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What is virtual surround sound? Will it help my gaming experience? If you’re building your gaming hub in your home, then surround sound might be something you’re interested in. Just like in theaters, surround sound offers a more immersive experience that will give you an edge when you play games like PUBG and Call of Duty. If you have no idea what a virtual surround system is, then you’re in the right place.
Crash Course on Surround Sound
First of all, are you familiar with surround sounds and how they work? If you do, then you can skip to the next part. If you want to know more about it, stay right here.
What is surround sound? A surround sound is literally what the word means - sound surrounding you wherever you are. This is what you experience when you watch in a movie theater where you hear the sound on your side, at the back, or in front. Surround sound lets you hear sounds coming from the direction of the speaker or the movement.
Think about 4-D where you feel that you’re experiencing everything as if you’re part of the movie. For surround sound, you feel that you’re hearing everything as if you’re there.
The best way to enjoy surround sound is to actually have speakers around you. There are two types of setup available - the 5.1 and the 7.1 channel sound system. They have five or seven speakers that are scattered around the room that mimic how you will perceive sound.
But of course, setting up a full surround sound system is not that easy. In fact, it’s also very costly given all the investment you have to place for high-quality speakers.
What is Virtual Surround Sound?
Virtual surround sound works a lot like an actual surround sound system. The main difference is, you guessed it, that it’s virtual. How does that work?
Virtual surround sound uses algorithms that “trick” the person in perceiving that they are using surround sound. It uses varied sound volumes and delays so that it mimics how you would hear the sounds in real life. These changes may be subtle but they are very effective in giving the illusion of a surround sound experience.
Virtual surround sound pairs itself to an already existing speaker and makes use of walls to bounce the sound waves towards you. This also helps in letting you hear the sounds from the back or to the sides.
Virtual Surround Sound in Headphones
Did you know that you can also get a surround sound experience through your headphones? In fact, surround sound is even better when you have headphones since the audio drivers are nearer to your auditory canal than the actual speakers placed in the room. When it comes to hearing better, headphones are definitely the best.
Virtual surround sound works on headphones by using directional sound through the audio drivers. The audio drivers use methods in making it sound like you’re hearing them in real life. Different audio drivers are spread out through your headphones and they use varying sound volumes and delays to mimic real-life noises.
Is It Worth It?
The most common question gamers ask regarding virtual surround sound is whether it’s worth it or not. The answer here depends on what you’re using - speakers or headphones - and the types of games you play.
- Using Speakers
Like what was mentioned a while ago, the best audio device that offers a surround sound is a speaker. Virtual surround sound only works if you’re using a soundbar or you don’t want to set up five or seven other speakers around the room.
You have to take note, though, that you can maximize virtual surround sound if you watch or play action-packed movies. If you’re only watching the news or a movie that’s mostly conversations, then a virtual surround sound won’t be as useful in those departments. You won’t even notice a significant change in your viewing experience.
There can only be a difference if the speaker system you have allows for boosting clarity during dialogues. Fortunately, a lot of speaker systems already have that as a standard feature.
- Using Headphones
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, virtual surround sound on headphones is not always worth it. This is because the audio drivers are so close to each other that you won’t notice a significant difference in the directional sound. What you think you would hear from the back can sometimes be confused with hearing from the sides because of the closer audio drivers.
To add to that, headphones can be very overpriced when they are offering virtual surround sound. If you truly want a virtual surround sound, then you can buy mid-range headphones. You won’t be spending too much and yet you’ll have the same surround experience.
However, if your focus is on sound quality, then investing in high-quality headphones that focus on the actual sounds is a much better option.
- Types of Games
Face it, there are games where you really don’t need to get a virtual surround sound. Games like sports, strategy, and puzzles don’t really need you to hear sounds coming from the back or from the sides. Sometimes, you can even do away with the sound. But if you’re playing action, adventure, and some role-playing games, then virtual surround sound can be useful.
Virtual surround sound is worth it for action, adventure, and role-playing games. It definitely makes a difference in your performance because you are able to identify the direction the sound is coming from. If there’s a sneaking enemy, you will be able to hear it and react, making your gaming experience better and effective.
However, the same cannot be said for all games because it doesn’t really matter whether you hear the sounds from one direction only. In the end, you have to decide which games you play and if you’re using a set of speakers or headphones to get a virtual surround sound.