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Console Gaming Surround Headphones Solutions and Virtual Surround Processors

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

* This is a work in Progress, so please help if you think you can.

I will also add a multiple drivers sets and decoders too, may be tomorrow, I am just a lazy guy, lol!

 

I decided to write this compilation of solutions for console, mainly xbox 360, but it applies to ps3 with little adaptation.

Firstly, this is for Surround sound, either Virtual or “Real”.

I will start with Virtual surround.

For virtual surround, the common solution is Dolby Headphones.

From dolby headphones site (http://www.dolby.com/consumer/understand/enhancement/dolby-headphone.html):

 

Dolby Headphone with up to 7.1 Channels of Surround Sound

Imagine yourself in a plush home theater environment immersed in unbelievably rich, realistic surround sound. Movies are more engaging as you follow the action with your eyes and your ears. Your video games explode with a new level of realism and intensity. Your music never sounded better. That's what you'll experience with Dolby® Headphone—all without disturbing anyone else.

With Dolby Headphone, you're enveloped in amazing surround sound over any set of headphones. It is spacious, natural sound that lets you listen longer in total comfort. Experience the incredible personal, portable surround sound that only Dolby Headphone delivers. You may never take your headphones off again.

Dolby Headphone Benefits

Enables realistic multichannel surround sound from any set of headphones--up to 7.1 channels with some products

Lets you listen in comfort longer

Delivers superb surround sound from stereo music and movies

Adds a new level of excitement to movies and video games

 

For one to have dolby headphones from your console you need to set it to output 5.1 dolby digital. This is achieved through optical out (Toslink).

 

There are a few Dolby headphones processors available, being the most common the following (in order of popularity):

  • Astro mixamp:

mixamp.jpgFrom Astro gaming website:

 

The heartbeat of the pro gamer's audio experience. The Astro MixAmp™ combines crystal-clear voice communication with pinpoint-accurate 7.1 Dolby and Dolby Headphone surround. High-power, audiophile-grade amplification completes this portable, powerhouse package.
Features Include:


 - The MixAmp’s discrete game/voice balance control allows you to tailor to your preference of how much voice you want to hear relative to the game’s sound effects.

- Whether it’s your Xbox 360, PS3, or PC the new and improved MixAmp easily plugs directly into any system.

- link multiple MixAmps together for a private, hands-free, full-duplex voice communication channel experience -- much higher-quality than VoIP systems, with zero network and system lag.

- Connect your mp3 player through the mixer itself with a 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable. Free up valuable system resources, and put your music within arm's reach.

The difference to the other sets is that besides the dolby headphones processing, the mixamp offers:

 Balance between game sound and chat audio,

Accepts a line in so you can add your mp3 player to play in the background,

it accepts toslink (optical in), Co-aux digital in, and RCA in.

It lets you use any stereo headphones, headset with 3.5 mm jack. You can use your headphones and any mic you have.

Specs:

  •  Ships With:Astro MixAmp
  • • MixAmp Cables Include:12' RCA-RCA Piggyback, 12' USB-USB Mini, 6' Xbox Live Chat Cable, 6' 3.5mm Audio Cable, PC Headset Y-Adapter, Daisy Chain Connector
  • • Power Supply:USB mini-B (USB 2.0 compatible), or 4 x AA batteries (not included)
  • • Power Output:70mW 32ohm per channel
  • • Battery Life:12+ Hours
  • • Frequency Response:35 - 20,000 Hz
  • • Inputs (front):Headset connector, 2.5mm Xbox Live voice communication connector
  • • Inputs (rear):L/R analog RCA, TOSlink digital, coaxial digital, 3.5mm microphone (PC voice), 3.5mm mp3 connector, USB mini-B (audio/power)

In conclusion the astro mixamp is the most complete dolby headphones processor available for gaming on xbox 360 console, out of the box. 

For those that want to go wireless a wireless mixamp will be launched soon.

Price: 129.99 USD, £99

You can even buy it complete with a headset from astro gaming, the Astro Gaming a40 (Steggy Review)sound system:

 

 

Turtle beach Ear Force DSS

The DSS is offered from turtle beach who sells lots of headsets for gaming. It is intended to give surround processing for lots of stereo headsets from turtle beach, wired and wireless.

EarForce_DSS1.jpgFrom Turtle Beach site:

 

The Ear Force DSS 5.1/7.1 channel Dolby surround sound processor transforms any stereo analog headset into full, immersive surround sound for playing XBOX, PS3 or PC games and watching movies with Blu-ray or DVD players. It works with any set of stereo analog headphones and is the perfect complement to the Turtle Beach Ear Force series of stereo gaming headsets (X31, X11, XLC, Z1, Z2 and PX21).

 

The optical digital input easily connects to a game console or media player for Dolby 5.1/7.1 channel surround sound and the analog input can also be used to upgrade analog stereo audio sources to Dolby Pro Logic IIx for virtual surround sound. A bass boost control adds sub-woofer effects for enhanced realism to any audio source.

 

With the Ear Force DSS, video game and movie fans will be able to hear distinct audio events happening all around them, greatly enhancing the overall experience and rewarding gamers with a newfound competitive edge. DSS users playing games and watching movies on their game consoles will actually hear the 7.1 surround sound from certain 5.1 channel audio tracks via additional “hidden” channels called Dolby EX.

 

Specs:

  • Stereo headphone output with volume control
  • Headphone Amplifier: Stereo 35mW/ch, THD <1%
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • 150MIPS Digital Signal Processor for Dolby processing
  • Optical TOSLINK digital audio input compatible with 48kHz digital audio stream
  • Maximum analog stereo input with volume control on maximum setting: 2Vpp (700mV rms). Input sensitivity may be adjusted to accept higher level signals by lowering the volume control
  • Dimensions: Height 3.0 in (7.5 cm), width 2.125 in (5.5 cm), depth 0.75 in (2cm)
  • Weight: 1.4 Oz (40g)
  • Power requirements: 5VDC @120mA max

 

Nothing left to say as it is all there.

Price: 89 USD, £ 69

 

JVC SU-DH1

060113_5.jpg

 

From JVC.com

Features

  • Playable Formats: Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS, MPEG-2 AAC, PCM
  • Surround Functions: Dolby Headphone(Studio/Cinema/Hall), Dolby Pro Logic II(Auto/Movie/Music)
  • Optical digital mini jack x 1
  • Line in analog cord x 1
  • Power Requirements: AA battery x 2
  • Battery Life: 10 hours
  • Weight: 2.17 oz (62 g)
  • Carrying pouch
  • Airplane plug adaptor

 

Basically the JVC offers what the Turtle Beach DSS offers plus DTS decoding. DTS is important for people who want to watch movies, because lots of movies are encoded in DTS format and DTS has much higher bit rate than DD. It also offers 3 Dolby Headphones mode, when DSS and mixamp only offer DH-2 mode.

This item is not easy to find.

 

Price: 129.99 USD from audiocubes.com

 

 

These three can be used with any headphones or headset that has a 3.5 mm jack. So it gives you the opportunity to choose what you like best.

 

 

Headphones

With these processors you can use the headphones you like, depending on the type of sound you want/need/like.

 

I will list a few sets that are popular to go with these:

 

- Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (Steggy Review):

This is the most popular set of headphones I know for gaming with dolby headphones. I never tried them but, everywhere I read during my research it is bragged for its large soundstage and clarity. It is the favourite for many people. Lots of people mod them to include microphones. It is also reported that it lacks bass, so if you like your explosions to sound nice look elsewhere.

 

- Sennheiser HD 595 (Steggy Review):

 

I use these with my mixamp, and I am satisfied with it. It gives you the bass that lacks with the ad700, and it is a better headphone.

 

-Beyerdynamic DT770 and DT880 are also highly regarded.

 

- Sennheiser PC 360 G4ME:

 

This is a headset which means it has a built in mic. It is taken by many as the best headset around for gaming. I never tried it as it is a bit on the expensive side.

 

- Turtle Beach Ear Force HPX-1 (Steggy Review):

 

This is supposed to be a multiple drivers headset but turtle beach sells it with an adapter that lets you use it with the mixamp. The adapter makes it work in stereo mode with two drivers in each cup. Many people regard it as a functional and affordable set.

 

There are so many headphones out there that I am not going to list all of them here.

 

If you want read further in these and others look here:Steggy Review 1, Steggy Review 2

 

Look at this thread for input from people with different setups and their personal opinion: Best Gaming Headphones under £ 200

 

 

 

 

Complete Sets

 

There are complete sets that include the Dolby processor and headset, so you can have all you need to go out of the box. Some are wired and others wireless so you can choose what pleases you most:

 

TURTLE BEACH EAR FORCE X41:

turtle-beach-ear-force-x41_1.jpg

(Steggy Review)

 

From Turtle beach site:

 

 

Summary


The Ear Force® X41 is our top-of-the-line XBOX 360® headset featuring 7.1 channel Dolby® surround sound, XBOX LIVE® chat and a digital RF wireless connection for crystal-clear game audio. Combining outstanding comfort with a stunning 360 degree sound field and enhanced online communication, the X41 puts you in the middle of the action so you’ll enjoy a gaming experience that’s second to none.

 

Playing your favorite XBOX® game with the Ear Force X41 is like having a “secret weapon” in your arsenal. You’ll get a competitive advantage by hearing sound cues that you can’t hear with speakers, such as the soft footsteps of an enemy sneaking up behind you, or the click of a loading weapon far in front of you. By hearing sounds others can’t—and by knowing where they’re coming from—you’ll react faster and take them out before they take you out.

 

If you’re serious about XBOX 360 gaming, get serious about the sound. Invest in an Ear Force X41 and experience the game the way it was meant to be heard. It will help you to become a better player and you’ll have a lot more fun enjoying your XBOX 360.

 

Specs:

Headphones

  • 50mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
  • Digital Wireless RF carrier reception (2.404-2.476GHz)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz, >120dB SPL @ 1kHz
  • Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz - 15kHz
  • Headphone Amplifier: Stereo 35mW/ch, THD <1%
  • Bass Boost: +9dB @20Hz - 150Hz
  • Chat Boost™ Talkback Expander: +10dB gain boost at maximum game volume
  • Digital RF provides wide 360-degree reception range
  • Audio mutes automatically when carrier signal is lost
  • Operates on dual AAA batteries
  • Automatic shut down after approx 5 minutes of carrier loss or silence to conserve battery power
  • Battery booster circuit extends battery life for up to 25 hours and assures that sound quality will be unaffected until the batteries are completely drained
  • Weight: 9.5 Oz (270g)

       Digital RF Wireless Transmitter

  • Digital Wireless RF wireless carrier reception (2.404-2.476GHz)
  • Digital RF wireless transmission range up to 30 feet
  • Stereo headphone output with volume control for external wired headphones 
  • Frequency response: 20Hz - 20kHz
  • Optical TOSLINK digital audio input compatible with 48kHz digital audio stream
  • Optical TOSLINK digital audio output pass-through of digital input stream.
  • 150MIPS Digital Signal Processor for Dolby processing
  • Maximum analog input level with volume control on maximum setting:  2Vpp (700mV rms). Input sensitivity may be adjusted to accept higher level signals by lowering the volume control.
  • Dimensions: Height 8.875 in (22.5 cm), width 4.375 in (11.1 cm), depth 4.375 in (11.1cm)
    Weight: 8.4 Oz (240g)
  • Power requirements: 5VDC @180mA max 

 

TRITTON AX 720

Tritton-AX720.jpg

(Steggy Review)

From trittonusa.com

 

Introducing the TRITTON AX 720 high performance gaming audio system.

Specifically designed for the XBox® and PS3® systems, the AX 720 delivers precision audio and superior voice communication. Utilizing Dolby® Digital and Dolby® Headphone technology, the AX720 sets a new benchmark for 2-Channel surround sound headsets. The included Dolby® Digital decoder will take games to new levels creating an impressive 3D audio environment. Precision balanced 40mm drivers provide heart thumping bass and crystal-clear highs. Chat online with your teammates on the XBox®, PS3®, or PC using the detachable microphone. The convenient inline audio controller features independent voice and game volume controls so that you can clearly hear your teammates during those crucial gaming moments. A breakaway cable design will allow you to connect optional cables to your MP3 player or even an iPhone®. Designed for the professional user but priced for every user, improve your game with the AX720.

Specs:

Item

Detail

AX720 Audio Controller 

 

Dolby Digital

Yes

Dolby Headphone 

Yes

Digital Audio Inputs 

Fiber Optic 

Headset Connection

x2 

 

 

AX 720 Headset 

 

Front Speaker 

2 x 40mm Driver 106dB, Frequency Response: 25-22KHz, THD: -97dB THD

 

 

Cable Length

12.5 feet

 

 

Edited by mcnoiserdc - 11/15/10 at 9:59am
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 

Reserved

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Reserved

post #4 of 9

Ah, but which are better? I just posted a thread about this btu I can't find a whole lot of concrete information. I'm trying to avoid buying the mixamp since its so much more expensive.

post #5 of 9

So the DSS can't do DTS? What would happen if I use the DSS with media player like the Patriot Box and watch a movie that only has DTS Audio?

 

Is there any surround sound processor for HD audio from blu-rays?

 

 

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

For this particular matter your only solution is a AV receiver.

Playstation 3 for example has games in DTS but it can transcode to dolby digital so you can still use the DSS.

Quote:
Originally Posted by matryx View Post

So the DSS can't do DTS? What would happen if I use the DSS with media player like the Patriot Box and watch a movie that only has DTS Audio?

 

Is there any surround sound processor for HD audio from blu-rays?

 

 



 

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnoiserdc View Post

For this particular matter your only solution is a AV receiver.

Playstation 3 for example has games in DTS but it can transcode to dolby digital so you can still use the DSS.



 



Based on Turtle Beach the PS3 does not do any transcoding

 

http://www.turtlebeach.com/support/index.php?View=entry&EntryID=830517102

 

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

then I was WRONG, Sorry
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by matryx View Post





Based on Turtle Beach the PS3 does not do any transcoding

 

http://www.turtlebeach.com/support/index.php?View=entry&EntryID=830517102

 



 

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by matryx View Post



Based on Turtle Beach the PS3 does not do any transcoding

 

http://www.turtlebeach.com/support/index.php?View=entry&EntryID=830517102

What's up headFi'ers!  Just registered and glad to have found this board! 

 

With that out of the way, I believe Turtle Beach has corrected their mistake of stating that the PS3 does not transcode anything, as I have read by clicking the link matyrx provided.

 

 
quote from link above:

 

The PS3 DOES transcode DTS (or PCM for that matter) to Dolby Digital for Blu-ray movies. You must simply ensure the following settings on the PS3:
 
Settings -> Video Settings -> BD Audio Output Format (Optical Digital) ->Bitstream (Mix)
 
Settings -> Audio Output Settings -> Digital Out (Optical) ->Tick ONLY Dolby Digital 5.1 Ch-> Save your settings
 
Now when playing a Blu-ray, if you select a DTS/DTS-HD or PCM audio track, the audio is now automatically transcoded to Dolby Digital by the PS3.
 
Problem solved!
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