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Headset or Headphones + Mic?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I am looking for a nice headset setup for gaming on my Xbox 360, PC when Diablo 3 is released (I am mostly a console gamer), occasionally for Movies, and DEFINITELY great for music.

As for my requirements, I'm extremely open to suggestions and appreciate any and all input. I am quite close to my tv and pc whether it be for gaming, movies, or music so I'm fine with wired as it seems to produce the greatest sound quality and wireless just isn't necessary when I'm within 5 feet of whatever I'll be listening to. Comfort is a big issue. I play video games a lot (at least a few hours a day and up to 5 or 6 hours if on the weekend, etc.) and listen to music whenever I'm conscious so I'd like something that doesn't cause pain during extended use and that fits well without being too loose or squeezing my head.

In terms of sound, I am not a big fan of bright/harsh sounding speakers or headphones. I like more of a warm/neutral sound. Of course, I want plenty of "oomph" for games and movies but I also want an admirable set of cans for music that I enjoy hearing for long periods of time without fatigue.

I would definitely like a setup that has great directionality and soundstage for gaming and movies to be able to hear faint footsteps and gunfire and pinpoint where it's coming from while also being able to adequately portray explosions and other loud booms.


Now that I have most of the backstory out of the way (sorry for the length), I have been wanting a nice headset for a long time since I live in an apartment with 2 roommates and neighbors so I can't have a ridiculously loud surround sound system blaring whenever I want to game or watch a movie. I've been reading for the past 3-4 weeks on everything I can find and I'm simply exhausted of doing it because I still can't make up my mind. I'm hoping you guys can point me in the right direction.

When I searched for things like "best Xbox 360 headset", the same suggestions were always mentioned which are Astro A40's, Tritton AX PRO's, and Turtle Beach HPX/X41's. They are logical choices since they are designed for the console but all seem to come with notable drawbacks such as the price and lack of bass with the Astros and sound quality with the Trittons and TB's. After reading through countless threads and reviews on these, I started coming across people recommending to buy a nice set of audiophile cans and pairing them with an external microphone and making a far better headset than those. The ones I've seen mentioned most which are supposed to be amazing for the price are the Audio Technica A700s and A900s. I am still extremely new to all of this and have no clue which choice as best.


My questions:

- Would it be better to keep it simple and go with something like the Astro A40 System or will making my own headset yield far better results?

- Will I need to buy an Astro MixAmp to pair with the headphones or is there a cheaper/better alternative for surround sound and connection to my xbox?

- Are the Audio Technica's the best choice in or around that price range? If so, is there a big difference between the A700's and A900's? I believe I found the A700's for around $90 and A900's for approx. $160. What about between the A and AD models? I've also seen a few others mentioned such as the AT M50's and Beyerdynamics.

- If I go with headphones + external mic, is the Zalman Mic on Amazon for $11 the right choice and will it have decent voice quality without picking up all of the outside noise around me?


Basically, I'd like to keep the budget as cheap as possible without sacrificing quality as we all do I'm sure. The MAX I can go for the setup would be around $300-$350 or MAYBE $400 if it's going to be a worthwhile difference. I love my music and my video games so I'd definitely like to have a great set of cans to really bring them to life. However, I'm always glad to find products that are unbelievable "bang for the buck". smily_headphones1.gif

I'm truly sorry for the length but I just wanted to make sure I explained everything so it makes it easier on you guys to help me.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks so much!
Andrew
post #2 of 12

Heya,

 

Your headphone: Sennheiser PC 360.

And the Astro Mixamp is the one to get.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 12
post #4 of 12

It might be tough to get the needed setup together for $400, especially if you don't already have a speaker amp/receiver handy, but you just might be able to afford a vintage Stax Lambda setup with an SRD-series transformer (for which you'll need a speaker amp to drive them; SRM-series units are direct-drive amps in and of themselves, but also more expensive). Games and music alike work very well with them, but don't expect as much bass slam as any dynamic-driver headphone. (You'll hear the notes; you just won't feel them nearly as much.) Did I forget to mention how comfortable they are?

 

But if you don't already have something like the Astro Mixamp for your consoles, you'll definitely have to get one of those, bringing down your budget to $300 max, give or take $30 (depending on whether you buy new or find a good used deal). Stax isn't a likely option at that price point, and on top of that, you'd have to attach a boom mic or use a clip-on mic.

 

Cheaper alternatives like the Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS and (perhaps if you find a good used deal) the JVC/Victor SU-DH1 exist, but the Ear Force DSS is allegedly more prone to hiss than the Mixamp, and only the Mixamp has a proper headphone amplifier (said to be just enough to drive an AKG K 701/702 if you keep the game/voice balance knob turned all the way to the game side).

 

The AD700s excel at imaging (the ability to pinpoint exactly where a sound is coming from) with binaural surround filters like Dolby Headphone, but if you're looking for significant bass, don't expect any without plenty of bass boost/EQ. They're also very comfortable, though not quite Stax Lambda-level comfortable.

 

Other popular headphones you could look into are the Superlux HD668B/Samson SR850, Sennheiser HD555/558 and HD595/598, and perhaps one of the more affordable Ultrasones. I haven't heard any of these, so I can't really vouch for or against them, but I've heard a few positive opinions regarding gaming on them as well as music reproduction. The AKG K 701/702 may also be an option, but note that they're really insensitive and could benefit from something like a FiiO E9 if you have another $100 or so to spend. (Chances are you're going to want some voice chat through the Mixamp too.) Be sure to include a mic in your budgeting for these; none are headsets.

 

Headset-wise, your choices basically boil down to the Sennheiser PC350/PC360 and Beyerdynamic MMX300. Don't know much about the latter, but Mad Lust Envy's opinion on the PC360 is extremely positive, especially for gaming with Dolby Headphone.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestions. It's amazing to have a site like this with so much knowledge and experience to learn from.

@ Malveaux, have you used the PC360's personally to gauge how they handle gaming and music? I don't see them in your Sig is why I ask. I've read several of your posts in various threads and I can tell you certainly know what you're doing but I just want to be sure of the overall pros and cons of that headset. It's Sennheiser so I'm sure they won't be bad but I want to make sure they fit my needs better than anything else.

@ Djamtrax, do you have any more input on those? Ever used them at all?

@ Nameless, thank you for taking the time to type all of that out. It makes things as easy as possible with all of the facts laid out for me.

I'm not really looking for a top of the line system nor do I want headphones that need an external amp in addition to the MixAmp. If the Astro Mixamp is the best solution for amping and connecting to my Xbox, then I'd like a set of cans that match it perfectly and are well powered by it alone. Basically, I'm looking for the best "budget" headphones for as cheap as possible. If I can get a **** decent set of cans for $100 such as the Audio Technica A700s that will perform well for my needs, that's great. If there's a set for $150-$250 that will DRASTICALLY perform better for music and gaming, then I'll consider that, also.If I have to buy the Astro MixAmp, then it greatly limits my budget even more so I'll have to adjust accordingly.

How bad would the Astro A40's + MixAmp be in comparison to the other suggestions? It would definitely be simpler and most likely cheaper but I don't want to buy anything that will leave me disappointed.

Thanks!
post #6 of 12

The Zalman mic is great.  I've bought several for friends and the SQ is a step above any $50-100 Sennheiser headset or Plantronics headset I've used.

 

The downside with the Zalman mic is that it will only clip onto a nice, thick cord like on a Grado.  Otherwise, you're going to have to get ghetto with masking tape.

 

You're going about this the right way.  Get some headphones you like, and use the Zalman to handle the mic component.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm narrowing down my choices but I need a bit more help, if you guys don't mind. Reading through Mad Lust Envy's thread (thank you for the link Nameless) helped me out TREMENDOUSLY and made me set my eyes on the Sennheiser PC360's w/ Astro MixAmp.

Budget is (after selling a thing or two) $500 Max for EVERYTHING. However, I will only spend that much if the difference is going to be DECISIVE between the $300 PC360 + MixAmp Combo and whatever else and not just "a little bit better". Gaming performance is my #1 priority with these which seems to be impressive and the build of them is quite attractive. They look great, are reviewed to be extremely comfortable, and come with a Mic. The ability to mute the mic by moving it up and down and volume adjustment on the side of the headphones really entices me, also.

What do you guys think? Good idea or bad? Also, should I get the Wired MixAmp or Wireless 5.8 RX?

Would the Beyerdynamic Headset be worth the extra money above the Sennheiser are are there any other options that I have missed?

Thanks!
post #8 of 12

Fwiw, I've heard that the expensive ($150+) gaming headsets have significantly subpar sound quality compared to a comparatively priced and fantastic headphone (the HD650 is only $360 new on Amazon now! even cheaper elsewhere?) and clipping on the $11 Zalman mic.

 

The Zalman mic is /really/ good, and has considerably better SQ than $100+ headsets and bluebooth devices I've used.

 

I think your price-performance assessment of products is not accurate.

 

Also, Astro products are not anywhere close to audiophile gear.  Stylish and expensive, yes, but not much else.  I think you can do a lot better, like with the Fiio E9 ($112 new).

 

A HD650, E9, and Zalman would be $483 new (with Amazon's free shipping and no tax), which falls within your budget, and I'd challenge anyone who doesn't say that those three devices absolutely outclass the gear you have listed above.


Edited by Elysian - 9/6/11 at 2:10pm
post #9 of 12

I thinking about the same issue myself and trying to decide if the mixamp would have enough power to drive the hd 650 (impedance 300 ohms, 103 db SPL http://www.sennheiserusa.com/high-quality-headphones-around-ear_009969) compared to the hd 598, pc360, or the a40s (all 50 ohms). Some people mentioned having to get another amp to drive the hd 650 with the mixamp (post #2). What do you guys think? Anyone with personal experience with the mixamp 5.8 and the hd650 or other hard to drive headphones?

 

I would think that even with 3 AAA batteries your still getting 4.5 V would should be more than enough to drive the headphones. How do you determine if you've got enough power?

post #10 of 12

How do you get the clip on mic to connect to the mix amp?  It has a smaller plug for the mic.  The 1/8 plug of the mic wouldn't fit.  Are there any adapters for this?  I need a clip on mic.  
Edit:  I found a plug in the back of the mix amp but when I plugged in the mic it wasn't working.  I had to use an adapter to my control and it works.  

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elysian View Post

Fwiw, I've heard that the expensive ($150+) gaming headsets have significantly subpar sound quality compared to a comparatively priced and fantastic headphone (the HD650 is only $360 new on Amazon now! even cheaper elsewhere?) and clipping on the $11 Zalman mic.

 

The Zalman mic is /really/ good, and has considerably better SQ than $100+ headsets and bluebooth devices I've used.

 

I think your price-performance assessment of products is not accurate.

 

Also, Astro products are not anywhere close to audiophile gear.  Stylish and expensive, yes, but not much else.  I think you can do a lot better, like with the Fiio E9 ($112 new).

 

A HD650, E9, and Zalman would be $483 new (with Amazon's free shipping and no tax), which falls within your budget, and I'd challenge anyone who doesn't say that those three devices absolutely outclass the gear you have listed above.



 


Edited by Hawaiiancerveza - 11/13/11 at 2:16am
post #11 of 12

I would say get sennheiser hd598 and an astro mix amp. That will cost you around $375. The hd 598 are great for shooting games where you want position and detail but have a little more bass than the ad700 so it will also be good for movies and music.

post #12 of 12
For anybody attaching a boom mic to headphones, I can highly recommend using 3M dual lock instead of velcro, it provides a stronger attachment and the mic doesn't wobble. I bought a couple of small pieces from ebay cheaply. Big improvement over the velcro I was using.
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