Oct 28, 2014

How does 7.1 surround work on headphones with only 2 speakers?

The way I understand surround sound numbers, they refer to the number of channels. Thus, 7.1 indicates 7 different channels plus a subwoofer. I was just looking at a new headset, and it said that it supports 7.1 surround sound. How is that possible? I assume that there are only two speakers - one in each side of the headset. So how can it create sounds that come from 8 different channels?
I see you already have two answers. Here's an interesting background article on 7.1 surround sound:

If you go back and look closely, I’m willing to bet that the headset says it supports VIRTUAL 7.1 surround sound. It’s not true 7.1, but digital signal processing allows the headphones to fool your brain into perceiving multiple sound sources. If you think about it, you only have two sound inputs, right - your left and right ears? By slightly delaying or changing the volume of sounds, virtual surround sound can be quite convincing and really feel like you are in a three dimensional audio environment. There are a few headphones with multiple drivers per side, but you don’t see these very often, so I’m still betting that the ones you were looking at were virtual surround.
It simply means that it supports that input and downgrades it to regular stereo sound. So you're not losing signal from any of those channels. But no, you're not getting actual 7.1.
Answer this