Skip to Content
Pointer Clicker is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read more.

Stereo vs. Surround: For Gaming & Movie

Stereo vs. Surround: For Gaming & Movie

Sharing is caring!

When it comes to enjoying movies and gaming, the quality of sound can make or break the experience. 

The debate between stereo and surround sound systems is a longstanding one, and understanding the differences and advantages of each can help you make an informed decision on which setup is best for your needs. 

This guide will explore a variety of topics related to stereo and surround sound systems, including their fundamental concepts and uses in gaming and movies.


The diagram showing a TV with two speakers on the side with a sofa in front of the TV

Stereophonic, or simply stereo, sound is an audio method that records and plays back sound using two channels. 

Stereo differs from monophonic (mono) sound, which utilizes a single channel for both recording and playback.

Stereo sound is commonly employed in various media formats including movies, television, music players, and FM radio stations.

Setting Up Stereo Sound

Establishing a stereo sound system is quite straightforward, requiring only two speakers placed on either side of the listening area. 

This simple setup can provide a decent audio experience for most casual listeners.


Surround sound systems come in two primary forms: Surround 5.1 and Surround 7.1. 

Each type is designed to further enhance the multi-directional audio experience, with a higher number of speakers and sound channels.

Surround 5.1 

surround sound 5.1 setting in with 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer

The 5.1 surround sound system consists of six sound channels and six speakers, including five standard speakers and one subwoofer. The recommended setup for this system involves:

  • One speaker in the center or middle
  • Two speakers for the left and right front
  • Two speakers for the left and right rear
  • The subwoofer can be placed wherever you want

The 5.1 system is ideal for small to medium-sized rooms, providing a more immersive audio experience than stereo sound.

Surround 7.1

surround sound 7.1 setting in with 7 speakers and 1 subwoofer

The 7.1 surround sound system, on the other hand, boasts eight sound channels and uses seven standard speakers along with one subwoofer. The suggested arrangement for this system is as follows:

  • One speaker in the center or middle
  • Two speakers for the left and right front
  • Two speakers for the left and right rear
  • Two speakers for the left and right side
  • The subwoofer can be placed wherever you want

The 7.1 surround sound system is perfect for larger rooms, offering an even more immersive audio experience than the 5.1 system.

Stereo vs. Surround in Gaming

The Spider-man game on PS4 with Sony TV and the PS4 controller along side is a bear headphones

Most modern gaming consoles, such as the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, provide support for both 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems. 

However, to take advantage of these features, you will need to purchase a compatible headset specifically designed for your console

For example, to enjoy surround sound on your PlayStation 4, you would need to acquire PlayStation headphones.

It’s important to note that the game itself must also support surround sound for you to fully utilize the feature.

Choosing Between Stereo and Surround Sound

Many games, such as Genshin Impact, allow players to select their preferred audio output, providing options for both stereo and surround sound. 

Setting audio to stereo and surround sound in Genshin Impact

This level of customization enables gamers to tailor their audio experience based on their individual preferences and the type of game they are playing.

The Advantages of Surround Sound

For many gamers, surround sound headphones are the preferred choice for an immersive gaming experience. 

Spider-Man game audio setting changing listening mode to headphones

While stereo sound can be sufficient for casual games like Stardew Valley, Hades, and Minecraft. Competitive games such as Counter-Strike (CSGO), Battlefield, and Call of Duty benefit significantly from the multi-directional audio provided by surround sound systems.

To make the most of your surround sound headphones, you may need to use specific applications that support your device. 

For instance, Logitech headphones rely on the G Hub application to enable their surround sound feature.

Stereo vs. Surround in Movies

Spider man movie on a projector screen with a Beat headphones

Surround sound systems can add a new dimension of ambiance to movie-watching experiences, making audio effects clearer and more distinct for the audience. 

This heightened immersion can significantly enhance your enjoyment of a film.

However, some viewers may find surround sound overwhelming and distracting, leading them to lose focus on the movie. In such cases, they prefer to stick with stereo sound.

Cost Considerations: Surround Sound Systems vs. Stereo Setups

In general, a complete surround sound system will be more expensive than a two-speaker stereo setup. 

This is something to consider when deciding which audio solution is best for your needs.

Movie-Specific Factors

The kids’category on Netflix is being displayed on a projector screen.

The type of movie you’re watching can also influence your choice of sound system. Many older movies were originally recorded in stereo sound, so using a surround sound system may not offer any additional benefits when watching these films.

Furthermore, the genre of the movie can play a role in determining the ideal audio setup. Drama and comedy movies typically have fewer sound effects and can be enjoyed with a stereo sound system. 

Conversely, action, horror, and sci-fi movies often feature intense sound effects such as explosions, which are best experienced through a surround sound system.

In Conclusion

The choice between stereo and surround sound systems ultimately depends on your personal preferences, the type of media you consume, and your budget. 

Both options have their merits, and understanding their differences can help you make an educated decision on which setup will best enhance your gaming and movie experiences. 

By considering factors such as room size, console compatibility, and movie genres, you can select the audio solution that perfectly suits your needs and elevates your entertainment experiences to new heights.

How was content created? This piece is created collaboratively, with tech editors generating ideas, conducting testing, and proofreading meticulously, while AI assists in fine-tuning.

Sharing is caring!