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How well does virtual headphone surround work in PC games with Ventrillo/TeamSpeak?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

What an awesome forum I stumbled on!  I've been reading for hours, and am narrowing down my questions a bit.  I want to start making some changes to my gaming PC setup, so will start with this.

 

I have read some really great things about using headphones and virtual surround in games.  I play sims, FPS, RTS, MMO, etc.  I have used 7.1 speakers for the past 8 or 10 years, but am considering getting some better headphones.  I have read plenty of opinions about virtual headphone surround in games, but this seems to be the place where people who really care about this stuff congregate.  Among the vague complaints I have read out there, are:

 

1. Can sound "off" when used with voice communications like Vent or TS. 

2. multi-driver-per-can doesn't work as well.  It can't physically simulate surround any better and sacrifices quality due to smaller drivers.

3. single-driver-per-can doesn't work as well.  It can't physically simulate surround as accurately because there aren't multiple drivers.

 

From my reading, I tend to believe that getting some single 50mm drivers is best, and that the simulation of surround in the 3D space will be convincing.  Anyone here play ArmA 2?  Surround in that game is imperative.  How does it sound in virtual surround?  Does it play nicely with voice comms? Or do the voices just not know where to position in the surround spectrum?

 

Thanks for any insights.

post #2 of 3

ArmA 2 sounds alright with virtual surround, though ArmA 1 still sounds noticeably better because they were using OpenAL instead of XAudio2 back then.

 

The thing about multi-driver headsets is that the drivers are way too close to your ear to get much positioning out of them, whereas virtual surround better replicates the way we hear sounds in real life due to the use of binaural HRTF mixing. They can convey a sense of distance to the sound even coming from drivers right next to your ears, and if the game allows for it (generally A3D, DirectSound3D, and OpenAL titles from years past), you aren't even limited to a 7.1 speaker system's worth of positioning.

 

The only thing is that everyone's HRTF is different, and most features like CMSS-3D Headphone, Dolby Headphone, etc. use an HRTF that fits the human average, thus they work for most people...except a select few for whom the effect doesn't work as intended, and as such relatively few technologies will work right for them. (The Smyth Realiser would due to the whole PRIR system, but that's quite expensive and requires a recording from an existing surround speaker system.)

 

Also, not all headphones are equal when it comes to bringing out binaural cues. Something closed like a Philips Citiscape Uptown (or, according to other user reports, the Audio-Technica M50) will not give you good front/rear positioning at all, while putting on something like an Audio-Technica AD700 or Stax Lambda is like suddenly having an aural wallhack, being able to hear front and rear with ease, even high and low if the game has a proper 3D audio implementation.

 

In terms of sounding "off" when virtual surround is used, I never had any complaints about people's voices being seriously distorted with any sort of virtual surround. Of course, there is a slight sound quality hit that some people simply cannot stand, but it's not enough to make voices unintelligible, and in games, you're usually too worried about where all the gunfire and explosions are coming from to be concerned about the mastering quality of all the sound effects.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info!  Makes a lot of sense why multi-driver headphones wouldn't do as well as single-driver. And as for HRTF, it makes me quite curious to watch how MyEars develops over time. Maybe that will be worth checking out someday. 

 

Yes, I have read that about the AD700s; that they have a nice clear mid/upper range and therefore give a very clear image of your surroundings without things being muddied by the lows.  I plan on going with a different set so that I can enjoy a bit more of the sound experience, so don't mind losing a little clarity in that particular regard.

 

Good to hear another opinion on voice comms with virtual surround, though, thanks for the reply!

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