What is Virtual Surround Sound and Is It Worth It For Gaming?

Quick Answer

While there are those that prefer the stereo sound, the virtual surround sound is worth it for gaming most especially when you want a good audio reproduction with the surround effect. However, some may not be worth it most especially when you consider the price they ask for. Compared to the True Surround sound, the virtual surround sound is still better because it is cheaper and there are games that do not support the former.

In the world of a gamer, everything is important from the images displayed to the audio and everything in between. As regards the audio, there are different sounds that a gamer can make use of including the virtual surround sound which unsurprisingly is something many gamers are yet to fully understand.

But beyond not fully understanding what it means and how it works, the virtual surround sound leaves gamers with the bugging question of whether it is even worth it for gaming in the first place. Unfortunately, the question is not the easiest one to answer because there are different things that one needs to understand before deciding. Let’s take a look.

What is Virtual Surround Sound?

Virtual surround sound introduces a technology in audio reproduction which is able to get your brain into believing that whatever sound you are listening to is coming from more than just a 2-channel setup. With the technology, you get to hear a sound coming from everywhere rather than a particular place as it is with stereo sets.

Normally, it is easy for you to know where a sound is coming from whether it is music or something falling because the sound will be louder on the ear that is facing it and that ear gets to receive the sound slightly faster. However, thanks to advancement in psychoacoustics, sounds are made to appear as though they come from everywhere when making use of a surround system.

Apart from the virtual surround sound, there is also the true surround sound as well as the stereo headphones.

Stereo Headphones

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These are the most popular headphones that are available in the market for different uses. If you have a pair of headphones right now, there is the possibility that it is the stereo headphones. While they are able to deliver a great sound experience, they will not deliver when what you are looking for is surround sound experience.

In addition to that, when you get a good pair, the stereo headphones will deliver good audio reproduction. While that is said, when you are looking for something for gaming, stereo headphones should not be your first choice because, for the best gaming experience, you will want to go with a pair of surround sets.

The irony is that you can make any stereo headphones to act offer you virtual surround effect by using some software that have been designed to mimic the effect of the surround sound. One such software is the Razer Surround.

True 5.1 Surround Sound

Regarded as the first true surround sound, this configuration makes use of five speakers and a subwoofer. It takes advantage of the number of available speakers to create the needed effect. The 5 drivers it makes use of are shared between both ears while the subwoofer is to provide low-frequency bass reproduction.

Much more than the stereo headphones, this will be able to serve very well when it comes to gaming because while the sound it produces is good, you will be able to know the direction from which an enemy is coming because of the surround sound effect it produces.

True 7.1 Surround Sound

This comes with a configuration that is more complex than the 5.1. Just as the name suggests, it makes use of 7 speakers and a single subwoofer. It comes with extra drivers for extra left-surround and right-surround sounds that come from both left and right while gaming to complement the dedicated drivers.

The 7.1 headphones come as more immersive than the 5.1, although the difference between the two is not very significant considering that it is only a headset and the speakers have to be squeezed together.

For gaming, getting these headphones will totally be an overkill because you don’t need the much that it has to offer. More than just that, the headphones are on the very expensive side.

Is It Worth It For Gaming? 

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Back to the question, the truth of the matter is that virtual surround sound is worth it for gaming.  This is because as shown above, it offers a better sound reproduction for a gamer most especially when compared to stereo sound.

With that said, another thing that you have to consider is the cost implication. Surround headphones are more expensive than stereo ones, but there is an amount that will just be too much to pay for a surround gaming headphone. In fact, there are those that believe that instead of spending too much on a surround gaming headphone, you can decide to go for a stereo headphone with an open back because that will offer you a wider soundstage.

See Also: Best Gaming Speakers: Top 8 PC Speaker Reviews

More so, when compared to the true surround sound (True 7.1 and Virtual 7.1), you will realize that the True 7.1 does a better job of making you get the sound from all direction. But then, unless you are a competitive gamer who is ready to spend too much on a headset, you will be better off with the Virtual surround simply because while it is still good, it is more affordable.

As regards the quality of the headphones, it will all depend on the quality and make of the headphones themselves. The price will most times determine the quality of the phones but that may not always be the case with every piece you come across.


At the end of the day, the fact remains that virtual surround sound is worth it for gaming because of how much it is able to improve the awareness of your surroundings while also delivering deeper immersion. For a competitive gamer, it becomes even more important because of the edge that it gives you.

The interesting thing is that while there are headphones that come as virtual surround, you can also achieve it by simply making use of a software or even your sound card. Also, open back headphones also work well when you are looking to get good immersion.

If you are confused between using a virtual surround and a true surround, the advise will be to go for a virtual except you are a hardcore gamer or if you have the much money that the true surround headphones ask for.

Tim Flaherty
Tim Flaherty
Tim is our talented senior tech writer and editor, the one who plays music on replay, drinks more coffee than beer, plays video games, and reads poetry. In between, Tim reviews products, write about computers, games, hardware, software, guides, reviews and talk tech and arts. If there is a WWIII, he thinks it could be caused by bad writing.


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