Optimal audio settings for headphones - I have all the answers.

badKD
5 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
edited March 9
**Just to be clear here, I was looking to achieve the most accurate directional audio as goal number one and I didn't want this to affect sound quality as much as possible was goal two. This guide will not give you the "best" sounding audio, but the most accurate directional audio, which I think is important in a FPS game. Also I don't think you will sacrifice any audio fidelity with this setup in my opinion.**

I have been gaming for 127 years and I have to admit I have NEVER been so frustrated with setting up the audio for a particular game. This is just due to the fact that there are way too many setting combinations and trying to test them in this game where a lot of times the sounds are chaotic, made for a very tough time.

I finally found out a way to test all the audio and separate all the sounds so that I can say for sure that I know what all the audio settings do when mixed together.

As you probably know you have settings in the Xbox itself, in your mix amp or headphones, and in the game on top of all that. Also each one of those all have multiple settings to choose from to make things even more fun. Plus you can do things such as hook the headphones through a mixamp or directly into the controller which produces an even different effect!

In the Xbox you have: stereo, surround, Windows Sonic, and Dolby Atmos. In your mixamp or headphones you likely have surround settings on or off, and in the game there are three different settings for headphones: headphone stereo, headphone surround, and headphone 3D. You can even do these such as set the surround to home theater for a wider sound stage, but we won’t get into that as you’ll see why in a minute. As you can see mixing and matching all those settings and trying to figure out what is the best audio setup can be very overwhelming.

Well I can tell you that I have tried every single combination of settings, yes that’s right there are 32 of them to be exact lol, and I can finally say I have it figured.

The first thing I want to say right away is NEVER mix different technologies on top of each other, only ever use one at a time. If you don’t follow this you will end up with echos, reverb, just plain weird stuff, or the worst such as quieting footsteps. When choosing these settings you have to let one of your devices to the surround audio processing and that’s it, everything else should be set to stereo. You can have the xbox process the surround, your mixamp/headphones do it, or the game itself. Following this rule eliminates a ton of the settings right out of the hole, so then you can just focus on the individual processors to compare them.

Just to give some examples of what happens exactly when you cross the tech (because I know some of you will want to know or think that I'm wrong) if you enable 3d audio in game and turn on surround on your mixamp for exmaple, the audio becomes a mess. It echoes and there is all kind of ambient sound coming in at once. Far away sounds are really close and vice versa. Also if you turn on Dolby Atmos/Windows Sonic as well as the in game 3d audio, at first you think it sounds great, but if you really pay attention it makes quiet sounds even harder to hear, such as footsteps, and you never want that.

What I have found is that letting the Xbox do all the surround processing muscle is the best way to go about it. Also the 3D sound technologies destroy the “old school” Dolby surround tech that’s for example built into the Astro a40 mixamp. There is no comparison anymore. The mixamp still has the classic surround sound echo and reverb whereas the 3D tech is clean. In addition to that, you truly CAN tell if an object is above or below you, it really is amazing technology and will certainly replace the traditional Dolby Surround. As far as the differences between the three different choices of 3D sound (Windows Sonic, Dolby Atmos, and Dice's in game 3D engine) I cannot tell any measurable difference between the three. If anything the in game processing seems a little bit extra noisy, but this is such a small difference I can’t even really tell. Also same goes for Sonic vs Atmos, there may be a slight slight difference with Atmos edging it out.

So in my opinion Dolby Atmos is the superior surround sound choice of all the choices available.



Okay so to the settings. So following the rules of not crossing the different surround tech, that leaves us with really 4 choices:

1.) Mixamp/Heaphone processing (in my opinion inferior to 3D sound)
To achieve this setup:
Xbox settings menu
-Display & Sound
-Audio output
-Headset audio (right column): stereo uncompressed
-Speaker audio (left column): Optical audio > bitstream out
-Speaker audio (left column): Bitstream format > Dolby Digital

In-game settings menu
-Options
-Audio
-Sound preset: Headphones
-Output configuration: surround (do NOT set to stereo on accident)

Mixamp/headphone settings
-Surround sound enabled

Misc
-Headphones need to be plugged into the mixamp if you are using one




2.) Xbox processing - Windows Sonic
To achieve this setup:
Xbox settings menu
-Display & Sound
-Audio output
-Headset audio (right column): Windows Sonic
-Headset audio (right column): Check box for HDMI or optical if you are using either

In-game settings menu
-Options
-Audio
-Sound preset: Headphones
-Output configuration: stereo

Mixamp/headphone settings
-Surround sound disabled

Misc
-Headphones need to be plugged into the mixamp if you want full volume




3.) Xbox processing - Dolby Atmos (in my opinion the best setup)
To achieve this setup:
Xbox settings menu
-Display & Sound
-Audio output
-Headset audio (right column): Dolby Atmos
-Headset audio (right column): Check box for HDMI or optical if you are using either

In-game settings menu
-Options
-Audio
-Sound preset: Headphones
-Output configuration: stereo

Mixamp/headphone settings
-Surround sound disabled

Misc
-Headphones need to be plugged into the mixamp if you want full volume




4.) Game processing - 3D sound
To achieve this setup:
Xbox settings menu
-Display & Sound
-Audio output
-Headset audio (right column): Stereo uncompressed
-Speaker audio (left column): Stereo uncompressed

In-game settings menu
-Options
-Audio
-Sound preset: 3D Headphones

Mixamp/headphone settings
-Surround sound disabled

Misc
-Headphones need to be plugged into the mixamp if you want full volume




That’s it, your four choices. Just to note that you don’t need your mixamp at all if you are using any of the 3D audio techs. However you won’t get full power out of your headphones, most need the additional amp for full volume and output, and you won’t be able to control the EQ.


As a side note I tested the Turtle Beach Elite Pro 2’s vs the Astro a40 TR’s and can say without a doubt that open back headphones (a40's) are far superior for directional audio than closed back (Elite Pro 2's). Also this is the first set of Astros I have touched and they are one of the nices pieces of equipment I have ever seen. That’s a whole other post though, and I may do a write up for that at some point.

Thanks for reading.
Post edited by badKD on

Comments

  • badKD
    5 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    Hmm I put this in general but it has a lot of Xbox info, I'm afraid if I post it there as well, I may get in trouble with a mod.
  • SupremeAzsoul
    332 postsMember, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    That was extensive, Thank You!

    giphy.gif?****=3640f6095c843206724c634251f205f5
  • Hawxxeye
    5023 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, CTE, BF1IncursionsAlpha, Battlefield V Member
    edited March 9
    Hi I am on PC here with 3d headphones on the ingame settings and using the Hyper X mk2 headsset
    Do you have any advice on how to improve the directionality further is possible?
  • badKD
    5 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    Hawxxeye wrote: »
    Hi I am on PC here with 3d headphones on the ingame settings and using the Hyper X mk2 headsset
    Do you have any advice on how to improve the directionality further is possible?

    Just make sure the sound card is set to STEREO, and all surround features are disabled. No surround settings should be on within the sound card, windows, or on the headset itself, just let the game do all the work. Cheers.
  • CSO7777
    1030 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, CTE, BF1IncursionsAlpha, Battlefield V Member
    Normally on Windows, your sound-drivers will take a surround input from the game and make it sound like surround-sound in your headphones.

    I would think the game should output surround-sound and then your drivers should be configured for processing surround-sound on your headphones.

    This is how it works if you use Windows-sonic or Dolby-Atmos (from the Windows store).
  • badKD
    5 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    edited March 10
    CSO7777 wrote: »
    Normally on Windows, your sound-drivers will take a surround input from the game and make it sound like surround-sound in your headphones.

    I would think the game should output surround-sound and then your drivers should be configured for processing surround-sound on your headphones.

    This is how it works if you use Windows-sonic or Dolby-Atmos (from the Windows store).

    The "3D Headphone" function of the in-game settings is surround processed by the game itself which sends that signal to the L/R channel of the headphones, making it sound 3d. I know it sounds crazy, but thats how it works.

    You will end up with an effect that sounds exactly like Sonic/Atmos, which is processed by the PC/Xbox/PS4.
  • Redstripe101
    2546 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    I got to give you credit for the detailed write up. 127 years though? lol
  • badKD
    5 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    I got to give you credit for the detailed write up. 127 years though? lol

    :D
  • Anti-Messiah
    274 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, CTE Member
    I got to give you credit for the detailed write up. 127 years though? lol

    :D LoL, I wonder what the joke was there? It obviously isn't a typo, looks like he proof read it.

    Good post regardless
  • Astr0damus
    2901 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, CTE, Battlefield V Member
    badKD wrote: »

    I have been gaming for 127 years.

    Are you the old dude I spoke to in a cave after I ate 36" of Tricocereus Bridgesii?
    If so, ^listen to this guy, he knows what he's talking about...
  • Hawxxeye
    5023 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, CTE, BF1IncursionsAlpha, Battlefield V Member
    badKD wrote: »
    Hawxxeye wrote: »
    Hi I am on PC here with 3d headphones on the ingame settings and using the Hyper X mk2 headsset
    Do you have any advice on how to improve the directionality further is possible?

    Just make sure the sound card is set to STEREO, and all surround features are disabled. No surround settings should be on within the sound card, windows, or on the headset itself, just let the game do all the work. Cheers.
    It seems that the hardware of the headset is already doing everything and does not let me configure.
    I already have it on 3D headphones, now what I am not 100% sure if if the 7.1 button on the controller of the headsets is best left on or off.
  • badKD
    5 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    Hawxxeye wrote: »
    badKD wrote: »
    Hawxxeye wrote: »
    Hi I am on PC here with 3d headphones on the ingame settings and using the Hyper X mk2 headsset
    Do you have any advice on how to improve the directionality further is possible?

    Just make sure the sound card is set to STEREO, and all surround features are disabled. No surround settings should be on within the sound card, windows, or on the headset itself, just let the game do all the work. Cheers.
    It seems that the hardware of the headset is already doing everything and does not let me configure.
    I already have it on 3D headphones, now what I am not 100% sure if if the 7.1 button on the controller of the headsets is best left on or off.

    100% for sure disable the 7.1. Let the game process the 3D audio all by itself. You adding in the 7.1 will end up with double processing, which is not good.
  • CaptHotah
    1052 postsMember, Battlefield 3, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Battlefield, Battlefield 1, Battlefield V Member
    The best setting for hearing footsteps (wich is the only one i care about) is Night Mode. Simple.
Sign In or Register to comment.