What goes sur­round, comes sur­round

Custom PC - - FEEDBACK -

Thanks for a great year of

. Fol­low­ing on from your re­cent re­view of the new Asus Strix sound cards, I wanted to ask for some­thing to be cleared up. I’ve been help­ing out a friend re­cently with sound cards. He bought a Cre­ative Sound Blaster Z and was look­ing for­ward to an im­prove­ment in his in-game sound.

Be­ing an FPS player, he was look­ing for po­si­tional aware­ness and thought 7.1 would be really help­ful, so he asked me to find him a 7.1 head­set.

Therein lies the prob­lem though – 7.1 head­sets, it seems, mostly use vir­tual sur­round sound. They’re stereo head­sets with some pro­cess­ing built into the USB con­nec­tor, cou­pled with soft­ware on the PC. Many don’t have a stan­dard 3.5mm jack, just us­ing USB in­stead. Those that do have a jack, such as the HyperX Cloud II, use a sin­gle 4-pole 3.5mm jack (for use with a mo­bile phone), rather than the sep­a­rate mi­cro­phone and stereo jacks that sound cards need.

Mean­while, head­sets with true 7.1 sur­round, such as the Asus Strix 7.1, are USB-drive, so they by­pass the sound card en­tirely. It all seems con­fus­ing that there are good qual­ity sound cards out there, but a lack of gam­ing head­sets that can use them. My rec­om­men­da­tion to him looks like it’s go­ing to be to buy a de­cent pair of stu­dio head­phones and a sep­a­rate mi­cro­phone, then let the sound card and soft­ware do the vir­tual sur­round bit. Am I right?

Thanks guys, and keep up the good work. I’m look­ing for­ward to mince pie megat­est – hope you have your in­di­ges­tion tablets ready! CHRIS HOL­LOWAY

Asus’ Strix 7.1 head­set of­fers true po­si­tional au­dio, but only over USB

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