On the community forums at GameFAQs.com, users are comparing notes regarding their favorite method of listening to game audio. This includes an interesting poll, wherein users can vote for their preferred video game listening environment. The winner? Gaming headsets, which pulled 30% of the vote. This was followed by 5.1 surround systems, TV speakers, 7.1 surround systems, with an external stereo system trailing the field.
Why does this matter to a game composer? Our method of monitoring our mixes should reflect what the majority of listeners will experience in-game. If we primarily hear our mixes through stereo monitors, we’re experiencing the music in a way that matches the listening environment of only a small percentage of our target audience. We’ll have to make sure that we check our mixes through multiple audio delivery systems, with a particular emphasis on headsets.
I like the idea you are proposing here. The only issue is that the number of votes is only 150. A pretty small population compared to the millions of gamers out there. I wouldn’t doubt that the majority use gaming headsets as companies like Razr and Sony have created headsets for this market….
Good point — it would be nice to see a larger population for a similar poll, but at least this gives an indication of a trend, if not definitive proof of it. Would also be cool to see a poll for game audio pros, to determine our prevalent audio monitoring set-ups while we’re working. The comparison between the two results could be useful, I think.
Very interesting data! Thanks for your sharing!
I have a quetion regarding the topic.
Does each figure reflect the population of who actually have thoes equipments? Or is it something that each game players demand to have?
(Whether one owns or not)
For example, I currently have none of any surround systems but I would like to get 7.1 system and highly demand for playing games with the system.
A person like me would include 7.1 users or a gamer play game with tv speaker system, because I don’t have any system nor headsets?
I think the poll reflected the actual usage of the listening equipment that each gamer owned, so it was a statement not only about choice but also availability. Headsets seem to be very pervasive, but in the comments below the poll, some indicated that they choose headsets (for various reasons) even when other listening systems are available to them. It’s useful information, although Greg has a point about the fairly small size of the voting pool. I’d love to see a larger population study for this topic.
I’ve always heard of the importance of checking the mix in a variety of speakers and ‘phones, but wasn’t aware of the importance of headsets to gamers.
Pardon my not knowing, but is there a major difference between a good pair of 2-channel (stereo) headphones, and what the poll calls ‘gaming headsets”? Thanks!
Gaming headsets are typically equipped with microphones for chat. They may also be bolstered with EQ modifiers that allow for bass boost and things like that. The sound quality of a high-quality gaming headset won’t compare to the sound quality of a pair of high-quality professional headphones — but there would be quite a lot of variance in terms of where the denigration might be happening. In the upper frequencies? In the lower ones? Missing some middle? Depends on the headset. Working with a very truthful, transparent set of professional headphones would be a good place to start, though.