[Major Bug Report] 3D Binaural sound design flaw with USB Headphones

When I started playing this game, I thought the sound design was absolutely awful. Locating foot steps was a major hardship.
It felt like the sounds only came from 8-9 distinct angles instead of having a 360 degree circle around me.

So I tried everything. Disabling/Enabling sound enhancements (which weren't on to begin with), enabling disabling the USB DAC's 7.1 Virtual surround sound, enabling/disabling Windows Sonic's 5.1 surround sound, etc.

Nothing fucking worked. I was getting mad because this game is the only one this is happening to. Then I tried plugging in the 3.5mm directly in. The 3d binaural sound (or whatever tech this game uses) made sense, it was accurate. (The verticality issue where I hear an enemy 3 floors above me and he's right next to me on my floor was still there though - but it felt x10 times better)

So there it is, this game can literally not deal with USB DACs and can't passthrough the audio.
I don't know why.

I'd much rather play with my USB DAC since it's:

  1. Longer so I don't have to worry about tug/pull.
  2. I can use my microphone and my microphone's sound isolation.

Now I thought it was only me, but I went in-game and talked to other users with a HyperX Cloud 2 and they had similar issues to mine. The sound locations were COMPLETELY messed up.

You may think "Bah it's just 1 headset", but HyperX Cloud II headsets are MASSIVELY popular. It was, and still is, the go-to headset for medium budget gaming.

It's the most popular gaming headset in NA I believe. This needs to be fixed. The position sound isn't properly passthrough'ing through the USB DAC.

I've tested numerous games: Siege, PUBG, CS:S, CS:GO, etc. None of them have that issue, so I'm sure it's a bug with this game (as there seems to be a bunch tbh).

I use the Asus Xonar U3 as plain stereo DAC (and ADC for the microphone, headset is fully analog) and it works fine. Never used any "virtual surround" systems, they just confuse things when properly designed binaural stereo works just fine.

I don't watch movies on my computer, I have a proper 7.1 soundsystem and projector for that, so I have no use for a driver that pretends to be multiple actual stereo channels and maps to binaural stereo. And of course one would hope that the sound designers for the movie mixed the plain old stereo soundtrack properly too and in that case the virtual driver probably leads to poorer results.

@mashiara ... I'm not sure what's the point of the comment if you don't have the same setup as me and you're not confirming or denying the bug.

Bump, found this thread with similar "stereo stuck" issues. I'm guessing devs just don't care or haven't seen the bug?


Just confirming that it's not a problem with "USB DAC" in general, it's something else related to this particular headset, which has more "features" than just stereo out, mic in.

If I had to guess the "virtual surround" driver messes things up, it being "disabled" doesn't neccessarily mean a thing unless it can be completely uninstalled. Also possible that the headset just has a weird physical configuration that has been designed for optimal performance with the "virtual surround" system and completely messes up binaural stereo, in which case there's very little the devs can do about it (basically they can only start fully supporting the "virtual surround" thing but that's not a small effort, especially since there's bound to be subtle differences between drivers).

If it's the driver, unless the game somehow can tell the driver to stop playing silly buggers with the stereo sound the game is playing (it's not like the game uses any sort of direct access to the sound hardware, it all goes through the windows sound api) there's again very little the devs can realistically do about it.

I think this game's sound is designed for stereo headset only, anything else will mess up the positional. the devs should fix it, but you know Binaural 3D works best without DAC/any sound enhancement, and especially with this game you should keep your EQ (if you use one) all flat

last edited by bandungpojok

Just nitpicking but can't leave it be: DAC stands for Digital Analog Converter, and there's going to be one involved everywhere data is converted into pressure waves, ie audio you can hear.

But yes all "enhancement" (apart from maybe just plain old EQ, if needed to get flat response from not-so-great headphones, but depending on how the EQ is actually implemented it might cause weird side effects, also: do not "leave it flat", turn it off completely, see note1) is going to mess up the binaural sound designed to work with plain stereo output.

I see no reason why a stereo headset with built-in USB DAC would not work just fine as long as it's plain stereo without anything "enhancing" the signal and the headset analog side is of reasonable quality.

That said, I don't understand why anyone would actually want a fully integrated USB setup (apart from the RGB LED control bling, but I never understood that either). a decent quality stereo+mic DAC is not expensive or big and you don't need any drivers since it's an audio device as defined by the USB standard, everything supports those out-of-the-box. Then you can plug in whatever headset you happen to like or even separate headphones and microphone. Maybe it's because sales/marketing -people can make one want all kinds of things that on closer inspection are not all that desirable.

Also regarding "enhancing": HiFi stands for High Fidelity, where fidelity means faithful(nes). Faithfully reproducing the sound as it was recorded (or intended to be reproduced if generated on the fly) any "enhancement" of the sound goes completely against this principle.

note1: because in "flat" it's still doing the time-domain to frequency-domain and back to time-domain conversions even if it's not doing any changes when in frequency domain, but this goes a bit deep into theory.

@mashiara Maybe. I honestly thought not enabling it would mean it's completely disable it. Maybe it's just one of those weird development bugs like when HDR was attached to motion blur.

I don't think it's the headset's fault considering every single game has worked wonderfully so far.

@bandungpojok Everything is flat, I just use the USB DAC mostly for extending purposes and to control the volume/shut off my mic manually. Virtual 7.1 is never on. It screws me over in most games tbh.

@mashiara It's mostly so I have a remote to control sound/mic with and the headset has amazing reviews. My PC's front hub takes mic/audio separately while the headset's wire stays one cord. I bought a mic/audio splitter just for this occasion. As I said, it fixed the horizontal binaural 3D sound, but the vertical one is still complete crap. Which I can only assume is the game's fault.