Hey everyone. I read the entire first post of this thread which was very informative, thank you MLE. I've made my decision as to what headphones I was going to get (he-400), but I'm not sure which virtual surround device is right for me. They all seem to have pretty big cons. I'm looking for something that sounds great above all else, and wired if possible. Most of the devices don't seem to decode DTS natively. The Beyerdynamic seems to have everything but yeah, little pricy.
What I'm wondering is, if I don't mind paying a little extra and getting a receiver (I have to get a new receiver for my home theater anyway), would an AV receiver that supports virtual surround do a decent job? Which would produce the best sound quality? One of the virtual surround device listed at the beginning of this thread like the Astro mixamp pro, or a Yamaha/Harman Kardon receiver? Would love to hear opinions from those who have tried both.
A receiver is a totally valid choice. You get a high-current headphone amp, lots of power for speakers, Dolby 5.1 and DTS surround codec support (and more variants of those), bass and treble equalizers, remote-control, and, of course, radio reception! That's where receivers got their name from anyway, receiving radio. A good value you can live with and add to. I mean, so long as we're not talking about the cheapo receivers that come as part of a HTIB kit (home theater in a box; you know, the kind that usually come with a built-in DVD or Blu-Ray player, 5 cheap and small bookshelf speakers, and mud-slinging flabby subwoofers?). I bet most manufacturers have their own headphone surround processing now. I can't tell you for sure if that's because they didn't want to pay licenses for Dolby Headphone anymore, or if they thought they could do better. Since they already pay for Dolby and DTS decoding for the speakers... I think there's something more to it than just dropping DH because of overhead cost. I wonder what Denon uses, I see their refurbished receivers for a nice price all the time.
PurpleAngel and I have Yamaha receivers, and their Silent Cinema virtual surround for headphones is respectable. There certainly are a lot of options for tailoring the sound. If I didn't have to have a discreet setup in my bedroom, I would've just stuck with mine, but as it happens I personally prefer my Creative Recon3D USB instead of Silent Cinema because it "echos" less to my ears, but both have effects that "work." I will note that while my AKG Q701s were/are driven great by the receiver, the Recon3D's built-in amp had to be nearly maxed out. Adding a discreet amp (a tube amp) has really filled in the sound from the Recon3D, but you wouldn't have to buy an extra thing for the Receiver (or with easy to drive headphones).