Surround Sound vs. Stereo Game Sound

In 1983, the Nintendo Entertainment System arrived on the market. With games like Super Mario World, The Legend of Zelda, and Kirby, the NES was an instant hit. Almost forty years later, not only are these games still praised for their spectacular visuals, but also their sound. 

Though minimal, NES soundtracks were memorable. But, now, with the rapid influx of new technology, gaming soundtracks have been elevated to the same levels of popular media, even winning Grammy awards for original scores. In this blog, we’ll highlight a bit of the history of stereo and surround game audio and talk more about virtual surround. 

Stereo Sound 

Stereo music was not implemented immediately into video games. In fact, the NES was programmed with monophonic sound only, meaning it did not distinguish between speakers. Stereo processing was far too heavy on the early consoles. But more modern systems like the Xbox360 or Playstation 2 were able to process stereo, using prerecorded soundtracks and applying special effects in real time. Breakthroughs in processing technology allowed for massive developments in audio technology, eventually leading to convolution reverbs, complex audio cues, and our personal favorite, surround sound. 

Surround Sound

Largely due to advancements in home theater systems, surround sound was a big deal in the early 2000’s. The popularity of the medium led to many video-game composers to integrate surround sound into their games. Sound effects such as gunshots, dialogue and footsteps coming from positional points forever changed how players navigate the 3D spaces in their games. Think of Fortnite, Apex Legends, or PUBG. With a proper surround sound set-up, a gamer can easily overtake his competition by knowing exactly where his or her opponents’ footsteps are located. 

Virtual Surround Sound

Possibly due to rising costs of home surround-sound systems, or the growing cultural shift to headphones, many gamers are now focused on virtual surround sound. Virtual surround sound is essentially an audio system that attempts to create the perception that there are many more sources of sound than are actually present. In many cases, virtual surround sound is just as good as surround sound–if not better due to its portability. Many gaming companies, Turtle Beach, tout their advancements in expensive virtual surround sound headphones. But there is only one company specialized in delivering the best virtual surround sound to you, with no latency, lag, or special headphones needed. Just a simple driver unlocks every sonic possibility. 

With 2020 on the horizon, we’re in a new era of in-game audio, and it would be a shame to miss out on every detail that the producers of these experiences have perfected. Which brings us to the question: if you’re not appreciating the huge advancements in game-audio, are you really playing your best? What could a virtual surround system do for you? Find out more at, and start elevating your game today.