People often see gaming headsets as trying to do too much, balancing microphone and driver performance. But the best surround sound headphones that I have in mind are all about the soundstage, first and foremost.
7.1 surround sound headphones are the only way to get an immersive experience on a budget.
It’s all about finding that right technology to take advantage of positional sound, faint audio, loud and low tones, and so on. With a bit of information, you can pick a pair of headphones tailor-made for your needs within minutes.
9 Best Surround Sound Headphones for All Use Cases
Table of Contents
- 9 Best Surround Sound Headphones for All Use Cases
- What Is 7.1 Surround Sound?
- Picking the Right Frequency Response Range
- Does Wireless Technology Make a Difference?
- Cross-Platform or Multiplatform Compatibility
- How Much Does the Brand Matter?
- What to Look for in Cables
- The Software Matters, Too
- Comfort Features
The HyperX Cloud II is a multiplatform 7.1 headset. It can create a truly immersive audio experience and packs quite a punch thanks to its 53mm drivers.
With an extended frequency response range of 15Hz to 25kHz, the headset offers full-range audio performance, superior clarity, and detail across the frequency spectrum. I also like the memory foam padding, which provides plenty of comfort for long gaming sessions and movie marathons.
The headset also has decent background noise attenuation, up to 20dB. Although this is a 7.1 headset, it's available only for PC and Mac systems. The support for other platforms is just stereo.
That said, Cloud II headphones have plenty more going for them, including the affordable price. The headphones feature an audio control box, a durable aluminum frame, and also a detachable noise-canceling mic.
On top of that, the voice chat optimization makes the headphones ideal for online gaming as well as watching movies that need a boost in clarity in the vocal midrange. The only thing missing is a stereo adapter for the Xbox One console. A standard USB cable and a mesh carry bag come in the package.
If you’re looking for headphones with good bass response, a neat design, high-end comfort features, and wireless connectivity, the Corsair VOID RGB Elite may be the ones for you.
The extra-large ear cups offer ambient noise cancelation, ease head pressure, and help provide a rich and detailed sound. Due to the 20Hz to 30kHz frequency response range, the bass definition is rather good, as is the vocal midrange.
Crisp highs also define the Corsair VOID’s soundstage. The virtual 7.1 surround sound is what makes these ideal gaming and movie night headphones. If you want to hear the softest ambient noises and the loudest explosions, without compromising dialogue volume and clarity, the VOID headphones have you covered.
The 2.4GHz connection provides low-latency audio monitoring. Although the battery life is not too impressive, the VOID headphones have sufficient autonomy for long gaming sessions. The build is rugged and can handle transport to and from tournaments. However, I wouldn’t recommend this headset for your daily commute.
The ambient noise reduction is not enough. Also, the headphones aren’t exactly small and lightweight.
The Sennheiser PC 373D is an attractive 7.1 headset. It takes comfort features to the next level with plush velvet padding, extra flexibility, and wide ear cup design.
Due to the proprietary Sennheiser Transducer Technology, the soundstage of the PC 373D is particularly detailed. All the frequencies are well-represented. I recommend these headphones for everything, from music to professional gaming.
I also like the compatibility with the Sennheiser Surround Dongle Software. It will allow you to customize the sound even further and make precise adjustments for various applications. One of the better features is the professional mic.
It boasts impressive noise-canceling properties and performs meticulously in a team chat. The open-back design further helps improve the acoustics, while also providing cooling. If you’re at a loss for headphones to wear during summertime, the PC 373D may surprise you.
Of course, the main highlight of this model is the professional audio software. That’s what makes the whole difference between the PC 373D and similar competitor models. However, that’s also why this headset only shines when used on a PC or Mac, and no so much on platforms.
The Logitech G533 wireless headphones feature high-end Pro G drivers. These drivers provide superior accuracy and are virtually unmatched when it comes to highlighting details in environmental effects. They also enhance positional audio sources that game developers rely on to create a realistic and immersive audio experience.
Battery life is not an issue, either. With up to 15 hours of continuous runtime, the G533 headset offers plenty of time to binge-watch your favorite TV shows, enjoy long gaming sessions, or listen to some of your favorite albums.
The connection is excellent up to 49ft. That means that you have a lot of range and freedom. I was also impressed by the durable build, especially since the headphones are lightweight.
And, speaking of lightweight, the G533 headphones are comfortable to wear. The padding is soft but not too thick, so it does an excellent job of relieving pressure. Another selling point is the loud volume and minimal distortion. Though you may hear some cracking in the higher register at high volume settings, the soundstage will be balanced and detailed, nonetheless.
Redragon has made a name in the gaming peripherals industry as one of the leading manufacturers and suppliers of affordable, high-quality gear. While the overall build quality may be unimpressive at times, Redragon products deliver more than impressive performance.
The H510 Zeus are wired gaming headphones. They feature 7.1 surround sound and big, powerful 53mm drivers that can reproduce a high level of detail. Explosions, faint footsteps, dialogue, brass instruments, and environmental noises are all crystal-clear with these headphones.
The headset is entirely adjustable and also has large ear cups. The padding is plush, and the memory foam filling adds to the comfort. Of course, the headphones come with a microphone too. Although it’s not the best one out there, it still provides sufficient clarity and some noise cancellation.
If you’re looking for headphones with line controls, you’re at the right place. The H510 Zeus has volume settings, mute control, as well as microphone controls on a small in-line controller.
Another thing that I like is the detachable braided cable. It’s not only long, but it’s also tangle-free and has above average signal shielding.
While RGB lighting may not do anything to improve the performance, you have to admit that this feature fits a gaming setup. But the Logitech G935 headphones are more than just gaming headphones.
The DTS:X 7.1 surround sound technology creates an immersive soundstage with lots of detail and realism. The 50mm Pro G drivers also offer a powerful output. I like the overall performance when dealing with subtle sounds like footsteps and other environmental noises.
On top of that, the G935 also has a rich and detailed vocal midrange. The wireless connectivity is a nice perk as it eliminates cable clutter. However, the battery won’t last more than eight hours if you don’t turn off RGB lighting.
All the lighting and volume controls are at the back of the left ear cup. They’re easily accessible and not too sensitive. That means that making adjustments is easy.
Although the ear pads are nothing too special, they are comfortable and large. They provide additional noise cancelation and ease head pressure. The adjustable headband also features some padding to make the headphones comfier, as well as a better fit for a broader range of users.
The Razer Nari Ultimate is one of the best 7.1 gaming headsets around. The virtual surround sound creates an immersive soundstage, whether you’re watching movies or playing triple-A games. I like the Nari Ultimate for music too, but I wouldn’t exactly recommend this headset to bass heads.
The soundstage is much too balanced to cater to those chasing the ultimate bass definition. That said, the positional accuracy is the main selling point of this headset. Another feature I like is the cooling gel used in the cloth cushions.
It offers more comfort, relieves pressure, while also reducing heat buildup. Few headphones are more comfortable to wear during the summer or in small and crowded gaming rooms. Interestingly enough, the cooling gel will also improve the sound isolation properties of the Nari Ultimate headset.
If you’re looking for more than just authentic 7.1 surround sound, you may also appreciate the endlessly customizable RGB lighting. You can take full advantage of this feature with the Razer Chroma app and personalize the headphones to your liking.
While the headphones are durable, they’re also very flexible. Case in point, the headband is self-adjusting. That makes sliding the headphones on your head very comfortable.
Lenovo might be more known for its laptops than its peripherals, but that doesn’t mean that the Legion H500 PRO headphones aren’t worth considering. They feature 7.1 technology without using any specialized drivers.
They are compatible with all platforms, including computers and most recent gaming consoles. The build is lightweight and boasts an ergonomic design. That ensures a comfortable fit, including around the ears.
One of the main selling points of these headphones is the self-adjusting headband. This suspension technology gives the headband extra durability and also makes it fit a broader range of users.
Another thing that’s worth mentioning is the preset equalizer. It features a few well-defined profiles for various applications such as gaming, movies, etc.
The PU leather ear cups are breathable and soft. They relieve ear pressure and help with cooling during warm seasons. When it comes to sound, the only thing that’s missing is a bit more bass definition.
Although not the cheapest 7.1 option on the market, the HyperX Cloud Revolver S is one of the highest-performance Dolby Surround sound gaming headsets. They offer a balanced and studio-grade soundstage while maintaining all the comfort people expect from a HyperX headset.
Premium leatherette and memory foam are there to relieve head pressure and ear pressure. The self-adjusting headband makes the headset easy to use and gives it a better fit.
At this price range, the build quality is on point too. The steel frame is highly durable, albeit on the heavy side.
The 50mm directional drivers do an excellent job of maintaining positional accuracy. It should help you immensely in games as well as make action-packed movies more immersive.
The Cloud Revolver S also offers an enhanced bass definition. Due to the 12Hz to 28kHz extended frequency response range, you can get a very deep soundstage. What is somewhat disappointing is that the included cable is short.
You will be able to compensate using the additional Y cable. However, there may be some audio quality loss when using the extension.
What Is 7.1 Surround Sound?
7.1 surround sound is the result of an eight-channel audio system. So how does this work for headphones? Headphones achieve it virtually.
Virtual surround sound can sound just as good as a physical 7.1 surround sound system if the technology is spot on, and the software calibration is optimal.
The final result often brings more depth, precisions, than a traditional 5.1 surround sound system. It’s all about getting that extra detail wherever you can get it.
Traditionally speaking, you’d want 7.1 surround sound for large rooms. That’s because a 5.1 system doesn’t have enough richness to fill a larger enclosure.
When talking about virtual surround sound, the difference is more noticeable in gaming applications than music and movies. Interestingly enough, many movies today feature 7.1 sound.
Picking the Right Frequency Response Range
Almost all surround sound headphones come with the same upper limit. What sets them apart is whether or not they have an extended frequency response on the lower end.
So, headphones that can reach 20Hz or lower frequencies will give you more bass definition. Is this necessary? It depends on the application.
If you use the headphones for gaming, you will want some extra bass. It can add a lot of detail, even to more subtle sounds. Consider it as balancing the sound.
Of course, this also has application in various music genres like EDM, hip hop, and others. Enhanced bass detail can also beef up action scene audio in movies. But, too much can make the dialogue muddy.
Depending on what you plan on using them for, you can choose between the right frequency response range and bass enhancing features.
Does Wireless Technology Make a Difference?
Sometimes it can make a noticeable difference. When you compare regular wired headphones to their wireless counterparts, it is not a debate that warrants much attention. However, when discussing 7.1 virtual surround sound, there’s a lot more detail to worry about, and more things to consider.
Therefore, wireless surround sound headphones may not please all audiophiles. Low-latency won’t always mean zero-latency. At the same time, you should keep in mind that not all wireless headphones have the same operating range.
Some will only work within a few feet, while others can give you 30 or even 40 feet of range. The latter will allow you to sit across the room and still have crisp audio in your ears.
Cross-Platform or Multiplatform Compatibility
You would think that all headphones will work on any console and any PC or Mac. In reality, this is not the case. When dealing with 7.1 surround sound headphones, it’s crucial to look for compatibility.
While the connection may allow you to plug or wirelessly pair your headphones to any platform, this doesn’t mean that you can reap the full benefits.
The technology needs to be compatible too. Case in point, some headphones on the market can only offer authentic 7.1 surround sound when used with a PC or Mac. But, they can only do regular stereo when paired to consoles.
How Much Does the Brand Matter?
Brands shouldn’t matter too much if you’re looking to get something decent at a reasonable price. However, 7.1 virtual surround sound is sometimes difficult to achieve. Not all brands use the same drivers and the same technology.
Because of this, you should probably be more mindful of brands when you want high-performance headphones. Note that even popular peripheral manufacturers like HyperX, Razer, Logitech, and Lenovo offer affordable models.
Build quality may not always be a given. But, most of the time, the same premium technology will ensure positional audio accuracy, even in entry-level models from reputable manufacturers.
What to Look for in Cables
If there’s one thing I genuinely appreciate when it comes to cables is an option to remove them. Headphones with detachable cables are much more convenient to use. And, in case the standard cable either has inadequate shielding or a tendency to tangle, you can always swap it for a new and better one.
Although not often included, an extension cable can also make a pair of headphones more appealing. As would a stereo converter that would allow you to use them on different platforms.
The Software Matters, Too
7.1 surround sound is not all about the drivers and circuitry. The software that translates those signals is also essential. Some manufacturers have better EQ programs than others.
Truthfully, most surround sound headphones come with well-defined presets. However, if you want to use your headphones for more than just gaming, it’s essential to be able to take advantage of the specific technology the manufacturer used to create the 7.1 surround effect.
Your regular sound card drivers may not always be able to take advantage of high-end headphones. Hence why companies like Razer and HyperX always deliver proprietary software options. That enables more customization options.
There’s a lot to talk about in terms of comfort. Open-back headphones are, of course, more breathable and can help reduce heat. But, they often do it at the cost of leaking sound.
Velour padding is very soft and arguably the best option. At the same time, it can drive up the price considerably.
I’m also a proponent of cooling gel. It feels a bit weird the first couple of times you use the headphones. That said, it has the “cooling” tag for a reason. It prevents heat buildup, and at the same time, it provides better sound isolation.
That means less leakage and a more detailed sound. So, you don’t always have to compromise one thing for the other.
Understanding the demands of specific applications, whether they’re in music, gaming, or movies, will help you balance comfort and performance.
Wrap a Huge Audio System Around Your Ears
While you may not be able to wear headphones on your head all day long, these are still peripherals worth the investment. That’s especially true if you can’t afford the best traditional 7.1 speaker system. Most people get these for gaming, but I find them to be more versatile than that.
As you can see, depending on what you like to hear or need to hear, there are plenty of surround sound headphones that can meet your needs.