You’ve had a long day and it’s time to relax in front of your TV and play your favorite video game. The start screen appears and you begin. But there’s one problem: The sound is thin. You can’t hear enemies as they approach and the explosions don’t correlate to the rumble intensity on your controller. The audible excitement level just doesn’t seem to match what’s on screen.
The good news is that there is an easy solution: Instead of relying on your TV speakers alone, add a sound bar or sound bar and subwoofer combo for added punch. Or, if you already have a sound bar, upgrade to a 4K AV receiver and/or 5.1-channel surround sound system to take your gaming experience to the next level.
If you’re thinking that your TV’s speakers or a set of headphones are good enough for your gaming needs, allow me to change your mind. Here are three reasons you should upgrade your sound system:
Games are like movies now, so if you want to experience the game the way it was designed, you’ll need to listen to the dialog and sound effects on a powerful audio system in addition to viewing the video on a high-resolution big-screen TV.
Popular and massively attended events like the E3 Gaming Expo are evidence of the importance of video games in today’s world. Modern video games not only capture and display stunning 3D visuals in 4K and HDR but also give you the option of hearing back the audio soundtrack on a 5.1-channel surround sound system, often with Dolby Digital support. Since most modern game consoles utilize PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) lossless audio format, surround sound is often used by game designers to make the gaming experience even more immersive. For that reason, before getting a sound bar you may want to double-check its compatibility with multi-channel PCM. Most AV receivers do, however, support the format, so all you need to do is properly configure your gaming console to enable surround functionality.
Depending on the game, there are different elements that game designers highlight to elevate the game-playing experience. First, there’s the underlying musical score. Much like a film, this supports the main narrative of a story game, or it can represent characters with individual leitmotifs. To get the full range of what the composer is going for, you’ll want quality speakers and a subwoofer.
A surround sound system is also important for hearing dialogue, ambient noise and sound effects, especially when they’re split between left, right and rear surround speakers. How else can you hear an enemy sneaking up behind you, or experience the sound of explosions as you speed away from disaster in your digital sports car? Fighting and survival horror games benefit from surround sound as well, letting you hear character subtleties like breathing or creepy laughter coming from all around you.
Remember the feeling of going to your first concert or watching that first blockbuster on the big screen and the “wow” factor that came with it? You can get that same feeling from modern video games if they’re supported by a powerful audio and video playback system. Upgrading to something more fitting to the developer’s vision allows you to better experience well-crafted, immersive stories in real time.
Technological advancements have made quality sound more affordable than ever before — and, of course, your surround sound system can be used for more than just gaming, including watching movies and listening to music. So what are you waiting for?
For more information about home theater systems, check out the blog articles Home Theater on a Budget, Part 1: Starter System and Home Theater on a Budget, Part 2: Intermediate System.