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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (Update: 7/9/2014: Ultrasone HFI-15G Added) - Page 1631

post #24451 of 26362
Thread Starter 
I'm feeling productive, so you guys may see the 15G review something soon. I left it half done for a few months. Figured I may as well do it as a potential recommendation for an open, bassy, comfy headphone under $100. Not many open bassy cans, let alone, one as potent as the 15G.
post #24452 of 26362
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

I'm feeling productive, so you guys may see the 15G review something soon. I left it half done for a few months. Figured I may as well do it as a potential recommendation for an open, bassy, comfy headphone under $100. Not many open bassy cans, let alone, one as potent as the 15G.

You feel productive enough to review the HP200 towards the end of the month? Do you still have those shure velours? I'm curious as to how open they'll sound with them, granted it doesn't get too bright for my taste.
post #24453 of 26362
Thread Starter 
No... I'm only doing the 15G because it's been my heaphone for quite a few months now, and I've already written half the review. At the moment, I don't wanna jump into another headphone, especially when I haven't been playing much of anything lately, let alone games that highlight positional cues, soundstaging, etc.
post #24454 of 26362
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stillhart View Post
 

 

For $300, I'd get a Fidelio X1 and an amp (E12, Magni, O2, etc).  You might have to go used on one or both items, but it's a sweet setup for the price.  I have a Recon3D and it's not the best sounding.  Even the Omni was a noticeable upgrade.  That said, an amp should help the sound a lot (the X1 doesn't need to be amped, but the amping does help tighten up the bass).

 

 

Yes, that's the one.  The article I read during E3 suggested an early July release.  They could have released more information since then though, I haven't been keeping up.

ok so i have ordered the Fidelio X1's, hopefully it wont take too long to arrive to australia from the states.. now for the amp.. are the FiiO E12's the general consensus around these parts? or have i got other options i can look at?

 

Once again i appreciate any help/advice :)

post #24455 of 26362
Thread Starter 
E12, Magni, O2, E17 will all work fine at that entry price point.
post #24456 of 26362
Quote:
Originally Posted by RolandOfEld View Post
 

ok so i have ordered the Fidelio X1's, hopefully it wont take too long to arrive to australia from the states.. now for the amp.. are the FiiO E12's the general consensus around these parts? or have i got other options i can look at?

 

Once again i appreciate any help/advice :)

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

E12, Magni, O2, E17 will all work fine at that entry price point.

 

E12 and E17 are portables.  E17 is a DAC too, which will work for your non-gaming (like taking with your iphone or whatever).

 

E9, O2 and Magni are desktop units.  In general, desktops units tend to be more bang for your buck.

 

I haven't heard any of those models so I can't speak to the differences from first-hand experience.  I think you'd be happy with any of them.  I'd probably recommend the O2 or Magni if you don't plan on moving it away from your console (based on what I've read).  I'm sure others will chime in too.

post #24457 of 26362
Thread Starter 
The only potential problem with the Magni is the fact that it is quite high in gain, and you may not have much play in the volume control, where the Magni may get loud quite early with the X1.

Stillhart, I haven't been active much lately, but I have seen you being very, very helpful here. You have my thanks. I'll add you to the contributor list on the guide. smily_headphones1.gif

The 15G review is nearly done.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 7/9/14 at 1:14am
post #24458 of 26362
Thread Starter 
Subject to changes. If anyone sees any mistakes, please let me know. Been about 3 months since my last review, so the quality may be subpar...




Ultrasone HFI-15G




$90-range

Where To Buy: Amazon.com (3rd party sellers)
Review (Click to show)

The Ultrasone HFI-15G. After having come off the impressively comfortable, closed headset variant, the HS-15, I knew I had to try the 15G. I desperately wanted a lively, open, and super comfortable headphone that I could lay down and relax to (which is less than ideal with full-sized headphones), and on paper, the 15G suited that need perfectly. Did it suit these needs in execution?



Build Quality:

Rating: Excellent

Before I begin, I need to mention that there was an older 15G model with gold lettering and different exterior cup design, with an incredibly long cable. The one being reviewed is the newer model with gray lettering, and short cable. I currently can't confirm whether the differences are entirely aesthetic, or if there are sonic differences between them.

Not much has changed coming from the HS-15. It is basically identical in build, with the exceptions being the lack of an oversized boom-mic, semi-open cups vs. the closed cups on the HS-15, and a standard, very short 3.5mm cable.

I'll basically paste what I've written on the HS-15, adding/omitting the differences.

The HFI-15G has a retro 80's vibe to it's design, with an all black plastic frame. The HFI-15G reminds me of the many cheap no-name headphones found in any store in terms of aesthetics. It's all function over form, substance over style, which fits it's intentions in every way.

The headband is covered in relatively cheap looking, but smooth synthetic leather. It sits perfectly on the head, and you could potentially bend and twist it in any which way without so much as even a minor scare of it breaking.

The round cups are held by short plastic arms that would allow plenty of extension for my longish head. The cups look reminiscent of car rims with silver accents. The arms have gray S-Logic/Ultrasone HFI-15G branding.

The foam ear pads are supraaural/on ear, reminiscent of Koss Portapro, and the Sennheiser PX-100, though larger, and considerably softer. The HFI-15G pads are thicker and more plush, though you can feel a thinner circular area in the middle (which I'm sure is to not muffle up the sound.)

The cable itself is quite short. The cable terminates into a 3.5mm plug with a generous strain relief.

Overall, while the HFI-15G certainly looks cheap, there are seemingly no real structural weaknesses anywhere on it's frame, and the plastic looks like it could take a lot of abuse. You could bend the headband and twist the cups, yet it'd go back to it's normal shape without any issue whatsoever. It's a wonder how headphones this relatively inexpensive can take any abuse short of a nuclear strike, yet headphones costing over 10x the price would crumble under any minor stress. I can safely say that these would suit anyone that needs a beater headphone to toss around and abuse without any real consequences.



Accessories:

3.5mm extension cable: Considering how short the cable is on the HFI-15G, it is a logical choice to include an extension cable. That being said, the length of the extension cable is borderline illogical, as it is extremely long. I'd recommend using some other extension cable with a more modest length, for less potential sacrifice to the sound quality, and less cable management.



Comfort:

Rating: Great

I'll paste what I've said of the HS-15, as the comfort is absolutely identical, aside from slightly less weight due to a lack of boom microphone. The difference in weight is negligible, as they're both incredibly light.

The HFI-15G is easily THE most comfortable supraaural headphone I have owned to date, outside of the Koss/Yuin clip ons (which may be on ear, but as clip ons, don't sit on the ear the same way as headphones with headbands).

The HFI-15G is incredibly lightweight, and rests on the ears just enough to not be loose, but tight enough to stay secure. The only issue I have is that my right ear gets sore after a prolonged session, though that may be a personal sensitivity issue, as I get no discomfort on my left ear. I have to assume that if others have less sensitive ears, the HFI-15G may be near perfection (9.5) in comfort for them.

Again, these are arguably the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn outside of the Koss KSC75 and Yuin G1A. I'd argue that the Sony MA900 may beat it solely due to the fact that it (mostly) rests around the ears, though with it's larger frame and my inability to relax and lay down with them in the same way as the HS-15, I would honestly reach for the HFI-15G over the MA900 more times than not if I were basing everything off comfort. I'm positive that some who didn't find the MA900 to be comfortable, would think otherwise of the HFI-15G.

Long story short, if you want excellent comfort, it simply doesn't get much better than this for an on ear headphone, and perhaps any other kind of headphone.



Design Issues:

The only issue I see with the HFI-15g is that the non-detachable cable is very short, and unless you provide your own extension cable, you'll have to contend with the unruly and overly lengthy extension cable provided with the 15G.



Isolation/Leakage:

Rating: Fair

It honestly leaks about as much as the closed HS-15, which is to say, it doesn't isolate all too well, though doesn't get loud either. As with any open headphone, they do not make for the best headphones if you need absolute silence in or out. It does block out sound better than something like a KSC75, which is like wearing nothing at all.



Sound:

Rating: Good

Whereas the HS-15 was very, very warm, the HFI-15G is noticeably less warm (though definitely still on the warm side), with prominent bass emphasis, though considerably less so compared to the (exceedingly) heavy bass tilt on the HS-15. The end result is a more balanced sound signature, though not natural by any stretch of the word. It is unquestionably less polarizing and more likely to be favored over the HS-15. It is undoubtedly better sounding than the HS-15 in almost all regards, though the price difference seems steep.

The Ultrasone hits a nice sweet spot between fun and balance, with a definitely tilt towards fun. It also loves to be played on a moderately higher volume, despite Ultrasone's aim at mitigating volume level by a considerable amount.

As with the HS-15, the HFI-15G is sensitive to ear placement and it could benefit from a tighter clamp for SQ-reasons (at the expense of it's stellar comfort). That being said, the 15G would likely be a hit to fans of headphones with considerable bass, openness, and comfort.



Bass:

Rating: Great

The HFI-15G's bass is full, strong, and lively with a notable emphasis in the mid-bass. As with all Ultrasones I've heard to date, the bass is very well textured and controlled. The speed and decay is moderate despite it's prominence, which as far as I've known and heard, is an Ultrasone specialty. Not many other headphones that yield the 15G's control. The 15G's bass is more fleshed out and better integrated with the rest of the sound compared to the HS-15, though the Pro 900, and Pro 2900, which sounded more artificial, stood out as some of the tightest, most refined, bass I've heard, despite their more artificial tonality in other areas. The level of prominence on the 15G's bass will take some attention away from the mids, though it is by no means invasive or bloated, just strong.



Mids:

Rating: Decent

The mids are a hit or miss with the 15G. The mids aren't particularly lost in the mix, though I would place blame on the S-Logic messing with the mids the most. S-Logic to me, seems to artifically enhance the sense of space by pushing things further away in the soundstage, which results in things sounding distant in general. The mids fall on the thinner, distant side compared to the bass, though they aren't hampered by the treble whatsoever. Due to the bass control and generally even mids to treble response, the 15G comes off as bass first, mids and treble second. The upper mids to lower treble are definitely the most recessed part of the 15G's sound signature, which then lead up to a treble spike for some sparkle.



Treble:

Rating: Quite Decent

The treble is overall on the smooth, buttery side, with a noticeable peak for sparkle at around 10khz, which sounds cleaner and clearer than the stifled and muted treble output of the HS-15. I would've preferred a broader range of treble emphasis, as the HFI-15G is still on the rolled off side overall, though at louder volumes, it is quite even sounding, if just short of the neutral line of emphasis. Due to the disparity between anything before and after 10khz, the particular spike can become a nuisance if your volume level is catering to the other frequencies. Nowhere near as problematic as the DT990 or HE-400's treble spike, however.



Soundstage:

Rating: Great

The 15G's soundstage is quite impressive, with a great amount of width. Music sounds open and spacious, with a few instances where it sounded out of my head. The 15G's soundstage shines especially when gaming in virtual surround. I have yet to be let down by Ultrasone's S-Logic for gaming applications, and the streak continues with the 15G. Time and time again, I was fooled into believing a sound was coming from my room and not the headphones. The imaging on the 15G was great, with tight, focused audio cues, which were easy to poinpoint in the virtual space. The depth isn't the most impressive for a dynamic headphone, but I didn't have much, if any problem with it's presentation.



Positioning:

Rating: Great

The 15G is easily one of the best sub-$100 headphones for positional cues. The positional cues were sharp, tight, and focused, though some can make a valid argument that sounds can be more distant than the typical dynamic headphone without S-Logic. I place more importance towards the direction of sound placement more than the distance (as my eyes can take care of the rest, once I face the direction of sounds), so I don't have too much of a problem dominating shooter games with the 15G's positional prowess.



Clarity:

Rating: Good

Clarity in the 15G is considerably improved compared to the HS-15, which was quite warm and veiled in comparison. The 15G is still on the warm side, but nowhere near as muffled or stuffy. The bass tilt on the 15G takes it's seat as the dominant aspect of it's sound, though the mids and treble are generally on equal footing with each other, and unhampered by the bass in general. As stated previously, most of the shortcomings in clarity can be blamed on S-logic pushing things further back in the soundstage, and less because of the potent bass.



Amping:

Recommended

The 15G needs an amp more for volume than drivability, as it has a low volume output with general sources by design. I don't personally find the 15G hard to drive, though some sources can limit the 15G to moderate volumes, where I prefer a moderately high level (nothing ear piercing). I recommend a portable amp, which is all that is necessary for the 15G, or at the most, an entry desktop amp for convenience, which should be more than necessary. I feel a neutral amp like the O2 should be a great match for the 15G.



Personal Recommendation?

Movies, Music, In General? Yes
Gaming? Yes

Potent bass, and great soundstage lead to a very fun, immersive headphone which lends it self perfectly to bass driven music, action movies, and immersive games. Don't expect it to highlight vocals, acoustic music, or any real audiophile-specific necessities where detail retrieval is of utmost importance.

Those looking for a sub-$100 headphone, should really look out for the 15G in particular. I recommend the 15G for those who want a general purpose headphone, where fun is favored over analyzing details.



Comparisons:

The only headphones I can truly compare it to in terms of uses and general sound signature are the Beyerdynamic DT990, HiFiMAN HE-400, and Philips Fidelio X1, all which are better overall, but considerably more expensive, heavier, and less comfortable overall.

The Sennheiser PX100-II is a solid music alternative to the HFI-15G in the sub-$100 price range if you prefer a warm, mid rich, and smooth, non-fatiguing headphone. The PX100-II is undoubtedly the more music-friendly headphone with a more stable sound signature, but it's quite clampy and less comfortable (considerably more external ear fatigue), and less gamer friendly, with a more closed in soundstage. Note: No review is planned for the PX100-II in the near future.



Final Impressions:

The HFI-15G won't win any awards based on it's aesthetics or sheer technical ability, but it's fun, bassy signature, and great synergy with virtual surround puts it high on my recommendations for fun uses like immersive gaming, bass driven music, and action movies, all at an affordable price. It's just a great headphone for those who want to have fun, and don't want to deal with the typical bass looseness and muffled sound of headphones that normally cater towards the fun side at an entry-level price.



Likes, Dislikes, and Unfiltered Thoughts:

What I like:

The bass
Fun factor
Immersion
Comfort
Soundstage
Built quality
Price

What I don't like:

Thin midrange
The cable is too short
Could stand have a better transition from bass to mids.
Upper mids could stand to be less recessed relative to the treble spike at 10khz
I hate how finicky Ultrasones are with ear placement.
Pads aren't removable

Unfiltered Thoughts:

I really like this headphone. Quite an improvement over the HS-15 which was just too warm and veiled for my taste. My right ear gets a bit sore after awhile, which is annoying as I love to wear these up until that point. I think that's a personal issue, though. While it isn't perfect, the sound signature lends itself well to my kind of music, and types of movies and games I play. There isn't much to complain about, to be honest.


Fun: 8/10 (Great) (Click to show)
Fun is the 15G's forte, with great bass impact, deep immersion, and plenty of potential for wow inducing moments in movies and games.
Competitive: 7/10 (Good) (Click to show)
While the 15G is leaning towards fun, I had little issue dominating with it in competitive games. The well controlled bass, sharp audio cues, and solid soundstage for gaming makes the 15G quite a competent headphone, though those looking for competitive oriented headphones first, should look elsewhere.
Comfort: 8/10 (Great) (Click to show)
Regardless of whether any other headphone is on ear or over ear, there simply isn't much out there that is as comfortable as the HFI-15G, though if you're particularly sensitive to on ears, they may induce some soreness after prolonged periods.
Overall: 7.25/10 (Good) (Click to show)
Affordable, sturdy, very comfortable, super light, and fun. That is really all that needs to be said.

Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 7/9/14 at 2:54am
post #24459 of 26362
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

The only potential problem with the Magni is the fact that it is quite high in gain, and you may not have much play in the volume control, where the Magni may get loud quite early with the X1.

Stillhart, I haven't been active much lately, but I have seen you being very, very helpful here. You have my thanks. I'll add you to the contributor list on the guide. smily_headphones1.gif

The 15G review is nearly done.

 

The problem with the O2 and Magni is that when the pot is low you'll get a channel imbalance. This problem is far worse on the Magni which only has high gain.

 

Fiio E17 is a really good choice because you can use the optical input with your sound card. However, there is the Creative E3 coming out soon which supports bluetooth (NFC), virtual surround sound (SBX Pro Studio), acts as a USB dac and amplifier that can apparently power high impedance headphones. Link here.

 

You can also plug your mic and headphones into it while using bluetooth so it effectively makes your setup wireless. I've asked Creative support for more detailed specifications about the DAC and amplifier which they have no forwarded to the relevant department. Hopefully, I will get a response.

 

There is also the Sound Blaster E1 which is out now.


Edited by Dreyka - 7/9/14 at 3:32am
post #24460 of 26362
Quote:
Originally Posted by Change is Good View Post

Anyone want to buy watch dogs on the ps4 for $30 plus shipping? If not guess I'll be trading it in for the same price, tomorrow.


That's why I pre ordered watch dogs, completed it in a week and traded it in when it was still at a high price pre owned..never even played the multiplayer..i will keep the last of us remastered but not play the multiplayer..even though i hate it at times nothing compares to bf4's multiplayer gameplay!

post #24461 of 26362
@Mad Lust Envy...great thread. I have a few questions I hope you can help me with. I think I might of asked you this a couple years ago in Xbox live chat.

Been looking for an immersive headphone for single player games. I already own ad700s for competitive. I narrowed it down to 3 headphones from your reviews. DT 770 pro 80, ultrasone pro 900, and denon d7000. Out of those 3 which would you go for? Will the astro mix amp power the pro 80s enough?

If not, can an additional amp be hooked up to the astro mix amp?

Last question. Just bought the Siberia v2 as a backup headset to my ad700s (I needed closed to). They're pretty decent, with an average mic. Comfort it great. Have you user them yet or only the v1? Are there any velour replacement earpads for the v2? The pleathee can get hot. Was going to return them but ended up keeping them for $80.

If you had to choose one closed headphone headset for competitive gaming, what would you choose? Thanks.

Mike
post #24462 of 26362
Thread Starter 
I think you should kill two birds with one stone and get the Shure 1540s. I trust Change and what he says of them, and I believe if I wanted a closed headphone as well as a fun headphone, it would definitely be the 1540, no questions about it.
post #24463 of 26362

I first want to thank MLE for this incredible guide, along with the several other contributors such as Change, Stillhart, etc.  This is my first post on the head-fi forums, but I've been reading through people's opinions and impressions for the last week.  I feel like I've entered an entirely new world because I never really thought too much about the sound quality of my music and games before.

 

So here's my situation: I'm currently in the US but will be moving to China in 3 weeks.  I've been wanting to get a good pair of headphones for my move since I will be there for over two years and I think it will be hard to get good headphones there.  Currently, the only headphone/set I have are the Sony Pulse Elites which I originally bought because they are wireless.  Does anyone have any experience with those and can compare their comfort and sound quality to other closed headsets?

 

I purchased a used Astro A50 and Xonar U3 from ebay for $150 before I discovered this thread.  It hasn't arrived yet so I can't compare it to the Sony Elite, but suffice to say now I am wondering if I should have just waited.  I'm looking for a fun, immersive headphone that I can play on PC (since I won't be bringing any consoles with me), which is why I thought the U3 with its Dolby Headphone was a good idea, but that new Creative E3 is starting to look even better (when does it come out?).  I don't play any competitive gaming at all so I don't need a mic, and while I've only had experienced with closed headphones, I'm thinking that open might be good too since I have my first baby on the way and I don't want to shut myself out from the world :)

 

Currently, I'm looking at the Fidelio X1 but I can't seem to find a good deal for them.  I've also perused the Soundmagic Hp100, AKG K545 (for its portability and high recommendations regarding soundstage for a closed headphone), and even potentially the K712 (though I think these are out of my price range).  I think I'd need to get a separate DAC/Amp for the K712 though (which is why I'm not considering the Beyerdynamic DK990's), and right now all I have is the Xonar U3 for my laptop.  Maybe the Creative E3 would be a viable option?

 

Anyway, I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on my situation.  If the best bet is still just to get the X1 and return/resell the A50's, I can do that.  Or if I should wait for the Creative E3 (as long as it comes out within the next week or so) and choose a headphone with higher impedance, I'm open for that too.  My budget is around $300, preferably on Amazon since I have a bunch of credit there, but I can potentially go a bit higher if there's a huge leap in sound quality and comfort.

 

Thanks so much!

post #24464 of 26362
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

The only potential problem with the Magni is the fact that it is quite high in gain, and you may not have much play in the volume control, where the Magni may get loud quite early with the X1.

Stillhart, I haven't been active much lately, but I have seen you being very, very helpful here. You have my thanks. I'll add you to the contributor list on the guide. smily_headphones1.gif

The 15G review is nearly done.

Wow, thanks dude!  That's kind of you and I appreciate it.  :beerchug:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreyka View Post
 

 

The problem with the O2 and Magni is that when the pot is low you'll get a channel imbalance. This problem is far worse on the Magni which only has high gain.

 

Fiio E17 is a really good choice because you can use the optical input with your sound card. However, there is the Creative E3 coming out soon which supports bluetooth (NFC), virtual surround sound (SBX Pro Studio), acts as a USB dac and amplifier that can apparently power high impedance headphones. Link here.

 

You can also plug your mic and headphones into it while using bluetooth so it effectively makes your setup wireless. I've asked Creative support for more detailed specifications about the DAC and amplifier which they have no forwarded to the relevant department. Hopefully, I will get a response.

 

There is also the Sound Blaster E1 which is out now.

 

Fair point both of you about the O2 and Magni.  A portable might be a better choice in that case.  I've forgotten already, @RolandOfEld, what are you using this with?  Just a Mixamp and console?  PC?  Portable?  A little of everything?

 

Regarding the Creative E3, it doesn't look like it'll work with a console directly.  Seems similar to a crossbreed of the E17 and the SBZ/SB Omni with a little bluetooth thrown in.  I doubt you'll be able to use it wirelessly with something like a Mixamp.  I'm gonna keep my eye on that device, thanks for the link.

post #24465 of 26362
Quote:
Originally Posted by imac2much View Post
 

Anyway, I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on my situation.  If the best bet is still just to get the X1 and return/resell the A50's, I can do that.  Or if I should wait for the Creative E3 (as long as it comes out within the next week or so) and choose a headphone with higher impedance, I'm open for that too.  My budget is around $300, preferably on Amazon since I have a bunch of credit there, but I can potentially go a bit higher if there's a huge leap in sound quality and comfort.

 

First off welcome to Head-fi. Are you gaming on PC only or PC and consoles? If it's just PC, you should stick to your current plan of getting the X1 or one of the Soundmagic options, or possibly the Q701 and then adding an external card like the Soundblaster Omni or Recon3D USB. The Recon3D will also work with consoles if you wanted to go that route. 

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