Gaming with a headphone on is an immersive experience. However, when you put on a true surround sound headset or even a headset that supports virtual surround sound, the gaming experience is boosted to a whole new level. Over the years, the popularity of these types of headsets has soared among casual gamers due to the level of in-game immersion they provide. And, professional gamers swear by surround sound headsets due to the competitive advantage it offers over players who just use normal stereo headsets.
What are 7.1 Gaming Headsets?
True 7.1 surround sound gaming headsets contain seven distinct drivers (speakers) in each ear cup plus an extra driver for low-frequency bass. These physical drivers in each ear cup are optimized to simulate sounds coming from the following directions – front-left channel, front-right channel, center channel, left-channel, right-channel, rear-left channel, rear-right channel, and a subwoofer to handle bass. Virtual 7.1 gaming headsets contain only 2 drivers but they are optimized to provide a similar sensation as true 7.1 gaming headsets.
7.1 gaming headsets offer a hyperrealistic in-game immersion for the games that supports it. They are very fun to use in FPS games as you can notice the direction of every footstep, gunshot, and explosion in cinematic clarity.
Virtual surround sound vs True Surround Sound
Headsets that utilize real or physical drivers to represent the sound coming from several directions are known as true surround sound headsets. True surround sound headsets are ironically less efficient and very costly.
Virtual surround sound headsets are stereo headsets that support virtual surround sound standards such as DTS Headphone X, Dolby Headphone, and Creative Media Surround 3D. Although such headsets contain only two physical drivers, they have been tuned by audio software engineers to mimic a true surround sound setup. Virtual surround sound headsets are incredibly popular as they are cheaper than true surround sound headsets and are extremely fun to use.
Surround sound technology
When we talk about surround sound technology, most people think of Dolby Digital because it supports up to 5 discrete, full-bandwidth channels and 1 discrete LFE channel (subwoofer). However, there are other surround sound technologies in the market such as Digital Theater Systems or DTS which also supports discrete 5.1 channels but with a higher bit rate.
Dolby Pro Logic supports 4 channels and Dolby Pro Logic II supports 5.1 channels but with only 2 discrete channels. Matrixed surround sound gets the job done but they have limitations due to sound quality.
DTS-ES supports 6.1 channels with 6 discrete channels whereas Dolby Digital EX and THX surround EX only supports 5 discrete channels. Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, and DTS-HD Master Audio supports 7 discrete channels. Dolby Atmos supports 5 discrete channels with 1 discrete LFE channel and 2 in-ceiling speakers to create the illusion of sound coming from the top.
Other popular surround sound technologies include DTS Neo:6, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Pro Logic IIz, DTS Headphone X, Dolby Headphone, and Creative Media Surround 3D.
Now, let’s look at the 6 best 7.1 gaming headsets below:
|Name||SteelSeries Arctis 7||LucidSound LS41||Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum||HyperX Cloud II||Redragon H510 Zeus||HyperX Cloud Alpha S|
|Surround sound type||Virtual surround||Virtual surround||Virtual surround||Virtual surround||Virtual surround||Virtual surround|
|Weight||13 oz||12.5 oz||13 oz||13 oz||–||11.8 oz|
|Design type||Closed Back||Closed Back||Closed Back||Closed Back||Closed Back||Closed Back|
|Compatible devices||PC, Mac, PlayStation, Switch, Mobile||PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, Mac, Mobile||PC, Mobile, Switch, PS4, Xbox One||PC, Mac, Mobile, Xbox One, Xbox One S, PS4, PS4 Pro||PC, Mobile, PS4/3, Xbox One, Switch||PC, PS4|
|Price||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon||Check price on Amazon|
SteelSeries Arctis 7
The SteelSeries Arctis 7 is a popular gaming headset that offers a lot of features for the money. It is especially great for gamers who love to chat on Discord as it has a Discord-certified mic. The sound quality of the mic is good but it struggles a bit with the bass. You can use the 2.4 GHz wireless RF USB dongle that it comes with to connect it to your PC, Nintendo Switch dock, and Playstation 4 wirelessly. The 3.5mm cord can be used to connect to your mobile, Xbox One via the controller, and undocked Nintendo Switch.
The velcro suspension trap offers a snug and comfortable fit and the headphone pads made of airweave fabric are comfortable to wear for long gaming sessions. However, they are not suited to walk around in public as they compromise on the ‘looks’ department.
The DTS Headphone:X 2.0 simulates a realistic 3D audio environment and is pretty engrossing when playing games like Fortnite or Overwatch. The features of this 7.1 digital surround sound headset can be customized using SteelSeries Engine 3 software. Music sounds good on these headphones as they offer a pretty good audio output. However, the bass can sound a little boosted.
Coming to the battery life, it can last up to 24 hours at reasonable volume levels. It doesn’t support ANC but the noise isolation is not bad. For the price, the SteelSeries Arctis 7 offers a range of features, sounds well, and is comfortable to wear as well.
- Good sound quality
- Good surround sound
- Comfortable to use
- Good connectivity options
- Bass is overemphasized
- Some features can only be used with apps
- Mic could be better
The LucidSound LS41 offers a combination of good comfort, innovative design, and sound quality. However, to use all the features of this 7.1 surround sound headset, you have to connect it to a PS4. Compared to the SteelSeries Arctis, these headphones weigh a little more but are just as comfortable to wear due to the memory foam. Thus, these headsets are suitable for long gaming sessions.
The device offers a cinematic sound experience as it supports 7.1 DTS Headphone:X surround sound. Players would definitely notice sound cues that may not be noticeable on normal stereo headphones. The sound quality is clean with good supportive bass. Thus, these are also good for watching movies or just listening to music. The most interesting part is the intuitive controls on both ear cups. The ability to control the volume levels of game sound and chat audio is a really useful feature. Plus, you can simply flap on the right ear cup once to mute the mic.
The mic is not comparable to a dedicated mic but the quality is acceptable for a gaming headset. A good thing is that the boom mic doesn’t pick up any background noise. The battery life of the device is decent as you can expect up to 20 hours usage time.
Overall, these gaming headsets won’t disappoint you if you are a fan of popular games such as Call of Duty, Battle Royale, Overwatch, Red Dead Redemption 2, Pubg, Fortnite, World of Warcraft’s Legion, etc. And, the lag-free wireless technology offers a stable wireless connection through the gaming sessions.
- Comfortable to wear
- Simple and elegant design
- Great audio quality when connected to PS4
- Needs a soundcard for delivering 7.1 surround sound on PC
- Dolby Digital/DTS capabilities are not clear
Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum
The Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum is similar to its wired counterpart, the G633 Artemis spectrum in terms of design and features. The device is pleasant to put on due to its plush, swivel ear cups and padded headband. The G logos light up along with several lines. The color can be customized with Logitech’s software if you have a Windows machine.
The surround sound performance of these headsets is spectacular. Playing games like Quake Live would allow you to hear enemy footsteps and gunshots more clearly. On the other hand, if you play games like Star Trek Online, you can experience voice acting and score that focus on the front and center.
The ability to connect wireless to a computer using the USB adapter is exceptional. It can feel as if you are using a wired connection. The battery life is expected to last about 12 hours and you can monitor the battery level in the upper-left-hand corner of the device.
The music performance of these headsets is also commendable for a gaming headset due to the advanced Pro-GTM audio drivers. The overall sound is flat and balanced but you can use the EQ to boost the lows and highs according to your liking. In general, it is suitable for listening to a wide variety of music genres.
The Logitech G933 Artemis Spectrum would please gamers who like a stable wireless connection and the ability to set customized RGB lighting.
- Excellent wireless performance
- Very good sound quality
- Removable battery
- Programmable colored lighting
- Bulky compared to similar gaming headsets
- Does not come with a stand or case
HyperX Cloud II
The HyperX Cloud II is similar to its predecessor in design language but has the added benefit of supporting 7.1 surround sound technology. For the price, these underrated headsets boast an attractive look but are also pretty durable due to its good build quality. It provides best-in-class comfort due to the memory foam ear cushioning and leatherette.
The controls for headphones and microphone are located on the USB sound card module. It also features a button for activating the 7.1 surround sound and sliding mute switch for the microphone.
The surround sound performance of the device is decent when you take the price into account. However, it may disappoint you if you believe the performance of the device could prove to be a game-changer while playing competitively. The obvious handicap is the lack of sound customization features which could definitely improve the default sound quality settings. The multimedia performance of the headset is also lacking when compared to other headsets in the price range due to a lack of punch on the low-end.
The HyperX Cloud II is suitable for gamers who are on a budget but want to enjoy the thrill of using a surround sound headset when playing games. You get a carry case and airline adaptor along with the product which is definitely a good gesture from the company.
- Extremely comfortable to use
- Lightweight and stylish design
- Good build quality
- Bass is lacking
- Sound cannot be customized
Redragon H510 Zeus
The Redragon H510 Zeus is the cheapest product on this list but performs surprisingly well for a budget product. The ear cups are made of memory foam and leatherette. So, they are comfortable to wear for 3-4 hour gaming sessions. However, they may not fit large ears well and can get a bit warm. The durability of the device is not bad as the frame is made of steel. It’s flexible but you should not test it to its limits if you don’t want it to stop functioning.
There are no control buttons on the ear cups. There are separate controls for adjusting or muting the game sound and mic volume. The device supports all platforms as it comes with 3.5mm jack input as well as a detachable USB cable. The USB condenser mic doesn’t disappoint at all. It’s good to use over discord or in-game voice chat. Overall, the microphone sound quality is very clear and definitely its strongest quality.
The sound performance of the product is quite well and balanced. However, you may feel disappointed if you value bass. The thick ear pads create a good seal around your ears and block most external noise. The isolation also prevents sound leakage. The surround sound performance is average which is what you would expect at this price point.
Another thing to be wary about is the installation process which is a bit of a hassle. You have to follow the instructions carefully to make it work.
- USB condenser mic performs well
- Good comfort
- Works with all systems
- Small ear cups
- Volume/mic not controllable without USB
- Bass could be better
HyperX Cloud Alpha S
The HyperX Cloud Alpha S is similar to the HyperX Cloud Alpha but with more features. It is also a budget gaming headphone that sounds great with a bit of customization. The thick plastic, metal headband, and hinges are all reminiscent of the HyperX Cloud Alpha and provide good durability. The leatherette and soft foam on-ear pads make it a delight to wear for long gaming sessions.
This 3.5mm gaming headset includes a USB adapter with an audio control unit for managing the sound of chat audio and game sound. Plus, it also has a dedicated button for turning on the 7.1 virtual surround sound. A unique thing about the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is that it has vents at the bottom of the earcups for bass adjustment. Users can adjust the bass by separately opening or closing the vents fully or partially.
The HyperX Ngenuity app is required to use the 7.1 virtual surround sound for the first time. The overall gaming performance is pretty solid when it comes to games like Dauntless or Overwatch. It’s a pleasure to listen to the chaotic sounds of a battle or an orchestral sound using these headsets. However, if you are not on a PC, the gaming performance can diminish due to a lack of features. Fortunately, the powerful stereo performance of the device makes up for the lack of support for surround sound on consoles.
The performance of the mic is not good but it is the same case with a lot of gaming headsets which are costlier. Overall, the HyperX Cloud Alpha S is great for a budget PC gamer who has never experienced the charm of using a surround sound headset.
- Good sound
- Very comfortable to wear
- Attractive design
- The mixer doesn’t perform well
- Weak bass
- The microphone could be better
The gaming industry is growing by leaps and bounds and headphone manufacturers are allowing gamers to enjoy their favorite and old games in a new way. Even games that only support up to 5.1 channels sound awesome when paired with a good gaming headset.
If you have never played games using a headphone, you are definitely missing out. Even using a stereo headphone can provide an exhilarating feeling in FPS games. And, if you plan to become a competitive gamer, using a 7.1 surround sound headset is a must if you don’t want to lose to the competition. Plus, the added benefits of immersive sound experience while watching movies or listening to music is a cherry on top that you cannot ignore. In fact, if you don’t own a home-theatre system, these can be a superb replacement while being significantly cheaper.