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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (Update: 7/9/2014: Ultrasone HFI-15G Added) - Page 713

post #10681 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoAmusing777 View Post

Hey, anyone, best IEM? Can anyone point me towards an IEM worthy of getting instead of the Annies?

 

Nothing that would beat the 701's you have now for the theme of this thread. Were you looking for them for a different purpose?

 

Weren't you talking about custom IEM's earlier as if you had some knowledge/experience with them? None of them what you're after?

post #10682 of 24515
Thread Starter 
The only IEMs I know and recommend for gaming are the Hifiman RE0. They are very detailed, albeit it quite analytical and not musical.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/11/13 at 3:07pm
post #10683 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoAmusing777 View Post

Hey, anyone, best IEM? Can anyone point me towards an IEM worthy of getting instead of the Annies?

 

In terms of detail, I absolutely love my Etymotic HF3. Though admittedly I've never tried them for gaming. IEM tend to have a small soundstage which isn't ideal for the virtual surround sound discussed in this thread. I've heard the RE0 has better separation than the HF2/3/5 does, though I have no first hand experience with the RE0.

post #10684 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by raband View Post

 

Nothing that would beat the 701's you have now for the theme of this thread. Were you looking for them for a different purpose?

 

Weren't you talking about custom IEM's earlier as if you had some knowledge/experience with them? None of them what you're after?


Yeah, I wanna use them both for music and gaming. I don't think so? I don't like custom IEM's for the simple fact that they are custom. I haven't really owned any IEM's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

The only IEMs I know and recommend for gaming are the Hifiman RE0. They are b=very detailed, albeit it quite analytical and not musical.

Boo to them then. http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/multi-iem-review-268-iems-compared-visang-vs-k1-added-01-03-13#post_6492059 Maybe this is the most comprehensive list there is for IEM's, lol. It even has the K3003! Lol.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AxelCloris View Post

 

In terms of detail, I absolutely love my Etymotic HF3. Though admittedly I've never tried them for gaming. IEM tend to have a small soundstage which isn't ideal for the virtual surround sound discussed in this thread. I've heard the RE0 has better separation than the HF2/3/5 does, though I have no first hand experience with the RE0.

Thanks for the input :)

post #10685 of 24515
Thread Starter 
Astro/SC is letting me keep all the cables, lol. It'd be hard trying to figure out what belongs with the A50s, A40s, SLYR, so I just have to return the devices. Thank god, lol.

Now to figure out all the stuff the A40 bundle comes with to edit in the review.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/11/13 at 3:08pm
post #10686 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Now to figure out all the stuff the A40 bundle comes with to edit in the review.

 

I think this is it? 

 

 

Ships With:
A40 Headset, Astro Speaker Tags, and Astro MixAmp™
Headset Cables:
2M 3.5mm Quick Disconnect Cable; PC Splitter/Adapter
MixAmp Cables:
Mini TOSLink to TOSLink, 3M USB-USB Mini, 1.5M Xbox Live Chat Cable, 2M 3.5mm Audio Cable
post #10687 of 24515
Thread Starter 
The guide has been updated for a more finished Astro A40 entry, as well as adding the Mixamp 2013 to the virtual surround devices section.

Let me know if I'm missing anything.

Quote:
Astro A40 (*headset*)
http://www.astrogaming.com/a40-audio-system-astro-edition



Sells for $249.99 (w/Mixamp 2013 Edition), $199.99 (headset alone)

Review (Click to show)
Before I get started, I really want to thank Skullcandy for getting in contact with me and giving me the chance to review the SLYR, as well as the A40+Mixamp 2013 Edition, and A50s on their Astrogaming side.... They have been very communicative, and understanding. Can't thank them enough.

Aah, things have come full circle. Back in 2009, the Astro A40+Mixamp bundle was my very first foray into headphone gaming. While they weren't what truly started the obsession as you all know it today (that goes to the AD700s, as they were a real eye-opener), the A40 was the first recommendation I was ever given. While I wasn't impressed by the bass light, hollow sound coming off the A40s, the Mixamp which became the most important purchase I had ever made in audio. So even though I didn't love the A40s, that bundle was the very beginning.

The current A40 Audio System comes with the Mixamp 2013 Edition, which brings in the addition of an Equalizer/preset button, to customize the sound on whatever headphone you have plugged in. The presets benefit the A40s greatly, as I will touch upon in the review. This review of the A40 will be when paired to the Mixamp 2013, compared to my other reviews which have been with the Mixamp 5.8. Makes more sense, as anyone interested in the A40 will more than likely buy it as a bundle with the Mixamp 2013 Edition. The differences in the Mixamps are that the 5.8 is slightly brighter and thinner sounding (a little clearer sounding overall), while the Mixamp 2013 Edition is warmer and thicker (which I find more beneficial to thin sounding headphones). The packaging is very well-crafted, and artistic. Astro surely knows how to present their items like no other headset company.

Upon first listen, I found that the A40s are quite warm and bass emphasized. A radical departure from the thin, cold, and hollow sounding old school A40s. The A50s are very bass heavy and muddy in it's innate sound signature, which the A40 thankfully isn't. Still, the A40s are not as balanced as I would have liked. That being said, the Mixamp's Media and Pro presets boosted the A40's clarity to really good levels, where I didn't find the A40s to lack in clarity for competitive gaming. The Core (flat) preset left the fun, general A40 signature, which worked quite well for non-competitive gaming. I dabbled in competitive gaming with the Core preset, and although not as detailed, was quite passable, so some people may not even need the other, clearer presets.


Build Quality: Build-wise, I felt the parts used were pretty high quality. Astro made a pretty reliable looking headset here. Nothing looks or feels cheap. The plastic used looks high-grade, and looks like it can take a beating. I'd still handle it with care, however. The only area of 'weakness' that I'd be wary of, is the headband padding piece which sort of 'floats' in the center of the headband. Doesn't look like it'd be a problem, but it's the only area I can see that would probably be the first to give out with rough treatment.

The A40s swivel inward, so you can lay them flat if you need a breather. I find them very comfy letting them rest on my shoulders/neck area, which is rare compared to the vast majority of audiophile headphones which have huge cups, won't swivel, etc. The speaker tags covering the cups can be removed for a more open sound (more on that later). The boom mic is also removable, and can be placed on either cup. The cable is also removable. I attempted to use my own 3.5mm cables, but wasn't able to get any good sound. I believe it's due to the 'channels' being a bit deep into the cups to reach by standard cables, which only the Astro's supplied cables can reach properly.


Comfort: I must have a ginormous head, as I have to wear the A40 fully extended. That, or they don't have enough give. On the opposite side of the size spectrum, the PC360 has enough extension to fit the head of a giant. I wish more headphones allowed that much freedom in size. The A40/A50 is comfortable, but they are at their limit with my head. It could use just a bit more extension, in my opinion. The pads are made of cloth/velour-like material, which is to say, they are quite comfy to my ears, and won't be heat building/sweat-inducing like typical pleather. I've felt better, but they do their job well.


Accessories:

Boom Microphone: Very high quality, and malleable boom mic. Astro has always had some very quality mics. Too bad, the mic can't be muted by flipping it up like the PC360, but it makes sense as it's removable, and the PC360's mic isn't.

Y cable (mic and audio): A must have for those wanting to use your own headphones and external microphone

Optical cable: A very nice, thick, and lengthy optical cable with a mini-optical side. Astro is stepping their game up here, as the old ones packaged in were a really thin, frail cable.

3.5mm male/male cable: For use with the mp3 input, though any 3.5mm male/male cable will work. Still, nice to have more.

Headset cable: The cable that plugs directly into the A40 and Mixamp itself and has the mic mute switch.

USB cable: To power the Mixamp as well as for PS3 voice chat. Any standard USB cable will work (I use an incredibly long USB cable).

2.5mm cable: For Xbox 360 chat. Plugs into the 360's controller to the Mixamp's controller input.



Isolation/Leakage: In terms of letting sound in/out, I find the A40s to perform...decently. I do hear a fair amount of leakage, so I wouldn't crank these loudly if someone is near me sleeping. As far as keeping external noise out, I found that while using the A40s, it did a decent job overall. I wasn't truly bothered by external noise, though it's not particularly great at it. I blame the cloth pads, which sacrifices isolation/noise leakage protection for extra comfort/less sweat inducing.If you're like me and prefer to use the A40s with the speaker tags removed, isolation/leakage is even worse, as it functions more like an open headphone.


Microphone: While I'm not too experienced with microphones, I didn't have any issues with my tests. It picks up my voice well. The microphone is long, pliable, and one of the better mics I have used. I don't see anyone having issues with this mic. The microphone is muted by the in-line mic mute switch on the Astro headset cable. The microphone can be placed on either side of the headset, in case you have a preference.

Bass: The bass is a bit emphasized over the rest of the frequencies (easy to notice when using the A40 for music), but not as much as the A50s. Removing the speaker tags allows the bass to decay a little faster, which I find beneficial. The bass is strong and ever present, but not obnoxious. I personally prefer less bass on a gaming headset, as I feel headsets should be balanced all around. Too much bass muddies up details, which is never good in competitive gaming. The A40s are respectable in it's details, even with it's bass. The Mixamp has the Pro and Media presets which make the innate bass emphasis a non-issue.


Mids: The mids are a bit recessed and pushed back due to the bass via default, but the Pro and Media presets bring out the mids quite a bit. The A40's innate sound signature could use more mid forwardness, but I've heard much worse.


Treble: I find the treble to be a strong suit on the A40s. It's neither too emphasized, nor too recessed. It's in a pretty balanced region for my taste. Not overly refined, but for a headset, it's in a good place.


Soundstage: As a pre-dominantly closed headset, with slight openness, I find the soundstage to be decently sized. Not as closed sounding as the SLYR, and not as spacious and large as the PC360. Removing the speaker tags adds just a hint more air, which is beneficial to the soundstage, though ultimately, the effect is minimal. It could use more depth and width to better aid the positional cues, but it's quite respectable for a partially open headset.


Positioning: Due to the decent soundstage, positional cues are pretty good. I personally found positional cues to be pretty easy to pinpoint, but not on par with the better headset and headphones. For the purpose of all-around gaming, I doubt there will be much to complain about here.


Clarity: The innate sound signature of the A40 is on the bass heavy, and warm side, and I found it a bit lacking in terms of details. However, the Mixamp's Media and Pro presets are quite detailed, greatly aiding the overall clarity. I also found clarity to be passable for gaming in the Core (flat) preset for fun gaming. It's no PC360, but the Mixamp's good presets boosts the A40's clarity to very good levels.


Amping: I found the A40 needs no additional amping past what the Mixamp provides.


Value: At $249.99 for the A40+Mixamp bundle, I find it to be an exceptional value. You are essential paying $130 for the Mixamp, and $120 for the A40s. At $120, the A40 is a pretty good headset overall, which benefits a lot from the Mixamp. At $199.99 for the A40 alone, I would not recommend it, as it is in a price range with some truly amazing headsets/headphones like the PC360, HD598, Q701, DT990, etc.


Final Impressions: The A40+Mixamp bundle is more than likely all that many gamers will ever need for all forms of worry free gaming. The bundle offers the ability to have both fun and competitive sound everyone can enjoy. The A40s are a solid headset overall with few shortcomings.


Final Scores...

Fun: 7.5. Very Good. The innate sound signature has lively bass, with an enjoyable balance of the other frequencies.

Competitive: 7.5. Very good. Since people will undoubtedly pair the A40 with the Mixamp 2013 edition, the Mixamp has two presets (Media and Pro) that enhance clarity of details, greatly aiding calrity for competitive gaming. The positional cues/soundstage aren't the best, but they will perform quite well.

Comfort: 7.5. Very good. A pretty comfortable headset all around. No problem wearing them for hours on end, with just a few occasional times of re-adjusting them. My only complaint is that it could use a bit more extension for larger heads, as I have to wear it fully extended.











Astro Mixamp Pro (2013 Edition)



Dolby Headphone Device

Sells for $129.99
Review (Click to show)
Pros:

+ Presets for customized sound, with 4 modes: Pro (boosted details, less bass), Core (relatively flat/balanced), Media (boosted mids and subtle bass boost), Sports (tuned for a more open virtual space, stadium-like)

+ Core preset is rich and warm, which is quite beneficial to most headphones. Not quite ruler flat, but not detrimental to sound quality.

+ Pro Mode lessens the bass considerably, to focus on details. This preset will be quite beneficial for boomy/muddy headphones.

Cons:

- Wired

- Hissy. About as much as the 5.8. It's not an issue, but the older Mixamp Pro had considerably less hiss.

- Does not decode DTS, so no virtual surround for DTS signals (which sadly, most Blu-Ray movies use).


Impressions:

I found the Mixamp Pro 2013 to be the best Mixamp in terms of functionality, though the removal of the digital coaxial/RCA inputs means less devices to hook up to it at once (the digital coaxial input on the older devices could be used in conjuction with a digital coaxial to optical converter to allow two game consoles at once).

I sincerely hope in the future Astro manages to add multiple optical inputs, as most gamers will have more than one console/device. That and HDMI input, and DTS decoding (like the SU-DH1). Hopefully, LPCM decoding will be added, as the Wii U uses LPCM. Wii U gamers are out of in terms of virtual surround because of the lack of LPCM decoding on current virtual surround devices.

The Pro, Core, and Media presets are all very functional and worth using.

Core: Core is basically flat/balanced, but not perfectly flat. From what I'm personally hearing, it seems to have ever so slightly more bass/warmth than neutral. Easy to tell when comparing to the Mixamp 5.8 which had no coloration when bass boost was off. Still, it's the best preset overall, and I personally like the subtle coloration with every headphone I've used so far.

Pro: Forum member Chicolom describes as "AD700 mode", which sucks out the bass to focus entirely on mid and treble detail. This essentially makes the A40 sound like the old A40. This may be quite beneficial to muddy/undetailed headphones.

Media: Enhances mids with a very subtle bass boost, which I really enjoyed for movies, as movies tend to suck out the mids a bit. I recommend using preset for mid deficient headphones.

Sports: I didn't personally like this one, as it sounds like the virtual space was made bigger, and sounds more processed and artificial than the other presets.

Despite the added hiss compared to the old Mixamp Pro, the 2013 edition is worthwhile unless you absolutely want the least amount of hiss, which then you'll wanna seek out the older 2011 or the even older 2010 edition.


Extra Notes:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruuku 
Added EQ Fuction/Button on face of Mixamp
"Daisy Chaining" does not require red 3.5mm male to male "bar" adapter
"Live streaming integrates game sound with incoming/outgoing voice chat"
TOSlink changed to mini-optical (3.5mm optical), Removed RCA/COAX Inputs, additional 3.5mm "STREAM" port

Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 1/11/13 at 4:27pm
post #10688 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by AxelCloris View Post

 

In terms of detail, I absolutely love my Etymotic HF3. Though admittedly I've never tried them for gaming. IEM tend to have a small soundstage which isn't ideal for the virtual surround sound discussed in this thread. I've heard the RE0 has better separation than the HF2/3/5 does, though I have no first hand experience with the RE0.


Same, I don't have a lot of experience w/high end IEM but my HF3 were an eye-opening jump from my other low budget IEM. Never used 'em at my PC tho since they probably wouldn't match very well w/my STX and I dunno if my powered monitor's headphone amp is any better in that regard. I got a great deal on 'em for $60 during a fire sale at Cowboom so I haven't even been tempted to try something else.

post #10689 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caravet View Post

I've ordered my Q701s, didn't go for the anniversary edition since this is my first serious audio purchase.

 

One more question though, regarding soundcards, has any tested a Xonar Phoebus yet? The integrated microphone and dedicated surround sound is a very attractive proposition, but I've heard compared to the STX the quality is much lower. This would make sense considering their very similar prices. Also heard some bad things about the Phoebus' drivers. Considering it's just under a year old now perhaps things have changed?

 

I'm worrying that by buying the Phoebus I'll be negating my Q701's edge on sound fidelity. I listen to a lot of music (both bassy and non bassy, from electronica to drum and bass to jazz) but also game just as much. Any advice?

 

Ive talked about the Phoebus briefly over the last few pages. The sound quality has been awesome for music so far, but check my post from earlier on page 711. The Phoebus has Dolby Home Theater V4, and not Dolby Headphone. The positional ques arent as good as the Dolby Headphone my G35s used. I am going to be returning the phoebus for a Xonar DGX (that has Dolby Headphone) when my DAC/Amp come.

 

As far as quality, the card itself is high quality, and uses mostly the same components the STX uses, plus the volume module is really convienent for in game audio adjustments.

 

The drivers are what most people are complaining about, but there was a beta driver release in late November, and there fine.

post #10690 of 24515

You know, there should be a headphone gaming guide that is IEM specific, seeing as how this is Full-size (mainly) specific, as well as one with STAX.

post #10691 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post


As for comfort, this is why I over extend the arms and wear them loose.

 

Yeah, That's what I tried, but they were still too clampy for me.  Maybe my head is just wider than the norm.  I don't really have a sound preference so to say.  I liked the sound that came from the PC360, I'm just saying for the price tag, they really didn't blow me away.

 

I was actually really wanting to buy the A40s, but from my research there are just so many microphone related issues with the 2013 mixamp that can't be ignored.  I don't know if you personally tested that or not, but pretty much every source I check has stated there is a problem.


Edited by gl0ry - 1/11/13 at 5:53pm
post #10692 of 24515

Get on it, STAT!...;)
 

post #10693 of 24515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger de Ceiba View Post

Get on it, STAT!...;)
 


 Lol, I'm not rich. I haven't listened to any IEM's or STAX.

post #10694 of 24515
Thread Starter 
All IEMs I have used dont do well with DH gaming compared to full sized headphones. Dont see why anyone would even bother. If uou have some, go for it, but no IEMs will ever compare to what a full sized headphone can do.
post #10695 of 24515
An IEM doesn't engage your whole ear the way a full size headphone does, and the rest of your ear past the ear canal isn't just there for show or as an evolutionary remnant... tongue.gif Just like portable on ears or clip-ons (or headphones vs speakers), they'll always have their limit.
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