If you’re a gamer, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard about the benefits of stereo audio for competitive games. But what about mono? Does it have its own advantages or should you forget about it?
Mono audio isn’t a good choice for gaming. Mono can be excellent for basic tasks such as making a phone call. However, mono doesn’t give you the spatial awareness that stereo does, which can be a decisive factor when playing competitive games.
This article will break down how mono audio works, as well as its advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, it will help you decide whether they’re suitable for you and your gaming experience.
Is Mono Audio Good for Gaming?
Mono audio isn’t good for gaming because players need to hear sounds coming from as many sources as possible to achieve optimal performance. If both speakers on your headphones play the same sound, then there is no way for you to know where the sound is coming from.
When gaming, it’s always best to use stereo sound. And if you’re into competitive games, Then it’s a must.
You’ll be able to identify where the sounds are coming from more accurately. For example, if someone shoots behind and you’re using Stereo Sound, you’ll be able to pinpoint the direction the player is shooting from—and with some practice, where he is. Doing the same with mono sound would require much more effort.
The reason stereo allows you to locate objects in space—like other players’ footsteps— is because of a feature called stereo imaging. Headphones only have two speakers, but it’s possible to balance the volume of different sounds between the two so it appears that they have spatial directions.
Great headphones go a little further and create a detailed soundstage, which allows you to differentiate how far different sounds are in relation to each other.
Do Gaming Pros Use Mono or Stereo Audio?
Most gaming pros use stereo audio, as opposed to Mono. The reasoning is that stereo gives a better sense of direction. It also gives you a better sense of distance, improving gameplay.
There is some debate regarding mono and stereo in music, especially for older recordings. However, this is not so much the case for games. Pro gamers use stereo. They seem to agree that the spatial orientation that comes with stereo gives them an edge.
What’s up for debate is how much the average gamer will benefit from stereo audio. Unless you’re in the competitive scene of a game, it’s likely that stereo audio won’t make a difference in how you play. You’d need to reach a high skill level before it starts being relevant at all.
Is Mono Audio Always Bad for Gaming?
Mono audio isn’t always bad for gaming. It works well for games with single-player campaigns which involve a lot of story-telling and narrative.
Mono sound isn’t as good as stereo when it comes to locating sounds in a 3D space of discerning directions. However, not all games rely on this to work.
If you’re playing a casual game or a single-player campaign that isn’t too demanding, then playing with mono won’t be an issue. In fact, there are reasons you may prefer it.
For some people, soft sounds can be easier to hear in mono than in stereo. If you want to be able to listen to every detail and don’t have the money to spend on fancy speakers, then mono audio might do the trick.
There are also instances where stereo can be more taxing for your computer. If you have an old PC, using mono audio can help take some load off your CPU and make the game run smoother.
On the other hand, if you like playing multiplayer shooters such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive or Over watch, then mono sound won’t help much. In fact, it could become a hindrance. You won’t be able to easily locate other players, but if they’re using stereo audio, they’ll certainly be able to hear you.
What Does It Mean When a Game Is in Mono or Stereo?
When a game is mono it means that a soundtrack or sound effect has been created or recorded with a single mic in front of all the sound sources. On the other hand, in stereo games, sounds are either multi-tracked or played live with more than one microphone.
Stereo sound is recorded with at least two microphones from the start. If a game was recorded in mono, then you won’t be able to turn it to stereo. However, a game recorded in stereo can sound in mono without an issue.
Are Headphones Better Than Speakers for Gaming?
Headphones are usually better for gaming, but speakers are also an excellent option. The highest-quality gaming headphones are far superior to speakers in just about every way.
If you’re a gamer, you should own a pair of headphones. It’s almost a requirement.
To start, headphones are easier to use. You can adjust them however you want, depending on where you are and what you need to do. They’re also very portable, meaning you don’t have to worry about size.
Headphones keep you focused on the game rather than on the noise around you. With a high-quality pair of cans, you’ll feel much more immersed in the game. The only disadvantage of using headphones is that they can get really uncomfortable after long hours of play.
Recently, gaming headphones have become increasingly popular due to their comfortable ear cups, noise reduction capabilities, and great sound quality. If you are looking to improve your gaming experience, consider purchasing a high-quality pair of gaming headphones.
Will Using Mono Audio Affect My Computer’s Performance?
Using mono audio won’t affect your computer’s performance. In fact, 3D audio using stereo can add more strain to your PC, making mono audio less taxing on computers.
This is a problem that many gamers tend to worry about, especially those with older computers. The truth is that creating accurate 3D sound requires extra processing power, so, if anything, mono audio may improve performance on slow computers.
However, the type of audio is a very minor factor in how well a game runs. Suffice to say that it isn’t something worth worrying about.
Why Mono Can’t Play Surround Sound
Many games take full advantage of sound technology to create an immersive and realistic experience. This usually means making use of surround sound.
Surround sound systems have right and left speakers, a center speaker, a subwoofer, and at least two rear speakers, surrounding the listener with sound. This only works because each speaker is playing a different channel made specifically for it.
Mono audio plays the same channel on all speakers, which means it can’t take advantage of having multiple speakers. Great mono recordings can still give a sense of spatial awareness, but not as much as stereo or surround sound.
Stereo sound uses only two channels, so it technically can’t play surround sound either. However, with some software tricks, it’s possible for stereo speakers to emulate the sound of 5.1 or 7.1.
Can Mono Headphones Emulate Surround Sound?
Mono sound can’t emulate surround sound. The main reason gamers tend to go for stereo or surround sound is the depth and range they provide. This is something mono cannot imitate due to its lack of depth perception.
If you’re into surround sound, then forget about mono. However, as you’ll see, even great stereo headphones have their limitations when it comes to surround sound.
Can Stereo Headphones Emulate Surround Sound?
Stereo headphones can emulate surround sound to a certain degree, but they can never beat the real thing. If you want to experience quality surround sound —especially during multiplayer games— you need virtual surround sound headphones or a real 5.1 or 7.1 system.
For example, Sennheiser has its own GSX surround sound feature, which only works with compatible Sennheiser headsets. This technology simulates 7.1 or 5.1 audio channels. It is also customizable, allowing gamers to create their own profile depending on their game preferences.
The Difference Between Mono and Stereo
Mono audio consists of one track playing back a single waveform at a time. In the case of headphones, sounds come from speakers placed very close to your head, meaning you can only hear noises coming from directly in front of you.
In contrast, stereo audio has 2 tracks playing back at once—each track consisting of its own separate waveforms and having its own speaker to play through. This can give you the illusion of hearing sounds from all around you.
Most gaming professionals are sponsored by companies that provide them with their gear, and they use stereo headphones. The most popular models are the Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO, Sennheiser HD 598, Velodyne VLeve, and Turtle Beach’s Elite Atlas Pro (for PS4). Additionally, although some professional gamers like to play games in surround sound, they usually only require front or behind-the-head headsets.
What Is Mono Audio?
Mono audio is a form of audio production that involves using only one microphone. This is in contrast to the more conventional stereo-graphic recording process, which uses multiple microphones and two channels to record audio.
While mono audio has been around since the beginning of sound recording, it has declined in popularity over time. Mono audio only allows for one sound source to be picked up by a single microphone at any given time. In contrast, stereo recording allows multiple sound sources to be picked up at once and be played back through speakers in different positions.
What Are Mono Headphones?
You’ll typically find two types of headphones. Stereo headphones have two separate audio channels, left and right. Mono headphones will play the same audio channel in both ears, which means it doesn’t give a sense of direction. However, because there are fewer variables at play, mono audio can sometimes sound clearer.
Mono headphones play the same audio in both speakers. When using them, you can only hear sounds coming from directly in front of you. Mono headphones were the standard listening technology up until the 2000s; however, they are still sometimes used today.
Some older games may feature mono sound—for example, NES, SNES, Gameboy Advance, and some PlayStation 1 games.
Mono Works in All Devices
Mono will play on all devices. This is because all speakers are tuned to the same frequency range and volume level. Simply put, if you listen exclusively to mono sound, you’ll have absolute peace of mind that your music will sound the same way across a variety of systems.
Another benefit of monaural sound is its compatibility with older technologies, such as turntables and vinyl records. The same cannot be said about stereo discs or tapes.
Mono Audio Is Not As Immersive
While mono audio is very popular among amateur users, it has several drawbacks that make its use more complicated than multi-channel audio. Mono audio doesn’t sound as good as stereo, lacking detail and depth.
Mono audio gives you a clear and crisp sound, but it lacks the required impact to provide you with an immersive experience. On top of that, stereo soundtracks have become a standard in gaming. Many gamers prefer to play with headphones on so they can immerse themselves even further into their game.
Is Mono Audio Good for Listening to Music?
Mono audio isn’t as good as stereo for listening to music. Stereo headphones make it seem as if the speakers disappear, allowing you to focus on the sounds. They also give a more immersive experience.
While this might seem like common sense, there are actually still some people who think that mono audio can provide the best quality sound. However, that’s up for debate.
Is Mono Audio Good for Voice Chat?
Mono audio can benefit voice chat. The vast majority of users have always preferred to use mono sound for voice chatting. Despite stereo audio being the industry standard for most applications, listeners can better understand speech when it is delivered with mono audio.
Voice chatting is a key element of many games, so you may have to choose what’s more important to you. If listening clearly to your allies is more important than locating things around you, then mono may be the best choice. If you’re playing a chill multiplayer game, then this is a no-brainer.
At the end of the day, it is ultimately up to you whether you want to use mono audio or not while gaming. While the technology might be a bit behind the times, there are still a lot of gamers who enjoy this style of sound transmission. Therefore, if you enjoy its qualities and don’t care about surround sound, then mono audio might be just the right choice for you.