Long post below, but the tl;dr version – AD700’s are great standalone for FPS, need EQ for anything else IMO. SR850’s are mint if you’ve got a small head, not quite as good(?) for FPS but good for everything else. I want an EQ to put into my xbox audio chain to make the AD700’s better for other stuff – know any?
Now on with the long post! -
After researching for countless hours on these great forums, I pulled the trigger on an astro mixamp and AD700's as well as the Samson SR850's (since they were cheap) from Amazon, and had them shipped to Dubai to replace my Turtlebeach X31's. I don't have any form of headunit so it's TOS straight from xbox to the mixamp.
Let me first say that Dolby headphone is indeed all that and a bag of chips/crisps when it comes to gaming! Very considerable increase in spatial and positional performance over the stereo X31's! I cannot believe there are still people out there claiming that dolby isn't worth it...
AD700 - First pulled them out of the box and put them on and they flat out didn't fit. At all. Base of the cups dug into my head and the upper portion didn't even touch my head. It was as if my head was too small... and my head is not too small. I need motorcycle helmets custom made for my gigantic mutant skull! But after, again, finding some useful info on this site, I completed the comfort fit mod with the foam from my mixamp packaging and presto, most comfortable set of cans ever owned (not that that's a lot, mind you).
The sound - Very good, I didn't understand what a "soundstage" was until I put these on. It was a light bulb moment.. "ooooh, light buuulb!" Very airy and large sounding given you're wearing something on your head. Cool! First thing I did was load up MW3 and jumped into a FFA match. And no, this story doesn't include me claiming to have one it 30-1 or anything, frankly I lost horribly because I was too busy spinning around testing the positioning accuracy :P. But anyway, very nice.
Tried with Skyrim - felt lifeless with skyrim. For the exact same reason why I liked them in MW3, I hated them in Skyrim. The TB provided a much more "rich" and full sound compared to these. Was very difficult to play with them.
Non-gaming - plugged them into my iPad for some tunes and again, found them a little one dimensional, so I downloaded EQu and tweaked the base and lower mid-range up a bit and bingo, B.B. King sounded amazing again. I prefer these over my IE Shure SE310's once EQ'd. All the stuff I've read about being able to isolate instruments and the like due to soundstage start making sense! Without actually experiencing these sort of things, the chat on the forums and review sites just sound like gibberish :P. Anyway - I'm happy with them as music and FPS headphones now.
SR850's - Did I mention I have a big head? Yeah, well - these things are like the most massive head ache inducing torture devices I've ever had the displeasure of wrapping around my melon. Seriously, the headband is tension set so it needs to stretch to fit on my head appropriately but then it applies this pressure right on top of my akull that kills me. I'm going to play with modifying it a bit to get it right, but they're awful for more than 15 minutes out of the box. Combine that with very uncomfortable cup pads, and it’s not a pretty picture.
However, the sound - is great. To be fair, I only played MW3 with them for a few matches but I couldn't fault their positional accuracy at all. Both these and the AD700's blow the TB's away in this respect that they are hard to tell apart. I think I get what some people say about having difficulty telling HOW FAR some of the footsteps are away for the AD700's vs the SR850's but I don't think I'm really tuned in enough right now to make this criticism. Both seemed very similiar. I think (putting my armchair head-fi hat on) it may be because the soundstage of the Samson's isn't as big or "airy", but meh - couldn't really tell to be honest. Overall though, the way the two headphones are balanced, I prefer the AD700's slightly for FPS play.
Now for Skyrim, there is no comparison - the SR850's are awesome. Full rich enjoyable sound! Ohh if only they didn’t induce an epic headache… Seriously though, aside from the comfort aspect, they sound fantastic. Tried Mass Effect 3, and Arkham City as well and really, just very good sounding headphones for the more cinematic games compared to the AD700’s for the same games.
For music, they are also very good sounding but honestly remind me of the SE310’s in terms of quality, which isn’t a bad thing. Mainly due to comfort I think, but partial to the sense of detail I get, I still prefer the EQ’d AD700’s. The overall build quality of the SR850’s also is pretty poor. They seem worse than the TB’s, which are awful (but at least the TB’s don’t try and kill me…), but to be fair, the sound coming from a $50ish headphone does a lot to forgive the plastic’ness of them.
So this brings me to my question – What can I add in my audio chain from my xbox to insert a good EQ to adjust the AD700’s for non-FPS gaming? I’ve searched the forums and the “google” for the answers I seek, but can’t find anyone specifically talking about this application. I’ve found amps with 3 level EQ’s but no idea how they’d fit or what the consequences would be for my particular set up as I don’t need an additional amp for the AD700’s apart from the astro mixamp. Anyone have any ideas for this particular application?
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!