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Gaming headsets that stand out

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

 

 

So, I have been doing the rounds on the PC gaming front for quite a while now. Used a bunch of different headsets, from the standard 20 quid on the shelf ones to some of the more expensive and 'elitist' headsets that can be found on the market.
 
Firstly, my main task is this: to find out if there are any other headsets out there, specifically designed for gaming, that come with a wider audio range than the apparent norm of what I call the '20 to 20' range. Namely meaning, 20 Hz to 20 kHz in the audio frequency response ranges.
 
I have used all but a few which do not fall into this category. 
 
My first ever 'gaming headset' was a plantronics .audio 90. An 'on the ear' headset.
 
It held up decently in gaming with my onboard laptop sound card (I know, hardly the best gear for an audiophile but it did the trick) and lasted me a good 2 years. It was comfortable on the ears, sounded decent and worked a treat... before I decided the microphone would also like some of the baked beans on toast I was eating. Needless to say, it did not. Alas, a few weeks after the misfed incident, my microphone stopped working. And so it found the bin!
 
My next purchase was one more Plantronics headset, the .audio 510 usb one. My first 'square' ear cupped set and also my first USB set.
 
The audio quality was pretty decent, good bass and nice highs but it had two things against it. Firstly, those square ear cups. Covered in HORRIBLE synthetic leather that did nothing for the wearability of the headset. I have a sweaty set of ears, and when gaming those sweat even more. When covered by synthetic, unforgiving leather, it was like I was running a tap down my head....ok maybe not that bad but still. Comfort went straight out the window!
 
I also wear glasses, and those earpieces tended to squeeze just a liiiittle too much to pinch my ears between the band of the ear cups, the arms of my glasses...and my skull. I could hardly bear to wear these things for more than a half hour at a time. In addition to this, the ear cups had decided they would take on a shape of their own and would not, no matter how hard I tried, sit on my head nicely. They always lifted from the back end which pronounced that pinch even more.
 
These now live with a friend of mine who uses them for everything and enjoys them. Case of the mismatched cranium? I certainly won't know.
 
After that rather disastrous pairing I went for a few headsets which were not of the gaming ilk. The HD525's from Sennheiser and the HD 215's again from Sennheiser. Both of them offered SUPERB comfort and very nice audio response. I unfortunately purchased the 525's thinking they were closed back, unfortunately they were not which is what prompted me to buy the 215's.
 
I shall skip my portion of these headsets as they are not strictly for gaming but suited me right down to the ground. Comfy, good sound and at the time, were a pretty decent price!
Next, as it was around Christmas time I decided to spoil myself and purchased a pair of the Sennheiser PC350 gaming headsets. I found the love of my life! These encompassed everything I loved about Sennheiser and shoved a decent quality mic on them! Over the ear, comfortable wear (I wore these for 8 hours at one point, and only took them off to have a shower and other breaks for food and such) and the sound quality was astounding (to my ears anyway).
 
The reason I rate these so highly is that they were the first headset I have come across that did bass WELL! The spec sheet on these bad boys listed them as 10 Hz – 26,000 KHz. I do a lot of gaming and these performed EXCEPTIONALLY well. Explosions, sounds of a base being constructed or even just the voices of your units on the battlefield sounded rich, adjusted and realistic. Well, as far as a game can go to sounding ‘realistic’ that is.
 
The point is, I loved these. And any of my friends who wore them agreed that these sounded amazing! Alas, this glory was not meant to last I fear, as there was a mishap when plugging them into the on board extension of my keyboard and this ‘popped’ the mic. No sound came through, no wiggling of the cables or testing it on a number of other microphone ports on both on board, 3rd party or totally isolated devices would bring it back to life. Motto of the story? Don’t trust the on board sound of a Razer Lycosa keyboard. That story for another day.
 
So with my trusty and well loved Senn’s now down for the count, I was forced to purchase another pair. Unfortunately at the time I was unable to spend the cash on replacing the Senn’s and even after contacting Sennheiser directly, they provided no solution to a fix or replacement for them, which was a bit disappointing.
 
So I went back to Plantronics this time with the Gamecom 367 earphones. An over-the-ear variation of their gaming line and for the price tag, is not a bad headset by any stretch of the imagination. Unfortunately, this then pushed me back into the realms of ’20 to 20’ and have since not been able to find any equal to my beloved Senns. Another of the ‘square cupped’ designs this time it lasted a good hour and a half before my head started pounding. Not from the pressure on my glasses this time, but the pinching of my nerve just under my ear and jaw. Whoever designed these earphones must have acupuncture training as no other set of earphones I have worn have managed to tap this particular nerve!
 
These have served me up until my most recent purchase of the Corsair HS1A earphones.
Now, I was quite excited for this particular headset mainly due to all the hype they had been giving and all the positive reviews I had been seeing on the web, both video reviews and text based ones.
 
And for what its worth, they are not a bad headset at all. They are comfortable; coming with not 1 but 2 sets of ear pads for you to play with. One fabric and one leather and both have a memory foam base. The sound is pretty decent with the microphone being above average. Alas, the hype of these earphones has not sated my lust for good audio reproduction. They, unfortunately, again fall in to that dreaded ’20 to 20’ range and with Corsair doing so much to say ‘we have acoustically tuned these for gaming’ yadda yadda yadda, I have to say I am disappointed. For the price I paid for these I was expecting a little more oomphf in the bass range. Music sounds a little lifeless and explosions in games lack that certain bang for your life! In some cases this is almost an essential in FPS games or even the whole sense of emersion into an environment like Dragon Age Origins.
 
Now I won’t say they are horrid, I just prefer a bit more bass with my music/movies/games and while these provide a very good reproduction for anything in that range, bass is left a little lacking where it should be punchy and enveloping; the high range while there, tends to peak out and leave you short of reaching the fullness of a good guitar riff or techno serenade.
 
So, for those of you who are still reading this far (my hat goes off to you, I know I can waffle a little…ok a lot!) my question is this:
 
What other headsets with the gamer in mind are on the market? Specifically with that 10hz to 26kHz range?
 
I hope you enjoyed my little history of gaming headsets and look forward to your responses.
 
post #2 of 14

 beyerdynamic mmx300,which has an even wider frequency response

 

or u can get a good mic to replace the defective one,apart from the mic ur PC350 still sounding okay ya?

post #3 of 14

Sennheiser PC350 (closed) or PC360 (open) are probably the best choices for $100-200.

 

It's a shame yours was fried, but since you enjoyed them so much, why risk trying something new?

 

Beyerdynamic also makes great headsets like the MMX300, but they're pricier, and Beyers have a much different sound than you'll be used to with Sennheisers (not better/worse, but subjectively different). Also the Beyer headsets are basically the DT-series headphones with a microphone attached, at a price premium of +$100. You're paying for the convenience of having a microphone attached.

post #4 of 14

Your post never mentioned it, but are you looking for surround sound? Typically, one wanting a gaming headset is looking for 3D positioning, so I ask...
 Then there is the concideration of a mic, but since it's for PC, I think there are many work arounds for that.

 

If you want true 5.1, some models I know of are:

Tritton AX Pro's - geared towards console gaming

--There is a sublte extension of the 20-20k range here,

http://www.trittontechnologies.com/index.php/products/gaming_audio_technology/ax-pro/

 

Turtle Beach HPA2 -

--Falls into the 20-20 range

 

Pysko Carbon - Don't think they are released yet.

--Each driver has it's one frequency spec,

http://www.psykoaudio.com/images/products/carbon/carbon_product_sheet.pdf

 

Well, there isn't many options, and compared to a good set of stereo cans, I doubt they can comapre.

 

 

For simulated surround, the options are limited by your choice in headset, which I don't have enough experiance with.

 

 

Curious though, why do you want a headset that has a response out of the 20-20k? Just for the 'better bass'?

 


Edited by Long813 - 4/25/11 at 11:03am
post #5 of 14

Beryer 990, great for gaming.


 

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks to all who've managed to survive my virbal diohrreah!

 

The Beyers look itnersting, know if they are on/over the ear? I cant quite tell from pics or any reviews i have found thus far. Certainly an investment rather than a purchase of those! I'd be too scared to take them out of the box at that price!

 

I have been wary of 5.1 headsets due to the amount of bad ones that have been out there thus far. Personally I feel that 5.1 and 7.1 in headsets are more gimmikey than worhtwhile, plus i have invested a decent amount into my sound card and would be a waste to then utilize the included 'usb dongles' that then give those headsets the functionality they promise. From most of the headsets that I have seen thus far promising 5.1's has either a) been a plug in usb sound card (which kind of negates the whole purpose of a headset that can accomodate such technology in my opinion) or have had nearly as many cables and power needs as my PC itself.

 

I have also heard many (supposed) good things about the Tron T1 headset from Monster...alas that has had its release date set as 'in the next few weeks' since the movie came out, so weather they will actually ever see the light of day is another matter! Interested in seeing the specs of those though and eventual reviews once they are released.

 

post #7 of 14


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by headboppindrolf View Post

Thanks to all who've managed to survive my virbal diohrreah!

 

The Beyers look itnersting, know if they are on/over the ear? I cant quite tell from pics or any reviews i have found thus far. Certainly an investment rather than a purchase of those! I'd be too scared to take them out of the box at that price!

 

I have been wary of 5.1 headsets due to the amount of bad ones that have been out there thus far. Personally I feel that 5.1 and 7.1 in headsets are more gimmikey than worhtwhile, plus i have invested a decent amount into my sound card and would be a waste to then utilize the included 'usb dongles' that then give those headsets the functionality they promise. From most of the headsets that I have seen thus far promising 5.1's has either a) been a plug in usb sound card (which kind of negates the whole purpose of a headset that can accomodate such technology in my opinion) or have had nearly as many cables and power needs as my PC itself.

 

I have also heard many (supposed) good things about the Tron T1 headset from Monster...alas that has had its release date set as 'in the next few weeks' since the movie came out, so weather they will actually ever see the light of day is another matter! Interested in seeing the specs of those though and eventual reviews once they are released.

 


The Beyers are over the ear, and very comfortable that "main-stream" gaming headsets. If you'd like to save money, buy them used of Head-Fi and you can get the close to 50% off or more. Good luckbeerchug.gif

 

post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by headboppindrolf View Post

Thanks to all who've managed to survive my virbal diohrreah!

 

The Beyers look itnersting, know if they are on/over the ear? I cant quite tell from pics or any reviews i have found thus far. Certainly an investment rather than a purchase of those! I'd be too scared to take them out of the box at that price!

 

I have been wary of 5.1 headsets due to the amount of bad ones that have been out there thus far. Personally I feel that 5.1 and 7.1 in headsets are more gimmikey than worhtwhile, plus i have invested a decent amount into my sound card and would be a waste to then utilize the included 'usb dongles' that then give those headsets the functionality they promise. From most of the headsets that I have seen thus far promising 5.1's has either a) been a plug in usb sound card (which kind of negates the whole purpose of a headset that can accomodate such technology in my opinion) or have had nearly as many cables and power needs as my PC itself.

 

I have also heard many (supposed) good things about the Tron T1 headset from Monster...alas that has had its release date set as 'in the next few weeks' since the movie came out, so weather they will actually ever see the light of day is another matter! Interested in seeing the specs of those though and eventual reviews once they are released.

 



Oh so it's computer your on. I can attest that the 5.1 isn't 'gimmicky'. In FPS games like COD, the positional cue's are very important, they can be lived without though. BUT, it's at a compromise of sound quality - that being said, a console limits the options. On a pc, they do have audio cards that support 5.1/7.1 - not in the scope of your search though.

 

Goodluck finding what you need.

post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by headboppindrolf View Post

 

I have been wary of 5.1 headsets due to the amount of bad ones that have been out there thus far. Personally I feel that 5.1 and 7.1 in headsets are more gimmikey than worhtwhile, plus i have invested a decent amount into my sound card and would be a waste to then utilize the included 'usb dongles' that then give those headsets the functionality they promise. From most of the headsets that I have seen thus far promising 5.1's has either a) been a plug in usb sound card (which kind of negates the whole purpose of a headset that can accomodate such technology in my opinion) or have had nearly as many cables and power needs as my PC itself.

 

 

Depends on how it's implemented honestly.  There's nothing gimmicky at all about a good stereo headphone/hesdset simulating 5.1 sound using a dolby headphones processor.  It's a massive upgrade over regular stereo.  You just need a headphone with the right soundstage characteristics and sound signature to utilize it properly.


 

 

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

Thanks to all those who have responded thus far, its all been a big help plus a good bit of advcie.

 

Those Beyerdynamic MMX300 headphones look out of this world and there is currently a pending review from AKA Trent on youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EktYonDY9s) so that pending and my wallet and the reviews :3

post #11 of 14

Yeah those beyers look like amazing headphones. Might need to to get those after I sell my hd650s

post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post



 

Depends on how it's implemented honestly.  There's nothing gimmicky at all about a good stereo headphone/hesdset simulating 5.1 sound using a dolby headphones processor.  It's a massive upgrade over regular stereo.  You just need a headphone with the right soundstage characteristics and sound signature to utilize it properly.


 

 


Not really.

The regular stereo track in COD games already have some sort of surround sound processing in it. It's just that for example, in the PS3, you need to de-select every audio output mode except for stereo to activate it. Then in game, spin around in circles, you can easily hear a difference from the front vs rear.

If you leave the 5.1 dolby and dts modes in, your heaphones will basically act like a left and right speaker of a surround sound setup, and lose out on all sounds in center/rear.

I've tried both modes - pure stereo and dolby headphone. The difference is that dolby headphone makes the surrounding noises louder, sort of like a virtual reverb effect, whereas stereo gives you pinpoint accuracy of everything you hear.
post #13 of 14

A bit late, but I want to say thanks for writing that up. Too often around here the groupthink gravitates towards "oh, just buy the Audio Technica/Beyer and attach a microphone." It means there is very little info on headsets. So thanks again for writing that up. I look forward to reading more from you on this topic. Nice of you to write beyond the usual topic of positional audio. I wish people would stop harping on positional audio. Save for L4D2, most of my current gaming that needs a headset is with RTSes (and MMOs previously), which are games that offer little benefit with positional audio.

 

One thing, how are the microphones on the various headsets you've used? One reason why I don't like the usual external microphones is because they're pants. Would like to hear your thoughts on that.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

 

Hey Yslee,

 

Thanks for the positive comments! It actually gives me a bit of pride knowing that my dribbling does some good somewhere!

 

The positional audio on the various headsets has come down to 2 things I have found. How good the sound card is I have been using at the time and the game’s own ability to relay that sound information to my ears!

 

I haven’t used any of these so called ‘5.1 or 7.1’ surround sound headphones (nearly went with the Roccat Kave 7.1 headset but found the Corsair ones which had the option of analogue or usb sound choices. I’ve spent a fair bit of money on my sound card so I want to put it to good use!) And to be honest, it’s not something that is a driving factor in my choice of headphones. Maybe when I try one that blows my mind, I will change my tune.

 

Onto your question, the mics I have used on all of my headsets to date have been more than acceptable. Modding the sound properties of your mic quality in Windows sound manager or other OS based signal quality control settings does impact on how ‘clear’ the mic will be.

 

Probably the best mic that was attached to the headset so far was my Sennheiser PC350.  But with my Plantronics and Corsair coming in very close after that. The margin for quality between them is so minimal I have found that it comes down to personal preference.

 

One other point I will make is that while I have toted analogue headphones so far, don’t ignore the plethora of USB based headsets out there. If you’re sound card isn’t an expensive after market one (creative Fatal1ty or other higher quality sound card) then the next option would probably be to go for a USB based headset.

 

Limited in its use to only devices that can handle the USB connectivity (so most consoles, PC and MAC) it does have its own built in sound card which then gives you direct digital sound. I found the difference from using my analogue mic setup on my sound card vs. the USB mic I use for recording voice over stuff (a Thomann t.bone SC 440) the quality is definitely there to someone who is looking for it.

 

That being said, if the use of the mic is going to be over a platform like teamspeak or ventrillo, a lot of that quality will get lost just due to the fact that those programs have to sacrifice the quality of the audio for the sake of connectivity to their servers. It’s a HECK of a lot easier for a server to pump out audio at 96k or 128k than it is to compensate for each connections' under or over pumped quality.

 

Hope you find what I’ve babbled on about helpful and once again, thanks for the positive feedback! :D

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