Gaming Headset vs. Surround Sound System

playing video game

If you take your video gaming seriously, then you need to invest in some high quality sound equipment for your gaming experience. Once you start hearing the bullets fly like they are whizzing right past your ear with a good sound setup, you will never want to go back to gaming without a supreme sound setup.

When it comes to selecting a sound option for your gaming, you really have to basic choices – you can opt for a gaming headset that filters all the sound directly to your ears, or you can outfit your room with a pretty sweet surround sound system to experience the gaming. Each option has it’s benefits, and each one is best for certain situations, so let’s look at the differences and determine which one best meets your gaming needs.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Gaming Headsets

Personally, I prefer a good gaming headset. With a gaming headset, you get better quality from your mic since it is attached to the headset and there is no other sound interference in the room (cause the sound is only in the ear cups and not in the room itself).

Gaming headsets are a better choice for people who do not live alone. If you have any roommates or family that share your home with you, then they will probably give you crap about the sound level of your games (especially if you stay up late gaming like me). So, to prevent any of that confrontation with the people that you live with, go with a gaming headset. That way, only you get to enjoy the sounds of your gaming.

And if you live in an apartment, condo or other type of place where you share walls/floors with neighbors, then you will likely want to go with a gaming headset to avoid getting any noise complaints. A few years ago I lived by a guy with a surround sound system for his Xbox and when he played late at night, I could hear him playing the game and smack talking the other players on Xbox Live. Needless to say, I had to file a noise complaint since I couldn’t get any sleep before work.

Another cool thing about gaming headsets is that they are ultra portable. So, if you move around a lot or have a handheld gaming system that you take everywhere, then you can even take your sweet sound with you too.

The biggest disadvantage of a gaming headset is that it is useless if you have friends over to game then you can’t use it. So, it is the best option for the solo home gamer.

Overall, I think you get better sound quality on a dollar by dollar basis with the headsets. You see my picks for the best 5.1 gaming headset for the money.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Surround Sound Systems For Gaming

While I enjoy the amazing sound that you can get from a surround sound system, I think that they can only work well for a limited number of gamers.

The cool thing about one of these systems is that you get this bigger than you sound experience that takes over the entire room. However, if you live with other people or have shared walls, then those people might not be so happy about sharing this experience with you.

The surround sound system also mess with your mic quality since you have all this background noise that you have to speak over. Of course, that is only an issue if you are playing against other people online. And, you can go for a high end mic that eliminates that issue, but personally I’d rather spend that money on more games than an expensive mic.

Another thing with surround sound systems is that you have to optimize your room for them to deliver optimal sound quality. So, you might have to rearrange some things and such and still end up with sub par sound quality comparing to a good gaming headset. Granted, it’s not that you can’t get a good room setup from your surround sound system, it’s just that it normally takes more work and more investment to get the same sound quality as from a good headset.

The big advantage of a surround sound system for gaming is that you can have friends over to game and enjoy the sound.

And there is nothing like the feeling of your chest vibrating when a grenade goes off near you in the game. You do not get that experience from a gaming headset, but this is exactly the kind of thing that will annoy the family and the neighbors if you don’t live alone.

This is likely not a good choice for someone on a budget though as you have to spend considerably more to get a quality surround sound system than a quality gaming headset.


As you can see, each option has its benefits and disadvantages. Overall, it really depends on two things:

  • are you primarily a solo gamer or do you have friends over to game?
  • will your gaming sounds disturb/annoy other people if you don’t have a headset?

Considering those two things can really help you determine which option is best if you are on the fence.


image credit:, Jeroen van Oostrom