Originally Posted by Rahmiel
I've looked into the sennheiser pc 360 headset and I'm very much interested. However MLE's post is mostly regarding console headsets. Are there some links anyone can post me about which headset to grab? Or headset, setups? I'm considering going without a mic on the headset if someone has an elegant solution/stand alone mic I can use to still talk to my friends if the headset has that audio that is just far and away better.
I'm trusting your recommendations, and furthermore any setup tips you guys have to getting the most out of my card. I don't understand what s/pdif and all that stuff is. Only recently I've actually gotten sound out of my spdif into my optical out but it's only 2 channels. The light on my ax pro box has dolby digital lit up but.. this whole thing is confusing.. mostly because when I try to make changes windows (running win7 btw) tells me that the device is in use. However I'm not running anything. So.. anyway..
Again, anyone have recommendations on headsets? I don't know what stax are, or where to purchase them. I did a google search and I came up with some results but nothing like a retailer or models or.. anything.
So lost, but I want the best. Love this pc centric audio thread. If only I had found this earlier this year and avoided the trittons.
The reason I link MLE's thread is that he simply has experience with a lot of the more popular headphones out there. Headphones that I don't feel like buying strictly to review and resell, because I've practically committed myself to Stax for more expensive audio equipment. Note that I do really mean audiophile headphones, not gaming headsets.
As for Stax, they're very much an audiophile brand as the only headphone manufacturer that specializes in electrostatic driver technology (whereas other brands only occasionally release electrostatic setups, most of which are discontinued save for the Koss ESP/950) with some very questionable distribution decisions. You have to shop around on Head-Fi B/S/T, AudiogoN, Yahoo! Japan via Kuboten, or maybe eBay to have a shot at getting a good deal, and chances are you're going to be paying $350 or more for the more affordable setups.
On top of that, they have special amplification needs, so you have to budget for that too. Most cheaper setups come with a transformer box designed to connect to speaker wire outputs; any old integrated receiver will do the job there. But if you want a standalone Stax amp, you're going to pay at least $300-400 for something like an SRM-1/Mk2 Pro, probably much more with the newer models like the SRM-252S. You might get lucky and, say, get a SR-Lambda Pro + SRM-1/Mk2 Pro for $400 combined and shipped (it's happened before), but don't count on it.
Finally, when most people on Head-Fi talk Stax, they're in the High-end Audio section and focus on the flagship SR-007 ($1,600 to $2,500) to SR-009 ($4,800 to $5,000+) models and the really expensive amps like the KGSSHV and Blue Hawaii SE. The more affordable Lambda series (the ugly rectangular-looking ones) get overlooked a lot by comparison, but not to the degree that I overlooked the occasional post on Head-Fi singing praises about them for gaming. I'm quite grateful for that.
All of that said, I've gone the Onkyo receiver -> Stax SRD-7/SB -> Stax SR-Lambda (and a cheap desk microphone) route for a year now, with absolutely no regrets. I've found that I don't even like the recent numerical-series Lambdas like the SR-202 as much in terms of sound presentation and comfort.
Also, the ModMic now has all those production issues sorted out, and the product itself is finally shipping out to those who pre-ordered the 2.0 revision. Another revision with an in-line mute switch is coming within a month, along with yet another revision featuring a detachable cable. Can't wait for that one, as I'd much rather keep using my cheap desk mic than give up my Stax for a comparatively crappy headset as my primary PC headphone.
S/PDIF is a digital audio protocol. Your optical/Toslink audio jack is just one way to transmit S/PDIF, the other way being a coaxial RCA jack. If you want to transmit 5.1 over S/PDIF, which has only enough bandwidth for two channels of LPCM, you need to compress it in real-time using Dolby Digital Live (or DTS Connect, but most surround processors for console gaming headsets won't accept DTS). If DDL is enabled, you get 5.1; if it isn't, you get 2.0. Simple as that.
Now, headsets...the general advice is to go with a Sennheiser PC360, go with a proper audiophile headphone + ModMic, or go home and not waste money. I know it's not exactly cheap, but you want quality, right?
Does all of that make sense?