Headphone Virtualization

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What Does Headphone Virtualization Mean?

Headphone virtualization is a sound processing technique in which a surround sound experience is delivered on standard stereo headphones through embedded digital signal processing (DSP)-based chips or sound cards. It is enabled through the operating system (OS) or sound card firmware/driver.

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Headphone virtualization was first made available in Windows Vista.

Techopedia Explains Headphone Virtualization

Headphone virtualization allows a two-channel headphone to provide Dolby 5.1 or higher sound performance. It is built on the principles of head-related transfer functions (HRTF) technology, which uses the structural design of a human head to transmit different sound cues.

Unlike typical headphones, which transmit sound directly inside the ears, headphone virtualization delivers sound outside or around the head’s listening experience. A user may easily differentiate between sound that emerges from left to right, right to left or center to bottom, etc.

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Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor
Margaret Rouse
Senior Editor

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.