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Is virtual surround a gimmick?

Pancreas

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Actual surround is to have several speakers and subwoofer around you to create that surround experience. What's the point of a virtual surround switch on your PC, audio card, consoles, etc if all you're using with is a soundbar, or built-in speakers on a monitor, or a couple of speakers?

How can this "plugin" bypass physical limitations? It can't. No amount of virtual surround, is going to create a surround experience if all you have is a soundbar, is a gimmick.

For headphones, it may be different, even then is not actual surround. It may change the sound slightly or different, doesn't mean is better or actual surround.

For example. I have two Genelec 8030c speakers connected to my Scarlett Solo audio interface, then interface connected to PC.

How can I get "virtual surround" with my PC or audio interface. There is no option. Even then, it wouldn't be real surround anyway.

To get real surround with your PC/studio, you would need buy an audio interface with enough TRS inputs such as Scarlett 18i20, then buy a least 3 more speakers and a subwoofer, connect everything to the audio interface, position the speakers around you, then and only then, you will have actual surround sound experience.

How can a virtual surround create surround when is limited by a soundbar or a couple of speakers? It can't. Therefore, is meaningless and pointless. Its a gimmick.

Example of actual surround

Another example of actual surround would be a Bose system in a vehicle, where it has 10-11 speakers, then you would have actual surround coming from all directions

 
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DVDdoug

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Yes it's kind-of of gimmick but it can change the sound and give you the impression of "space". You might like it or you might not.

It can't reliably trick you into hearing the sound coming from behind.

How can I get "virtual surround" with my PC or audio interface. There is no option. Even then, it wouldn't be real surround.
Plug your computer's HDMI port into your home theater system. ;)

Or there is software... Google "Virtual surround for Windows".

To get real surround with your PC, you would need buy an audio interface with enough TRS inputs such as Scarlett 18i20,
5.1 and 7.1 channel soundcards are pretty common. It might be tricky to configure a multi-channel interface like the Focusrite to work with movies and other "standard" program material. I don't know how to route the channels, but a regular multi-channel soundcard will work.
 

kemmler3D

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How can this "plugin" bypass physical limitations? It can't.

When all you have is two unknown speakers or a set of headphones, the ability to bypass physical limitations is very limited. What you can do is filter the sound using a stock HRTF to try and trick you into hearing things behind you. This CAN work in theory, in fact under tightly controlled conditions and using measurements of your own head and ears, it could even work well. In practice I agree that it's mostly a gimmick.

Fancy soundbars and the like can take this further by using large numbers of drivers at various angles, bouncing sound, employing delays for direct vs. bounced sound, measuring the room and using reflections strategically, along with the HRTF-style tricks - etc. So they don't really bypass physical limitations, they just bend the rules a bit. I don't claim to know all the algorithms in use in these devices, but a lot is possible with enough DSP and drivers at hand.

It's up to the listener as to whether virtual surround is worth it or not. Personally not interested, but the concept isn't actually a total joke.
 
OP
Pancreas

Pancreas

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Yes it's kind-of of gimmick but it can change the sound and give you the impression of "space". You might like it or you might not.

It can't reliably trick you into hearing the sound coming from behind.

Plug your computer's HDMI port into your home theater system. ;)

Or there is software... Google "Virtual surround for Windows".

5.1 and 7.1 channel soundcards are pretty common. It might be tricky to configure a multi-channel interface like the Focusrite to work with movies and other "standard" program material. I don't know how to route the channels, but a regular multi-channel soundcard will work.

I want to get computer sound coming from my speakers to be "virtual surround". I don't think is possible as I'm using this audio interface

Since my speakers are connected to the audio interface, I'm basically using the soundcard in the audio interface

To get virtual surround, assuming I buy a 5.1 soundcard for my pc, I would need to connect my speakers directly to the PC, which is impossible or buy an audio interface or external soundcard with 5.1
 

kemmler3D

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I want to get computer sound coming from my speakers to be "virtual surround".
I guess your soundcard includes some kind of downmixing / filtering algorithm that only works with the soundcard.

The good news is this kind of thing is neither rare nor expensive: You can get started using Equalizer APO and a spatializer VST like this: https://www.musitechnic.com/en/sennheiser-ambeo-orbit/

A note that these tend to be designed for headphones, but they can still work nearfield to some extent.
 
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Pancreas

Pancreas

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I guess your soundcard includes some kind of downmixing / filtering algorithm that only works with the soundcard.

The good news is this kind of thing is neither rare nor expensive: You can get started using Equalizer APO and a spatializer VST like this: https://www.musitechnic.com/en/sennheiser-ambeo-orbit/

A note that these tend to be designed for headphones, but they can still work nearfield to some extent.

I just tried boom 3d

Didnt like it lol muffles the bass
 

JRS

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Short answer: NO! Check out these videos and others discussing the Princeton professors (Dr. Choueiri--a plasma physicist with interest in spatial audio) work in extracting a 3d soundfield from a stereo recording using stereo speakers explained in some detail at
A brief overview is seen in Guttenbergs interview here:

This guy is the real deal and is now part of a startup making the tech available to high end enthusiasts--about 5K including software installed on a MAC and the gear required to get a good head/torso transfer function. It is absolutely jaw dropping when it "clicks" and best of all doesn't require new recordings or multiple speakers. I can only imagine what it might be capable when properly recorded in multichannel audio.
 

phoenixdogfan

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Then there's this.

 

theREALdotnet

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Some reckon stereo is a gimmick.
 
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Pancreas

Pancreas

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I would not expect good results out of the box, anything you use that works well will require some tweaking the settings, most likely.

out of the box? I don't know it doesn't sound like the videos you posted lol is like just some plugins you use on winamp, or other audio/video players really
 

asibbald

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Then there's this.

I have an A16. It is utterly astonishing. If you ever get an opportunity to go to one of their demos at a show, do so. Once they have calibrated the headphones for you - a process that takes a minute of two - it is quite impossible to know whether the surround sound speakers are off or on. Their party trick is that the speakers all switch off as soon as you put the headphones on - and you'd never know it.

My one worry about them is the company itself. They seriously under priced their Kickstarter fort the A16 and they've been struggling ever since. I do hope they survive though - the A16 (and the A8 before it) are unique. There is nothing like them in the market

 

kemmler3D

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I have an A16. It is utterly astonishing. If you ever get an opportunity to go to one of their demos at a show, do so. Once they have calibrated the headphones for you - a process that takes a minute of two - it is quite impossible to know whether the surround sound speakers are off or on. Their party trick is that the speakers all switch off as soon as you put the headphones on - and you'd never know it.

My one worry about them is the company itself. They seriously under priced their Kickstarter fort the A16 and they've been struggling ever since. I do hope they survive though - the A16 (and the A8 before it) are unique. There is nothing like them in the market

Hmm, $9K seems overpriced but I tend to agree that <$1K per unit probably didn't afford a lot of margin...
 

phoenixdogfan

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I have an A16. It is utterly astonishing. If you ever get an opportunity to go to one of their demos at a show, do so. Once they have calibrated the headphones for you - a process that takes a minute of two - it is quite impossible to know whether the surround sound speakers are off or on. Their party trick is that the speakers all switch off as soon as you put the headphones on - and you'd never know it.

My one worry about them is the company itself. They seriously under priced their Kickstarter fort the A16 and they've been struggling ever since. I do hope they survive though - the A16 (and the A8 before it) are unique. There is nothing like them in the market

Actually, I've owned one for three years now. I have a custom, 24 channel, in studio made PRIR of D&D 8C's as well as a custome 24 channel made in my home of my Kef LS 50 Metas +SB 2000 sub. I use it every day, and, yes, it's the real deal. The question now is whether the "Speaker Edition" can deliver a 16 channel sound through two speakers and do it as well as it does with headphone binauralized sound.
 

Blashyrkh

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How can a virtual surround create surround when is limited by a soundbar or a couple of speakers? It can't. Therefore, is meaningless and pointless. Its a gimmick.

Soundbar should not be even taken into account, but anyway virtualization through speakers is really difficult to achieve(of not impossible).

For headphones it's another story.

I have been into gaming a lot, and searched for a good virtualizer for about 20 years now, and tried many things.

As said, for speakers, I tested the Yamaha DSP (that were among the best back in the days) of the receiver, but I never heard sound coming from behind. It is a bit more open and surrounding in the front, but never like the real rear speakers.
I have a 5.1 system so I don't care much.


For headphones instead, I found that the effects being very realistic and coming from the rear. Even some Astro A50 with Dolby are pretty good in doing so.

Currently sticking with equalizerAPO with Hesuvi using a virtual cable connected directly to the USB dac, ending with HD800. That was the best I could find and never came back.

Obviously the source must be 5.1 or more, because the effect with 2.1 material doesn't recreate realistic rear sound field
 

Blashyrkh

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I guess your soundcard includes some kind of downmixing / filtering algorithm that only works with the soundcard.

The good news is this kind of thing is neither rare nor expensive: You can get started using Equalizer APO and a spatializer VST like this: https://www.musitechnic.com/en/sennheiser-ambeo-orbit/

A note that these tend to be designed for headphones, but they can still work nearfield to some extent.
This is something I never tried....testing it now
 
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