When sound gives you greater positional awareness, your advantage in gaming increases as well. Whether you want more immersion or information, Spatial Audio is a powerful audio feature.
You may have been hearing about Spatial Audio a lot recently. Apple has integrated the feature into their AirPods and AppleTV (did you know that our Nimbus+ wireless controller is an Apple-licensed and perfect for Apple gaming?)
Let's dive into explaining what Spatial Audio is, its benefits, and lastly, how to use it for yourself, whether you have a gaming headset or a speaker setup.
What is Spatial Audio?
Spatial Audio is an audio experience that simulates a surround-sound setup. You can achieve a surround sound-like quality from just your headset without having a number of speakers placed around your room.
This software marvel processes sound to make it seem like the sound coming from all around you, in 360°. This is achieved in two parts: the way sound engineers produce and record the audio, and then how software processes it.
Sound designers can specify which "direction" a sound comes from, based on where it happens with the camera, so that's why you'll hear certain sound effects louder from some directions. Then, if your device supports software like this, it will process it for total directional coverage.
Many companies have their own kind; you might be familiar, for example, with Tempest 3D Audio on the PlayStation (and our Nova gaming headsets are compatible with that as well!)
As for the benefits of Spatial Audio, it's a bit of personal taste, but it can be extremely useful in gaming. Understanding where a sound is coming from can be extremely important in games like Fortnite, Counter Strike, and Valorant. You can also enjoy movies to a greater degree, whether it's a villain in a horror movie standing right behind the main character, or an explosion coming from a certain direction.
Some software will allow you to tune the specifics of Spatial Audio. Read on to figure out how to get Spatial Audio for your headsets or speakers on your PC.
How to enable Spatial Audio on your headset
On your PC, it's easier than ever to enable Spatial Audio on your headset or certain speakers. With the free SteelSeries Sonar software, you can enable Spatial Audio on any device, among other powerful features like AI noise cancellation. Let's dive into the steps to set this up.
1. First, download the SteelSeries GG software and create an account or login. Navigate to the Sonar tab.
In Sonar, you will need to configure (assign) certain devices to their sources. You have separate mixing for all aspects of your audio, from Game, Chat, Media, to Microphone. For now, let's just focus on the Spatial Audio feature.
2. Click on "Game" to enter the audio configuration screen for that channel.
3. Now you see the audio settings for the Game audio channel. Scroll below.
Here, you can adjust the game audio with the Parametric EQ and audio presets for specific games. Keep scrolling down to get to the Spatial Audio feature.
4. Toggle the Spatial Audio feature on with the blue slider, and select Headphone Mode/Speaker Mode.
5. Adjust the desired Spatial Audio settings.
You can adjust several settings here for Spatial Audio.
- Performance-Immersion: Adjust the slider for the desired effect. Performance will help you in competitive FPS games where directional sound is vital. Sliding toward Immersion enhances the environmental effects and other audio elements for a more enjoyable experience.
- Distance: Adjust how "far" the audio sounds from.
- Speaker Position: All the virtual speakers in the circle on the left can be adjusted by clicking and dragging them.
- Reset: Click the three dots in the upper right corner of this module to reset the settings to their defaults.
6. Adjust Spatial Audio settings for Media.
If you want to set Spatial Audio for audio sources other than the games you play — say, for Netflix from your Google Chrome — go over to the Media tab. Scroll down, and you will see the same Spatial Audio settings for this audio mixer.
There you go. Not only you've learned more about Spatial Audio, you've found an easy and free way to enable it on your PC. If you're having trouble assigning the devices to the audio channels, make sure to read our other blogs, such as this guide on how to separate game, chat, and media audio.
Make sure to pick up a gaming headset from SteelSeries, such as an Arctis Nova 7, for the best experience with Sonar.