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I've read few recommendations which would suggest that using a good quality headset improves your chances of survival a lot, as you could hear the steps of enemies or where they are firing from.

Rather than a headset, I'm currently playing with 2.1 Creative speakers. Is it really worth switching to a headset? And is there improvement using a 5.1 headset, rather then stereo a one?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by OrigamiRobot, Frank, kalina, KatieK, Unionhawk Oct 21 '13 at 16:23

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Since the need for headphones is generally a personal preference and assessed on a case by case basis I'll share my experience:

I have a really nice 5.1 system I absolutely love it and would always laugh at my friends who would put on these clunky $200-300 head phones. I mean on the surface it sounds like such a waste when you already paid hundreds or thousands for an expensive surround sound system. However I finally decided to drop the money for some turtle beach x41's for Modern Warefare 2 since they started releasing perks that actually amplified or muffled footsteps I figured there had to be something to this.

In my experience the difference with 7.1 headphones equipped with noise canceling is AMAZING. At least in Call of Duty where I knew the maps very well I could easily tell not just the direction enemies were in but exactly where every one was based on what sounds their feet were making (metal, wood, concrete). It doesn't matter where you are you can hear everyone all the time (even with Ninja Pro!) Also it allows you to hear subtle things I never even thought about, like the pin on grenade when an enemy starts cooking it or even when the enemy is reloading or changing weapons. I can't tell you how many times I have been saved from someone camping, because I heard them reload or plant a claymore.

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Great, now after spending $500 of a new processor, motherboard, and memory I need to go out and buy $300 headphones? CoD:BO is the most expensive game ever! :) –  Torpesh May 4 '11 at 19:36
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@Torpesh: I've just checked out the one he mentions. It's $159 actually, I think most of that price is due the fact it's wireless and for X360. I've also checked that you can get 5.1 wired ones (different brand) for some $30-$50. –  vartec May 5 '11 at 15:32
    
@Torpesh @vartec Just so your aware: the reason I went with them is because the x41 have an input for a digital TOSLINK... It's also a bonus that you don't have to deal with two wires (one to the controller, one to the headsets base station). –  Kyle May 5 '11 at 16:08
    
@vartec did you end up going with the x41's? ....just out of curiosity. –  Kyle May 10 '11 at 13:38
    
@Kyle: not really, haven't decided yet, but I'm not going for X41 for 2 reasons; 1st, I don't have X360, so I don't need that functionality, 2nd, I really don't need wireless. –  vartec May 10 '11 at 14:31

5.1 will give you much better spatial resolution so you'll be able to ascertain the sounds' origin more easily (assuming the game's sound engine outputs like that, but almost everything with a decent budget nowadays does).

But the answer is also pretty subjective - a lot of people don't need/want/care about more precise sound, the same as not everybody wants to always run at an enormous resolution. In both cases higher is generally better as it is clearer, but whether or not it's "worth it" is completely up to you.

I currently use a not-very-great 2.1 set of speakers and, while I do want to change them, it doesn't actively make my gaming experiences worse.

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it's pretty awesome when a chopper flies over you though. –  Sir Ksilem May 4 '11 at 16:31

Using a headset definitely helps when playing first person shooters, this goes all the way back to CS 1.6.

The biggest advantage of using a headset is that it gives you a much more focused sound projection and your ears give you a better gauge of where the sound is coming from. If the sound is emanating from your speakers, you won't be able pick up as quickly or as accurately where the sound is coming from.

The question of "is it really worth it"? Is somewhat dependent on how competitive you are or how well you want to play. How important is your Kill:Death Ratio? Are you more focused on trying to complete the team objective on the map?

If you're the type of player that wants every little bit of an advantage, a headset is definitely worth it.

As far as the second part of the question between a 5.1 headset and a stereo one, I've used a 100 dollar 5.1 headset, and a 10 dollar stereo headset (50 bucks the first time though, found OEM ones later for 10), from a sound standpoint, there isn't much difference when it comes to gaming.

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