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post #7846 of 24909

Hi everyone,

I've been hesitating for months over headphones in the 100-150€ (120/185$) range to replace my Steelseries Siberia v1. However the audio world is quite new to me, and I'd really appreciate an advice to get me started :)

- I'd use them mainly for movies and music (on PC) and regularly for PC gaming and Xbox 360 gaming. I already own the Steelseries "Spectrum Audio Mixer" so Xbox connectivity is not an issue.
- I use my headphones a lot, so comfort is very important, circumaural only.
- I don't think I have a very good PC soundcard. I'm using the "Supreme FX II" which came on my ASUS motherboard and supports 5.1 out through 3.5mm jacks (EDIT: Windows allows me to turn on virtual surround, so it means this card supports it too). My motherboard also has an optical out (SPDIF) port.

I also have a Steelseries USB soundcard which can give me 7.1 virtual surround, but I don't think it's really good either. The "Supreme FX II" with Windows' virtual surround on sounds better to me.


From reading this guide, I think I'm going to buy the "Tritton AX 720+" in order to have the nice and convenient decoder and a decent headset. However I have a few questions and hope you can help me out:

- Is buying the Tritton 720 only for the decoder worth it considering what I already own, in which case I could buy something like the DT770 right now?
- I've read about some hissing with the 720 decoder. Considering I'll be watching movies with it, is it really intrusive or can it be disregarded?
- Since it's mostly the PC that matters to me, would it be that much better if I dropped the Xbox compatibility and invested in a proper PC sound card + headphones? In other words, is investing in a PC soundcard much better than the 720 decoder?
- If I were to, at a later date, upgrade to other headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro and plug them in the 720 decoder, would it work properly? (I've read that the DT770 would absolutely need an amp, would the 720 decoder suffice?)


Thanks a huge lot in advance, I'm really going crazy choosing this :P


Edited by Mjonir - 9/29/12 at 1:55pm
post #7847 of 24909
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjonir View Post

*SNIP*
Tritton 720 only for the decoder worth it considering what I already own, in which case I could buy something like the DT770 right now?
Depends on how much you want 5.1 on the Xbox. Since you have the Steel Series Mixer already, you could just route a mic through the mixer, and use a cheaper unit like the DSS/Recon to get 5.1 out of the Xbox. The main reason for going with the AX720/Mixamp is to allow voice chat plus the decoder. The 770s would be a great deal more capable headphone in comparison to the AX720, and if you're not too concerned with Xbox gaming, would be a much better choice.

- I've read about some hissing with the 720 decoder. Considering I'll be watching movies with it, is it really intrusive or can it be disregarded?
For the most part it can be disregarded. Its a low level hiss that won't be appearant in all but the quietest of scenes in movies. It really depends on how sensitive you are to it. Its a very faint white noise. Interestingly on the Xbox main menu, what can best be described as "digital rain drops" appeared with the use of the decoder.
- Since it's mostly the PC that matters to me, would it be that much better if I dropped the Xbox compatibility and invested in a proper PC sound card + headphones? In other words, is investing in a PC soundcard much better than the 720 decoder?
If buying a sound card with a dedicated 1/4" plug it will certainly be more powerful than the AX720 decoder box. I'm not well versed in PC audio, so I'll defer to Purple Angel, or Nameless on this subject.
- If I were to, at a later date, upgrade to other headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro and plug them in the 720 decoder, would it work properly? (I've read that the DT770 would absolutely need an amp, would the 720 decoder suffice?)
The AX720DB will not have enough power to juice the DT770s to their full potential. That being said you should be able to power them to an acceptable level, but external amping (double amping) would be better than running off the DB by itself.


Thanks a huge lot in advance, I'm really going crazy choosing this :P

My replies in bold...hope this helps.
Edited by ruuku - 9/29/12 at 2:17pm
post #7848 of 24909
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjonir View Post

I've been hesitating for months over headphones in the 100-150€ (120/185$) range to replace my Steelseries Siberia v1. However the audio world is quite new to me, and I'd really appreciate an advice to get me started :)
- I'd use them mainly for movies and music (on PC) and regularly for PC gaming and Xbox 360 gaming. I already own the Steelseries "Spectrum Audio Mixer" so Xbox connectivity is not an issue.
- I use my headphones a lot, so comfort is very important, circumaural only.
- I don't think I have a very good PC soundcard. I'm using the "Supreme FX II" which came on my ASUS motherboard and supports 5.1 out through 3.5mm jacks (EDIT: Windows allows me to turn on virtual surround, so it means this card supports it too). My motherboard also has an optical out (SPDIF) port.
I also have a Steelseries USB soundcard which can give me 7.1 virtual surround, but I don't think it's really good either. The "Supreme FX II" with Windows' virtual surround on sounds better to me.
From reading this guide, I think I'm going to buy the "Tritton AX 720+" in order to have the nice and convenient decoder and a decent headset. However I have a few questions and hope you can help me out:
- Is buying the Tritton 720 only for the decoder worth it considering what I already own, in which case I could buy something like the DT770 right now?
- I've read about some hissing with the 720 decoder. Considering I'll be watching movies with it, is it really intrusive or can it be disregarded?
- Since it's mostly the PC that matters to me, would it be that much better if I dropped the Xbox compatibility and invested in a proper PC sound card + headphones? In other words, is investing in a PC soundcard much better than the 720 decoder?
- If I were to, at a later date, upgrade to other headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro and plug them in the 720 decoder, would it work properly? (I've read that the DT770 would absolutely need an amp, would the 720 decoder suffice?)

Any chance you could add your location to your community profile?

 

What model Asus motherboard is it?

 

Technical Pro HPT990 (Takstar Hi2050) headphones

Asus Xonar DG sound card

In the USA this combo would cost me $75.

post #7849 of 24909
Thread Starter 
All I see is complaints that virtual surround doesn't work for certain people. Unfortunate for you, but its easily discernible for me. Incredibly easy. I was watching a DVD movie yesterday and positional cues were top notch.

Just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work. Some people just aren't compatible with virtual surround. However, a lot of people are, which is why these things are still sold.

Dolby Headphone, THX Tru Studio, the Headzone's virtual surround, ALL worked really well, and were able to give a convincing surround effect, including front/back (though THX was the weakest).

As mentioned a million times, all games aren't created equal, nor movies.

Do yourselves a favor and download the Resident Evil 6 demo and do Leon's story. Kill a zombie, and once the body is in a puddled and bubbling, turn around (with some distance) and tell me its hard to tell where the sound is coming from. I call bullsh*t.

All this blind testing is useless, as your eyes are important to associate where sounds are coming from, relative to your position on screen. All the testing in the world won't make Black Ops sound good until you're actually in the middle of the action, and not trying to intently focus on where sounds are coming from. They come to you naturally.

Almost no game has good virtual surround when you sit there trying to cause the positional cues. It works best when its an extension of what's happening around you as you play, not when you are trying hard to get picture perfect cues for testing.

I've had a similar experience with testing Valkyrie Profile 2's sound test, where you can adjust where the speakers are. The game is Pro Logic II enabled. In these sound tests, because its controlled, it doesn't sound convincing. However, when I play the game, the cues are perfect.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 9/29/12 at 4:07pm
post #7850 of 24909
Quote:
Originally Posted by ruuku View Post


My replies in bold...hope this helps.

 

It does! :)

 

In case I go this route, do you have any DSS you would recommend?

 

Wouldn't double amping introduce noise problems, or is it really a viable method?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Any chance you could add your location to your community profile?

 

What model Asus motherboard is it?

 

Technical Pro HPT990 (Takstar Hi2050) headphones

Asus Xonar DG sound card

In the USA this combo would cost me $75.

 

Sorry I can't edit my community profile. I think it's because I don't have enough posts yet? Anyway, I come from Belgium.

 

I have the "Rampage Formula" motherboard: http://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_775/Rampage_Formula/

 

I know that there are some cheap Xonar sound cards starting at 30€, but last time I asked the 180€ model was suggested. I can read the difference in numbers, but I honestly have no idea what they mean in practice and how much I should invest to scale well with headphones such as the DT770. Could you suggest any documentation on which sound card to choose? 

post #7851 of 24909
Double amping has garnered a pretty bad reputation, but in personal usage there is no problem with it with either the Astro mixamp nor AX720 DB. It was discussed earlier in the thread, and there are also other threads on Head-Fi that look into DA much more in-depth.

The DSS is Turtle Beach's own decoder, but if you were looking for a recommendation on general decoders, I would highly reccomend an Astro Mixamp pro (wired version) especially if you're worried about static/line noise. Although both the AX720 and Mixamp are wiried, the Mixamp has a much cleaner presentation when it comes to audible white noise. The trade off for this of course it that it is the most expensive of the decoder boxes.

On another note...
Been playing Boarderlands 2 and RE6 on 360, and I must say that the 5.1 audio on both these games is impressive, but on BL2 The side/rear channels are unusually loud especially with NPC dialogue. Positional audio is also pretty bad, I hear a shot that sounds point-blank from my sides, but the enemy is actually quite a bit away from me.

On RE6 it seems like they ramped up the difficulty quite a bit... I haven't died this much in a RE game since the first one (1st run through normal difficulty). With 5 possiable playthroughs and the optional modes it seems like this will take a while to fully complete. I'm not too sure that I like the skill system vs. upgrading guns though.
post #7852 of 24909
Thread Starter 
To anyone interested in the MMX300 (DT770 32ohm with built in mic), they are going for $200 used on Amazon, and less than $300 new. That's actually a really good price, compared to what they used to be. I'm half tempted.
post #7853 of 24909
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mjonir View Post
- Is buying the Tritton 720 only for the decoder worth it considering what I already own, in which case I could buy something like the DT770 right now?

- I've read about some hissing with the 720 decoder. Considering I'll be watching movies with it, is it really intrusive or can it be disregarded?
- Since it's mostly the PC that matters to me, would it be that much better if I dropped the Xbox compatibility and invested in a proper PC sound card + headphones? In other words, is investing in a PC soundcard much better than the 720 decoder?
- If I were to, at a later date, upgrade to other headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro and plug them in the 720 decoder, would it work properly? (I've read that the DT770 would absolutely need an amp, would the 720 decoder suffice?)

 

Not when you can get an AX720 decoder box for just US$50...but if you live in Belgium, international shipping costs may be an issue, not to mention whether the seller will even be willing to ship internationally or not.

 

As for hissing, I can't say for the AX720 specifically, and it doesn't help that it's been radically revised several times. If you want to be sure that hissing is kept to a minimum, you'll have to shell out for the Astro Mixamp Pro...if not something even more expensive.

 

For PC gaming, I'd definitely advise just getting a sound card. Better audio quality and more gaming audio features at lower cost. My usual US$45 X-Fi Titanium recommendation wouldn't exactly work out for Belgian buyers, but if you're willing to pay international shipping (which should be pretty cheap, around US$10) on top of the cost of the card itself, I could order and ship it for you.

 

If you don't want to go through that hassle, I hope the Xonar DG's closer to the 30 Euro end of the scale...

 

Finally, as for the AX720 decoder box's amplification abilities, the only headphones that will not work at all whatsoever are electrostatics (generally Stax), due to their principle of operation. More conventional dynamic or orthodynamic/planar-magnetic driver designs will work to varying degrees of effectiveness, though you probably won't get the full benefit using the AX720 alone.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post
All I see is complaints that virtual surround doesn't work for certain people. Unfortunate for you, but its easily discernible for me. Incredibly easy. I was watching a DVD movie yesterday and positional cues were top notch.
Just because it doesn't work for you doesn't mean it doesn't work. Some people just aren't compatible with virtual surround. However, a lot of people are, which is why these things are still sold.
Dolby Headphone, THX Tru Studio, the Headzone's virtual surround, ALL worked really well, and were able to give a convincing surround effect, including front/back (though THX was the weakest).
As mentioned a million times, all games aren't created equal, nor movies.
Do yourselves a favor and download the Resident Evil 6 demo and do Leon's story. Kill a zombie, and once the body is in a puddled and bubbling, turn around (with some distance) and tell me its hard to tell where the sound is coming from. I call bullsh*t.
All this blind testing is useless, as your eyes are important to associate where sounds are coming from, relative to your position on screen. All the testing in the world won't make Black Ops sound good until you're actually in the middle of the action, and not trying to intently focus on where sounds are coming from. They come to you naturally.
Almost no game has good virtual surround when you sit there trying to cause the positional cues. It works best when its an extension of what's happening around you as you play, not when you are trying hard to get picture perfect cues for testing.
I've had a similar experience with testing Valkyrie Profile 2's sound test, where you can adjust where the speakers are. The game is Pro Logic II enabled. In these sound tests, because its controlled, it doesn't sound convincing. However, when I play the game, the cues are perfect.

 

I've noticed similar results myself, in that being able to see what's on-screen seems to help with the psychoacoustics of it all.

 

Yet a good binaural surround technology will still allow me to distinguish front and rear with ease, which could easily mean the difference between, say, someone in front of me that's obscured by a wall (thus, I still can't see that person) and someone behind me. It could just be that our own HRTFs fit the human average, or at least whatever HRTFs are used in particular with CMSS-3D Headphone, Dolby Headphone, THX TruStudio Surround, etc. well enough for the effects to work as intended. I'm certainly thankful for that!

 

And, yes, choice of source material is extremely important. Some games just have piss-poor positional audio (Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and the original releases of Serious Sam: TFE and TSE come to mind), and it may not be immediately apparent until you play a game that does do positional audio right.

post #7854 of 24909
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

To anyone interested in the MMX300 (DT770 32ohm with built in mic), they are going for $200 used on Amazon, and less than $300 new.

 

About time.  Loosen up that MSRP Beyer.

post #7855 of 24909
Thread Starter 
Tempted on selling my NFB5, HE400, and getting the MMX300 and DT990/32 and calling it a day. Downgrading and shifting priorities.
post #7856 of 24909

And I was hoping to audition that HE-400 one day...

 

Too bad I can't afford it. Not without giving up my Stax.

post #7857 of 24909

Thanks MLE for the great thread.  It's an awesome effort and contribution.  I've read through it a few times and enjoy your updates / insight.

 

As to what I can contribute:

 

I currently have the LCD-2s as my primary headphone, as well as the HD-800s, the Beyer T1s, and the MrSpeakers Mad Dogs.

 

I have used the LCD-2s, the HD-800s, and the Mad Dogs for online FPS gaming.  The games include Planetside 2, BF3, CS Source, etc.

 

In my experience, with my setup, I have observed the following:

 

The LCD-2s are not suitable for FPS by any standard.  Yes, the explosions sound amazing.  The sound is GREAT.  However, the sound stage is all over the place.  You can hear foot steps in places where NO ONE can be (such as in the ocean).  It jumbles it all together and there is no sense of separation in the position of the individual sounds.  You will not be able to predict where the opponent is coming from or where that shot was fired from.  I had no luck with this on ANY game.  That's my experience.

 

The Mad Dogs seem to do better at positional audio for games - for some odd reason, but are by no means something I would rely on in terms of using audio to determine the location of my enemies.

 

The HD-800s are like hitting ` then typing audio godmode.  These things place the sounds PRECISELY where the opponent is - and they do it on a large scale.  You can EASILY locate several opponents all at once at various locations around you.  You can position yourself in a building and hear opponents above you, beside you, running outside in multiple directions, etc. and actually count the amount of opponents and judge the direction each opponent is heading.  Of course you have to focus your brain on accomplishing that task, but that's not the fault of the head phone.  The headphone provides the information and you have to be able to interpret it.  Once you learn to process that information the HD-800s are providing you, you have a definite advantage over your opponent.  There have been MULTIPLE times in games like BF3 (which I've read doesn't have the best positional audio, but does have GREAT audio quality) where I've been in a close quarter combat situation and been able to stop, listen, determine the location of multiple opponents, and proceed to take each of them out one by one, all the while judging their movements as they hear me killing their allies, and myself being able to adjust to that based simply on the sounds of them moving around me through the walls, hearing their footsteps, their ammo reloads, their shuffling around, etc.

 

It's awesome.  I have the Q701s on order and they should be here this coming Thursday.  I'm excited to see how they compare against the HD-800s.

 

Just wanted to provide my experience, but yeah.  If you already have the HD-800s for music then definitely use them for gaming.  It's just a HUGE added bonus to these cans. :)

post #7858 of 24909
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I've heard the HD800s are just awe-inspiring for gaming.

Are you using virtual surround, or just stereo? I don't like gaming in stereo whatsoever, so I'm interested in seeing how you're gaming.

I don't wanna give up the HE400, but I'm quite broke, and my next position is paying me even less. I'm gonna be tight until I find a better job.
post #7859 of 24909
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Yeah, I've heard the HD800s are just awe-inspiring for gaming.
Are you using virtual surround, or just stereo? I don't like gaming in stereo whatsoever, so I'm interested in seeing how you're gaming.
I don't wanna give up the HE400, but I'm quite broke, and my next position is paying me even less. I'm gonna be tight until I find a better job.

Hope you find a better job soon! smile.gif

post #7860 of 24909
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Yeah, I've heard the HD800s are just awe-inspiring for gaming.
Are you using virtual surround, or just stereo? I don't like gaming in stereo whatsoever, so I'm interested in seeing how you're gaming.
I don't wanna give up the HE400, but I'm quite broke, and my next position is paying me even less. I'm gonna be tight until I find a better job.

Why would the next position be on a lower wage?  In any case, good luck with that.  

 

Keep smiling, and the world will smile at you.  ksc75smile.gif

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