Is Stereo Better Than 7.1 for Gaming? – A Tussle between Stereo and Surround Sound

Listening skill is crucial for gamers. They need to hear footsteps, conversations and other in-game sounds to understand and react within milliseconds to any action happening in the game.

Naturally, this requires really good headphones. Surround sound headsets can naturally provide an immersive effect which can feel very good during games. 

No, the simple answer is not, Stereo is not better than 7.1. People now a days want to upgrade to surround sound. Because surround sound creates a good dynamic sound than stereo and it the main reason.

However, sound quality is more important for gameplay as you need to distinguish between multiple types of audio such as bush rustling, footsteps, water gurgling etc.

In recent times, 7.1 surround sound headset is coming up as an excellent choice for gamers. Let’s discuss what a 7.1 surround sound headset is and why do gamers love it.

7.1 Surround Sound Headsets: What Exactly Is It?

It has 7 speakers and 1 subwoofer.

Surround sound is an audio system that recreates sounds from various angles and distances. 7.1 goes a bit further and allows the listener to visualize the position of an object solely on the basis of sound with high accuracy.

7.1 surround sound’s driver design separates the lows, mids and the highs giving excellent audio precision. Listeners will be able to hear greater distances with better clarity. This is a great advantage for gamers since they will be able to pick out their opponents with just audio cues.

You will believe you are inside the game where all the action happens.

However, true 7.1 surround sound can be extremely expensive and burn a hole in your pocket.

7.1 surround sound headset is being marketed specifically for gaming purposes.

On the other hand, how would stereo headsets or normal surround sound headsets fare in contrast?

Stereo Headsets vs Surround Sound Headsets: Is Stereo Better Than 7.1 for Gaming?

Stereo headsets feature two speakers. Good quality stereo headsets provide highly superior sound quality. The drivers are also quite close to our eardrums, leading to a limited surround sound effect.

True surround sound headsets feature multiple speakers giving an immersive effect. However, these can be expensive and quite bulky (especially true for 7.1 surround sound headsets).

Virtual surround sound headset has only two speakers but uses a special process to simulate multi-directional sound effects. 

You can also use specialized software such as Razer Synapse or Dolby Atmos for surround sound effect. 


  • Sound Quality

7.1 surround sound gives the best sound quality possible in the current generation of headsets. It enjoys high sound fidelity and develops spatial awareness in gamers.

Stereo headsets are most commonly used headsets in the world. High quality stereo headsets are used by gamers since the audio quality is excellent, the drivers are quite close to the eardrums and every sound is magnified. It also gives a limited surround sound effect.

True surround sound headsets do have really good sound quality. However, 7.1 surround sound is the best in the lot. 

Virtual surround sound headsets can be a good choice. However, perform a cost-benefit analysis to understand how better a choice it could be.

  • Gameplay Experience

7.1 surround sound headset will undoubtedly give you one of the best gaming experiences especially if you are playing a game specially designed for surround sound audio.

High quality stereo headset will also provide you with an excellent game experience. It might not be as immersive as a surround sound audio system but your gameplay will not be affected.

Surround sound headsets will provide an immersive experience. However, bad quality surround sound headsets may give a bathroom-like sound quality.

  • Price

7.1 is the most expensive among all. It can cost anywhere between US$ 100 and US$ 300. Some flagship products can even cost more.

Most high quality stereo headsets come under US$ 100. They are quite affordable compared to surround sound headsets.

Surround sound headset prices differ depending on the number of speakers. Virtual surround sound headsets are cheaper compared to true surround sound headsets. However, both are more expensive than stereo headsets.

Realted Topics:

Final Verdict

Buy stereo headsets. If you love gaming, invest in a really good pair of stereo headsets. These may be in the more expensive part of the spectrum, but will be cheaper than 7.1 surround sound.

If you have the money and don’t mind spending it, go for 7.1 surround sound headsets.

Vitaly Fedorov

Vitaly Fedorov is a seasoned audio technician and writer. After spending ten years in a studio team, I have decided to spread my knowledge to people in this domain. On this site, I work for headphone fixing or repair issues, that you’re thinking about fixing. Click on any article on my site and read the complete answer about that issue. I am excited to read your feedback.

Recent Posts