A good surround sound system can make all the difference when it comes to programs with multi-directional audio channels, especially games. But investing in such a setup can be very costly. If you have multiple stereo devices at hand, be they standard 2.1 output devices, headphones, or even in-built speakers, you can combine them to create a virtual surround sound experience that would make your experience more enjoyable while cutting down costs at the same time.
The utility of virtual surround sound over conventional stereo can be appreciated by gamers, who know how important sound direction is, especially in FPS games. It lets you know the relative position of the enemy just by hearing their footsteps. While not totally useless for gaming, stereo systems are more suited for music playback, whereas surround sound setups are not.
If you own multiple stereo devices, you can combine them into a single virtual surround sound device that uses those individual devices just like a surround sound system would, directing specific audio channels to specific devices. This gives an illusion of surround sound but is actually now. True surround sound systems are often very expensive and may leave you wondering why’d you spend so much on them. Virtual surround is your best bet for now. However, if you’ve got the budget for a Dolby Atmos system, it’s definitely a good investment if you know which ones are worth the price. You can refer to sources like The Product Analyst, which has an extensive assessment of the most sought-after Dolby Atmos Soundbars so you don’t end up wasting your money.
Combining multiple stereo devices
Install and start the Audio MIDI Setup app from Applications >> Utilities as shown below.
Create Aggregate Device from the Audio Devices window.
You can now give each of these devices a name. For example, front, side, rear etc.
The next step is to set the format and volume for each physical stereo device. This is useful, because you can only get an optimal audible experience by varying sound levels for each device. For example, too much sound on the front speakers would drown out sounds coming from the sides or top, and so on.
Now click on Configure Speakers and assign each of the virtual speakers to your physical outputs. You can click on each speaker to test it.
From System Preferences >> Sound, you can now choose the new device you just created! If it doesn’t show up, close the System Preferences app and reopen it.
This new virtual device will work right away with all apps and most games.
What do you think about this useful trick? Let us know your views in the comments section below!