Stereo headphones or 5.1 or 7.1

I have TurtleBeach stealth fours which are 50mm stereo. I was thinking of upgrading to a40 tr or some wired 7.1 but I am reading reviews that surround sound quality is worse for gaming than stereo. Anyone want to enlighten me with personal experienxce or facts. Cheers

I have the TB stealth xxx with wireless 5.1, and while clearly they are not as good as my surround sound set up, they are pretty good at helping me detect enemy spartans, and where the action is in game.

Edit. Your post will likely be moved the community thread.

Standard stereo headsets work pretty well for their price. You don’t have to shell out some $$$ for some fancy gear.

I prefer 7.1 surround over stereo but i have had some problems with the quality myself

There are two types of surround headsets: stereo headsets that use virtual surround, and headsets that actually cram the required number of drivers to create “true” surround. Almost all headsets that advertise themselves as “surround” use virtual surround. The only manufacturer I know that is seriously trying to use the latter approach as a marketing point that I know of is Tritton.

So, considering the options, the “true” surround approach is terrible. Cramming more drivers into a headset means that all the individual drivers have to be smaller, which in turn means it’s more difficult to make them produce good sound quality accross the whole audible frequency range.

In the mean time, virtual surround is a completely adequate method of producing directional audio from two speakers. The thing to understand about how the brain figures out from which direction the sound is coming from is that it’s all based on the time delay between sound hitting the left eardrum and the right eardrum, and how the sound is damped when it travels through the skull. You have two ears, and there’s no magic involved, you don’t need more than two speakers. The brain can be fooled into thinking the sound is coming from behind you, even if it’s fed straight into your ears from two sources. All you need is a sound that mimics the real deal. The reason movieand home theaters use multiple speakers is that creating directional audio with two speakers requires a very controlled environment. That’s easy when the speakers are clamped to your head, but not so when you can be anywhere in the room.

What virtual surround does is it takes the usual 5.1/7.1 surround output and translates it into directional stereo sound that mimics a surround sound system. But this raises the question: why would you need more than two audio channels in the first place when the signal is turned back into stero anyway before it arrives into your ears? And you don’t. Provided the stereo audio in whatever game you’re playing has been properly made, there should be no need for virtual surround. What’s more, the proper stereo should in fact be better, because it’s not trying to mimic a home theater setup, but the sound you’d hear if you were in the game.

So, my advice would be to not spend attention on whether a headset is marketed as stereo or “surround”. It doesn’t make a difference, because the “surround” is likely just stereo anyway (or worse, there are actually eight drivers in the headset). What matters is the actual audio quality, i.e., the quality of the individual drivers. It can be the case that a headset has virtual surround and the drivers are good, which to my knowledge is the case with the HyperX Cloud, for example. The takeaway here is that “surround” on headphones is just marketing, and not something you should really care about.

I use the a40 and it is pretty nice. I’d recommend it to anyone. And I got mine for $100 at Best Buy.

Virtual surround audio is a gimmick in my personal feeling and just does not work, its nothing like surround sound. Used many headsets and none active. Virtual surround sound doesn’t need a 5.1 or 7.1 soundcard as the sound is just altered by program but is still stereo. You can download Razor’s virtual surround sound software and use it on any stereo headset setup.
I have PlayStation Platinum Wireless Headsetwhich actually have 5 drivers in each can and even they give a very limited directional sound. With these I have taught myself how to interpret the sound and which direction it should be coming from as the direction is still not accurate.

I currently own the Astro A50 Gen 1 and love it. The Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound is incredible.

The big difference in headsets that advertise setups like dolby digital and stereo is the directional positioning of sounds. In stereo, you will not get any directional sound from behind you or in front of you, only left and right, as there are only two channels in stereo - this is where my A50’s shine. Because of the multiple channels my headset is able to utilize, I can detect what is behind and in front of me, along with left and right. And yes, I can absolutely tell a difference between Dolby Digital and stereo. You can get good sound quality from plenty of headsets, both dolby digital and stereo, but if you play a lot of shooters, sound direction is pretty important. If sound direction isn’t important to you then by all means go for a stereo headset as there are plenty of good ones out there, but for me, being able to pinpoint sounds is worth the extra dollar.

> 2533274796237856;8:
> I currently own the Astro A50 Gen 1 and love it. The Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound is incredible.
>
> The big difference in headsets that advertise setups like dolby digital and stereo is the directional positioning of sounds. In stereo, you will not get any directional sound from behind you or in front of you, only left and right, as there are only two channels in stereo - this is where my A50’s shine. Because of the multiple channels my headset is able to utilize, I can detect what is behind and in front of me, along with left and right. And yes, I can absolutely tell a difference between Dolby Digital and stereo. You can get good sound quality from plenty of headsets, both dolby digital and stereo, but if you play a lot of shooters, sound direction is pretty important. If sound direction isn’t important to you then by all means go for a stereo headset as there are plenty of good ones out there, but for me, being able to pinpoint sounds is worth the extra dollar.

Your A50’s are a stereo headset. If you were to open them up, you’d find exactly one driver in the left earpiece, and another in the right. What your Dolby surround does is it takes the audio from multiple channels that goes into your base station, processes it into stereo sound, and sends it onwards to your headset. There’s no magic there, just a stereo headset trying its best to make you believe you are sitting in the middle of a surround sound setup. The good thing is that the people who designed this system are really good at their job.

Depending on how the audio has been recorded and mastered, the stereo version of the source can be as good or even better (for headphones) than the multiple surround channels translated into stereo. A special setting for headphones in a game might suggest that the developers have paid special attention to this. Of course, if your virtual surround sound sounds good to you, then that’s great. But I think it’s important that people know what they’re getting into when buying headphones or headsets.

> 2533274825830455;9:
> > 2533274796237856;8:
> > I currently own the Astro A50 Gen 1 and love it. The Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound is incredible.
> >
> > The big difference in headsets that advertise setups like dolby digital and stereo is the directional positioning of sounds. In stereo, you will not get any directional sound from behind you or in front of you, only left and right, as there are only two channels in stereo - this is where my A50’s shine. Because of the multiple channels my headset is able to utilize, I can detect what is behind and in front of me, along with left and right. And yes, I can absolutely tell a difference between Dolby Digital and stereo. You can get good sound quality from plenty of headsets, both dolby digital and stereo, but if you play a lot of shooters, sound direction is pretty important. If sound direction isn’t important to you then by all means go for a stereo headset as there are plenty of good ones out there, but for me, being able to pinpoint sounds is worth the extra dollar.
>
> Your A50’s are a stereo headset. If you were to open them up, you’d find exactly one driver in the left earpiece, and another in the right. What your Dolby surround does is it takes the audio from multiple channels that goes into your base station, processes it into stereo sound, and sends it onwards to your headset. There’s no magic there, just a stereo headset trying its best to make you believe you are sitting in the middle of a surround sound setup. The good thing is that the people who designed this system are really good at their job.
>
> Depending on how the audio has been recorded and mastered, the stereo version of the source can be as good or even better (for headphones) than the multiple surround channels translated into stereo. A special setting for headphones in a game might suggest that the developers have paid special attention to this. Of course, if your virtual surround sound sounds good to you, then that’s great. But I think it’s important that people know what they’re getting into when buying headphones or headsets.

Then please explain why when I turn off Dolby Digital on my A50’s or use a stereo headset, I lose directional positioning. That’s no illusion. There is literally no front or back sound direction when I do this. When you buy a headset without Dolby Digital capabilities (e.g. plain stereo headsets) you’re losing that ability.

> 2533274796237856;10:
> Then please explain why when I turn off Dolby Digital on my A50’s or use a stereo headset, I lose directional positioning. That’s no illusion. There is literally no front or back sound direction when I do this. When you buy a headset without Dolby Digital capabilities (e.g. plain stereo headsets) you’re losing that ability.

As I said, if you feel like virtual surround helps you, then that’s great, and you should continue to use it. I’m not one to tell people they shouldn’t trust their ears. At the same time, having owned a wireless headset with virtual surround and all the bells and whistles, and no-frills stereo headphones at the same price, I’d rather take the latter for gaming.

When it comes to losing the difference between front and back, then that’s because the stereo audio hasn’t been handled properly in the game. The way you know whether something is behind you or in front of you in the real is that different frequencies get dampened or amplified differently depending on the direction the sound is coming from. This is encoded in the head-related transfer function, which is likely what your virtual surround is also using. Once enabled, it gives a (more or less) correct difference for the front and back (and other directions). Here’s a demo, (listen with stereo headphones).

I just think that it’s important people understand what they’re getting. Because once you understand that the headset with 7.1 virtual surround is just a stereo headset with a bit of software that crams eight channels of audio into two, you’re in a much better position to consider your decisions.