Hi. First post here.
Thought this would be the best place to start inquiring.
Zalman ZM1 Clip-on mic
Yeah, budget stuff. I've been about to improve my audio for a long time for now. Just didn't know where to start. I wasn't exactly keen on getting an external amplifier.
Bought Xonar DG from a sale, and I was quite unsure if I could even notice any difference on those headphones. Well, I did. The difference was a significant one, especially in bass, vocals and the clarity in general. However, budget gear is still budget gear. I kind of like the headphones, because they're... well, comfortable to wear and do the job alright.
But what the amp did was give me the idea of getting a good headphone amplifier and then much better headphones for the computer instead of an external amplifier. I've also been wondering about upgrading the mic; while the Zalman makes my voice recognizeable in terms of "what words I'm saying", that's all what it can do.
My use goes as follows: Games, music > movies. I like to listen music a lot. When it comes to games, I tend to play more of the RTS-style games, though the occasional TF2 or CS:GO is something I like to have in between. Meaning that positional audio can be useful, but it is not necessarily the priority, especially if I have to give up on a lot if I want it to be at an acceptable level. As for music, I'm pretty much listening to... everything. Well maybe not too much Jazz/Soul/Classic, but you get the drill.
The headphones should be ones which I can wear comfortably for a long time, and they should have good sound quality.
I'm thinking of a budget of around 300€, can go over it if necessary - if the gains are high enough. I mean, that I can even bang around 600€ if needed, but I need good recommendations to do so! This can also include another headphone amp.
I probably have a possibility to buy the Essence ST for around 150€ used, and it would have the add-on card as well. I doubt I'll use the 7.1 sounds or anything any time soon (any 7.1 set worth buying would blow the budget out of proportion, and I live in a student apartment where the use of such a set would be fairly limited) but naturally the option would be nice to have. Sadly it's on the PCI-port though. PCI is getting phased out. The number of those ports is already going down and some motherboards may not have any of those ports at all. PCI-E is better (as a connection) from this standpoint.
At one point I thought just to "screw it, I'll get the xonar xense since it's going for around 200€ now" but I've been only hearing bad things about the bundled Sennheisers. Also, the headphones might not be as high end (or middle-end, depending on the perspective I guess) as I'd want them to be.
And then we have the mic. I've been mostly thinking of AT2020 USB or the 3.5 mm version. Blue yeti is in this budget range as well. Pretty much what I'd want to hear from the speak is not just the words I speak, but also the tone on those spoken words.
The mic is absolutely not a necessity but I was thinking that around ~100€. I could get the USB-version of AT2020, used, for around the same price as the 3.5mm version. Which would be a better bet? I was basically thinking a mic that I would use, possibly, for youtube stuff. If not, at least my skype calls would gain a whole new level of clarity. :)
I'm not also only thinking of the used only stuff, if there's good stuff you can buy as new, that'd be great. Just listing them up since they are not the obvious options.
I'm pretty much looking for the same solution that applies to general computer hardware. "90% of the performance for 50% of the price" - though for the audio stuff, I'm willing to blow some bucks because frankly, they're supposed to last much longer. I know that I'll probably upgrade the GPU next year, and I'd probably want to keep the same (expensive) headphones for as long as possible instead of doing the same with them.
Yeah, I know, "go out and listen to the kind of headphones you want to hear." I know that's kind of the best solution. However, before I go out and take the bus to travel around stores (which are of limited quantity) I'd like to know what options I have and what would be your recommendations. Because, well, my experience with audio gear is - obviously - extremely limited.
Thanks if you read through the whole TLDR thing, and even more thanks if you can reply.
Edited by computeraudio - 6/20/12 at 4:55am