Reach has some killer audio, though in some cases that immersive gameplay audio seems to dampen voice communication. Good or bad alot of this has to do with audio set up, and some of the things that are easily overlooked in home theater/office audio set ups.
Halo Reach was written and mastered with Dolby Digital 5.1. This coding allows for Dolby capable processors to analyze in-game sound and output to corresponding channels/speakers. The settings on a home theater receiver may have multiple modes of Dolby. Bungie has some great info on how you can make the best of your set up- Check it out – http://www.bungie.net/projects/reach/article.aspx?ucc=faq&cid=28796
What about Headphones?
Headphones can be a great advantage to the FPS player. They assist greatly in hearing your teammates, as well as the blue fella behind you who wants to go into all assassination animation on you!
Neks, how do I make sense of the info above and apply it to headphones? There are two camps essentially on this subject matter. One being the 5.1 Headphone, the other being the Dolby HP Processor.
Dolby Digital and “5.1” Headphones
The Dolby Digital 5.1 , and Headphone set up in almost all cases has two components. A breakout box that has the ability to process and decode Dolby Digital 5.1 as well as output to its paired counterpart, a Headphone that has multiple drivers. These drivers are usually small and anemic due to the size and ohms they can handle. In this scenario the Dolby Processor exists as it would in a home theater environment- Digital signal is processed and decoded by the source (on topic, Halo)- and the channels corresponding to the process would be translated to analog audio to set up surrounding you- In a headphone, they are now received inside to placed drivers in the phones. Some Examples would be Turtle Beach, Tritton. Though as of late- Tritton and Turtlebeach have moved to the Dolby : HP Technology.
Dolby: HP, and Headphones
Dolby HP is universal processing for any stereo headphone. Though some manufactures still create a non universal scenario for obvious reasons. The details of Dolby HP can be better explained with the coupled definition of how our brain and our ears interpret distance, depth and direction when it comes to aural perception. Essentially our ears are stereo- and our “surround processor” is the brain. Our ears receive signal in the form of vibration/sound, the brain then translates that signal to determine its basic location. In a Headphone set up, your ears are virtually connected to those signals. Determining distance with 5.1 headphone is possible, but the actual distance between the driver and your ear is miniscule, so ultimately it has less of an effect than a true surround set up.
Dolby Headphone attempts to defeat this by emulating your brain! It takes processed Dolby Data and couples it with algorithm targeted delays of sound to give the brain the perception of location. The Dolby HP processor is sometimes harder to find, partially due to the cost to the manufactures. There are Home Theater Recievers that offer this, but they too can be hard to find. Harmon Kardan used it in their previous AVR line, as well as Marantz and Onkyo. In some cases, a true Reciever with many features can be had for a few more dollars then the Astro Mixamp. Yikes. Turtle Beach has one that is 80 dollars and is called the DSS.
Over all- when looking for the right pair of headphones, do your research. Gaming Peripheral manufactures don’t always make quality High-Fi. Would you buy a Washer and Dryer from MadCatz?