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For Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound Gaming: 2 channel speakers vs headphones??

Headphones or 2-channel speakers for Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound (gaming)

  • Headphones

    Votes: 6 85.7%
  • 2 channel speakers

    Votes: 1 14.3%

  • Total voters
    7

Robbo99999

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I don't know how many of you are gamers, but I've always been using headphones for gaming, and in the past 4 yrs I've been using Creative's Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound on my headphones. I'm starting to think that 2 channel speakers (2 speakers) could be better for 7.1 virtual surround sound gaming than headphones, because you've already got the advantage of having the front speakers optimally located vs the non-optimal "speakers on ear" which is what headphones are essentially. Virtual 7.1 works pretty well for me for front & back on headphones in games, but I feel it could be better - my intuition tells me that the same tech could work better with 2 speakers on my desktop arranged in a perfect equilateral triangle. Have any of you tried speakers vs headphones for Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound for gaming (or other) purposes? I'll include a link to my "headphone virtual 7.1 surround" thread I created as it's somewhat related:
Yes, so I'm interested in hearing your experiences, I'm toying with the idea of replacing my headphones with a 2 channel speaker setup for my PC gaming, specifically in relation to Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound.

EDIT: I created a poll too, but considering this is a pretty niche question I'm not expecting much relevance in terms of a large number of people having experimented with this, but I thought I'd include it anyway!
 
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Dunring

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I've been a gamer since the original 8 bit mini Sound blaster and have heard all the different stuff from my business. The best gaming audio I've ever heard is the Hifiman Ananda stealth, HD800s, and Audio Technica ADH1000X. Stereo wins with over splitting 2 channels into virtual ones every time.
Check the 50mv test on reviews here, if it scores a 95 or higher you get a silent noise floor to hear a pin drop while gaming. Gaming sound cards are convenient, but try one in direct mode or stereo and compare to surround. There's just no advantage to it if you have accurate headphones.
I just sold a Sound blaster AE-9 and did that test, just wasn't hearing more than stereo mode.
 

staticV3

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I guess it depends on what games you want to play.

Modern titles like CoD Warzone, Hunt: Showdown, CS2 etc. have long since moved on from virtual surround sound that tries to mimic a 7.1 HT setup with reverb etc, and have started simulating realistic, spatial audio via HRTF processing.

That works best with headphones and IEMs and not at all with stereo speakers.

Perhaps for older titles, there is some merit to speakers instead of headphones. I can't say.
 

roladyzator

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Hesuvi has a profile for virtual surround simulation on speakers IIRC.

I think it was the Dolby Virtual Speakers. Maybe check it out and tell us if you like it?

I'm a Creative user myself, with the GC7 that has headphone SXFI VSS solution. Works well for adding room reverb and tons of bass to Koss KSC75 (sadly, decent headphones like K371 or K702 sound extremely shouty and otherwise weird with SXFI) for a "cinematic" feel but I won't say it makes sound localization better.

But, that also has the Creative's older SBX VSS solution and I think that one has a speakers mode too when you use line out instead of headphone out - so maybe your G6 has that as well?
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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I've been a gamer since the original 8 bit mini Sound blaster and have heard all the different stuff from my business. The best gaming audio I've ever heard is the Hifiman Ananda stealth, HD800s, and Audio Technica ADH1000X. Stereo wins with over splitting 2 channels into virtual ones every time.
Check the 50mv test on reviews here, if it scores a 95 or higher you get a silent noise floor to hear a pin drop while gaming. Gaming sound cards are convenient, but try one in direct mode or stereo and compare to surround. There's just no advantage to it if you have accurate headphones.
I just sold a Sound blaster AE-9 and did that test, just wasn't hearing more than stereo mode.
Thanks for your experience, but personally my experience is that Virtual 7.1 works very well, so I'm not debating whether normal 2 channel is better or not than 2 channel Virtual 7.1, because for me 2 channel Virtual 7.1 is definitely better than just 2-channel when it comes to gaming. Mainly I'm just considering whether the 7.1 virtualisation is more effective on headphones or speakers - so that's the angle I'm coming from, but thanks for your experience, which is valid in your own right.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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I guess it depends on what games you want to play.

Modern titles like CoD Warzone, Hunt: Showdown, CS2 etc. have long since moved on from virtual surround sound that tries to mimic a 7.1 HT setup with reverb etc, and have started simulating realistic, spatial audio via HRTF processing.

That works best with headphones and IEMs and not at all with stereo speakers.

Perhaps for older titles, there is some merit to speakers instead of headphones. I can't say.
Well, the Creative soundblaster virtualised speakers I'm sure are based on HRTF processing, because if I change the Surround variable in the Creative software, changeable from 0-100 then this changes the position of the virtual speakers when I test it with test signals that emanate from the different 7.1 speakers, so Creative is already using somekind of HRTF processing that is configurable through their 0-100 Surround Sound variable. It does work with me through headphones, but I figured it could work even better through 2 channel speakers, but that's just a theory, I've not tried it. To be clear, the game outputs 7.1 and the Creative soundcard virtualises that through 2 channels, there are some games that do the virtualisation within the game at which point you'd turn off virtualisation in your soundcard and you'd just let the game do the virtualisation. I'm assuming when you talk about it working best in headphones that you're talking about the game itself doing the virtual HRTF processing? But also how can you be sure that this same HRTF processing that the game is doing wouldn't work through 2 channel speakers? (perhaps the game has an option to select 2-channel speakers). But I suppose mostly I'm referring to Creative's 7.1 surround sound re headphones vs speakers, albeit that is a narrow view.....so I'm welcome to your additional perspectives though.
 

staticV3

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Mainly I'm just considering whether the 7.1 virtualisation is more effective on headphones or speakers - so that's the angle I'm coming from, but thanks for your experience, which is valid in your own right.
From a theoretical standpoint, definitely via headphones. That way the simulation has much tighter control over reverb, crosstalk etc as nothing is baked in like it would be with stereo speakers.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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Hesuvi has a profile for virtual surround simulation on speakers IIRC.

I think it was the Dolby Virtual Speakers. Maybe check it out and tell us if you like it?

I'm a Creative user myself, with the GC7 that has headphone SXFI VSS solution. Works well for adding room reverb and tons of bass to Koss KSC75 (sadly, decent headphones like K371 or K702 sound extremely shouty and otherwise weird with SXFI) for a "cinematic" feel but I won't say it makes sound localization better.

But, that also has the Creative's older SBX VSS solution and I think that one has a speakers mode too when you use line out instead of headphone out - so maybe your G6 has that as well?
Yep, I'm using SBX VSS on my G6 DAC. I use it in speaker line out mode anyway because I have it hooked up to a JDS Labs Atom Amp......but there's an option to apply the headphone virtualisation to the Line Out, which is the option I use, so if I were to get 2 channel speakers then this is how it would be connected to them. I'm just playing with the idea that the virtualisation might work better through speakers rather than headphones, which is the main distinction I'm making & the main question I'm asking.......but it's bloody niche isn't it!
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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From a theoretical standpoint, definitely via headphones. That way the simulation has much tighter control over reverb, crosstalk etc as nothing is baked in like it would be with stereo speakers.
But if you think about it, the advantage of stereo speakers over headphones is that the front two speakers are already positioned ideally to localise forward cues, so it just has to simulate behind cues....whereas the headphone has to simulate forward cues as well as behind cues, so intuitively it feels that the speakers have the advantage. Intrinsic to that your HRTF is already naturally happening with optimally placed forward speakers, then all the virtualisation has to do is account for behind head approximations. That's my feeling on it, but of course I've not tried it on speakers, otherwise I wouldn't have started this thread.
 

roladyzator

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Yep, I'm using SBX VSS on my G6 DAC. I use it in speaker line out mode anyway because I have it hooked up to a JDS Labs Atom Amp......but there's an option to apply the headphone virtualisation to the Line Out, which is the option I use, so if I were to get 2 channel speakers then this is how it would be connected to them. I'm just playing with the idea that the virtualisation might work better through speakers rather than headphones, which is the main distinction I'm making & the main question I'm asking.......but it's bloody niche isn't it!

Don't you have a pair of JBL 308? Ot is it impossible to move them to your gaming space and you're wondering if a pair of more desktop friendly speakers would be to your liking?

Playstation 5 has this feature where you can enable VSS using TV speakers, playing test tones and recording them with the controller's mic. I didn't dare to try it with my monitor, but once I move in a month or two, I'll hoop up some cheap speakers (Edifier MR4) and give this a try with Sony's VSS, GC7 SBX in speaker mode and HeSuVi's Dolby Virtual Speakers.
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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Don't you have a pair of JBL 308? Ot is it impossible to move them to your gaming space and you're wondering if a pair of more desktop friendly speakers would be to your liking?

Playstation 5 has this feature where you can enable VSS using TV speakers, playing test tones and recording them with the controller's mic. I didn't dare to try it with my monitor, but once I move in a month or two, I'll hoop up some cheap speakers (Edifier MR4) and give this a try with Sony's VSS, GC7 SBX in speaker mode and HeSuVi's Dolby Virtual Speakers.
Yeah, I could actually move my JBL 308p's onto my computer desk to give it a try, before actually committing to buy some more suitably sized monitors for my PC - I hadn't actually thought of doing that, lol! If I do that then I'll update with my experiences of SBX Virtual 7.1 whilst using them. I might need to buy a 3.5mm to RCA cable though, I think I cleared out all my old cables.

Anyone have any thoughts on what would be ideal PC speakers in terms of monitors - small, not expensive, but good measurements?
 
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Robbo99999

Robbo99999

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From a theoretical standpoint, definitely via headphones. That way the simulation has much tighter control over reverb, crosstalk etc as nothing is baked in like it would be with stereo speakers.
Don't you have a pair of JBL 308? Ot is it impossible to move them to your gaming space and you're wondering if a pair of more desktop friendly speakers would be to your liking?

Playstation 5 has this feature where you can enable VSS using TV speakers, playing test tones and recording them with the controller's mic. I didn't dare to try it with my monitor, but once I move in a month or two, I'll hoop up some cheap speakers (Edifier MR4) and give this a try with Sony's VSS, GC7 SBX in speaker mode and HeSuVi's Dolby Virtual Speakers.
Got an update on this, lugged my JBL 308p speakers up to my gaming PC and tested Virtual 7.1 Surround gaming with speakers vs headphones. Headphones were better. Better front to back localisation with headphones. The accurate & smooth treble was good in the speakers though, but if you've got a headphone that extends the treble well and smoothly then headphones are better for virtual 7.1 surround sound gaming than speakers. For the speakers I had to change the "Surround" variable in the Creative software for my G6 DAC from the 30's to the 60's to get some front to back localisation, but still not as good as when used with headphones.....and when used with headphones I use the "Surround" variable in the 30's. Yep, so that's that experiment done, no need to buy another set of speakers then, I'll keep using my headphones for my Virtual 7.1 Surround gaming!

EDIT: lol, added my vote to headphones in the poll!
 
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