How good is the surround in an Xbox wireless headset?
What is surround sound, anyway?
Surround sound is a type of audio technique that aims to simulate full 360-degree spatial sound. For example, sounds that come from behind you in-game will come from the speaker that's behind you in your setup (or should sound like it's coming from behind you). The most effective forms of surround sound utilize positioned speaker towers, but hardware and software engineers have come up with clever ways to simulate the surround sound experience within headsets. There are two types of surround sound that are most commonly found in headsets: built-in 7.1 surround sound, and simulated surround sound that is activated by software like Windows Sonic.
The first one, 7.1 surround sound, is the higher-quality type of the two. Headsets with built-in 7.1 surround sound have speakers that are capable of delivering audio from different angles dynamically, similar to how a full speaker setup would. This is better than virtual simulated surround sound, which uses software to process your audio to sound like it's coming from different angles. Since the sound isn't really coming from your speakers dynamically, it's not as great as 7.1 surround sound. However, it's still great, and you'll notice the improvement.
What makes the Astro A50 the best?
The Astro A50 is, overall, the best Xbox wireless headset where surround sound is concerned. This is because, unlike most of its competition, the Astro A50 comes with the built-in 7.1 variant of surround sound. When compared against simulated surround sound, the richness and quality of 7.1 come out on top every time.
In addition to having fantastic surround sound capabilities, the Astro A50 is also an excellent wireless headset in general. Its 40mm drivers, while not the biggest in the business, still deliver a great sound quality, and the headset also has a tremendous battery life of over 15 hours. It's also built very well and incredibly comfortable to use, so things like damage and discomfort aren't a concern with the A50. Lastly, it comes with its own docking station, which is a big plus. All of this quality does come at the hefty price of $300, though. However, I would argue that you get what you pay for with this headset.
What's a good alternative?
If the Astro A50 headset is too pricey for you, then the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is an absolutely glorious budget-friendly alternative. Unfortunately, it utilizes simulated surround sound instead of built-in 7.1, so don't expect an amazing surround sound experience. Despite that, though, it's still a great choice when you consider that it's only $100, and that it's sleek, durable, and surprisingly comfortable, too. At only a third of the price of the Astro A50, you can't ask for more value than this.
Spatial sound excellence
If you're looking for a premium surround sound experience, then the well-rounded Astro A50 wireless headset is right up your alley. Be prepared to pay a high price, however.
Bang for your buck
At just $100, the Turtle Beach Stealth 600 is one of the best alternatives to the Astro A50 headset on the market. The surround sound isn't as good, but at this price, it's an incredible value.
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