Differences between stereo and surround headphones

When buying headphones, one of the essential things to consider is the sound quality. The device should have the capability of reproducing accurate audio signals from the bass to the high notes.

If you are in the process of buying new headphones, you are probably wondering whether you should go for stereo or surround headsets. We understand how hard choosing between the two can be, especially if you don’t know what these terms mean.

Nonetheless, both features have unique qualities that suit different uses.

Today, our article offers an in-depth analysis of the differences between these two types of headsets. We will also highlight some of the reasons you should prefer one type to the other.

Let’s get right into it.

What is surround sound?

Surround sound is a production technique where the sound engineer uses multiple audio channels (or speakers) to reproduce audio. Typically, you achieve this sound by using three or more speakers.

The sound output gives the sensation that sound is coming from all directions around the listener, making the audio more realistic. Sound engineers use this technology to diversify the sound and provide an immersive experience to the listener, especially in movie theaters.

What is stereo sound?

Stereo sound (also referred to as stereophonic sound) is a type of sound reproduction technique where the engineer uses two loudspeakers or audio channels to create sound. Unlike surround sound, the audio signals come from two directions to create dynamic audio.

It’s good to know that stereo sound is an upgrade of mono sound, a technology that uses a single audio channel to produce sound.

Stereo sound is ideal for homes or small rooms.

What are the main differences?

Audiophiles use different factors to differentiate the two. These include the number of audio channels used to produce each type of sound, direction of sound, and uses. You can use the table below to summarize the differences.

Stereo SoundSurround sound
uses two audio channels (or drivers) to reproduce soundUses three or more audio channels (drivers), which normally is five to seven for speaker systems such as home theater systems
Sounds come from two directions since two speakers are used with the listener in the middleThe sound comes from different directions with each speaker producing sound from a different audio channel
It is common in most audio devicesHome theaters use this technology
Ideal for homes and small rooms and preferred for listening to musicIt’s useful in large rooms such as movie theaters and gaming software. Music producers can use it to add artistic expressions in songs
It is an affordable way of producing soundSurround sound is expensive to produce

Are surround sound headphones better than stereo for everyday use?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. One of them is that you want to consider is what type of sound/audio output you want to achieve. Or rather, how do you plan to use the headphones?

If you plan to use headphones for listening to music, going for a stereo-sounding headset would be an ideal option.

Why is this so?

Usually, music producers will record the sound in mono and master it in stereo to give it that natural and live feel to the listener. With surround headphones, you will have more drivers to diversify the music; however, the problem with them is that they make the music louder, leading to sound distortion since the challenge here is balancing all the notes in the song.

Therefore, a stereo headset would do the job perfectly if your main reason for buying the set is to listen to music in the studio or at home.

Surround headphones will suit users who want an immersive experience when watching movies and playing games. Film producers and game developers include surround sound to help gamers and movie enthusiasts enjoy every scene as though they were happening live.

What is better for gaming stereo or surround?

Sound quality and clarity are integral parts of a gaming experience. As a gamer, you would love to be completely immersed in a gaming scene without any distractions. Hence, going for a surround headphone would better suit your needs.

These headphones come with more speaker drivers than the stereo option; hence, diversifying the sound to make it clear. For instance, locating sounds from opponents when playing a first-person shooter game will also be easy to do. It will also block out background noise, making it easy to hear what your teammates are saying.

Types of stereo sound headphones

If you are looking for a stereo sound headphone that will deliver the right kind of sound quality for your favorite music, or recording in the studio, here are stereo sound headphones you should consider.

Types of surround sound headphones

If you are an avid gamer, and you are looking for the best surround headset to use, here are some good products you should consider.

What are stereo headsets better than surround sound headphones in?

  • Listening to music
  • They act as studio monitors
  • Ideal for picking phone calls

What are surround sound headphones better than stereo headphones in?

  • Watching movies, especially those with Dolby Atmos
  • Gaming, especially when playing first-person shooter games


That’s it for today. We are delighted that you took the time to read the article. By now, we hope that you already know how to differentiate these terms when selecting the best headphone for your needs.

As you can see, stereo and surround headsets are different in the type of sound they give to the user. Therefore, examine the number of drivers the product you choose provides.