Razer Surround is in a class all its own when it comes to headphone surround systems on PC.
Sony has a great new 3D Audio system?but it?s only available with their headset, and then only on the PS4. Steelseries made my favorite headset of last year, and licensed DTS Headphone:X to go with it?but that cost is built into the higher-end models of that line. Other surround technologies, like Dolby Headphone, don?t perform as well as current stuff?and Dolby Atmos is locked to specific devices.
Razer just gives away their 3D audio software for free. And it?s exceptional.
Razer Surround is 3D 7.1 surround sound software for Windows. You point it at whatever sound output you?d like to use, and then it sends headphone surround audio out of that device via a virtual sound card. Windows sees and treats the virtual device just like a full 7.1 system, so games that have trouble detecting surround hardware shouldn?t have any issues here.
The free version includes unlimited use-time. It?s not a time- limited demo. It?ll work with any pair of headphones you can plug into your computer. Heck, it works with my wireless Steelseries Arctis 7. It works with the HDMI output from the video card. . It works with Bluetooth headphones (Though that may screw up the sync/audio latency).
It also comes with a number of calibration presets for every headphone Razer has ever released.
Should you want even more features, you can pay a scant $20 and upgrade to the pro version. This unlocks a bass boost, a cool soundstage expansion feature, and a full equalizer. It also allows you to fully calibrate the surround field for your specific set of headphones. You can move and set the exact positions of the virtual speakers.
?But Alex, how does it sound??
I?m so glad you asked, irritated reader!
It sounds great! The surround effect is very convincing, particularly for the side and back channels. They fly really far out into the room behind you, and positioning is accurate. Sound isn?t mangled with any harsh reverb or room simulation effects. Unlike Sony?s 3D Audio, there?s no vertical positioning here?but the software still does an excellent job of creating a surround experience with headphones. Sound transitions seamlessly between the channels for a proper, naturally panned effect.
If you?re an audio purist, you might hate it?but for everyone else, hey it?s free, go get it! The software uses just a tiny bit of oomph on your computer, so it should work transparently for most users. I have an older laptop that sometimes struggled with it, producing a stutter here and there, but the software isn?t very bloated or intrusive.
Razer makes several headsets that use USB connections and contain this same surround software. The Kraken 7.1 V2 and the Man O? War 7.1 and Wireless are the most recent models. Those headphones include the pro version of the interface, without the need to pay the extra $20.
In short, Razer surround is right in line with the bigger players in virtual surround audio?and you can get it for free. Don?t go and pay big bucks for a PC gaming headset solely to get surround audio: you can use any pair of headphones you?d like and get Razer Surround for free. It?s my favorite thing that Razer makes, and I?ve enjoyed a number of their products before.
The Pro upgrade is absolutely worth it. You?ll get surround and EQ functionality for $20 that some other companies charge an arm and a leg for, requiring dedicated processing boxes in the process.
The only complaints you could lob at this are that it doesn?t work with consoles(though it never claimed to), and that it doesn?t have the room simulation presets that some other headphone surround systems offer. If you?re looking for the best value in PC headphone surround software, this is it.
Here is that link again!