True 7.1 vs Virtual 7.1 Headset

Updated: Feb 14, 2024 4:40 PM


Surround sound immerses you in the game by mimicking the sound around your avatar, but you have to decide whether you want a true 7.1 vs a virtual 7.1 headset. The best gaming headset offers excellent sound quality using 7.1 audio.

Key Takeaways_

  • Virtual surround sound mimics a 7.1 surround sound home theater set up through the two speakers on your headset.
  • True 7.1 audio uses multiple audio drivers in your headset to reproduce directional and spatial sound from your game.
  • Both options help you feel immersed in your content while highlighting other players’ and enemies’ movements.

These gaming headsets come in a wide range of prices, each with a different number of drivers and varied audio quality. Once you have selected your technology, you may consider a wireless gaming headset with RF vs BlueTooth.

Headsets with Virtual 7.1 Vs True 7.1

When considering which headset to buy for your gaming experience, you want a headset with excellent audio quality that might give you an edge over your competition. However, you probably want to find a comfortable setup within a reasonable price range.

insider tip

You may notice you have an advantage over opponents while using a true 7.1 surround sound headset.

To choose between a true 7.1 surround sound pair of headphones and a virtual 7.1 model, read on to learn about the comfort, sound quality, audio generation, and cost of the two technologies. And, you can enhance your experience if you use a Dolby or DTS gaming headset.


Virtual surround sound headsets mimic the sounds from different locations surrounding you in-game using specialized software. These models feature two sound drivers, referred to as stereo headsets. They do not actually create the audio around you as a true surround sound system would.


A virtual 7.1 surround sound headset does not use multiple drivers or channels to create the surround sound feeling like a true 7.1 headset does.

A true 7.1 headset features about five audio drivers in each ear cup. Each driver and speaker receives audio signals from the console or laptop to create an immersive experience. Combined, the speakers realistically reproduce the sound, providing a more immersive experience than virtual surround sound or a 5.1 surround sound headphone.

Audio Quality

Because true 7.1 enhances the feeling of the game’s sound to make it feel as though it’s happening around you, you’re able to pinpoint movement precisely. As a result, the audio quality associated with a true surround sound headset surpasses that of a virtual product.

STAT: A true 7.1 Surround Sound system has left and right sound channels to allow sound to pass through the left or right side successfully. (source)

The overall quality of the virtual surround sound gaming headset won’t give you the same experience as true 7.1, but it will match what you might expect from similar stereo gaming headsets. That said, it will still enhance some features of the game’s audio that tell you where enemies and opponents are.


A virtual 7.1 pair of headphones will probably provide greater comfort because they use software instead of large drivers to produce your audio. As a result, they are lighter and smaller than those with lots of drivers. The speakers also come with padded ear cups and a padded headband for added comfort while gaming, listening to music, or another audio output.

Although a true 7.1 headset offers the same padding around the ears and across the top of the head, these models are heavier and bulkier than virtual options. Because they have to accommodate multiple drivers in each ear cup, they need extra space. They may also lack some of the additional features of similarly priced headphones without surround sound. Consider selecting a wireless headset that takes advantage of 3D sound for ultimate comfort and audio quality during long gaming sessions.


True surround sound headsets cost more than virtual surround sound models because of the extra hardware and sound drivers. As a result, consider whether the advantages given by true surround sound outweigh the costs. For professional gamers, the competitive edge this provides helps immensely, but it may not have as much of an effect on casual players.

So, if you’re going to shop by price, then you’ll want to check out our lists of the best Corsair gaming headsets.

Alexis Labadie Avatar

Learn More About Gaming Headset