Are Virtual Surround Headphones Fake?

With the development of breakthrough audio technologies for gaming, comes a whole slew of questions. How do new consoles process sound? What audio technologies are available? Is virtual surround sound fake? To understand these concepts better, it’s best to understand stereo, true surround, and virtual surround headphones. In this blog, we’ll take a deeper dive into the audio technologies available for headphone users, and how they can affect your gaming. 

Stereo Headphones

Pretty basic, no-nonsense headphones. Look around you right now: you probably have a couple of pairs in your bag, on your desk, on the couch, etc. You get the idea. In terms of pure sound, stereo headphones get the job done. You may have to buy a mic to talk to your online friends, but eh, no biggie. Stereo headphones, however, only have two drivers (you know these as speakers), so they’re limited in terms of surround sound performance—all you have to work with are the left and right audio channels. 

True Surround Headphones

Surround sound headphones use distinct drivers split across both ears. You’ll usually see both 5.1 and 7.1 headphones for gaming. Most modern games from large developers and publishers work with 5.1 surround sound, at least. Depending upon which setup you use, the drivers will be positioned in an array to help you ears perceive sound as coming from a range of directions. Let’s say you’re playing Apex Legends. When an enemy sneaks up directly behind you, the drivers will create footstep noises of equal volume in both the rear-left and rear-right channels, while the same enemy approaching from slightly to the left will be louder in the rear-left channel than the right. The processing of the sound is shared between the game and your computer’s sound card (or, if using a USB headset, the headset software installed on your operating system).

Virtual Surround Headphones

Though virtual surround sound might not be true surround sound, the benefits are very real. Many audio software engineers have been working hard on simulating a surround sound experience on limited hardware, like stereo headphones. While normal stereo headphones will use volume to help you determine where a sound is coming from, virtual surround sound takes it even further. Fractional delays, processing tricks, and volume variation all trick your brain into thinking its hearing sound from more than two directions simultaneously. But why opt for virtual surround when true surround is available? There are many reasons, but gamers report lower processing needs, cost-effectivity, and smooth integration with their current gaming set-up as major factors in making the switch from stereo to virtual surround. 

The benefits of virtual surround are many. It’s a cost-effective replacement for true surround, and it works with those stereo headphones you have lying around. No need to purchase new equipment, simply download a driver, connect to your headphones and press start. Curious about virtual surround? Download a free trial today at