the sound source.

It should be noted that most gaming headsets, even those labeled as “5.1” or “7.1,” mostly utilize simple stereo drivers with virtual Dolby or DTS surround sound. To understand this, reading the specifications on the box is sufficient. If the dimensions of one or two drivers are mentioned, the headset is stereo and uses virtual surround sound.

Some gamers prefer having a headset with virtual surround sound over true surround sound. This is because the single driver in this setup can provide higher quality compared to the multiple drivers found in true surround sound headsets. Alongside this consideration, the compact size and, most importantly, lower cost of single-driver or virtual surround sound headsets also hold special significance.

Among the gaming headsets with virtual surround sound, notable options include the SteelSeries Arctis nova 1 and Logitech G733.

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What is True 5.1 Surround Sound?

As the name suggests, gaming headsets with true 5.1 Surround Sound feature five drivers that cover both of your ears (plus a sixth driver for reproducing very low frequencies). These drivers are placed at different points within the headset to simulate the sound source’s position for you effectively.

To create audio effects, the drivers are vibrated according to the volume of the sound and the manipulation of individual driver volumes in a game or movie. For example, in a video game, an enemy may be approaching the user from behind. In such a scenario, the user will hear the sound of the enemy’s footsteps equally in both ears.

But if the enemy approaches from one side, it is natural for the sound to be louder from that side, making the enemy’s position easily identifiable. This capability is highly beneficial in online games and multiplayer modes, enhancing the user experience for those equipped with headsets.

Most modern games developed by major creators support a minimum of 5.1 surround sound. The processing of this sound is divided between the game itself and your graphics card (if you use a headset connected via a USB port, dedicated software handles this processing).

This feature is not limited to video games alone. If the desired movie also supports this capability, you can experience similar audio output. Headsets like the Cooler Master Sirus or Roccat Kave XTD support this feature.

True 7.1 surround sound:

Gaming headsets with 7.1 channel surround sound function similar to 5.1 channel headsets but with additional drivers. These headsets have two extra drivers to cover users’ left and right audio input, resulting in better performance in delivering direct sound from both sides.

The difference between 5.1 and 7.1 is less significant than between virtually or truly immersive 5.1 gaming headsets. However, before choosing a 7.1 gaming headset, there are two points to consider. First, naturally, the sound processing of these types of headsets requires more powerful hardware. Second, many games and movies only support 5.1-channel headsets. In such cases, using a 7.1-channel headset will not make any difference in your experience.

Among the 7.1 gaming headsets, Asus STRIX and Razer Tiamat can be mentioned.

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Gaming Headsets FAQs:

How to avoid sound delay for games in Bluetooth headphones?

To reduce sound delay in Gaming Bluetooth Headsets:

  1. Use Bluetooth version 5.0 or higher.
  2. Enable Bluetooth Low Latency (LL) mode if available.
  3. Optimize the Bluetooth connection by minimizing distance and avoiding obstacles.
  4. Close unnecessary background apps/processes on your gaming device.
  5. Prefer wired connections when possible.
  6. Keep your headphones’ firmware updated and ensure your Bluetooth drivers are current.
  7. Adjust in-game settings for audio synchronization if available.
  8. Consider using gaming-specific Bluetooth codecs like aptX LL or AAC.

Wireless connections or dedicated gaming headphones with wireless dongles may offer the lowest delay.

Are JBL Headphones good for gaming?

JBL headphones can be suitable for gaming, depending on your chosen model. JBL is a reputable audio brand that produces high-quality headphones with good sound performance. They offer a range of headphone models suitable for gaming, including wired and wireless options.

When selecting JBL headphones for gaming, consider factors such as sound quality, comfort, microphone quality (if needed), connectivity options, and any specific features you prioritize for gaming, such as low latency or surround sound capabilities. Reading reviews and comparing the specifications of different JBL headphone models can help you find one that meets your gaming needs.

It’s also worth noting that while JBL headphones can provide a satisfying gaming experience, other dedicated gaming headphone brands that specialize in gaming-specific features and technologies are available in the market. Ultimately, choosing headphones that align with your personal preferences and budget for gaming is important.

Where to buy Gaming Headsets in Dubai?

You can buy Gaming Headsets in Dubai from the website Buytronics. We offer a variety of electronic products such as smartwatches and smartphones in UAE.

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