Should I set my PC Audio to 5.1 or Stereo when using headphones?

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by BounceHouse420, May 22, 2018.
  1. BounceHouse420
    In case it matters I have a pair of Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 headphones with a Sound Blaster Audigy 5/Rx Soundcard.
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
    For headphones.
    If your listening to music or watching a video with 2.0 stereo audio, or gaming in stereo audio, then set the sound card audio channel input to stereo (2-channel) audio.
    Set audio channel input to 5.1 for surround sound gaming (FPS?) or DVD/Blu-ray movies.
  3. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    Whatever material you're listening to, ex games and movies, set them to 5.1, then enable Virtual Surround on the soundcard. This gives the DSP a 5.1 signal which it then processes down to play through two physical channels with more positional cues than regular downmixing.
    BounceHouse420 and BrightCandle like this.
  4. BounceHouse420
    I have a Sound Blaster Rx/5 but I can't find the virtual surround option in the Windows 10 Playback Devices thing anywhere... am I supposed to be able to? I thought all sound blaster sound cards had virtual surround...
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Surround sound setting would not be in the Sound section of the Windows control panel.
    It would be in the Creative Labs control panel.

    Here is a good forum for asking questions about your sound card settings.
  6. ProtegeManiac Contributor
    It's not going to be there because it isn't a Windows feature. You have to install the SoundBlaster software suite and you can access it there, as it controls the DSP chip (in some motherboards teh chip isn't hardware DSP, just allows something for the software to recognize as a product licensed to run SB software, and then uses fully software DSP running off the CPU).
  7. KungFuNat
    Match the source.. 2.0 for stereo listening, 5.1 for surround.
  8. shrimants
    depends on what you're trying to do and how the software for the sound card handles things. In my experience (which may differ greatly from yours), for music i manually set the sound card to 2.0 only mode, and disabled all enhancements/extras in the software. Then i'd play music, preferably using wasapi or asio to ensure the sound card driver isnt screwing with anything in the signal path.

    for movies, it can go either way. the best result ive had is going out to a multichannel receiver and using the downmixer within the receiver to get things back to stereo. This gave me the best result and i have yet to witness anything as nice from a sound card. Granted, it has been a LONG time since I bothered doing that anyways. For gaming i did a similar thing. I set my sound card to 7.1. i set the sound card to use dolby digital live because i had an optical connection and needed the signal compressed to dolby digital (or dts, if you have dts ultra-pc) in order for it to get to the receiver fully. If you use hdmi to a receiver, then just set the sound card to multichannel and skip the processing step.

    now, if you arent using a receiver and are going right from the sound card, i think you only have a couple options. 1) do nothing, set it to 5.1 or 7.1, let the sound card do whatever it wants. 2) set the sound card to "virtual surround sound" and calibrate it. You should only be able to do this if the sound card is in 5.1 or 7.1 mode. The real question is, when you play 2.0 music, does it sound different if the sound card is set to 2.0 vs 5.1+virtual surround?

    in my experience, music sounds best in 2.0 with no other processing applied, so i kept manually changing between the two options.

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