Impact of gaming in 5.1 or 7.1 surround - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 28 Old 11-25-2015, 03:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Impact of gaming in 5.1 or 7.1 surround

Hello,

I'm putting together a home theater for movies and gaming and was wondering if anyone can share what the impact of moving from stereo computer speakers to a 5.1 or 7.1 setup was like?

Also, how do you connect the computer to the AVR? My old GeForce 580 GTX has an HDMI out, but I didn't think that carried sound as well.

Thank you!
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post #2 of 28 Old 11-27-2015, 11:50 AM
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As with movies, I'd say it depends very much on the content (i.e. game). Also some game genres (horror, action) tend to profit more from surround sound than others (strategy, jump'n'run).
In general I found surround sound more important for movies than for games.

However, if you get a system for both games and movies, you'll want to get surround sound anyway.

You will want to check whether your graphics card can output multi-channel PCM and bitstream surround sound formats (like Dolby Digital, DTS HD-MA etc.). If not, you may either use alternative sound connections to the AVR (S/PDIF, analog) or get a new graphics card.
In general this is the way to go: PC -> HDMI(sound, picture) -> AVR -> {speakers, display devices}

BR
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post #3 of 28 Old 11-29-2015, 04:11 PM
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5.1 ideal

I found 5.1 the best and just starting my fourth build. First setup was small pair Yamaha speakers with 8" sub. Next I built a home theater and gaming room and went 5.1 with entry level audiophile speakers/sub. Then I upgraded to 7.1 but found it a waste from gaming perspective, minor improvement but in a unique way for movies.

My suggestion would be take the money for a 7.1 system and spend it on a better 5.1 system.
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post #4 of 28 Old 11-30-2015, 09:29 PM
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Depending on the genre of games, 5.1 is more or less important than in movies. 7.1 is mostly pointless. In all honesty, I didn't even find it that great for movies and it just made more wires going places. I've since dumbed it down to just a better 5.1 system.

Also, for gaming, what you want out of surround is a little more complicated. I played a lot of battlefield and if you turn on their Wartapes audio mode, you get an incredible sense of audio that makes you feel like you are on a battlefield (I assume ^^). However, for competitive gaming, I actually don't want all frequencies and I want very little bass because I want the frequencies of footsteps, reloads and clicks like when a C4 is armed. If you want surround sound simply to get a competitive edge, you are actually going to get what you need out of just some cheap HTiBs. Strong bass is fun but gives very little useful information . But if you want immersive sound, it will start to cost you.

If you really want to appreciate audio immersion, I highly recommend starting with Dead Space (if you aren't afraid of gory horror games). It has a wide range of immersive audio like massive industrial mining machinery, medical bays, the sound of botanical green houses, nurseries, cool effects like decompression and being in a vacuum. You are encompassed by great audio throughout the entire game.

My personal experience says it is very important for racing, open world, shooters, twitch action games (Bayonetta, DMC, etc) and stealth action. Most western RPGs also make massive use of it because they are often character perspective action. If you are playing something like Total War, Street fighter or FEZ, it makes little difference. Even in Guitar hero, it didn't seem to do more than play crowds cheering around you.

Gaming surround is amazing and is a media format that makes constant use of surround channels in a far more primary way than in movies.

As for your videocard, maybe my memory is hazy but my old GTX 460s produced audio. Go to your Nvidia control panel and it should have the audio controls there. Otherwise, you should be able to find an optical out on most Mother Boards these days. At the very worst, you can buy an independent sound card and put that in. Won't cost more than like $20-$30.

What is your budget and what are you looking to play or get out of this?
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post #5 of 28 Old 12-02-2015, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Um basically looking to get as immersion an experience as possible out of it. It would be great to win online FPS, but I think having a "holy s***" experience is more important.

One game I'm really looking forward to playing on a big screen and in surround is star wars battlefield. I'm hoping it comes close to living the movie.
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post #6 of 28 Old 12-02-2015, 07:48 PM
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I am relatively new to pc gaming however have been an avid home theater enthusiast and playstation gamer for a long time now. I built my system originally for movies but it just so happens it now kicks ass for music and gaming also. If you have the room and budget 7.1 is pretty good however I have recently down-scaled to just 5.1 and there is nothing wrong with it. The biggest impact is the quality of gear, speakers and subs especially. I always suggest having fewer speakers of higher quality rather than having lots of **** speakers. Even a solid 2ch system will be better than a low end multi channel setup. What are you thinking of getting for speakers and what sort of budget?
As for audio from pc check in control panel>hardware and sound>sound, this should give you all the audio output options from your graphics card. I have mine connected via hdmi and run 5.1 channel lossless sound pretty much the same as I did from ps3. Your motherboard should also have optical digital out also if your card doesn't support audio out via hdmi .
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post #7 of 28 Old 12-05-2015, 04:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael79 View Post
Um basically looking to get as immersion an experience as possible out of it. It would be great to win online FPS, but I think having a "holy s***" experience is more important.

One game I'm really looking forward to playing on a big screen and in surround is star wars battlefield. I'm hoping it comes close to living the movie.
Star Wars Battlefront has amazing surround sound. You will not be disappointed. When playing Drop Zone, you can tell where the pods are landing just from the audio. Really cool. Tie fighters flying overhead, AT-AT walkers stomping behind you, explosions all around you... It's just a great immersive experience with a great surround sound system.
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post #8 of 28 Old 12-05-2015, 04:44 AM
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5.1 makes a massive difference over 2.0 in most games, certain genres make use of the surrounds far more than most movies if you ask me. FPS games especially, the CoD series, Battlefield, HL2, make great use of surround and LFE (amazing LFE effects in later CoD games). It can be a small advantage in online play, helps you quickly localise footsteps or grenades or whatever. Open world and space-combat games also. Racing games less so, which I find dissapointing, I'm usually still relying on on-screen cues to figure out where other cars behind me are which is a shame.

7.1 makes almost no difference over and above 5.1 in any game I have played.

Also be careful with a few games sending full range content to the LFE channel, make sure you have an LPF for LFE.
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post #9 of 28 Old 12-13-2015, 09:50 AM
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I have found that gaming in surround (using 5.1) is FAR more immersive than mere 2.0 stereo. There are a lot of effects added to most modern games that make it worth upgrading to surround to play on. Especially games where characters roam through and explore massive environments like Action/Adventure or RPG games, or shooter type games where there is a lot of things happening all at once.


For an example of immersive surround in a videogame, see Star Wars: Battlefront.

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post #10 of 28 Old 12-22-2015, 06:29 AM
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I find that fps games make absolute full use of all channels. When im playing BF, im there. When I play Resogun, im flying the ship. I get full immersion and its amazing. Dont know how people play without it (headphones maybe?). I have very few games on the ps4 out of the 50+ I have that are not surround sound. Obviously not all games make such heavy use of it, but any triple A title does.

And I just recently got into home theater. Ive had the super crappy HTib systems and even then, it was such a step up from a 2.0. Now with "real" entry level stuff, its even more crazy. I think anyone who is into gaming should invest into nice sound for the sake of getting the full experience.
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post #11 of 28 Old 12-24-2015, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MinnesotaGreg View Post
I found 5.1 the best and just starting my fourth build. First setup was small pair Yamaha speakers with 8" sub. Next I built a home theater and gaming room and went 5.1 with entry level audiophile speakers/sub. Then I upgraded to 7.1 but found it a waste from gaming perspective, minor improvement but in a unique way for movies.

My suggestion would be take the money for a 7.1 system and spend it on a better 5.1 system.
Agree with this. The cost of two extra speakers, the drain on your already taxed receiver, and the availability of discreet 7.1 sources relative to discreet 5.1 sources makes you question whether 7.1 should even be considered an upgade. Nevermind the industry push towards 'height' channels which relegates 7.1 a lower priority than 5.2.1 or 5.4.1 'atmos'.


I'm also a fan of quality trumping quantity. I'd rather have two decent bookshelf/tower speakers playing in stereo than five crummy micro-sats and a boomy sub playing in Dolby TrueHD. Or, for that matter, an expensive plastic 2x4 with a dozen transducers that claims to be surround sound despite clearly being a monaural device. Don't fall into the trap of the 'lifestyle system'-- while quality sub/sat systems exist (the Energy Take Classic is a good example) the majority of these systems will be absolutely destroyed by the most humble bookshelf speaker.
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post #12 of 28 Old 01-02-2016, 09:12 AM
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It's all about preference. There is no "right" answer, here. Just lots of great suggestions

Particularly the quality over quantity remark. So true. Better to have a great stereo set up than a lesser 5.1/7.1 setup.

Random note: I have a setup where I can use any of my 9 speakers to create 5.1.4, 7.1.2, etc... Dolby Atmos, if set up correctly, is absolutely the leap forward in sound that people say is. It's just unbelievable. And to these ears, in my space, 5.1.4 is the best experience.

That said, I don't see games having Atmos any time soon LOL. I mean, who knows?

Point is, if you plan to watch movies as well with this system, Atmos is unreal, if not a bit limited in content.

I would suggest, and it's just an opinion, that you buy a great 5.1 system if money allows, and enjoy it. If you feel that it lacks after a time, add the other 2 channels. And if after that, you still want more, height channels! Grow into it

You can always use the $ you save buying 5 speakers vs. 7 to upgrade the receiver to an Atmos one now, and be ready for growth...

Just a thought?
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post #13 of 28 Old 02-11-2016, 09:21 AM
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I game on 7.1 and love it. But if I really need to hear everything, and really want to be "there" I throw on my Astro A50's.
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post #14 of 28 Old 03-04-2016, 05:54 AM
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Hi there.

Testing the brand new DTS Neural:X vs. Dolby Surround (DSU) on my 7.1.4 HT with a Playstation 4 game (Wolfenstein The Old Blood) I find DSU to be the much better up-mixer. Neural:X uses the height speakers a lot more, but not in the right way IMO.

With (some) movies (I tested) with Neural:X and DSU the former uses the height speakers more than the latter also, but there I find the result a lot better.

Perhaps Neural:X isn't suitable for gaming?

I set the Playstation 4 audio output to multi channel 5.1 LPCM (since the game is 5.1 also).

I only have the other Wolfenstein (New Order) to test. And I'm eagerly awaiting DOOM.

Someone else has any experiences with immersive audio and gaming specifically Neural:X and DSU?
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post #15 of 28 Old 03-07-2016, 10:13 PM
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Currently I have energy take classic and Sonys 1040 receiver. It's great audio setup for a small Brooklyn apt. . But I think I'm going to upgrade to Dolby Atmos. I might go with the new small Elac speakers. I play a lot of Battlefiled and I can only imagine the game sounding amazing upmixed with the DSU. Any Frostbite 3 game, NFS, Battlefront etc sound incredible with that game engine.
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post #16 of 28 Old 06-23-2016, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael79 View Post
Hello,

I'm putting together a home theater for movies and gaming and was wondering if anyone can share what the impact of moving from stereo computer speakers to a 5.1 or 7.1 setup was like?

Also, how do you connect the computer to the AVR? My old GeForce 580 GTX has an HDMI out, but I didn't think that carried sound as well.

Thank you!
OP,

If you build a decent system, you will find that the difference is far from subtle. It´s huge!! Most PS4, current generation, games have incredible, incredible!, sound tracks, that are meant to be experienced with a home theater audio system.

As I type this I am thinking about Battlefield 4 and the recent Call of Duty Black Ops III. Even though most competitive players love their headsets, you simply cant get the emotion and sense of being in the action that you get from a solid, highly dynamic speaker system, with solid subwoofers handling the low end. IT IS A DAY AND NIGHT DIFFERENCE!

I still use my headset but that is mostly because of concern of disturbing my neighbors. The experience changes dramatically from going from headset to surrounds but going from 2.1 to 5.1(2), the change is really important. I suppose that if you get really low end components, you might not notice a big difference, but if you have a decent receiver (yamaha does a great job at outputting 2channel sources to 5.1channels with their CinemaDSPs).

All the benefits are not exclusive to shooters, anf games with huge explosions, as some might think. About two months ago I started playing NBA 2k16, and the gameplay is simply something else when you experience it through a good soun system.
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post #17 of 28 Old 06-24-2016, 07:45 PM
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I run a 5.1 klipsch system originally built for movies. Gaming is really a whole new level. Diy subs make explosions devastating. The accuracy of the speakers brings 1 of the most immersive experiences I have ever had. Even older games like skyrim and even oblivion I can hear everything around me. The quality of the gear is key. Yes it is expensive but for me it has been money well spent.
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post #18 of 28 Old 06-27-2016, 06:03 AM
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Old thread I know, but having played UC4 with my SVS setup in the last month has been mind imploding for me and my wife.

Pretty much every gunfight and set piece was intense, **** going off everywhere, bullets whizzing and music banging. It's crazy stuff.

Uncharted 4 is one of the very few games where audio matches visuals. Most games lump their entire resource into how good it looks and forget a lot about how it sounds. UC4, man... it's mixed as well as many AAA big-budget movies even, perhaps better since sound would be entirely 3D instead of pre-canned.

Anyone in for an audio eargasmic treatment should play Uncharted 4.

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post #19 of 28 Old 07-23-2016, 01:38 AM
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This is what I use for gaming on a PC, to be honest a pair of HD 650's will be your best bet when on a PC now I said PC gaming Not xbox, NES, PS9 or Neo Geo. When I'm in serious mode I will always have a pair of headphones on. Well we are all here for one thing, and that's for things to sound LOUD. The monitor is a Asus 27in 2560x1440 run buy a gxt 980. Sound is a soundblaster zxr optical out to a Denon AVR. Speakers are Definative Tech pro media 60 with a SVS PB2000 sub. Looking to upgrade to a SVS ultras bookshelf speaker, Verus 2 or a ascend sierra 1 speaker. The SVS sub has been a blast to use while playing overwatch and BF 4.
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post #20 of 28 Old 07-23-2016, 01:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Ben Tan View Post
Old thread I know, but having played UC4 with my SVS setup in the last month has been mind imploding for me and my wife.

Pretty much every gunfight and set piece was intense, **** going off everywhere, bullets whizzing and music banging. It's crazy stuff.

Uncharted 4 is one of the very few games where audio matches visuals. Most games lump their entire resource into how good it looks and forget a lot about how it sounds. UC4, man... it's mixed as well as many AAA big-budget movies even, perhaps better since sound would be entirely 3D instead of pre-canned.

Anyone in for an audio eargasmic treatment should play Uncharted 4.
Uncharted is a great game
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post #21 of 28 Old 08-13-2016, 04:04 PM
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If you want to play a game with absolutely stunning audio try Elite Dangerous. I checked a lot of titles, but this one really stands out. There are very subtle sounds (every objects emits an something) but also great music and loud effects (explosions, hyperspace jumps). And everything is directional – like the engine of your spaceship roars behind you. There is a very clearly audible difference between 5.1 and 7.1 in this game, especially in space fight.
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post #22 of 28 Old 08-14-2016, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sprins View Post
Hi there.

Testing the brand new DTS Neural:X vs. Dolby Surround (DSU) on my 7.1.4 HT with a Playstation 4 game (Wolfenstein The Old Blood) I find DSU to be the much better up-mixer. Neural:X uses the height speakers a lot more, but not in the right way IMO.

With (some) movies (I tested) with Neural:X and DSU the former uses the height speakers more than the latter also, but there I find the result a lot better.

Perhaps Neural:X isn't suitable for gaming?

I set the Playstation 4 audio output to multi channel 5.1 LPCM (since the game is 5.1 also).

I only have the other Wolfenstein (New Order) to test. And I'm eagerly awaiting DOOM.

Someone else has any experiences with immersive audio and gaming specifically Neural:X and DSU?


Funny, I had the exact opposite experience with DSU/Neural:X. I found Neural:X to be much more immersive and used the heights in a much better and realistic way. DSU just seemed to use the heights for music where Neural:X would put wind and other atmospheric noises there and made the game much more lifelike.

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post #23 of 28 Old 08-21-2016, 09:16 AM
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Around March of this year i puchased a new receiver and I went from 7.1 back to 5.1. I did not have enough back room behind me to fully use the back surrounds. I feel i have benefited from this. The new receiver was also capable of .2 atmos. This was also a reason for the move from from 7.1 to 5.1. My denon was not allowed to decode atmos until a firmware was ready fo dts neural x. I was completely happy with DSU as it made a huge difference in game immersion. Well after the DTS upgrade I am even more impressed with the thought to upgrade to heights. Playing Black Ops 3 was crazy. When air support is over you neural x decodes it really well. DSU did a great job but DTS actually does a little better on games. I did a quick check on movies and tv and I think DSU >dts for that.
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post #24 of 28 Old 08-21-2016, 01:28 PM
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Has anyone tried Battlefield 4 or Battlefront with DSU or Neural:X?


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post #25 of 28 Old 08-21-2016, 04:50 PM
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I dont have battlefront but I can try battlefield and let you know. I did recently complete Last of us remastered and it was awesome playing with DSU on. Hearing all the sounds above you like birds and rain. Completely immersive. I cant wait for COD 4 remastered
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post #26 of 28 Old 09-23-2016, 03:48 AM
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I recently got my PS4 hooked up to a 5.1 speaker system with GoldenEar Triton Fives as FL & FR, SuperCenter XL as my center speaker, and SuperSat 3s as surrounds being driven by an Emotiva XPA-5 Gen2 amp and Marantz SR5010 AV receiver used as a preamp, along with a HSU Research VTF3 MK5 HP as my subwoofer. I play it fairly loud at -17 dB and the subwoofer volume dial at 9 o'clock. All I can say is, I'm NEVER going back to just using TV speakers. NEVER!!! I'm also looking to add another subwoofer, 2 to 6 more speakers, and another amp, and update my receiver capable of 11.2 processing eventually. I'm hoping for more great sounds in games and movies.
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post #27 of 28 Old 09-28-2016, 03:17 PM
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It really depends on the game. A first person shooter is the most immersive for obvious reasons. I do not have any great surround impressions that are recent, but a few from the past stick out to me (I've been playing computer games with 5.1 since 2002).

Doom 3 was great for atmosphere. It did support EAX out of the box I believe so that helped also. When I am to consider using surround in a game like this to feel into it, I also make the choice to disable music. Others may disagree, but in-game music does not really help in immersion if that is what you are looking for.

Having surround in games like Soldier of Fortune II, some viet-nam game I forget, and say... Far Cry is that you can hear when things are off screen or behind you. For example, we are spoiled by games having grenade indicators and some times the only reason you know some has thrown a grenade is because of this indicator. In Soldier of Fortune II (as with all games) the enemies throwing grenades is annoying... However it is handy because you can hear them in the surround channel.

There are instances where surround is enabled for a game but it doesn't really help the experience. In Diablo III I can notice this well. Diablo III is an iso-metric/top-down/2.5(3)D game. Because you are in an above viewpoint, there is no real reason for combat or monster/conversation sounds to use the surround speakers. The sound is centered on the character's POV, which you are not using. So what ends up happening then is your focus is always straight ahead, and you just hear "weird monster sounds" coming from the surround channels. It is somewhat distracting.

Then there are games where the surround does not work properly, or does not work properly all the time. By that I mean that the distances are not set properly and the sounds do not match up to the directions they appear in the game. Or some sounds will totally disappear depending on which way you are looking. One big example I can think of is games where you can have a conversation with an NPC, but you are not looking straight at them. They may sound very far away, in the wrong channel, or not hear them at all due to how the game is sending the sound. This can also happen in some games where some sounds are only designed to play through the front speakers, and the game does understand the sound should be diminished (say if you were looking away from the sound source) but does not play the sound in the other channels like it should. This issue can also occur with any sound a game may be playing. Maybe it is a narration sound, a sound effect, something in the environment... sometimes even music.

So it really depends on the game to determine what type of experience you will have with surround. I say, it doesn't hurt to try it and I'm sure you'll find some game that just blew your mind because of how you got the sound to be when you played it. I know I will never forget playing Doom 3 on launch day, in the dark, with a custom EAX profile enabled, with the music disabled, in 5.1.

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post #28 of 28 Old 01-17-2017, 07:04 AM
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I want to provide a update to my post above. I have been playing COD MW Remastered. DSU has been doing an amazing job of utilizing height channels. I was using Neual X but switch back to DSU as X brought footstep sounds to the heights and really thew off the sound. I have not had many opportunities to try any other games then COD,BF4, and Last of Us Remastered.

Really getting eager for consoles to get the atmos treatment for games....Audio nirvana.
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