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5.1 headset under $100 for gaming

post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,

Finding a good set for my gaming needs has been one of the most exhaustive searches of all my computer equipment and various peripherals.

It is safe to say that I am a moderate to heavy gamer - I play Darkfall Online. It's an MMO with some of the best surround sound gaming dynamics.

I need to hear when people are approaching from various directions and distances, and depend upon my headset to determine their location quickly.

I used an AX PC for a while, and was happy with it. Unfortunately it was moderately uncomfortable (weight) and blew out after about a year of use.

I just purchased a Turtle Beach HPA2, and am having a weird gurgling distortion, and constant faint humming. I plan to return these.

I have looked at many forums, searched newegg, cnet, toms hardware, etc.

There are no good reviews / comparisons for 5.1 headsets. I want to know stats like impedance, hz range, weight, real 5.1, etc.

Most of the reviews I have found give very non-technical information.

Does anyone have experience with this? (looking for a veteran CS gamer or the like) that has tried several headsets...

Thank you for your time,
Alex
post #2 of 32
Headsets fail ATH-AD700 and X-Fi sound card is where it's at. If you need a mic, just do the boom mic mod found on these forums. Believe me, you will thank me when you compare a 5.1 headset coming from onboard audio compared to the AD700 on X-Fi CMSS-3D
post #3 of 32
x2 to the above statement. You'll find the AD700s are your best bet. 5.1 headsets are a waste of time and money, don't bother with them Just buy a little clip-on mic, should do the trick.
post #4 of 32
Tom's hardware has roundups for about all 5.1 headsets available, though you must check "Tom's Guide", which is where this kind of review goes:

Tom's Guide: Your High-Tech Source of Information

too bad their reviews are quite light on details.
I honestly don't think head-fi is a good place to inquire about gaming gear. Why?

Most people here are so concerned with "sound quality" that they oversee the whole picture.

Between a run-of-the-mill IEM, an average headphone and a higher grade Audio Technica AD900, to MY EARS, the difference is minimal. In the other hand, the difference between using Dolby Headphone, CMSS3D and just plain stereo is brutal. I love the first, hate the second and find the third lacking a lot.

That means those 5.1 headsets from Razer and Logitech are NOT so bad just because their headphone is not audiophile-grade. What you need to check on them is what kind of virtualization they use.
post #5 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by stang View Post
Headsets fail ATH-AD700 and X-Fi sound card is where it's at. If you need a mic, just do the boom mic mod found on these forums. Believe me, you will thank me when you compare a 5.1 headset coming from onboard audio compared to the AD700 on X-Fi CMSS-3D
x3.
post #6 of 32
post #7 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by kumaiti View Post
Tom's hardware has roundups for about all 5.1 headsets available, though you must check "Tom's Guide", which is where this kind of review goes:

Tom's Guide: Your High-Tech Source of Information

too bad their reviews are quite light on details.
I honestly don't think head-fi is a good place to inquire about gaming gear. Why?

Most people here are so concerned with "sound quality" that they oversee the whole picture.

Between a run-of-the-mill IEM, an average headphone and a higher grade Audio Technica AD900, to MY EARS, the difference is minimal. In the other hand, the difference between using Dolby Headphone, CMSS3D and just plain stereo is brutal. I love the first, hate the second and find the third lacking a lot.

That means those 5.1 headsets from Razer and Logitech are NOT so bad just because their headphone is not audiophile-grade. What you need to check on them is what kind of virtualization they use.
But how do you get Dolby to work in games?
post #8 of 32
I would advise against getting multiple driver in each earcup type 5.1 headphones. The design is rather flawed, and although you may be able to tell the difference between front and rear, the surround sound effect they create is very unrealistic. They tend to compromose on driver / component quality compared to stereo headphones too.

CMSS-3D Headphone on X-Fi is a virtualisation technology that 'fakes' surround sound over headphones. Make sure any X-Fi is an EMU20k1 or EMU20k2 chip based card though. There are other versions with the X-Fi name that have CMSS-3D that is nothing like as good.

I used to own Speedlink Medusas and CMSS-3D Headphone is better. Basically this wants to be combined with headphones with a large soundstage and angled drivers for the most convincing effect. The ATH AD700 and Sennehiser HD555 are recommended.

I prefer Dolby Headphone to CMSS-3D Headphone. It gives a much more speaker-like experience than CMSS-3D but it suits different headphones. Non-angled drivers help and the size of soundstage is better small as Dolby Headphone 'fakes' a larger soundstage. Goldring DR150, Goldring NS1000 go well with it. Dolby Headphone is available on the Xonar (not DS but pretty much all the other models) range of soundcards.

Aside from headphone surround virtualisation, X-Fis are rather better for gaming compatibility (EAX titles) and feature additional audio positioning features that aren't available on Xonar (MacroFX and Elevation Filter). If money wasn't an issue I would recommend an X-Fi with Dolby Digital Live (such as the Titanium) with an external Dolby Headphone receiver.

If money really isn't an issue then there's the SVS realiser...

Edit: How do they fake surround sound? Well how many ears do you have?
post #9 of 32
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input - I am definitely going to go with the AD700s from newegg.

The only other set I was seriously considering were these:

Newegg.com - ABS AZ1 Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound Light Weight Circumaural USB Gaming Headset

Simply due to the $30 pricetag.
post #10 of 32
You guys might find this to be of interest: An In-Depth Headset Round-up Review By Steggy. In fact, I think it should be read before any gaming headset question, I'm surprised you guys missed this in your research.
post #11 of 32
You could still get the AD700 and in the future buy an Astro mixamp. They decode Dolby digital right from the source and create a surround effect through regular 2 channel phones.
post #12 of 32
The only headSET I'd consider worthwhile is the Turtle Beach HPX or HPA2. (same headset)
post #13 of 32
To echo in parallel what everyone already said, stay clear of headsets. AD700/900 + CMSS-3D is the way to go.
post #14 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedSky0 View Post
But how do you get Dolby to work in games?
What do you mean?
Dolby won't "work" in the game, it just transports the surround sound produced by the game engine to a decoder using Dolby Digital Live or creates Virtual Surround using Dolby Headphone.
post #15 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rails View Post
Thanks for the input - I am definitely going to go with the AD700s from newegg.

If you appreciate bass in your gaming sound it is likely you will notice something "missing". I have the AD900 which is considered to have better bass than the AD700 and I find it lacking in bass on games.

It is, of course, a matter of taste, but be warned.
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