How effective is sound with virtual surround headphones?

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invictius
Posts: 393
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:44 am

How effective is sound with virtual surround headphones?

Post by invictius »

5.1 on an a/v receiver is very effective, maybe even too effective (too directional). You can position yourself so that an imp fireball passes front to back, side to side, pretty well. I tried the dts virtual surround trial built into windows 10, set the audio backend to stereo. I could distinguish near objects from far ones, but fireballs etc going up or down were less convincing.

I know virtual surround is just a gimmick, but those of you using 7.1 or even 9.1, does it really benefit and show a difference from 5.1?
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Chris
Posts: 2845
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2003 12:07 am
Graphics Processor: ATI/AMD with Vulkan/Metal Support

Re: How effective is sound with virtual surround headphones?

Post by Chris »

Generally speaking, virtual 7.1 should produce better positioning than virtual 5.1. Compared to real 5.1 it will depend on the quality of the HRTF it uses, and how well it fits you, and the acoustics of your listening area. Not all HRTFs are equal, and different ones work better for different people.

FWIW, however, the OpenAL used by GZDoom has its own built-in HRTF which actually works in full 3D instead of virtual speakers. Rather than simulating 5.1 or 7.1 speakers or something, it actually handles full sphere sound placement. Basically as if there were hundreds of speakers around you, including above and below. Though that only works properly if the device is set to (non-virtual) stereo output.

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