Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

1,404 ratings
2020: Configure Optimal Audio Settings.
By Vloshko
CS:GO audio is fundamentally flawed, due to limited positional information. Settings for best audio performance available with headphones. Remember: Pro Players don't use speakers. Frequent updates.
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"Gaming Headsets: I have questions about my..."
Acknowledgments
I'd like to acknowledge some people who got the cogs in my brain turning, who encouraged me through their own work to pursue more in depth information about the topics they brought to light in our community. Often they go unnoticed by new players and even some old ones.

Whether you know it or not, thank you to: GhostXS, Ham, Jon, Jungoro, Kettle-Belle, Kevin, Mad Lust Envy, Monty, Sen7ryGun, Saya, Sigma (sound testing), Sethos88, VolsAndJezuz, zong90, and many more. Your contributions to our communities deserve the utmost praise and recognition.
Preface
You scrolled past the Acknowledgments section to jump right into the Preface, didn't you? I expected as much. 85% of people do. If you are part of that large group, go back and read the Acknowledgments, then continue.

Nice to see you back. I'm no Audio Engineer. Simply another human who likes to research, experiment, and compile information to help others. By the way, If you are having trouble concentrating or there is a lot of noise around you, try listening to this while reading the guide.

This guide will help you understand the dynamics of sound within CS:GO and how to utilize the options available to you in order to gain the upper hand against your enemies... in an audiophile type of way.
Enjoy!
Introduction
In order for you to get the most out of this guide. Please follow all links and watch/interact with them. In addition if you wish to have a deeper understanding of the science behind certain aspects there will be text links (if you want to be a boss read and watch all links in addition to reading this guide) Some information came from other sources that are credited in the "References" section. Finally I made my own adjustments after an ample amount of research in various aspects of audio to create this guide.

Prepare to embark on a journey to reach the glory of audiophilia within CS:GO.
Real World vs In Game
In the real world we can pinpoint the position of sounds based off of these three spectrums:
  • Interaural time difference
  • Frequency
  • Volume
CS:GO uses stereo panning. Meaning that the only change that occurs is volume difference.
Why I don't recommend 5.1: It doesn't give 3D information. Meaning you can accurately point to the position of the sound above, below, and anywhere around you. In CS:GO the sounds we hear are on a plane, so you could hear something behind, front, left, and right. However you also need to know the map well and the different sound "textures" (brick, wood, snow, metal etc) to know where that sound is positioned in regards to above/below. In regards to Speakers using surround sound the noise basically "stays" at that speaker instead of modifying the 3d space around you through acoustic patterns (Princeton University 2010).
It would be great if CSGO used HRTF... We should all promote HRTF to be implemented (o7nJf6BKnLqTzzcOANtH et al 2015).

CSGO HRTF is available but now the choice is availbe in settings under 3D Audio Processing Plus it can be editied in console.

Now onto the guide.
Headphones Better Than Speakers
  • You usually wont disturb others (Open-backs have the potential, though this is unlikely).
  • No sound leakage into microphone.
  • Room acoustics wont affect the sound.
  • Subtle details will be more audible.
  • Less bass for better accuracy.
  • Noises outside of the game will be almost inaudible in most cases (open-backs being the exception).
  • Headphones are more accurate, speakers are more realistic.
  • Headphones create their own acoustic space between the cup and your ear cannal.
  • Speakers could be configured properly, however it would take a lot more time and $1000+.

Surround sound is suppose to create a sound-field in front of you, to your sides, and behind you. It can also recreate a sound above you (DH Audio and Home Theater 2016). However CS:GO does not support this feature properly because the system is based off of a planar sound relay. Because of how headphones are positioned on your ears as well as how the time relay of sounds through the audio systems CS:GO has in place, it provides you with the closest three-dimensional sound-field reproduction available at this time in the game. Of course other factors come into play as previously stated.

Speakers sound more realistic: This is due to them being able to put out more "ambient" sounds. and how the room acoustics affect said sound. A lot gets lost over speakers, similar to how lots of sounds in life become jumbled in some cases. In competitive we are not a fan of those "ambient" sounds (for instance the noise from the lights in "paper" on Office). a quick google search that can go more in depth for you.[myinforms.com]

With headphones and proper settings you will be able to hear all of the following with near pinpoint accuracy at the largest range available. Plus the clarity will be lovely.

Be sure to watch this video by 3kliksphilip for an in depth look at the intricacies of the image below!

Configuring Windows Settings
First and foremost, we want to configure out headphones through Windows.

Now for the Advanced settings

Images by: VolsAndJezuz - via reddit.

Exclusive mode unchecked and the other: Because it helps avoid stuttering or other audio issues when you have multiple audio applications up, for instance when you are using TeamSpeak and CS:GO.

Sample rate change: The music from this folder \Steam\steamapps\common\Counter-Strike Global Offensive\csgo\sound\music is mp3 44.1khz at 128kbps 16 bit stereo. The voice over commands like "enemy spotted" etc \Steam\steamapps\common\Counter-Strike Global Offensive\csgo\sound\player\vo are Wave PCM 44.1Khz at 705kbps 16 bit and are mono.
The valve logo intro music is mp3 44.1khz 192kbps 16 bit stereo. In addition 44/16 is standard CD quality and for the most part human ears cannot tell the difference between 16/24 and 44.1/48/96. However the cpu usage difference is so minimal that you could use something else. I'm merely a purist/perfectionist when performance is in question.

A good test for sample rate change is to have a friend or family member switch that setting while your back is turned, listening to the same thing and I bet you can't tell the difference. The higher bit/kHz won't improve sounds that are made using a inferior format. What actually changes between 24 and 16 is the dynamic range, which straight up doesn't matter. If you want to delve into the science behind all this for a good longgggg read go here[xiph.org].
Driver Settings
You may use a different driver, however here are two examples for the general idea:

(second image by: VolsAndJezuz 2016)
Turn OFF any digital enhancements and effects.
Why:
  • To decrease processing times.
  • Enhance positional audio accuracy.
  • Enhance dynamic audio integrity.
  • Having it ON could increase sound distortion in some cases.

Console Commands
Not long ago I accidentally deleted this section and had to go to the other language version of the guide and translate it back to English, working on spelling and sentence structure during free time

To use the in-game audio settings to its fullest potential and get the most accurate AUDIO SETTINGS (available), whether in Competitive mode or any other, I highly suggest you to modify your settings. Feel free to copy and paste this code into your autoexec or modify the settings under "AUDIO SETTINGS" under "OPTIONS".

dsp_enhance_stereo "0"; snd_mixahead "0.02"; snd_pitchquality "1"; snd_deathcamera_volume "0.0"; snd_mapobjective_volume "0.12"; snd_menumusic_volume "0.0"; snd_mvp_volume "0.11"; snd_roundend_volume "0.2"; snd_roundstart_volume "0.06"; snd_tensecondwarning_volume "0.35"; voice_scale "0.62"; snd_mute_losefocus "0"; snd_surround_speakers "0"

  • dsp_enhance_stereo "0" - Little difference between 0 and 1. Supposed to mix right and left sounds.
  • snd_mixahead "0.02" - Audio delay, smaller = better synchronization between actions and audio. If you hear cracks or things like that, set at 0.01 increments to fit your hardware.
  • snd_pitchquality "1" - Standard value.
  • snd_deathcamera_volume "0.0" - Volume of "Death Cam" (feel free to change the value).
  • snd_mapobjective_volume "0.12" - This is low because I still want the notification but I do not want it to disturb the sound that the enemy can or can not do, if it is too loud it distracts me.
  • snd_menumusic_volume "0.0" - Sound of the music in the game menu (feel free to change the value).
  • snd_mvp_volume "0.11" - Music volume. It usually distracts me, but it also modifies the sound of notifications.
  • snd_roundend_volume "0.2" - Reliable, estimated notification for you to judge whether you will be able to do a 5 (kit) or 10 seconds (no kit) defuse. I recommend playing a little bit with bots to find out the sound played by your music kit if you have any.
  • snd_roundstart_volume "0.06" - Decreases the volume at the beginning of the round. Use to relax from the last round and prepare for the next.
  • snd_tensecondwarning_volume "0.35" - Notice that you can use to decide between saving the weapon or attempting to "exit kills" when playing from CT or harming the enemy's economy when playing from T if you can not plant the bomb at the moment.
  • volume "0.76" - So you do not have to adjust the sound of the game through Windows when using TeamSpeak (feel free to change the value).
  • voice_scale "0.62" - To hear your team clearly.
  • snd_mute_losefocus "0" - Mute the sounds of the game when in ALT-TAB.
  • snd_surround_speakers "0" - Speaker Configuration "for Headphones.

These next commands require input from the console, change the value of the first one from "xx.x".


snd_front_headphone_position "xx.x"; snd_rear_headphone_position "90.0"; snd_headphone_pan_exponent "1.2"; snd_headphone_pan_radial_weight "0.5"

  • snd_front_headphone_position "xx.x" - Replace "xx.x" with the corresponding number of its resolution. xx.x = 43.2 (resolution 5.4), 45.0 (resolution 4: 3), 50.2 (resolution 16:10), or 53.2 (resolution 16: 9).
  • snd_rear_headphone_position "90.0" -
    Nothing inaudible in rear positions. Clear precision in front and rear positions. Small angular adjustments will give you a better idea of ​​where the sound is coming from.
  • snd_headphone_pan_exponent "1.2" - Sounds from medium to long distance are higher without increasing the difficulty of distinguishing distances from short to medium distance.
  • snd_headphone_pan_radial_weight "0.5" - Accurately distinct where sounds are and depending on the increase or decrease in volume to the direction from where the sound comes from.
(VolsAndJezuz 2016)



Credits from the list of commands: VolsAndJezuz (2016), TaZx_Devil (2105), and Zoddom (2015) and updates from myself & you all. I do not agree with the setup of most people and I find them to have flaws.
voice_enable Keybinds for Toggle
A useful set of keybinds for toggling voice_enable to use when you need to be able to hear and act on what you think without the distraction of your often noisy team.
bind "KP_MINUS" "toggle voice_enable 1 0"
In order for the above to work we need to put it in our autoexec... remember from the end of our "Console Commands" section? If not and you aren't already familiar with an autoexec view this guide. Plus I advise you to re-read that section because it is the important part. This keybind won't announce in game to your team that you tured on/off voice_enable like the next one.

bind "O" "voice_enable 0; say_team Voice-Off"; bind "P" "voice_enable 1; say_team Voice-On"

Simply copy & paste the code into console. Your teammates will still be able to hear you. I chose "O" and "P" because I didn't have them bound.
Important
To receive best results in the entire game, it is crucial that you combine the in-game audio settings and the few console commands that can be only submitted via console, with quality headphones and a microphone.
DON'T use speakers or earbuds they wont deliver precise locations of sounds in-game. Earbuds are usable, however unless everyone you are playing with and against are using them you are at a disadvantage.

NOTES
  • If you only have speakers, earbuds, and/or Beats go purchase some headphones or a headset.
  • Often times I see the question about lowering gun sounds. Basically all I can say in regards to this is get better headphones or (if you won't get better ones) rely on your teammates for calls early game and mid game with your volume turned down, and when you need to hear more acutely to turn it up. There are simple keybinds you will allow you to do this on the fly. Just replace the "xx.x" with your prefered settings and use whichever keys you like
    "bind "L" "volume xx.x" "bind "K" "volume xx.x"
    .
  • Pronax explains using MP3 Headphones at LAN here[team-dignitas.net].
    Example Picture:
Actually those ear protectors labeled as (helicopter headphones) are headsets for use in hazardous, high noise environments (3M 2016). Primarily used in construction and shooting. They are used not only to block out the commentator but also for the crowd. If you have ever been to an esports lan you'll know what I mean.

In addition after doing some testing with Razer Surround I would not recommend it because it adds more ambient noise. Which we definitely don't want. Yet other than that ambient noise it does give accurate positional information.
Headphones & Microphones
I would recommend a combination of good headphones and a mic, or one of the few headsets I list below. Check out this link to start you off on finding the best headphones and microphone for you:
Read This First!

This is the most important and most recent

Then read this. The first 3 comments at least.

Gaming headphone buyers guide: Mad Lust Envy[www.head-fi.org]. A plethora of headphones reviewed.

/r/headphones price sheet[docs.google.com].

As for a microphone, you can get quite decent ones for a low price that will probably outlast all of your other peripherals. Here are a few that I would recommend and have personally used:

AT2005USB[www.amazon.com] (What I currently use).
Sennheiser GAME ONE *headset*[www.amazon.com]
Antlion Modmic[www.amazon.com]
V-moda BoomPro[www.amazon.com]

Open VS. Closed headphones
I honestly can't explain this better than D. Alexander does here:

Headphones are just small speakers. With any speaker, you only want to hear one side. The other side makes the same noise at the same volume, but reversed in phase. If you could magically direct both sides at each other, they'd cancel out. (This is incidentally why it's important not to wire a channel backwards in your home stereo. Weird frequency nulls ensue.) We therefore need to do something with the reversed signal so it won't pollute the primary.

Closed cans (and conventional box speakers) cover the back of the driver with baffling material to absorb the sound energy. While this approach doesn't want for accuracy or frequency response, it does tend to make the listening space sound smaller.

Open headphones (and "infinite baffle" speakers) solve the baffling problem by not solving it; they just vent the back of the speaker into a huge space. Great for acoustics (no need to account for backpressure and the like), but at the cost of treating the missionary one seat over to your collection of Eazy-E. (September 7, 2015 By D. Alexander)
Audio Tests
Maps:

Links (relevent to your headphones quality, and your own ears):
3D Audio Processing (a.k.a. Occlusion)
A few important notes about 3D Audio Processing:

It's up to you and your ears when deciding to enable or disable 3D Audio Processing.

  • You should still refer to the Driver Settings section of this guide for when you use 3D Audio Processing.
  • Depending once again on personal preference you may choose one of the following commands to input into console You can figure out which is best for you by doing something similar to this video by Stak with a friend:
    snd_occlusion_eq_high snd_occlusion_eq_low snd_occlusion_eq_mid snd_occlusion_no_eq_scale
  • I suggest using default settings with 3D Audio Processing either in widescreen or in lower resolution like 4:3.
  • Listen to this video by Stak and switch back and forth between areas they cover in the video to see which is best for you.
  • 3D Audio Processing will automatically improve sound localization[en.wikipedia.org].
  • 3D Audio Processing automatically chooses the best settings for the way CSGO Devs wants it to work. Except it doesn't work the way most people who have been playing CS before GO want it to.

3D Audio Processing also known as Occlusion and 3D Audio Positioning: When Occlusion is turned off, the HRTF Stereo is automatically disabled and vice versa
Author Notes:
All spam will be deleted and for good measure I will block you. (Come at me.)

Thanks to RMoLL for this Volume Control Script:
alias vol0 "volume 0.0; alias volup vol1; alias voldown vol0" alias vol1 "volume 0.1; alias volup vol2; alias voldown vol0" alias vol2 "volume 0.2; alias volup vol3; alias voldown vol1" alias vol3 "volume 0.3; alias volup vol4; alias voldown vol2" alias vol4 "volume 0.4; alias volup vol5; alias voldown vol3" alias vol5 "volume 0.5; alias volup vol6; alias voldown vol4" alias vol6 "volume 0.6; alias volup vol7; alias voldown vol5" alias vol7 "volume 0.7; alias volup vol8; alias voldown vol6" alias vol8 "volume 1.0; alias volup vol9; alias voldown vol7" alias vol9 "volume 1.1; alias volup vol10; alias voldown vol8" alias vol10 "volume 1.3; alias volup volmax; alias voldown vol9" alias volmax "echo THE VOLUME IS AT MAXIMUM" alias volup "vol10" alias voldown "vol1" bind "kp_plus" "volup" bind "kp_minus" "voldown"


http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=707020288

If gunshots are too loud:
Use these keybinds for volume control, one quiter for team combat and lots of noise. The other for when trying to hear precise sounds:
"bind "z" "volume xx.x" "bind "x" "volume xx.x"
Put this in your autoexec, and change the values for the "xx.x" parts. Make the keys whatever you want, "x" and "z" are just what I typed as examples. Play around with it to figure out what is best for you.

Idea for Voice Enable/Disable Binds:
"bind "o" "voice_enable 0; say_team Voice disabled so I can hear the enemy team. Please type out callouts in team chat." "bind "p" "voice_enable 1; say_team Voice enabled."
Put this in your autoexec, and feel free to change "o" & "p", they are the keys I use since Razer Naga MMO mouse is OP.
LOOKING FOR TRANSLATORS.

In order for the above to work we need to put it in our autoexec... remember from the end of our "Console Commands" section? If not and you aren't already familiar with an autoexec view this guide. Plus I advise you to re-read that section because it is the important part.

Good luck and have fun!
My Audio Loadout
Home:
DAC/Amp: Creative SoundBlaster X7[www.amazon.com]
Microphone: Audio-Technica AT2005USB[www.amazon.com]
Headphones: AKG K701[www.amazon.com]

Travel:
DAC/Amp: FiiO E10K[www.amazon.com]
Microphone: Audio-Technica AT2005USB[www.amazon.com]
IEM: Shure SE215[www.amazon.com]
Guide Updates
28-Jun-2020
  • Created a custom image, with updates, for what your enemies may hear; at the bottom of Headphones Better Than Speakers section.

10-May-2020
  • Removed some snd settings that no longer exist.

12-December-2019
  • Added a temporary Future Plans section/note at the beginning of the guide.

20-March-2019
  • Edited Headphones Better Than Speakers section.
  • Edited a few section titles for correct capitalization.
  • Edited Headphones & Microphones section.

24-February-2019
  • Updated Console Commands.

07-December-2018
  • Added recommended microphones to Headphones & Microphones section.
  • Added a new section titled My Audio Loadout.

02-December-2018
  • Updated Console Commands to reflect the changes of windows_speaker_config "0" to snd_surround_speakers "0". To add to that, I can confirm that -1 = Default, 0 = Stereo Headphones, 2 = Stereo Speakers, 4 = Quad Surround Sound, 5 = 5.1 Surround Sound.
  • Thanks to Klin for alerting me to this change.
  • Removed Giveaway since apparently noone cared enough to submit (minus 2 people).
  • Changed title to 3D Audio Processing, previously 3D Audio Positioning.
  • Updated images in Console Commands section.
  • Updated Console Commands section to include setting for VOIP Positional.

18-July-2018
  • Updated Console Commands replacing snd_music_volume with snd_mvp_volume and I added a note in bold at the top of the section.
  • Changed values in numerous sections.
  • Reminder this isn't a copy & paste and you're set to go guide. This is to show you what can be modified and how it will impact you sound guide, alongside how my personal settings are configured. It does require some playing with on your end.

28-June-2018
  • Removed snd_rebuildaudiocache & snd_updateaudiocache.
  • Editied vaule of snd_mixahead from 0.05 to 0.02

22-May-2018
  • Added Giveaway details to Authors Notes section.

09-Apr-2018
  • Added a script for adjusting sounds in the Authors Notes section.
      Portuguese (Brazil) Version:
    • Edited guide title.
    • Edited Overview.
    • Edited Authors Notes.
    • Added 3D Audio Positioning (a.k.a. Occlusion) section.

01-Apr-2018
  • Deleting guide.

07-Feb-2018
  • Removed second image from Console Commands section and changed the first image to the new audio settings options.
  • Renamed HRTF section to 3D Audio Positioning (a.k.a. Occlusion), added four console commands, and a video by Stak.

04-Dec-17
  • Corrected information in the Console Commands section.

26-Nov-17
  • Added two console commands to HRTF courtesy of Sigma.

24-Nov-17
  • Edited, added information, and my thoughts to HRTF section. Added that you can hear the enemy spraying tags.

07-Nov-17:
  • Added Guide Updates section.
  • Added 2 images to the Console Commands section and added some information to the HRTF section.

If you find this guide helpful, don't forget to:
< >
299 Comments
Smug Boi Jul 1 @ 3:47am 
This was a godsend
Vloshko  [author] Jun 27 @ 10:26pm 
@Safu, do you have a playback device selected? When you click on the device in the menu, it should then allow you to click "Configure". Let me know
Safu Loot.Farm TradeIt.GG Jun 4 @ 6:31am 
Ughhh the first and foremost step im kinda having a problem because the configure button is grayed out
⫷ ℍ𝕖𝕪 𝕌⫸ May 9 @ 1:16am 
You I had this csgo sound issue and this seemed to be the only thing that helped thanks broski
Hoodi Apr 25 @ 2:25pm 
snd_front_headphone_position "xx.x";
what value for ultrawide monitors? 21:9
exeR Apr 25 @ 12:12pm 
snd_front_headphone_position "xx.x";
snd_rear_headphone_position "90.0";
snd_headphone_pan_exponent "1.2";
snd_headphone_pan_radial_weight "0.5"
Are those commands updated to 4:3? And are they still working? Asking coz I want better autio ingame
Vloshko  [author] Apr 18 @ 12:42am 
If you read this as a step by step guide: yer doin it wrong
Vloshko  [author] Apr 2 @ 9:04am 
Thanks
SPRAY AND PRAY Mar 25 @ 8:41pm 
pulling nade and pin can be heard.
algel Mar 22 @ 8:59am 
how do i reset my console commands back to default? like snd_rear_headphone_position "90.0"?