Best Surround Sound Headphones - Audiostance

The 10 Best Surround Sound Headphones

Gamers and music enthusiasts alike – we all want quality sound and practicality without breaking the bank. If you’re on the hunt for a new set of headphones, and you are specifically looking for a set of surround sound headphones – look no further! We’ve put together a list of the 10 best surround sound headphones on the market today. 

Our Pick!

HyperX Cloud II – Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud II – Gaming Headset

Featuring high quality 7.1 virtual surround sound, the Cloud II is exceptionally comfortable, durable, and affordable. The optimal headset when wanting to truly submerge yourself in the gaming experience. 

Quick Pick – Our Awards!

What Are Surround Sound Headphones?

Firstly, it is important to understand what surround sound is. 7.1 surround sound means the sound is coming out of eight speakers. Seven of those provide the low, mid, and high frequencies, and the last speaker provides the sub-bass. Usually in headphones, we only have 2 speakers. Therefore, when we speak of surround sound headphones, we speak of the experience of surround sound.

Surround sound headphones use the so-called virtual surround sound, with complex sound processing to simulate the same experience you would get from a full surround sound system. Very cool, right? 

1. Kingston HyperX Cloud II – Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud II – Gaming Headset

At the top of our list is the Kingston HyperX Cloud II Gaming Headset! Selling for just under 100 bucks, the Cloud II is quite affordable considering what you get for your money. The build itself feels well thought through and even perhaps a bit over the top, with its extra padding on the inside and soft foam covers. But I say – the more the merrier!

A matching carry bag made of soft mesh fabric is included with the HyperX Cloud II. While the carry bag adds a bit of style, it also prevents your headset from being damaged inside your backpack while you’re traveling from the bedroom to wherever the next LAN is. In the package, there are two sets of ear cups (perfect for when your first pair starts feeling worn out). The first set is a velour, for when you want a more luxurious and comfortable feel. The second set is traditional leatherette.

Even though the style of these surround sound headphones is great – something even better about it is the soundcard that it comes with. The HyperX Cloud II plugs in via USB for PC and PS4 and has built-in DSP processing to amplify the audio as well as your voice. Something else that is worth mentioning is the detachable cardioid microphone and windscreen. The cardioid polar pattern of the microphone makes it good to use even in noisy environments since it cancels sound coming from the rear of the mic. This is very useful! 

The HyperX Cloud II surround sound headphones has truly earned its place as the number 1 champion on our top ten list. It is a favorite among many, and with high quality 7.1 virtual surround sound, the HyperX Cloud II makes for the optimal headset when looking for something to suit all your needs. Whether it be design, audio quality, or comfort, the HyperX Cloud II ticks all of the boxes.

Design

As previously mentioned, the design of the HyperX Cloud II headset is stylish and modern, all while being user-friendly. The 100% memory foam ear cushions and padded leatherette headband keeps you comfy while the solid aluminum frame makes this a rugged and durable headphone for everyday use. The ear cup design is a closed one, and pro-gaming optimized, which is helpful in blocking out outside noise and distractions to keep you focused throughout the game.

Sound Quality

The audio quality of the HyperX Cloud II backs up why we chose this headset to be our top pick and can be compared to more expensive headsets out there. The bass sounds great and does not lack in the way you would expect from budget gaming headsets. The Cloud II can be used with either the USB or the 3.5mm output. However, if your intended use is PC, I strongly recommend using the USB DAC sound card.

The HyperX Cloud II handles all processing itself – and is virtual 7.1 surround sound capable. When used, the sound is bigger and very loud, with boosts in both the low end and in the highs to really put emphasis on game explosions and fight scene sounds. Without the sound card, it functions well as a standard stereo headset.

Compatibility 

Optimized for pro gaming, the HyperX Cloud II is USB-powered for PC and Mac as well as 3.5mm stereo-compatible for PS4, PS4 Pro, Xbox One S, mobile devices as well as VR systems. 

What’s in the box?

  • Headset
  • Travel Pouch
  • Audio Control Box
  • Detachable mic 
  • Velour ear cup replacement

2. SteelSeries Arctis 7 – Lossless Wireless Gaming Headset

SteelSeries Arctis 7 – Lossless Wireless Gaming Headset

Steelseries has done it again with another great quality gaming headset. Placing second on our list is the SteelSeries Arctis 7 wireless surround sound gaming headset. Besides its wireless connectivity, one of its key features is the bidirectional microphone.

Discord-certified, the mic is recognized as being one of the best, providing excellent frequency response as well as good noise cancellation. All in all, it is everything you need in a good gaming microphone. Whether you’re using it for gaming, teaching classes online, or for Zoom meets – the mic will make your voice sound clear as day.

Design

It is not only the mic that makes this headset multifunctional but the clean design of it as well. Minimalistic and sleek looking, it comes in either white or black. 

The SteelSeries Arctis 7 wins our best premium award. For those wanting quality and style, and don’t mind paying a little under 150 bucks, this makes for an excellent upgrade from your tired old headphones. Invest a little extra and you get so much more. I personally wouldn’t mind showing up to my next Zoom meeting with this stylish headset.

The SteelSeries Artics 7 provides a premium steel headband with ski goggle elastic fabric, distributing weight evenly while eliminating pressure points to keep you comfortable throughout the entire day. The air-wave ear cushions keep your ears cool while providing comfort and quality you could only dream of.

Sound Quality

The Artics 7 emphasizes reproducing those subtle but important sounds to help keep you on your feet and in the game. Lossless wireless audio without latency, this Bluetooth headset has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, making it the ultimate game companion for those wanting an ultra-clear audio experience.

The SteelSeries Engine 3 lets you customize the audio settings in different ways. For example, switching from stereo to 7.1 surround sound, adjusting the output level at different frequencies, or setting the dynamic audio range. 

Compatibility 

The SteelSeries Artics 7 is compatible with PC and Mac, as well as PS4, Xbox One, and VR systems. The DTS Headphone X 7.1 surround sound is available for Windows 7-10 only.

What’s in the box?

  • Headset
  • Wireless Transmitter
  • Mobile/Console Cable
  • Micro USB Charging Cable 
  • Arctis Card

3. Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Premium Wireless Surround Sound Headphones

Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Premium Wireless Surround Sound Gaming Headset

The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 is a multi-purpose headset. Not only does it allow for chatting to friends while gaming but, through using the Turtle Beach audio hub app, you can take calls or even play music – all while gaming. Cool, right? 

The mic itself is able to be pushed up when you’re not speaking, doing so automatically mutes the mic. This comes in really handy and saves you from ending up in awkward situations where you forgot to turn your mic off. 

Another great thing about the Turtle Beach Stealth 700 is that its battery lasts for up to 10 hours! Whether wearing the headset to work, while ticking off your household chores, or while gaming – the Stealth 700 offers a whole day of 100% wireless joy.

The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 are solid wireless surround sound headphones that you can purchase for just under 150 dollars. Though the battery time is impressive, it does last fewer hours than the previous Turtle Beach 600 headset. This only really plays a part if you are unable to charge your headset after 10 hours. In today’s world, we are almost always close to an outlet so this is rarely going to be an issue.

Design

The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 has premium synthetic leather-wrapped ear cushions, with a special ProSpecs design, which provides extra comfort explicitly while gaming and wearing glasses. A smart move when it comes to the design of the headset is the rubber field Turtle Beach branding on top. It gives a slightly different experience without that glossy feel when holding the headset. The size of the headband itself is also adjustable, making it functional for all head sizes. 

The ear cushions are comfortable as well as snug and will keep you from overheating during long gaming sessions. Not only does it provide comfort and practicality, but it also has 7.1 surround sound, together with active noise cancellation, to help you stay fully focused. 

Sound Quality

Besides having a great deal of additional EQ presets, the Stealth 700 has lots to offer with the incorporation of 7.1 virtual surround sound, active noise cancellation, and Turtle Beach’s own Superhuman Hearing Technology – which can be favorable to used when sound cues are key to succeed in the game.

The 50mm cups produce a wide sound, with a great low end as well as treble. You can scroll through the different game audio presets until you are happy with the EQ settings. It really allows you to personalize the sound. The omnidirectional microphone produces good results with good voice amplification.

Compatibility 

The Turtle Beach Stealth 700 has 100% wireless connectivity as mentioned earlier, though you can also use an optical jack to utilize the Dynamic Chat Boost features, as well as independent game/chat volume control on PS4 consoles. The Stealth 700 is compatible with Windows/macOS or iOS/Android apps through the Ear Force Audio Hub. 

What’s in the box?

  • Headset
  • Gen 2 Microphone
  • Mini USB transmitter

4. HyperX Cloud Alpha S – PC Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud Alpha S – PC Gaming Headset

At almost 130 dollars, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S surround sound headphones provide enhanced in-game audio, with 3-level bass-adjustment sliders for optimal control. This gaming headset not only provides immersive 7.1 surround sound but also minimal distortion and great overall level control for audio. Its durable and comfortable design, paired with a detachable microphone, makes for easy everyday use for gaming or music listening, on PC and PS4.

This is a great headset because of its cool and attractive design, its great sound quality at a good price, as well as how comfortable it is. HyperX did not hold back with the memory foam padding. All the basics, but exceptionally delivered.

Design

Available in 3 different color choices: black, black and blue, and black and red. The ear cups as well as headband are padded with memory foam, just like the previous Cloud 1 and 2, but the Alpha S is a bit on the lighter side compared to the predecessors, thanks to its new aluminum frame.

If the high level of comfort you get with the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is not enough, they are also very well-made and long-lasting. Worth noting is that they are a bit on the warmer side, with the signature HyperX leatherette contact points around your ears.

Sound Quality

Compared to the Cloud Stinger, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S has a more extensive frequency response and advanced audio controls. The low end has a real boost, so if you are looking for something more neutral in terms of frequency response this one is not for you (though I think most of us enjoy pumped-up bass.) It works in unison with the mids and highs, which provides the clarity needed and together form a really well-balanced sound.

The Cloud Alpha S features a dual-chamber driver system that reduces distortion at high levels and provides a clearer sound. Pair this with its 7.1 virtual surround sound and 50mm driver and you get a headset for an easily personalized sound experience, whether you are gaming or listening to music. Another plus is that the HyperX Dual Chamber Drivers allows for separate tuning of the mids, highs, and bass frequencies to provide more distinction between sounds. 

Compatibility 

The HyperX Cloud Alpha S has a 3.5mm analog connection and is easily connected to a computer, console, or mobile device. There is also a dual jack extension lead for easily connecting to the front of the PC, which has in-line controls such as volume and microphone mute present on the cord. The Advanced Audio Control Mixer is compatible with PC and PS4.

What’s in the box?

  • Headset
  • HyperX Travel Pouch
  • Advanced Audio Control Mixer
  • Detachable noise cancellation mic and braided cable
  • Ear Cup Replacement

5. Razer Kraken Tournament Edition THX 7.1 Surround Sound Headphones

Razer Kraken Tournament Edition THX 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming Headset

It’s tournament time! For just under 100 dollars, the THX Razer Kraken Tournament Edition features THX Spatial Audio, providing a 360° audio experience. It has 50mm drivers, with oval cooling gel-infused cushions providing day-long comfort and a cardioid microphone for clear communication. The Razer Kraken Tournament Edition is compatible with various platforms, making it extra user friendly.

Comfort is key with this headset, and it is optimal for those wanting an affordable alternative for marathon gaming. Though it has lots to offer – simplicity and a sleek look just isn’t one of those things. Just like previous Razer headsets, it is bulky. It is sturdy though, and comfortable, to say the least. 

Design

A padded headband and cooling gel-infused ear cushions reduce heat buildup while also providing noise cancellation and sound isolation. This makes the Razer Kraken a comfortable option for long marathon gaming, as well as for short sessions at home with friends.

The gel cushions do provide some help against heat buildup, though if you want them to provide even more, placing them in your fridge for a while before wearing them is not a bad idea.

The headset has a thick metal headband, which should be sturdy enough to last for ages, and the earcups seem robust enough as well as comfy with a lot of foam padding. 

Sound Quality

Besides the extensive frequency response and powerful 40mm drivers, the 360° THX Spatial Audio simulates sound above, and below you, for an extra lifelike experience. Its magnet drivers power the deepest bass, warmest mids, and clearest high frequencies. This headset has an addition on its left side – the Bass toggle function. Moving this slider lets you EQ the bass whenever you feel it is lacking or overpowering.

On the right side of the headset are two controls as well: one to enable the THX Spatial Audio, and the other one is a chat mixer. These functions are well placed and make for an easy sound personalization mid-game. 

Compatibility 

Using a 3.5mm audio jack, the Tournament Edition has cross-platform compatibility – meaning it is compatible with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and even with your mobile devices.  It also includes a second cable, with a sound card to give you access to Razer Synapse software add-ons and the THX Spatial Audio. It also includes extra mic controls, independent of the ones accessible on the 3.5mm cable.

The audio enhancer DAC connects via a USB connector and its THX Spatial Audio is available on Windows 10 64-bit only.

What’s in the box?

  • Headphones
  • Cardioid mic
  • USB DAC Audio Controller

6. Corsair VOID RGB Elite Wireless Gaming Headset

Corsair VOID RGB Elite Wireless Gaming Headset

For just under 100 dollars, you get this Corsair VOID RGB Elite Gaming Headset with 7.1 surround sound. At first glance, it seems to be almost identical to the Corsair Void Pro RGB, but this newer version has a little bit more to offer. It is completely wireless, with a range of up to 40 feet and 16 hours of usage time. The frequency range is also expanded and now goes all the way up to 30kHz.

Though I must admit that seems impressive, it is generally agreed that we don’t really hear audio components above 20kHz. However, increasing the range may still be a good idea, to prevent audio distortion or artifacts to sip through. Style-wise, it is a fun product. You can personalize the headset with colors and effects with the RGB lighting on each ear cup. The headset also comes with a Discord-certified omnidirectional microphone to use for chatting with your opponents.

Design

Microfiber mesh fabric and memory foam earpads provide comfort while the aluminum yokes provide durability to last a long time. As previously mentioned, the RGB lighting on each ear cup gives you a chance to personalize and design the cups as you like them. This is a very cool addition to an already interesting-looking headset. 

Sound Quality

The sound is quite warm, with a decent amount of bass depth. The mids and high could be better, but for gaming and not music purposes, they are adequate. With an expanded frequency range from 20Hz to 30kHz and high-density drivers, the Corsair Gaming Headset allows for a captivating game and audio experience, with some virtual surround sound immersion. The surround sound only comes into effect when connected to a PC though, which is a bit of a letdown.

Included with the headset is the omnidirectional mic, which easily swings down when you are wanting to use it, or up when you need it out of the way. The mic also comes with a small practical windbreak to eliminate annoying popping noises or excessive sibilance while you speak. 

Compatibility 

Connect wirelessly to your PC or PS4 using low-latency 2.4GHz wireless with the included USB adapter dongle. Plug it in and turn on the headset to pair it together easily.

What’s in the box?

  • Headphones
  • Mic + windbreak
  • USB adapter 

7. Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset

Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset

The Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset came out in 2017 and is one of the better wireless offerings coming from the brand… let’s check out why! At around 74 dollars, this headset features Pro-G audio drivers with X 7.1 surround sound. The wireless range is up to 15 meters, and the battery time is really good – it lasts up to 15 hours! This is a gaming headset you can use the entire day.

It is your standard plastic-built gaming headset and it might be a little on the heavier side when you first hold it (12.5 oz), but the weight distributes nicely and evenly when they are on. One thing to note is that the joints may be experienced to be slightly loose, because of the fact that it is simply just built like that. Due to this, it may require some extra gentleness, and I would suggest keeping them in a separate case when moving around to solve the issue. Including a boom mic, as well as on-ear volume and mute controls, the G533 surround sound headphones make for a budget-friendly wireless option.

Design

As for the design of the Logitech G533, it is slightly on the larger side, with a glossy finish and with the well known “G” logo on each ear cup. Looking quite functional and non-extravagant. It does not include any unnecessary RGB lighting, so it should match the aesthetic of the gamer that isn’t into the whole science fiction look.

The ear cups are removable as well as washable, which is useful as they are easy to keep clean. They are made of a lightweight sports mesh material that makes for a comfortable gaming experience and keeps you cool, both temperature-wise and style-wise.

Sound Quality

The Logitech G533 surround sound headphones have a variety of audio options as well as equalization options for different genres, and various settings of both surround sound and stereo. It handles different genres nicely and its 7.1 surround sound option provides extra immersion for the game, such as letting you know from which direction the enemies are coming from. The dialogue and music can also seem bigger with these extra perspectives.

A great sounding headset at this price, the Pro G audio drivers and 7.1 surround sound recreate the in-depth effects and positional changes in the game audio world. The Logitech G533 has a lossless wireless digital audio transmission and manages to provide clarity in the high frequencies and deep bass as well. Compared to the G933, which offers lots in terms of functionality, the G533 seems plainer and still offers a great experience but for a better price. 

Compatibility 

This is a headset you would not wear out in public, as it is strictly PC and PS4 compatible – only through a USB connection.

What’s in the box?

  • Headphones
  • Adjustable Boom Mic 
  • USB Wireless Adapter

8. Logitech G935 Wireless Surround Sound Headphones

Logitech G935 Wireless

The Logitech G935 is a continuation of the Logitech G9 series – with a similar design as well as features. It has the traditional Logitech branding and aesthetic, though this one has a bit of a cleaner and classier look, with a glossier finish and a small personalized G935 logo. I would describe this headset as being somewhere in between premium and cheap – the feel, the look, and the quality.

It can easily be hooked up to several different devices, with a 3.5mm connection. But with a 2.4gHz wireless setup and an impressive battery time of 12 hours, you’d rarely need to use it. The Logitech G935 is a PC gaming headset that delivers a great 3D landscape through the use of virtual surround sound, paired with high-quality audio that goes for just above 100 dollars. 

Design

The ear cups are rectangular closed ear cups, in proprietary woven hybrid mesh and with leatherette padding material. The rectangular shape actually helps the headset stand up by itself. Together with the durable padded steel headband, this headset is soft and comfortable but rugged enough to stand to be used daily.

The design is still sort of bulky, but suits as a stationary headset specifically for gaming. The swiveling ear cups provide easy customization according to your head. It has a glowing LED strip together with the G branding on each ear cup, because without fun lights – is it really a gaming headset?

Sound Quality

With customizable volume, EQ, and surround sound settings per game paired with the next-gen 7.1 surround sound technology (X 2.0), the Logitech G935 performs above and beyond for extra precise positional audio. Featuring Logitech’s most expansive audio driver with an increased bass response and accuracy, and a 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response, this headset delivers a great sonic experience suitable for those in need of a wireless headset with minimal distortion.

The microphone itself sounds a little over-saturated when tested for hear-back or recordings, though I think that for gaming purposes it would still do the job. The mic conveniently and swiftly pulls out from the side of the left cup when you need to chat to friends or foes, and extends out.

Compatibility 

Compatible with PC through the Logitech G Hub and the wireless USB adapter. The Logitech G935 can also use a 3.5mm cable to connect to another audio source, such as a smartphone. It can simultaneously playback through the PC, and through your smartphone. Something important to note is that the 7.1 surround sound feature is only available with a USB connection.

What’s in the box?

  • Headset
  • Custom tags (L/R)
  • Charging cable
  • 3.5mm cable

9. Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset

Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset

The Razer Kraken X Ultralight Gaming Headset has everything you need in just under 50 dollars. Let’s explore its different functions. The analog audio controls for adjustments are within reach and located behind the left ear cup, and include controls for volume as well as muting/unmuting your microphone.

The headset includes a cardioid microphone, which can flex into multiple positions – just like previous Kraken releases. The mic can not be detached or hidden away, but the flexing feature helps to place it in a position that is most comfortable to you. 

The cheap buck this goes for would make you think that it isn’t of very great quality. This is not the case as it really does have great features and provides extra good comfort for long gaming hours. The Razer Kraken X Ultralight is the ultimate lightweight gaming headset, weighing only 8.8 ounces. It’s extremely comfortable to wear for longer periods of time, while not putting any unnecessary pressure on your head or ears. This also makes it a great option if you are wearing glasses.

Budget-friendly and comfortable! The Razer Kraken X Ultralight works well for basically any platform, whether you’re in the mood for Playstation, Xbox, or PC. It features 7.1 surround sound for an elevated experience and custom-tuned 40mm drivers for powerful and clear sound. 

Design

Style and design-wise, it is probably the best looking Razer headset if you’re into the minimalistic design rather than over the top. The Razer Kraken X Ultralight surround sound headphones comes in classic black and in a black and blue chassis, in a design that is modern and sleek with each cup featuring the Razer logo.

Razer has succeeded in keeping to the traditional headset design without going overboard with colors and extra-ness. The Razer Kraken X Ultralight has oval ear cushions for comfort and a durable and flexible headband slider with soft padding. The ear cups have a swivel mechanism making it easy to adjust according to your head. It measures 7.5 x 6.5 inches and weighs only 8.8 ounces.

Sound Quality

Providing high quality and immersive surround sound audio experience, the Razer Kraken X Ultralight has a wide frequency response of 12Hz to 28kHz. It features powerful custom-tuned 40mm drivers, paired with sound isolating ear cups for limiting external distracting noises. 

The Razer Kraken X Ultralight sounds great in games, focuses on the treble as well as voice work, but might not be ideal for music listening if you have higher standards when it comes to bass. Though for this asking price, I’d say provides what it is supposed to – quality audio specifically for gaming purposes. 

Compatibility 

The Razer Kraken X Ultralight is compatible with PC or Mac, PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch and other mobile devices via a 3.5mm audio jack. 

What’s in the box?

  • Headset
  • Audio / mic splitter extension cable
  • Important product information guide

10. RUNMUS K2 Gaming Headset

RUNMUS K2 Gaming Headset

RUNMUS is especially good at making headsets that produce decent performance for a good price. At first glance, the headset may look a little bulky, but it is actually quite lightweight and very comfortable to use. The downside is that because it’s lightweight, it can slide off easily. The upside is that it doesn’t put much pressure on your head or your ears, and is comfortable to use for several hours in a row – especially since the headband is adjustable, helping you modify the size to perfectly fit you.

The RUNMUS K2 surround sound headphones features noise filtering ear cups to keep you from getting distracted by outside noise. It also has a mic with high-end noise cancellation to make sure you are sounding as clear as possible while chatting to your fellow players.

This is one of our favorite budget-friendly surround sound headphones, with a 12-month guarantee offered through Amazon. It’s made to be affordable – and for this reason, this headset can suit as the perfect beginner’s headset. No matter which game you’re playing, the RUNMUS K2 gaming headset will prove to suit your needs.

Design

Design is an important part of the experience, and I am happy to let you know that these surround sound headphones come in 3 different colors, meaning there are several options to choose from to easily complement the rest of your gaming gear. The RUNMUS K2 comes in a normal red and black color, there is also the bright red and black option, as well as blue and black.

Considering you’re paying less than 40 dollars, you get a pretty cool product, with bright LED lights on both sides of the headset. Using premium materials, as well as soft and breathable ear pads and a retractable headband, great wearing comfort can also be enjoyed.

Sound Quality

One of the best RUNMUS gaming headsets of 2020, the K2 edition made it onto our top ten list for various reasons – one being the sound quality. The RUNMUS K2 gaming headset is equipped with highly responsive 50mm neodymium drivers, paired with 20Hz to 20kHz wide frequency response, offering punchy bass, lows, and mids.

The high frequencies don’t offer as much as premium headsets would, but for the price, we are still happy with the audio experience. There is no distortion or muddiness, and it definitely passes the sound quality test. The clearer it sounds, the better the gaming experience will be – and that is definitely what you get with this pair. It works well for listening to music as well.

With its responsive drivers, as well as 7.1 surround sound to enhance the immersive gaming experience, you’ll likely be satisfied with the audio quality in most gaming scenarios. 

Compatibility 

The RUNMUS K2 headset has multiple platform compatibility. Using a 3.5mm jack, it is compatible with PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Nintendo New 3DS LL/3DS, and Nintendo 3DS LL/3DS, and even smartphones or tablets.

What’s in the box?

  • Headset
  • Audio Adapter Cable
  • Instructions

Stereo vs Surround Sound 

Most headphones include two drivers, meaning two speakers, one in each ear cup. This means we are working with 2 channels – left and right, and is commonly known as stereo. Stereo headphones can reproduce very good quality sound. It may even be easier to receive better quality sound from headphones than from a speaker system because there are no environmental and acoustical problems to interfere with the sound – the environment for the sound is literally your ears and ear canal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are surround sound headphones better than stereo headphones?

In essence, using surround sound headphones instead of stereo might not make you a better gamer, but it can make the experience more enjoyable. Surround sound is also platform dependent. Not all consoles support this function, which is important to note before purchasing.

Surround sound headphones can definitely provide a more immersive experience for gaming purposes, though I would say that it is smart to try it out before purchasing. In some cases, the surround sound may not even be noticeable – and in that case, a stereo headset could prove to be just as good. 

What’s the difference between virtual and ‘true’ surround sound 

Having your own surround sound system is great, but it’s also expensive and takes away the fun of chatting to friends while gaming. This is when surround sound headphones come into the picture. The more established 7.1 surround sound refers to a home theatre configuration of an 8 channel audio system, and this is what is meant by true surround sound.

When we speak of surround sound headphones with virtual surround sound, we talk about the experience of surround sound, rather than an actual 8 channel system. By adding small fractions of delay and other processing, we create an experience of surround sound with only 2 speakers. 

How do surround sound headphones actually work?

In essence, surround sound headphones use algorithms, as well as different software, to simulate more channels. This increases the directionality and precision from which direction the sound comes. It creates space and helps you determine from which angles your opponents come. This can be useful when gaming.

7.1 headphones include extra left-surround and right-surround channels for sounds coming from directly left and right in a game or movie. The methods used to create this virtual surround sound experience basically trick your brain into thinking that the sound is coming from more than 2 sources, through using effects and processing.

What should I look for in surround sound headphones?

There are so many different options it is sometimes hard to choose the right product for your needs. It can be made easier though, by knowing what you should look out for. Some things to consider are whether you want a wireless headset, surround sound capabilities,  and what applications you will be using your headphones for.

Most 7.1 surround sound headphones do not work as standard on every console, so reading the specifications of the product before purchasing is therefore essential. Another good spec is noise cancellation so that you can hear clearly in your headset despite a noisy environment. If you are looking to chat to your game buddies or co-workers, then consider the mic specs as well. Do not overlook the importance of a decent microphone with your headset. 

Comfort and durability should also be amongst the main considerations, as well as the headphone driver quality and size – these specifications are all vital to consider when looking for surround sound headphones. Consider purchasing cups with skin-friendly fabrics and with thick padding, to create space for the sound waves and to not pin the ears to your head.

Is the frequency response important?

Frequency response relates to how well the speakers or headphones can reproduce the frequencies in question. A boost in the mid-range frequencies (around 4kHz) can make a difference for good clarity when chatting to your teammates or even for watching movies on the headphones. 

Does 7.1 surround sound make a difference?

Virtual 7.1 surround sound can make a difference if the feature is noticeable enough in your headset. Its purpose is to add to the in-game immersion, which is what we want. If your game is encoded for 7.1 and you have a pair of 7.1 surround sound headphones, it hopefully means the sound experience will be of greater quality and depth.

You can get more “positioned” audio with surround sound – meaning you can experience sound from more angles than the left and right configuration. While an actual physical 7.1 surround sound setup is the optimal option, the virtual 7.1 surround sound can get pretty close, fooling our ear brain into hearing audio from more directions. 

Is surround sound good for gaming?

Most of us are already convinced that surround sound can be amazing for watching movies. It helps us immerse ourselves in the movie, not missing a beat of the storyline. We hear sounds in larger dimensions than we do with normal stereo. Gamers can make use of surround sound in the same way. Helping you hear where opponents are on the map, as well as increase the ability to immerse yourself in the game – which in turn can help you play the game better. 

Gaming Headset Technical Details Explained

Drivers

A driver is a small speaker that drives the sound. It is the device that translates the electrical signals to audible sound. Drivers are the main component of headphones. They differ in size and price. Often in user headphones, there are dynamic drivers, which do not require any external power. They are also the most affordable headphone drivers.  

The dynamic driver consists of a magnet, coil, suspension, and diaphragm. 

Sensitivity

Sensitivity, also known as loudness or power, determines how loud a pair of headphones will be given a certain power level. The sensitivity, or sound pressure level (per one milliwatt of power) usually sits between 80 to 125dB SPL.

EQ Settings

EQ stands for Equalizer and essentially means you can tweak and add or subtract frequencies on your headset yourself. Cool, right? This can get you closer to the sound that you want from your gear. Though it won’t magically help your headset handle frequencies it isn’t built to handle, it can still add a little extra of whatever you want, should it be more bass that you are after or perhaps more presence in the mid-high section of the frequency spectrum. 

Our Pick!

HyperX Cloud II – Gaming Headset

HyperX Cloud II – Gaming Headset

Featuring high quality 7.1 virtual surround sound, the Cloud II is exceptionally comfortable, durable, and affordable. The optimal headset when wanting to truly submerge yourself in the gaming experience. 

Rebecka Lundqvist
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Rebecka Lundqvist

Rebecka is an Audio Engineering graduate, Swedish born and raised. When she’s not writing for Audiostance, you’ll find her behind the decks at various events and clubs under the DJ name Miss Bex. Rebecka also has a keen interest in sound design and production.

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