How to get headphone surround sound in COD Warzone?

Commander FAT

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PC audio, and audio in general, has always eluded me.

I’m building a new PC mostly for the new COD Warzone.

I’m using an MSI X570 Gaming Edge Wifi with Realtek ALC1220 onboard audio.

What exactly do I have to do to get a good headphone surround sound experience? I’ve seen videos mention Dolby atmos and some mention an implementation native to Windows10. I’m also looking at external usb driven amps like the Sound Blaster X3 and XG6.

I’m confused by how all this stuff is supposed to work together.

I know I’m being a bit vague but I’m so confused that I’m not sure what to ask.

thanks
 

Spartacus09

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For solely headset if you dont have an ear for audio just buy yourself one of the gaming 5.1/7.1 surround sound USB headsets of your preferred brand (I like Logitech).
Most are plug and play and much easier than trying to deal with an external amp and such unless you already have a headset you like thats analog.
 

Commander FAT

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For solely headset if you dont have an ear for audio just buy yourself one of the gaming 5.1/7.1 surround sound USB headsets of your preferred brand (I like Logitech).
Most are plug and play and much easier than trying to deal with an external amp and such unless you already have a headset you like thats analog.
I don’t mind learning if it means getting better sounding audio.

I will check out some usb sets though.
 

Spartacus09

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There’s not a huge difference imo unless you’re an audiophile and want high end music quality.
 

IdiotInCharge

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  1. Set the game audio to use headphones
  2. Use decent headphones
...that's it. Anything other than stereo for headphones is emulating a surround setup then downmixing to stereo as opposed to just mixing to stereo, which is what headphones are.

Creative's sound cards work well for this if you like, but there are other better options available too depending on your needs. I will say that the new X3 looks very nice overall.
 

pendragon1

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if you have a decent headset try atmos for headphones. you can get a trial and if your happy with it its only $15.
 

Commander FAT

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There’s not a huge difference imo unless you’re an audiophile and want high end music quality.
Would using something like a Sound Blaster X3 or XG6 be about the same as using a USB headset? The Sound Blaster devices can connect via USB.
 

Commander FAT

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  1. Set the game audio to use headphones
  2. Use decent headphones
...that's it. Anything other than stereo for headphones is emulating a surround setup then downmixing to stereo as opposed to just mixing to stereo, which is what headphones are.

Creative's sound cards work well for this if you like, but there are other better options available too depending on your needs. I will say that the new X3 looks very nice overall.
My needs are good audio with good headphone surround for games like Battlefield and COD. It just needs to be good or slightly better. It doesn't have to be so high quality that it makes grown men cry. Standing external speakers won't work in my space although a 2.1 desktop setup might be in the future for games where I don't care so much about surround sound.

I don't use my pc for music and I'll watch maybe a few movies a year. Music and movies are very low priority.

I'm looking at the Sound Blaster USB stuff at the moment.
 

Commander FAT

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if you have a decent headset try atmos for headphones. you can get a trial and if your happy with it its only $15.
I tried Atmos on my non gaming laptop just to test it out but it doesn't work. Dolby Access keeps telling me "enable dolby atmos to access audio settings". This is the kind of problem I'm trying to avoid.
 

pendragon1

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I tried Atmos on my non gaming laptop just to test it out but it doesn't work. Dolby Access keeps telling me "enable dolby atmos to access audio settings". This is the kind of problem I'm trying to avoid.
yeah theres a tickbox in audio setting, if i remember right. the creative stuff youre looking at should work fine for what you want too.
 

pendragon1

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Yeah I tried that but I can't turn on the spatial audio setting for my realtek audio. It's grayed out.
either the driver is out of date or the realtek chip doesnt support it, but thats usually on old ancient audio chips.
 

bizzmeister

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Modern Warfare or Warzone does not have an audio option called “headphones”

There are like 7 options and I haven’t figured out which one I like best yet either. Very frustrating lol.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Modern Warfare or Warzone does not have an audio option called “headphones”

There are like 7 options and I haven’t figured out which one I like best yet either. Very frustrating lol.
Then just use stereo.

You're looking for something that does HRTF (Head Relative Transfer Functions) which is what turns surround sound into stereo, whether the game does that or you tell the game to do 7.1 and then the sound card or headset software does it.
 

pendragon1

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IdiotInCharge

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Basically, leave it on default and get a better pair of headphones.

You want something balanced. Too much detail, especially in the highs, and the pings from bullets and white noise from explosions will kill your ears. Too much bass (or too boomy bass) will drown out the details you need to hear.

The ALC1220 on your motherboard, if well implemented, will likely work pretty well with a range of headphones.
 

Commander FAT

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  1. Set the game audio to use headphones
  2. Use decent headphones
...that's it. Anything other than stereo for headphones is emulating a surround setup then downmixing to stereo as opposed to just mixing to stereo, which is what headphones are.

Creative's sound cards work well for this if you like, but there are other better options available too depending on your needs. I will say that the new X3 looks very nice overall.
I’m looking at the sound blaster x g6. Would COD Warzone output the simulated surround sound to the g6 or does the g6 create the simulated surround sound from what the game generates?
 

capnstabn

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I have had a really hard time making virtual surround sound have any type of advantage in Warzone. I would get some headphones with great soundstage, and if your onboard sound can power them you are likely fine. The in game settings to make the sound brighter is going to be the biggest enhancement. Virtual surround is great for immersion but the audio queues in combat become less reliable and likely to put you at a disadvantage.
 

IdiotInCharge

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I have had a really hard time making virtual surround sound have any type of advantage in Warzone. I would get some headphones with great soundstage, and if your onboard sound can power them you are likely fine. The in game settings to make the sound brighter is going to be the biggest enhancement. Virtual surround is great for immersion but the audio queues in combat become less reliable and likely to put you at a disadvantage.
I remember the exact moment when I gave up on this:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2, an X-Fi, and a set of Sennheiser HD555s. All set to stereo.

Heard the bullet go over my head, knew exactly where it'd come from; took cover, flanked the shooter's position quietly, and shoved my knife in his chest.

DICE has been putting the best surround for headphones you're going to get these days in the games themselves. Now, I invest in decent DACs, amps, and cans for gaming. And yes, I know right where you are.
 

criccio

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This ^

High end gear and plain old stereo. Some of the best "surround" you'll get in a game.
 
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I made this account just to reply to criccio and IdiotInCharge and, hopefully, try to add to this discussion.

Not all games are produced the same. Some have great audio mixes, made specifically for headphones, and some don't.

I believe that Cod Warzone (Modern Warfare 2019) doesn't have a proper headphone mix, and here is why.

Per some standard (not sure if it's a strict norm or not), stereo mixes are created for speakers - specifically, speakers positioned at 30 degrees from you (equilateral triangle).

As you audio enthusiast guys already know, headphones don't produce the same soundstage width as speakers, since we are dealing with isolated channels with no crosstalk. That is why some people can't stand headphones, or engage crossfeed/HRIR to try simulating the natural width of the soundstages produced by speakers.

So, if the game doesn't have separated speakers and headphones mixes (like CSGO), the sound was probably made for speakers, not for headphones, meaning that you get the wrong positioning (for example, positional cues at 30 degrees will be heard as 0 degrees, right beside you).

I personally didn't like the default stereo sound from Warzone. It was all too cluttered together, with no sense of distance, and objects panned too quickly and not naturally, meaning that it probably uses some speaker mix. If it's true, its a real shame on Infinity Ward.

I then tried HeSuVi with the GSX (no reverb) HRIR, downmixing the game's 7.1 mix, and the positioning is much, much improved. The audio positioning and quality is incredible on my HD650 and also on my AKG K371.

I believe that any virtualization should be superior to the game's plain stereo mix.

Best regards,
 
Last edited:

bizzmeister

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I made this account just to reply to criccio and IdiotInCharge and, hopefully, try to add to this discussion.

Not all games are produced the same. Some have great audio mixes, made specifically for headphones, and some don't.

I believe that Cod Warzone (Modern Warfare 2019) doesn't have a proper headphone mix, and here is why.

Per some standard (not sure if it's a strict norm or not), stereo mixes are created for speakers - specifically, speakers positioned at 30 degrees from you (equilateral triangle).

As you audio enthusiast guys already know, headphones don't produce the same soundstage width as speakers, since we are dealing with isolated channels with no crosstalk. That is why some people can't stand headphones, or engage crossfeed/HRIR to try simulating the natural width of the soundstages produced by speakers.

So, if the game doesn't have separated speakers and headphones mixes (like, say, CSGO), the sound was probably made for speakers, not for headphones, meaning that you get the wrong positioning (for example, positional cues at 30 degrees will be heard as 0 degrees, right beside you).

I personally didn't like the default stereo sound from Warzone. It was all too cluttered together, with no sense of distance, and objects panned too quickly and not naturally, meaning that it probably uses some speaker mix. If it's true, its a real shame on Infinity Ward.

I then tried HeSuVi's GSX HRIR, downmixing the game's 7.1 mix, and the positiong is much, much improved. The audio positioning and quality is incredible on my HD650 and also on my AKG K371.

Best regards,
Thanks for sharing! Is this HeSuVi GSX HRIR some sort of app or download you do?

forgive me, I have absolutely no idea what that is or how you go about doing what you did to improve it.
 
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Thanks for sharing! Is this HeSuVi GSX HRIR some sort of app or download you do?

forgive me, I have absolutely no idea what that is or how you go about doing what you did to improve it.
Hi,
HeSuVi is a neat piece of software that compiles lots of different virtualizations and present them in a simple interface, applying them via EqualizerAPO. You get to choose from dozens of virtualizations, such as Dolby Headphone, SBX, CMSS-3D, DTS Headphone X, GSX (from Sennheiser) and many others.
It essentially makes any headphone a "7.1" headphone, plus you get to choose the virtualization you like the most. The virtualizations are more useful when the source is 7.1, so it downmixes the channels to a headphone-specific surround mix. Works on stereo material too, narrowing the unnatural width of the stage as heard with headphones (might not be desirable for music because it also changes tonality and adds some reverb, depending on the chosen virtualization)
I believe that it's own page will guide you much better than I am able to.
Feel free to ask anything via PM if you must!
 
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bizzmeister

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Hi,
HeSuVi is a neat piece of software that compiles lots of different virtualizations and present them in a simple interface, applying them via EqualizerAPO. You get to choose from dozens of virtualizations, such as Dolby Headphone, SBX, CMSS-3D, DTS Headphone X, GSX (from Sennheiser) and many others.
It essentially makes any headphone a "7.1" headphone, plus you get to choose the virtualization you like the most. The virtualizations are more useful when the source is 7.1, so it downmixes the channels to a headphone-specific surround mix. Works on stereo material too, narrowing the unnatural width of the stage as heard with headphones (might not be desirable for music because it also changes tonality and adds some reverb, depending on the chosen virtualization)
I believe that it's own page will guide you much better than I am able to.
Feel free to ask anything via PM if you must!
Thanks for the information bud, greatly appreciated. Learned a thing or two there. Had zero idea of all this. Neat stuff for sure. I will give it a shot and report back.
 

Mchart

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I just used Dolby Access/Atmos on Windows and it sounds great. Didn’t install anything extra. The game will detect Atmos is running and pass it the stream.
 

pendragon1

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I just used Dolby Access/Atmos on Windows and it sounds great. Didn’t install anything extra. The game will detect Atmos is running and pass it the stream.
with speakers right? 'cause for headphones its $15. and i think he grabbed a x3 already...
 

Mchart

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with speakers right? 'cause for headphones its $15. and i think he grabbed a x3 already...
No, with headphones through a USB DAC/AMP. Although Access supports passing it to speakers as well if you have the equipment. You get both headphone and speaker support with the $15 app.

From what I know of warzone is that it doesn’t have great surround sound support outside of Atmos. So if you aren’t using Atmos it’s just not going to sound great, period.

Personally, the $15 app is well worth the money because it gives you the ability for Atmos support in the games/media that have it, and it also works great, in my experience, doing virtual surround as well. At least with my hardware.
 

bizzmeister

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I just used Dolby Access/Atmos on Windows and it sounds great. Didn’t install anything extra. The game will detect Atmos is running and pass it the stream.
with speakers right? 'cause for headphones its $15. and i think he grabbed a x3 already...
I have the $15 Atmos license and it’s terrible with Warzone.

everything is just super loud when it shouldn’t be and you can’t hear footsteps for shit.

Definitely not the right thing to use for competitive play if your trying to win games.
 

Mchart

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I have the $15 Atmos license and it’s terrible with Warzone.

everything is just super loud when it shouldn’t be and you can’t hear footsteps for shit.

Definitely not the right thing to use for competitive play if your trying to win games.
Absolutely disagree. Make sure the dynamic range is set to the widest option in the audio menu. It sounds outstanding on my setup.

Footsteps and everything else like it are easily detectable, and it’s a huge competitive edge.

If it doesn’t sound good I firmly believe you have something misconfigured.
 

bizzmeister

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Absolutely disagree. Make sure the dynamic range is set to the widest option in the audio menu. It sounds outstanding on my setup.

Footsteps and everything else like it are easily detectable, and it’s a huge competitive edge.

If it doesn’t sound good I firmly believe you have something misconfigured.
Could have sworn I tried every single option but I will try what your suggesting again tonight.

I play with a Sennheiser Game Zero headset / Soundblaster sound card and just leave it on default home theater audio preset in the Warzone settings
 

Mchart

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Closed back lower power gaming headphone.. you likely have to feed it a volume mix that has less dynamic range to hear stuff like foot steps better but that means other things will be too loud , and I can’t imagine them having an acceptable sound stage being closed.
Atmos won’t fix meh headphones.
 

pendragon1

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Although Access supports passing it to speakers as well if you have the equipment.
thats what i was referring to, i thought it was free for avr/speakers but $15 for the headphone stuff. funny, the store page is now pimping warzone.
 

bizzmeister

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Closed back lower power gaming headphone.. you likely have to feed it a volume mix that has less dynamic range to hear stuff like foot steps better but that means other things will be too loud , and I can’t imagine them having an acceptable sound stage being closed.
Atmos won’t fix meh headphones.
Lol I wasn’t aware that a $200 headset from Sennheiser matched with a good sound card was meh lol.
 

Mchart

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Lol I wasn’t aware that a $200 headset from Sennheiser matched with a good sound card was meh lol.
Most gaming headset combos are way over priced, and being closed back means you just won’t have the sound stage no matter how good they are.

Not trying to overly say what you have is bad BTW, I haven't used it and it could be good. Make sure to set the audio dynamic range to 'Reference' in the options. All the other options really make things too loud. That being said, just be prepared that if your headphones aren't the best that the reference option may be too quiet for you.
 
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bizzmeister

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So i listen/watch JackFrags all the time on Youtube. Guys a beast and always has the best videos. I'd go with his word, just updating this thread randomly.



Long story short, footsteps in this current build are jacked up and not consistent. He said leave it on "Home Theater" preset. Also, if your in a house/structure on Warzone, break all the windows and leave a door or two open. Footsteps are much more audible.



Hope that helps, heres the video for reference.

 
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