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For the gamers out there -- Do you guys play with dolby digital headphone (simulated 5.1), or...

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Just what the title says. Do you gamers like to play with simulated 5.1 surround via dolby headphone decoding, or do you prefer straight-up stereo? I have the Astro mixamp and it does dolby headphone decoding. It makes stuff blend together well, but it seems to sort of take the definition out of the sound when I turn it on. In contrast, stereo doesn't seem to transition so smoothly from the left to the right channel. Which is better for positional purposes, and which is preferred in general, and why?

post #2 of 30

I've always used normal stereo mode for competitive gaming

post #3 of 30

Stereo always.

post #4 of 30

I never thought of using dolby headphone for gaming. Frankly, to me dolby HP sounds somewhere between a bathroom and some sort of tunnel , depending on the presets. I don't use it for movies , either, since i have an actual receiver. But, to the point, every gamer that i ever met used stereo headphones. There are some reasons why you wouldn't use dhpx , such as, it is pointless to have the game produce 6 audio channels and downmix them with third party software to 2 channels, when you can have the game supply the stereo channels from the start.

 

On another note, I can always tell in a game with good sound (not all have) the actual position of the players. Years ago, in battlefield 2142 i did some experiments with eyes closed and you can easily tell people behind you from in front of you, also the tell the exact position, although it seems to be accurate only forward. That said, it would be pointless for me to try to improve this, as it it obvious to me that my hearing with headphones (in games) is one of the better skills i have, and as such, one not in need of improvement.

post #5 of 30

I am a very casual gamer, mostly old stuff like the early Quake and Doom games, but I do use a Creative X-Fi external soundcard with some enhancements on it like surround sound, upsampling, ect. It seems to work very well, as I can hear rockets go over my head, and guage how close they are, direction, ect... Not all SS headphone emulators are equal though, try a couple... I would expect that if BBE Labs made something like this it would work quite well, like BBE ViVA on my S9.

post #6 of 30

Quote:

Originally Posted by silverxxx View Post

There are some reasons why you wouldn't use dhpx , such as, it is pointless to have the game produce 6 audio channels and downmix them with third party software to 2 channels, when you can have the game supply the stereo channels from the start.



How about because of the surround processing it applies that actually works?

 

 

Using SU-DH1 > X-Head > K601 has produced excellent results for gaming.  You must also ask those that answer this question what gaming platform they've tried it with (IF they've tried it), what hardware was used, and with what settings.  For example, if used with PC it must be used with a DDL compatible soundcard for all discrete audio signals to be fed properly.  With 360 or PS3 it's pretty much just hookup and go in comparison.

 

It's also worth noting that most software solutions of DH are pretty ho-hum.  The only ones that are moderately worth listening to that are software based are used only on the Xonar.  There's also older DH solutions on some receivers that can't be compared with the more modern algorithms either - the most modern ones I know of are on the Xonar, SU-DH1, and Astro.

 

In terms of stereo vs. DH (hardware solutions) I'd take DH in a heartbeat.  Audio is reproduced as if it were coming out of discrete channels.  EAX can't emulate, and most in-game sound engines are pretty crap too.  Remember though that DH results will vary with headphones used (can sound great or god awful), and you may lose some of what you feel is definition because it's imitating speakers in an average listening room.  It's still better for positioning as it gives the sense of whether they're behind you left or behind you right as a quick example.  This makes your turns more efficient if someone sneaks up on you or you're hearing say gunshots in the distance.  It's also more enveloping for regular games too.

 

It will never be a perfect substitute for a 5.1 listening room, but it comes close at a more than reasonable price considering the investment involved going the 5.1 route.


Edited by Shike - 10/25/10 at 2:30am
post #7 of 30

Hi guys this is my first post! I just wanted to first state that my name is joe akaTRENT, and I am a touring bassist, and video game and gadget enthusiast. Right now for my blog.. youtube.com/akaTRENT I have a variety of gaming headsets in for review from tritton, turtle beach and the astro a30 audio system among some others that use simulated surround. Here is what I have noticed about dolby headphone processing with the mixamp.

 

I used to use stereo, and now that i have had some headsets in for review I prefer dolby decoding. There are some trade offs but its worth it. So lets go over what I have found. In stereo, you get Right, Center, and Left. This sound is more familiar to me, and probably most people who live with their pmp's, but by no means does it sound natural. When playing a game, MW2 in my testing, I hear left and right very clearly and directly, but distance is hard to tell, and exact direction just isn't there.

 

When dolby decoding is turned on, in my case, its optical 5.1 dolby, being processed with Dolby Headphone, (with rca youll be using pro logic ii). The sound scape opens up and becomes natural. You get Front Left, Center, Front Right, Rear Right and Rear Left. Since the decoding is also adding some spatial cues to do this, you also get what can be described a 3d environment. Distance and precise location become easier and much clearer. The "down side" of this is that you loose the very apparent left right and center that comes with stereo. Its like the above poster mention, there seems to be a bit of definition lose. Also, to my ears the rear channels sound more like left and right than rear, although its definatley behind me to some degree; much more than stereo could do.

 

To conclude this, IMO Dolby decoding is a more natural realistic and detailed experiance that just going stereo. It had clear advantages over stereo for videogames but others may not prefer it for music. The best analogy I can put is this. Dolby decoding sounds like you are seeing the band live with a full room sound. With it off you get the fake right left and center that comes with 2.0. Hope that helps, I can post more about movie performance as well if anyone wants. 

 

Best- Joe akaTRENT 


Edited by akaTRENT - 10/25/10 at 10:44am
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 

@Shike and akaTRENT

 

Great responses. You guys have pretty much summed up my feelings about Dolby Headphone.

 

For me, the loss in definition is kind of a killer. I am going digital optical out of my pc right into the Astro mixamp. I don't know if the Astro mixamp is the best thing in the world, but it seems to be held in high esteem (at least with the people I've talked to).

 

When I push that dolby headphone button on the mixamp, the sound just becomes muddy by comparison to stereo. Although it's true that it creates a 3-D listening space, I can hardly bring myself to listen to it after being treated to the crisp definition of stereo that's coming out of my Beyerdynamic DT770s. Yeah, DH definitely does create a more 5.1 experience, and locational awareness is probably improved with it turned on, but I honestly can't tell a huge difference in picking out locations between DH and stereo. I spent a good 10 minutes last night just listening to blood dripping from the ceiling in F.E.A.R. with DH turned on, and off, and facing my character in different directions to see how it sounded to me (i.e., standing with my back to the dripping blood, my front, etc).

 

So yeah I don't know. Maybe the Astro mixamp just isn't that hot of a DH device, or maybe my dt770s aren't good for DH. Although I will say that I am loving the DT770s for both sound quality and comfort. I guess I'll just keep experimenting with it and see how I feel, but to me, that extra definition is worth whatever loss in locational awareness that occurs when DH is switched off. When I'm playing Crysis and I'm in a huge outdoor environment, DH suddenly makes it sound like I'm in a large room and it just sounds totally unnatural. It definitely seems more appropriate for indoor FPS's, but even still, that loss in definition is really kind of lame.


Edited by lukeman3000 - 10/25/10 at 1:28pm
post #9 of 30

I use a 5.1 home theatre for PC games. Sounds fantastic, much better than headphones with better front/back panning. Although constant grenade blasts is annoying to those down the street ;-) X-Fi analogue 5.1 output, to avamp/stereo integrated amp then onto speakers.

post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukeman3000 View Post

@Shike and akaTRENT

 

Great responses. You guys have pretty much summed up my feelings about Dolby Headphone.

 

For me, the loss in definition is kind of a killer. I am going digital optical out of my pc right into the Astro mixamp. I don't know if the Astro mixamp is the best thing in the world, but it seems to be held in high esteem (at least with the people I've talked to).

 

When I push that dolby headphone button on the mixamp, the sound just becomes muddy by comparison to stereo. Although it's true that it creates a 3-D listening space, I can hardly bring myself to listen to it after being treated to the crisp definition of stereo that's coming out of my Beyerdynamic DT770s. Yeah, DH definitely does create a more 5.1 experience, and locational awareness is probably improved with it turned on, but I honestly can't tell a huge difference in picking out locations between DH and stereo. I spent a good 10 minutes last night just listening to blood dripping from the ceiling in F.E.A.R. with DH turned on, and off, and facing my character in different directions to see how it sounded to me (i.e., standing with my back to the dripping blood, my front, etc).

 

So yeah I don't know. Maybe the Astro mixamp just isn't that hot of a DH device, or maybe my dt770s aren't good for DH. Although I will say that I am loving the DT770s for both sound quality and comfort. I guess I'll just keep experimenting with it and see how I feel, but to me, that extra definition is worth whatever loss in locational awareness that occurs when DH is switched off. When I'm playing Crysis and I'm in a huge outdoor environment, DH suddenly makes it sound like I'm in a large room and it just sounds totally unnatural. It definitely seems more appropriate for indoor FPS's, but even still, that loss in definition is really kind of lame.



I probably wouldn't use the DT770 with it myself . . . certain headphones maintain a more consistent sound in comparison.  I never really noticed a loss in detail though, it seems that the FR changed more than anything else (high started to roll off a little).  It was similar to certain crossfeeds IME, but if your headphone already had trouble producing certain frequencies this could certainly add to it.

post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post





I probably wouldn't use the DT770 with it myself . . . certain headphones maintain a more consistent sound in comparison.  I never really noticed a loss in detail though, it seems that the FR changed more than anything else (high started to roll off a little).  It was similar to certain crossfeeds IME, but if your headphone already had trouble producing certain frequencies this could certainly add to it.


What headphone would you use that's within that price range?

post #12 of 30

Quote:

Originally Posted by lukeman3000 View Post




What headphone would you use that's within that price range?



Normally I'd recommend the K601 (which I use myself), but it seems they've taken a price hike on Amazon to being above $200 again.  Generally you want to look for something with a less erratic FR, so maybe a set of studio cans like the Shure SRH440 or Sony MDR-7506.  Headphone with a tilt towards brightness may also help keep a bit of the edge you're probably looking for.  I can't see anything that really seems like they'd work as well or better at the 770 pricepoint, you probably need to go lower or higher at this point IMO.

post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by lukeman3000 View Post




What headphone would you use that's within that price range?



Normally I'd recommend the K601 (which I use myself), but it seems they've taken a price hike on Amazon to being above $200 again.  Generally you want to look for something with a less erratic FR, so maybe a set of studio cans like the Shure SRH440 or Sony MDR-7506.  Headphone with a tilt towards brightness may also help keep a bit of the edge you're probably looking for.  I can't see anything that really seems like they'd work as well or better at the 770 pricepoint, you probably need to go lower or higher at this point IMO.



Well in all honesty, my original "budget" was around $300, but the DT770s were heavily recommended to me so I decided to try them out.

 

While they may not be optimal for games, they do seem lightyears better than the Astro A40 headset, and I got a warranty with them for 26 bucks which the guy said I could use to upgrade. Simply break the headphones, bring them in, get your money back, and upgrade. So if I decide to move up to something like that in the future, I certainly can.

 

The DT770s seem pretty bassy, and I have to say I really like that about them. At the same time, they seem to have a lot of detail in the higher frequencies (even though some of that seems to be lost when DH is turned on). I may stick with the 770s for the time being, or I may see about giving those AKG's a shot. Any other recommendations? How do the AD700s stack up to the K601? I have been told that the AD700 is the best gaming headset..

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukeman3000 View Post


Well in all honesty, my original "budget" was around $300, but the DT770s were heavily recommended to me so I decided to try them out.

 

While they may not be optimal for games, they do seem lightyears better than the Astro A40 headset

 

Well yes, they are better than the Atro headset.

 

and I got a warranty with them for 26 bucks which the guy said I could use to upgrade. Simply break the headphones, bring them in, get your money back, and upgrade. So if I decide to move up to something like that in the future, I certainly can.

 

They have a word for that, it's called "fraud" and is illegal in most countries.

 

The DT770s seem pretty bassy, and I have to say I really like that about them. At the same time, they seem to have a lot of detail in the higher frequencies (even though some of that seems to be lost when DH is turned on). I may stick with the 770s for the time being, or I may see about giving those AKG's a shot. Any other recommendations? How do the AD700s stack up to the K601? I have been told that the AD700 is the best gaming headset..

 

I actually have both the AD700s and the K601s.  The K601 remains better balanced.  With the AD700 and DH you tend to get sibilance and the soundstage is a bit less distinct.

post #15 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shike View Post




 


I'm not a fan of ripping people off; the guy who sold me the phones says that's what they tell everyone to do if they ever want to upgrade. He said that it's how their warranty works (and admitted it's kind of stupid) and that they don't care if a customer purposely damages them for that reason.

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Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › For the gamers out there -- Do you guys play with dolby digital headphone (simulated 5.1), or straight-up stereo?