Maybe a few years back, it wouldn't matter what headphones or speakers you use for gaming. But now? You will have to put all your thought into buying a headphone with quality sound.
Why? Because most games these days give you a huge competitive advantage over others with quality headphones. Now, the real question comes up, is surround sound good for gaming, or it’s just a nuisance.
That’s what I will disclose here today. So, if you are curious, stick with me till the end to find out. Let’s get going.
Is surround sound good for gaming?
Well, the answer to this question depends on quite a lot of factors. And it’s dependent on which scenario we are talking about. Based on different scenarios, it can be good or bad.
First of all, you have to understand and get out of the way is that there is no competitive advantage when you have a surround sound headset. Just having a quality headset is enough for the advantage I talked about earlier. Surround sound doesn’t add that much quality to a headset in gaming; it’s just a feature.
So, whatever you see on the advertisements is just for marketing purposes, and you should be wary of that. Now, let’s talk about the real stuff, is it good or bad.
In some cases having surround sound is better for gaming. When you are looking to get an immersive experience from the game, a surround sound headset helps a lot. Games that are open world, RPGs, and simulation feel way better with a surround sound headset.
As these games offer an environment pretty similar to the real world, you will find it amusing. You truly get the feel of using surround sound from these games. So, if you are playing these kinds of games, having to surround sound headphones is better because of the immersive experience.
However, that leaves us with competitive shooters or other competitive games. Truth be told, surround sound doesn’t help in competitive games; instead, it hampers the gameplay a little. Shocking, right?
But that’s the truth. In most competitive games such as, Valiant, CS: GO, Apex Legends, or any other game, a stereo sound is the best solution for the competitive advantage. You will hear the things you will need to hear when you have a stereo sound headset on.
When you have a surround sound headset for those games, you get unnecessary information or misinformation. These can work against you and put you at a disadvantage rather than an advantage. Also, most competitive shooters use stereo sound engines, so it's all you will need.
All in all, the answer to the question is simple, if you play anything other than competitive shooters, then surround sound is a great choice. You should get a stereo headset for competitive shooters as they serve the purpose far better, and they are much more preferable.
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Virtual Surround Sound or True Surround Sound
Usually, you will come across two types of surround sound. It’s either virtual surround sound or true surround sound.
Virtual surround sound
A virtual surround sound gives you the effect of surround sound without having too many devices around you. This means you don’t need to have speakers behind you or on your sides to get the surround sound effect.
For example, a headset usually puts out virtual surround sound because you only get sounds from the speakers on your headset, which are on your ear. You still get the immersive effect of the surround sound without actual placement of the speakers, let’s say behind you.
Due to no additional gears or drivers, virtual surround sound is always a cheaper option and is effective for gaming. For gaming, you don’t need a true surround setup anyways.
True surround setup
A true surround sound is the exact opposite of virtual surround sound. Here, you will have to place actual speakers or drivers to get the perfect surround sound from your sources. This means you will have to place your speakers in the exact places where you want sounds from.
For example, setting up a speaker on the back will give you the sounds coming from the back in the show, movie, or game you are playing. It’s much more immersive and truer to the nature of the surrounding system.
Is it good for gaming? I would say no. It's not worth having a true surround setup for gaming. Because in a limited world, you can't get anything out of a surround setup. However, maybe in some racing games, you can enjoy that, but it's not worth playing one or two games.
So, for gaming, you should always go for virtual surround sound over true surround sound as it gives you more value.
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About surround sound gaming headsets.
The simplest way I can put this to you is that they are not what they advertise. If you are considering the sound quality, then it's fine. You should be going for clarity and a balanced sound that is crisp in your ears.
Other than that, having surround sound doesn’t help much. They may give you an immersive experience in an open world and racing games. But they don't have any competitive advantage on MOBAS or competitive shooters.
So, all I want to say here is that don’t fall for the gimmick of competitive advantage in these headphones. Because in truth, the surround sounds don't have any competitive advantage. They are just charging some extra bucks for the surround sound facility; that’s it.
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To sum up, is surround sound good for gaming? It’s not bad, but it’s not the best either. I think just having a stereo headphone will do the job for your pretty well. Because that way, you will be able to play all types of games without the disadvantage of too much info in a competitive shooter.
However, if gaming isn’t your top priority for your headset, then surround sound might be a better choice because you can get great benefits from that when it's about music and movies.
Graduated with a Bachelor of Audio Engineering and Sound Production. He has worked with a number of studios as a Recording Engineer, with over 10 years of servicing experience in both re-recording mixing and sound editing.