Headphone technology has made significant strides since the first audio listening devices were invented more than a century ago. Originally little more than buzzy speakers clumsily held in place over the years, headphones have evolved to provide a rich listening environment that is adaptive to the user’s needs. Breakthroughs in portability, magnet design, and ergonomics have created enormous diversity in headphone styles, giving every listener a choice in how best to enjoy music, video games, and other aural experiences. There is a big difference now between chucking on a pair of 20 year old headphones, and putting on a set of the best surround sound headphones that are available today.
In this guide, we will look at the ten best surround sound headphones for 2020, then dive into the detail on the things to consider when buying, and how surround sound works.
10 Best Surround Sound Headphones For 2020
Available in three futuristic designs, the SADES Wolf give you outstanding dynamic range to deliver bone-shaking bass and yet keep subtle high frequency sounds clear. With a built-in microphone that includes in-line volume and mute controls, the SADES Wolf headphones make cooperative game play a fun and immersive experience. Designed for a range of computing devices that use a standard 3.5 mm plug, the SADES Wolf feature LED lights on each headphone cup to add a unique visual dimension to game play. The SADES Wolf gaming headset using a proprietary 7.1 decoder chip to faithfully create a 360-degree listening experience.
- 3 different futuristic color designs to choose from
- Advanced NDFEB audio driver
- Durable, high-gain built-in microphone
- Noise-canceling closed earcup design
- Earcup LED lights enhance the gaming experience
- Comfortable memory foam for extended gaming periods
- In-line volume and mute buttons
From one of the premier manufacturers of gaming accessories, the Logitech G930 gaming headset packs seven discrete audio channels in each elegant black headphone cup. With a powerful unidirectional microphone that can be rapidly flipped up to mute, the Logitech G930 gaming headphones are ideal for today’s cutting edge video games. A special LFE channel adds depth and richness to in-game sound effects while the 40mm drivers deliver high fidelity sound from 20Hz all the way up to 20 KHz. A powerful battery and comfortable cup design allow for up to 10 hours of comfortable game time using a lag-free 2.4 GHz wireless USB connector. The Logitech G930 feature three programmable “G-Keys” to add fine control over the gaming experience.
- Built-in unidirectional microphone
- 7 discrete audio channels in each headphone cup
- Special low-frequency effects channel delivers powerful bass
- 90dB SPL/mW and 32 Ohms deliver dynamic frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 KHz
- Elegant black design
- Powerful battery lasts up to 10 hours on a single charge
- Three programmable keys on the outside of the headphone cup
XIBERIA T18 Gaming Headphones 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound Over-Ear Gaming Headset with Retractable Microphone
Designed for committed gamers and audiophiles alike, the XIBERIA T18 gaming headphones are designed to plug and play with computers and game systems with no drivers or lengthy set-up necessary. A uniquely ergonomic design with real leather ear cups and padded, adjustable headband provide additional comfort for lengthy game sessions. The 6.56-feet long heavy duty cable provides lag-free, tangle-free connection to your favorite games while the in-line controls allow for one-touch adjustment of volume, lights, and muting of the microphone. Two powerful 40-mm drivers deliver powerful bass and crisp high sounds for truly immersive gameplay.
- Available in 3.5 mm and USB models
- Dual 40mm drivers deliver a full range of sounds from deep bass to subtle high notes
- Comfortable leather cups and padded headband for extended game play comfort
- Noise-canceling microphone with in-line control panel
- Retractable inner headband and distributed weight for easy adjustment to every head shape
- Available in two futuristic color designs
- Full 7.1 virtual surround sound experience
This USB gaming headset from 1byone comes in an attractive red and black design with optional synchronized red lights for a truly immersive gaming experience. The microphone is retractable and includes in-line controls, ideal for multiplayer games. The 1byone USB headset includes several drivers so you can custome the sampling rate, equalizer, and audio profile. A red light illuminates when the microphone is active so you’ll always know when you’re “on the air” while the 2.2-meter braided cord ensures reliable, lag-free audio connection to your game. 1byone’s built-in virtual 7.1 surround technology allowers gamers to hear faint footsteps and other critically important audio cues.
- Striking red and black design
- Powerful 50mm drivers and virtual 7.1 surround sound technology deliver an immersive experience
- Microphone can be quickly adjusted for volume or retracted when not needed
- Included drivers allow users to customize audio settings
- Lengthy tangle-free braided cord for lag-free gaming fun
- Comfortable earmuff design and lightweight headband cancel ambient noises
- LED lights for a enhanced visual gaming effects
Looking like they’ve been beamed back to our time from the future, the SADES SA710 gaming headphones were designed by gamers to provide a rich sound environment for today’s popular games. With a slick neon blue and black design, the SADES SA710 use a proprietary 7.1 surround sound processor to create a rich 360-degree aural experience. The SADES SA710 weigh just 8.3 ounces and use an ergonomic ear cup design to provide enhanced comfort during long play sessions. A boom microphone delivers clear audio to teammates during the heat of battle while the 7.22-feet long cord with in-line controls prevents lag that could interfere with critical game missions.
- A full dynamic range delivers powerful bass and ultra-clear high notes
- Futuristic light-up blue and black design
- Incredibly lightweight for comfort during extended play sessions
- Sensitive omni-directional microphone blocks out ambient noise
- Ergonomic synthetic leather ear cushion design
- 7.22-feet long braided cable for lag-free audio
- Proprietary 7.1 surround sound engine for a truly immersive listening experience
The Luxon headphones deliver everything you need to enjoy an immersive gaming experience with your Windows PC, Mac, or PlayStation 4. A retractable microphone and in-line volume control enhance the excitement of team play while the on-ear LED lights add a unique visual element. The proprietary 7.1 surround sound technology deliver a richly immersive experience while the durable 86.6-inch long cable eliminates lag.
- Stylish black design
- Plug and play USB connector
- In-line volume control
- LED lights on ear cup add visual element to gameplay
- 7.1 surround sound with 50mm drivers
- Memory foam ear cubs and flexible headband for comfort
- Retractable built-in microphone
SteelSeries Siberia 150 Gaming Headset with RGB Illumination and DTS Headphone:X 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound
Available in seven vibrant color choices, the Siberia 150 gaming headset uses a USB connector to deliver lag-free audio on your favorite PC, Mac, or Playstation 4 games. The closed, soft leather ear cups block out ambient noise while providing hours of comfort during extended game play. The proprietary SteelSeries Engine 3 technologize allows for customized 360-degree audio experiences while programmable LEDs on the ear cups add a unique visual element. A low-profile microphone delivers crisp communication for enhanced team gameplay.
- Simple black design with seven different highlight colors to choose from
- USB audio connector ideal for PC, Mac, and PS4
- Breatable real leather ear cups for comfort
- Proprietary SteelSeries Engine 3 technology for better immersive sound
- Elegant LED illumination on the ear cups with lighting modes
- Ultra lightweight for improved ergonomics
- Closed earcup design blocks out ambient noise
Another excellent entry from one of the leading manufacturers of gaming headsets, the Logitech G633 use genuine Dolby 7.1 and DTS technology to deliver a highly immersive gameplay experience. Up to 16.8 million colors can be displayed on the programmable LED ear cups while the foldaway noise-canceling microphone gives greater versatility to team challenges. The Logitech G633 uniquely have two inputs allowing for simultaneous wired connections to your game and a phone so that you can answer calls without interrupting all the exciting onscreen action.
- Sleek futurustic device with programmable LED lights
- Can be connected simultaneously to USB and 3.5 mm devices
- Comes with prograbale equalizer and Pro-G drivers
- Foldaway noise-canceling mic has mute light
- Designed for Windows, Mac, PS4, and Xbox One
- Programmable G-keys for one-touch operation
- Delivers true 7.1 Dolby surround sound
This uniquely elegant headset from Turtle Beach uses wireless connectivity and boomless microphones to deliver an immersive gameplay experience. The Turtle Beach i60 technology creates a genuine DTS 7.1 surround sound immersive game play using powerful 50mm drivers. With your option of either WiFi or Bluetooth wireless connectivity, the Turtle Beach i60 headset is ideal for use with all your favorite PC games or smartphone device. The Turtle Beach i60 comes with its own mobile app to customize the audio for a truly bespoke aural experience.
- Fully immersive DTS 7.1 channel surround sound
- Comes with sleek desktop control for precision customization of the audio experience
- Wireless Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity for tangle-free operation
- Built-in microphones are invisible yet deliver crystal clear communication
- Mic monitoring function allows you to hear your own voice
- Sleek white and black design
- Delivers up to 10 hours of non-stop gameplay on a single charge
Upgraded Etekcity HIFI USB 7.1 Channel Virtual USB Surround Sound Noise Isolation Over-ear Gaming Headset headphones for PC/MAC
With an instantly recognizable red S emblazoned on the ear cups of these stylish black surround sound headphones, the Etekcity headset comes with enhanced bass response for a very rich audio experience. The over-ear cup design blocks out ambient noise while the boom mic delivers crystal clear communication to your teammates. An in-line control button can be adjusted to change audio settings on the fly while the enclosed CD allows you create customized audio profiles for all your favorite games.
- Stylish black design with red S on earcups
- True 7.1 channel surround sound
- Ear cup design passively blocks ambient noise
- In-line control adjusts volume, vibration, and other settings
- Personalized profiles can be set for individual games
- Enhanced bass production delivers powerful explosions and other game sounds
- Ergonomic design ideal for lengthy play sessions
The Evolution Of Surround Sound
It was in 1940 that legendary artist and director Walt Disney first collaborated with conduct Leopold Stokowski to create the first surround sound experience for the movie Fantasia. Released in 1941, Fantasia’s audio tracks were recorded on specially built banks of microphones to give audiences the sensation that the action was happening all around them.
But until Dolby Laboratories patented their unique form of surround sound technology in 1976, it was expensive and difficult to produce an authentic 360-degree listening experience. In 1983, director George Lucas perfected the THX certification, giving moviegoers access to an innovative four-channel system that created a more immersive listening experience. Today, the term surround sound refers to the Dolby AC-3 audio classification that uses a 7.1 configuration of speakers mixed with a low frequent effects channel to create true 360-degree audio.
Headphone designers have always been restricted by the sheer fact that audio engineers only have two different speakers to work with. Displaying remarkable adaptivity, creative headphone engineers have created numerous discrete speakers inside each headphone cup that mimics the surround sound experience. Using advanced algorithms, sound waves are attenuated so that they seem to be reaching the ear from different angles, synthetically replicating what happens in real life when sounds change depending on their direction of origin. Today, every manufacturer of surround sound headphones use proprietary secret methods to carefully craft the interior of headphone cups to provide a truly immersive listening experience.
How Surround Sound Headphones Work
Some experts divide surround sound headphone technology into two categories: virtual and real. The truth is, however, that there is no agreed upon technical standard for these two terms, the former referring to advanced algorithms that attenuate sound waves to create a more immersive aural experience and the latter referring to complex arrangements of discrete speakers in each headphone cup to adapt sound waves. All of today’s surround sound headphone manufacturers use a proprietary blend of “virtual” and “real” surround sound technologies to give users a 360-degree aural experience.
A Buyer’s Guide for Choosing the Right Surround Sound Headphones
When investing in a good pair of surround sound headphones, the first step is to identify what the principal purpose of the headphones will be. Some surround sound headphones are better calibrated to the unique in-game environments of today’s high-end video games while other headphone models are more suitable for crafting an immersive music listening experience.
Surround Sound Headphones for Gaming
Many of today’s most advanced video games use audio cues to assist players in achieving objectives. Whether it’s the whine of an incoming missile or the subtle breathing of a foe lying in wait, identifying not just the identity but the location of a sound can provide players a critical advantage in successfully completing game missions. Today’s best surround sound headphones for gaming include noise cancellation features with plenty of dynamic range to create a fully immersive gaming experience.
Surround Sound Headphones for Music
Whether you want to recreate the thrill of a live concert performance or want to be surrounded by crisp notes, surround sound headphones designed for music listening can provide an immersive experience. Many of today’s best surround sound headphones for music have Bluetooth connectivity to allow you to dance and advanced insulation to cancel out distracting ambient noise.
Surround Sound Headphones for Audio Monitoring
In order to ensure a truly high-fidelity listening experience, surround sound headphones ideal for audio monitoring come with special earmuffs and insulating cups that electronically and/or physically block ambient sounds. Buyers of monitoring headphones should ensure that the cup and headband design can provide hours of comfort during extended listening sessions.
For a relatively small amount of money, anyone can now enjoy a richly immersive surround sound listening experience thanks to innovations in headphone design. Today’s surround sound headphones use a combination of advanced algorithmic processing and multiple built-in drivers to provide a truly authentic 360-degree listening environment. Whether you’re choosing surround sound gaming headphones to gain the edge over competitors or surround sound headphones for music to savor every note, today’s headphones provide a bevy of options to enjoy the thrill of immersive sound at a fraction of the cost of high-end home theater speakers. By carefully reviewing and considering the top surround sound headphones on the market, everyone can now enjoy the wonders of multi-directional sound.