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Is Surround Sound Good for Gaming?

If you want the best experience when watching television, you need to have surround sound. There’s no question that surround sound will immerse the viewer in a movie. Try watching Game of Thrones or another action-packed show in surround sound – it’s amazing.

But is surround sound good for gaming?

Gaming requires impeccable graphics, enough memory to keep the game running smoothly, a gaming monitor and of course a CPU that removes all fears of a bottleneck.

Surround Sound: Understanding What 5.1 and Other Types Really Mean

Sound comes in a variety of different configurations, and what this means is that sound has really evolved.

If you’re looking for surround sound, you’re going to be looking at 5.1 and higher. This is really the first surround sound configuration, and this configuration will have the following setup to achieve surround sound:

But there’s a new version in town that’s getting all of the praise: 7.1. It’s not that 5.1 is bad, but 7.1 is a complex setup that is designed to provide a fully immersive experience. With this setup, you’ll be using:

When you place your speakers, you’ll want to do the following to make the sound truly surround:

  • Place one speaker, often longer in length like a soundbar, in the middle of your setup right under the monitor.
  • Place two frontal speakers for the computer, and this will be on both sides of the monitor. One will be on the left side of the monitor and one will be on the right side of the monitor.
  • Subwoofer should be placed to the left of you, slightly in front of where you’re sitting but to the left. This will be closer to you then the two frontal speakers.
  • Now you’ll have to also place to speakers, one on the left and one on the right, to either side of you. This would, in the ideal space, be directly to your left and right.
  • Two additional speakers will be placed to the right and left backside of you.

Complex, this setup will allow for full spatial awareness and make sound completely surround you when playing.

If you’re gaming, this is a setup that will immerse you in the environment. But the setup is very difficult to achieve in a traditional computer office setup because wires are going to be everywhere.

But it’s possible to achieve with wall mounts and proper wire management.

So, is surround sound good for gaming? Yes, but you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time on your setup to make it perfect. You may want to consider surround sound headphones instead of the 7.1 setup.

What’s the Deal with Surround Sound Headphones?

Headphone manufacturers attempt to put surround sound into the earcups of the headphones you wear.

This is done by including a variety of drivers into each earcup. But since the drivers are very close together, it’s difficult to provide a true surround sound experience.

Your 7.1 setup will feel far more immersive than even the best surround sound headset for this reason.

Virtual surround sound has come into play lately, and this is essentially manipulating the person’s perception of sound when gaming.


Audio sources will work independently providing different levels of sounds and adjusting to provide a surround sound experience.

Software will control the experience, allowing for surround sound that is closer to 7.1 than a normal surround sound headset.

The sound card you’re using will need to have virtual surround sound capabilities. If you’re using an on-board sound card that’s part of your motherboard, you’ll want to see what capabilities that the on-board setup offers.

You may be able to swap in a higher-end sound card to offer the virtual surround sound setup you need when using headphones.

So, is surround sound worth it when gaming? Absolutely.

You’ll be immersed in the environment and feel like you’re “in the game.”

It’s part of the entire gaming experience, but if you plan on buying headphones for surround sound, make sure that you opt for a high-end headphone and sound card.

The hardware, or sound card, has a lot more to do with virtual surround sound that the headphones.

Open-back headphones may even work better because they allow some of the sound to escape providing a listening experience that’s more natural.

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Richard Bolden

David has been interested in computers for over 25 years. From playing games on his parents computer as a kid in the early 90s, to building his first PC in 2003 (and many more since then). He has a passion for everything related to computing and this site is dedicated to helping others find the info they need.