3D Sound vs Stereo – Which is Best and Why?

Have you ever been to a movie theatre and noticed that when the movie starts, the sound seems to come from all around you? Or maybe you’ve been playing a video game and felt like the sounds were actually coming from inside your head.

That’s because those sounds are being played through a 3d audio system. But what is 3d audio, and how is it different from plain old stereo?

Let’s take a closer look.

3D Sound vs Stereo – What’s the difference?

Stereo sound is where sound is projected outwards from a single point, and 3D sound is when the sounds come from different directions at once.

The difference between the two is that stereo relies on the listener to use their imagination to create an illusion of direction, while 3D sound has multiple sources of audio which mean listeners can determine where sounds are coming from.

Stereo sound was developed as a way for musicians in one place to be able to hear what they were playing for themselves.

It’s also known as “mono” or “monophonic.” In this type of reproduction, all frequencies are reproduced by one speaker with no space between them.

This makes it hard for people who listen on headphones since there will be interference because the left and right channels are being played through the same speaker.

3D audio, on the other hand, is a technique that uses multiple speakers to create the illusion that sound is coming from different places.

This is often used in movies and video games, where it’s important to be able to hear what’s going on from all around you.

When it comes to 3D audio, there are two main types: binaural and surround sound.

Binaural audio is a type of 3D audio that uses two channels to create the illusion of direction. This is done by simulating the way that our ears hear sound.

When you listen to binaural audio, it’s like you’re actually there in the room with the person who’s talking.

Surround sound is a type of 3D audio that uses more than two channels to create the illusion of direction. This is often used in movie theatres and home theatres. Many use the likes of a 5.1 setup for surround sound.

With surround sound, you can hear sound coming from all around you, making it feel like you’re right in the middle of the action.

3D Sound Setup

Is 3D Audio better than Stereo?

There is no definitive answer when it comes to whether 3D audio is better than stereo. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages which make them more or less suitable for certain applications.

Stereo sound is the standard for most music and cinematic audio, as it creates a more immersive experience by projecting sound outwards from a single point.

This makes it ideal for listening to music or watching movies, as it gives the impression of being in the same room as the performer or actor.

However, stereo sound can often be difficult to localize, meaning that it can be hard to determine exactly where a sound is coming from.

3D audio, on the other hand, uses multiple sources of audio to create a more realistic soundstage. This means that listeners can determine where sounds are coming from, making them more suitable for tasks such as gaming or VR.

However, 3D audio can often be more challenging to set up and can be less immersive than stereo.

Ultimately, it depends on the individual needs of the user to decide which is better. 3D audio is more suitable for specific tasks, while stereo is more versatile and easier to use.

It ultimately comes down to personal preference which one is better.

Disadvantages of 3D Audio

3D audio is an emerging technology that has many advantages over stereo sound, but also some disadvantages.

1. One drawback is that the listener does not have control over where they want to listen from (e.g., left speaker vs right speaker).

2. Another disadvantage is that if too many speakers are used in a room, then it becomes difficult for the listener to discern between sounds and easily tell which direction they came from.

3. In addition, 3D audio can be quite overwhelming for some listeners and can cause nausea or dizziness.

4. Finally, 3D audio is still a relatively new technology and not all devices support it yet, so people may not be able to enjoy the full experience.

Despite these disadvantages, 3D audio is a rapidly growing technology with many benefits that are sure to make it more popular in the years to come.

Disadvantages of Stereo audio

1. Stereo audio can be incredibly confusing for listeners, especially if the sound is not coming from the direction they expect it to. This can lead to a sense of confusion and make it difficult to follow what is happening in the audio.

2. The stereo imaging technique can often create an unpleasant experience for listeners, as it can cause sounds to be too loud or too quiet in comparison to other sounds. This can be particularly noticeable when there is a lot of background noise present.

3. When stereo audio is used incorrectly, it can lead to a number of sound problems such as sound distortion, echoes, and excessive noise levels.

Is 3D audio better than Dolby Atmos?

3D audio is an immersive experience that gives the listener a feeling of being in the middle of the action. 3D audio can be created with or without headphones and is perfect for movies, video games, and music.

While 3D audio has been around for a while, Dolby Atmos is a newer technology that gives listeners even more realistic sound. So which is better? 3D audio or Dolby Atmos? Let’s take a closer look.

3D audio creates an immersive experience by simulating the three dimensions of height, width, and depth. This is done by using spatial audio cues to place sounds in specific locations around the listener.

For example, if someone is speaking on the left side of the listener, the sound will be played over the left speaker. 3D audio can be enjoyed without headphones, but it is much more immersive when used with headphones.

Dolby Atmos is a newer technology that was developed in 2012. It is a surround sound system that adds height to the soundstage by using overhead speakers.

This gives the listener a more realistic experience, as it allows them to hear sounds coming from above them. Dolby Atmos is available in select cinemas and can be found in some video games and music albums.

So which is better? 3D audio or Dolby Atmos? It really depends on what you are looking for. 3D audio is perfect for creating an immersive experience, while Dolby Atmos is great for giving a realistic soundstage.

If you are looking for the best possible audio experience, then Dolby Atmos is the way to go. However, 3D audio is a great option if you are on a budget or don’t have the ability to set up overhead speakers.

In the end, it comes down to personal preference. Try out both technologies and see which one you prefer.

Which is better for gaming?

Some gaming consoles, like PlayStation 5 support 3D audio. The differences between immersion and video games are difficult for any user to underestimate.

This is an extremely authentic, sounding experience. Genres such as the horror genre and first-person shooter games have the ability to offer sound levels that are unlike any others.

Many first-person shooter games use terrible audio direction. 3D audio means first-person gamers could find the locations their opponents were in without the player noticing it.

Both stereo and 3D audio have their own benefits and drawbacks when it comes to gaming. Stereo sound is more common, and most people are used to hearing it. This is because stereo sound is easier to create, and doesn’t require any additional equipment as 3D audio does.

However, 3D audio can provide a more immersive experience, as it creates the illusion of sounds coming from different directions. This can be especially useful for games that involve a lot of action, as it can help players determine where enemies are coming from.

Ultimately, 3D audio does offer a better gaming experience, but it may be difficult for some people to get used to.


All in all, 3D audio is the better choice for immersive experiences such as movies and video games, while stereo sound is more common and easier to use.

3D audio creates an experience that allows the listener to determine the location of sounds, while stereo sound relies on the listener to use their imagination.

3D audio can be enjoyed without headphones, but it is much more immersive when used with headphones.

Stereo sound is available on most devices, while 3D audio is only available on select devices.

I think in the future 3D Audio will become more dominant in the market, it just needs a bit more awareness.

About Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!