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Need help - new to PC Gaming Audio - soundcard pairing? with DT770 Pro 80

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

have done a lot of research, but need some help from the pros 

 

I bought a pair of Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 80's - will be used 65% gaming (FPS (Battlefield 3) so positional cues are very important), 35% Movies (likely via home theater receiver on separate TV, with some occasional PC movie watching).  

 

some additional info:

 

Not interested in music through this set

 

The PC is in my bedroom, usually with a sleeping wife (hence my need for closed cans) so only headphones will ever be used to listen to games/movies, never speakers.

 

No A/V receiver will be paired with the computer.   Heaphones either directly to soundcard or to headphone amp+soundcard.

 

I will not need a ton of volume (refer to sleeping wife scenario above + some inevitable sound leakage), moderate volume gaming/movies.

 

my focus is on best gaming solution through PC with direction/positional cues being primary concern.  

 

I have a current gaming rig with an Asrock Z68 Extreme 4 mobo (Realtek ALC892 onboard) and play BF3, Skyrim, Portal.  Mostly all newer games.  I will be upgrading my PC in future years and playing 95% 'new' games.

 

seems like the 2 most popular choices are Asus Xonar STX and Creative Titanium HD with some nods to Claro, Auzentech

 

appears that the Xonar STX has powerful built-in amp but is better suited to music.  

 

Titanium HD has 'arguably' better positional simulated surround with their CMSS 3d, but there's a possibility that I would need an external amp to drive the 80ohm DT770's (although I'm a little unclear, since the specs seem to support driving headphones with impedance in the 200-300 range).

 

leaning towards the Titaniums or another X-Fi solution, just worried about adequacy of the card's amplification for the 80ohm phones... if I'm not listening at high volume, will the card alone be sufficient?  Not extremely worried about the wonky drivers that Creative is known for as I'm decently proficient at tinkering/tweaking.

 

Somebody give me a push so I can buy something and stop agonizing over the purchase.  Thanks in advance.  Sorry for long post.

post #2 of 17

If gaming is your main consideration, then a X-Fi powered card is your best option. There are 3 recommended cards, ranging in price and quality, namely Creative X-Fi Titanium, Auzentech Forte and Creative X-Fi Titanium HD. Either of those will provide ideal gaming audio performance, including positional cue accuracy. The Auzentech X-Fi Forte has higher quality outputs than the Creative X-Fi Titanium, as well as a headphone amp, while the Creative X-Fi Titanium HD has higher quality outputs than both Creative X-Fi Titanium and Auzentech X-Fi Forte, and it has an amplified headphone output up to 330Ohm, so it's not so much a concern regarding your headphones.

 

Also, Creative drivers are now quite stable, much more than previous iterations from years ago, not to mention there are multiple modded drivers available in the event (unlikely, IMHO) you face any issues.

 

I noticed you haven't specified your budget. Does it allow for an inexpensive entry amp like a PA2V2 or a Fiio E11? Amps below that level aren't recommended.

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reply.

 

budget-wise, I'm willing to spend the money if it will make a difference.   value, basically.   if i go with the Titanium HD's that have onboard headphone amplification (up to 330 OHMs, as you pointed out), will I need a secondary amp solution like a Fiio E11?    or will it be redundant?

post #4 of 17

It's not as linear, but the DT770 Pro 80 will pair up quite nicely with a Titanium HD, and you won't feel they aren't being amped properly. Additional amplification will provide slightly more controlled sound, but it's definitely rather minor changes to sound, and for spending that kind of money on a headphone amp, that might be a better purchase for when you upgrade in terms of headphones further down the line.

 

Bottomline is, you won't go wrong in getting a Fiio E11 now, just that it isn't essential for your headphones to sound proper. It's optional, not a requirement.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice.  Appreciated.

post #6 of 17

Glad to help. And do report back on how you find the new setup to perform.

post #7 of 17

Hi dbbrauns!

I'm a proud new owner of a pair of DT770s Pro (80Ohm) and also a Xonar Essence ST 

 

They are amazing together. 

 

I also play some games like BF3, Assassin's Creed etc etc.

 

I chose the Xonar because I had a DG before and I much preferred the Dolby Headphone over Creative's CMSS3D or THX Surround Studio Pro (??)

 

Also I've had bad experiences with creative drivers in the past but roller says they have cleared this issue, I honestly don't know so I can't judge. 

 

I would recommend the Xonar Essence ST in a hearbeat. 

 

Hope this helps in making your choice!

cheers

post #8 of 17

i run a Titanium HD and DT770 Pro 80's and they work very well together.  everything Roller said about amplification is true based on my personal experience.  they run great directly out of the headphone out, but using an amp (i'm using an O2) tightens up the bass.

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

been doing some more research - now honing in on the Xonar Phoebus.  i'm really wanting a soundcard with a decent headphone amp and the higher end Xonars (Essence and Phoebus) seem to fit the bill.   i like the inclusion of 7.1 output on the Phoebus for possible future expansion in the event I ever want to toy around with a 7.1 headset (don't flame me for suggesting this, Head-Fi'ers).  Seems like most all of the release issues with the drivers were quickly resolved by ASUS.  I like the control dongle for volume and headphone plug in.    Most all of the reviews lauded it for sound and gaming, just issues with the driver (resolved?) and price (value relative to other soundcards).    

 

I'll likely wait to see if any Black Friday deals knock the price down at all, but price isn't a huge concern for me.    The only thing that I am curious with is how solid Dolby Home Theater v4 is with FPS surround virtualization through 2.0 output to my Beyers (arriving tomorrow, yay!)   I came across a couple of posts in an ASUS/ROG forum with 2 individuals backing up Dolby HTv4's performance in Battlefield 3, which is my gaming staple, but I'm still a little curious about a direct comparison with Dolby Headphone.      In any event, looks like the Phoebus has moved to the top of my list, now to see how long I can wait for a meaningful price drop. 

post #10 of 17

All Asus soundcards have poor gaming audio performance when compared to real gaming soundcards, namely Creative soundcards. Regardless of EAX and hardware OpenAL support, the X-Fi DSP provides superior positional cue accuracy on all games, something you won't find on Asus soundcards, be it an entry Xonar DG or a flagship Xonar Essence STX/Xonar Phoebus. The Creative X-Fi Titanium HD is currently the best soundcard available for gaming (not only, but also).

 

Multichannel headsets (5.1 or 7.1) are terrible and pale in comparison to high quality headsets like the Sennheiser PC360 or headphones like Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (purely for competitive gaming).

post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 

okay, so after more research, Phoebus is probably out.   the problem?  it specializes in 7.1 output for gaming to speaker based systems. this card, with DHT v4  doesn't support downconversion of 7.1 or 5.1 source material to 2.0 headphones (like Dolby Headphone or CMSS 3-d), and loses some 3d positional cuing in the process, although it's probably still pretty decent.   I read reviews where it said that the $40 Xonar DGX (which supports 7.1 downconversion for headphones via Dolby Headphone) had better 3d cuing in BF3 (even though Phoebus sounded better overall).     since I'll be using headphones and not a gaming 7.1 speaker system, this doesn't help me.

 

 

as I really want high SNR and a powerful headphone amp and don't want to use a secondary external headphone amp solution,  I've ruled out the Titanium HD and am now looking at the Essence STX.   The only thing I'm waiting for is the Soundblaster Z reviews to see how it fares in overall sound quality and 3d surround virtualization from multi-channel to 2.0 headphones.

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

so I got my new DT770 Pro 80's in the mail yesterday.  opened the box after I got home from work.  ordered some pizza, got the kids situated, then plugged the phones into my computer (front header coming from mobo - onboard sound), listened to a couple of music tracks, sounded pretty good, could tell it wasn't getting enough juice as the volume was essentially maxed on the computer and the phones were medium loud.    messed with plugging it into my android phone... same basic results.    then after kids went to bed, I plugged the phones into my 9yo Pioneer AV receiver and put on Iron Man 2.    my god.    i can hear everything,      some of the virtualized surround was so good and so subtle that I actually turned my head several times because I thought I was hearing exterior noises from down my hallway.    they're also comfy as hell compared to my old Sony V6's and my Turtle Beach PX21 gaming heaset.    i love these things.   can't wait to order my soundcard to enjoy some games.   waiting till black friday, so it's gonna be a long 2 weeks.

post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbbrauns View Post

so I got my new DT770 Pro 80's in the mail yesterday.  opened the box after I got home from work.  ordered some pizza, got the kids situated, then plugged the phones into my computer (front header coming from mobo - onboard sound), listened to a couple of music tracks, sounded pretty good, could tell it wasn't getting enough juice as the volume was essentially maxed on the computer and the phones were medium loud.    messed with plugging it into my android phone... same basic results.    then after kids went to bed, I plugged the phones into my 9yo Pioneer AV receiver and put on Iron Man 2.    my god.    i can hear everything,      some of the virtualized surround was so good and so subtle that I actually turned my head several times because I thought I was hearing exterior noises from down my hallway.    they're also comfy as hell compared to my old Sony V6's and my Turtle Beach PX21 gaming heaset.    i love these things.   can't wait to order my soundcard to enjoy some games.   waiting till black friday, so it's gonna be a long 2 weeks.

 

ha i've done that several times with my DT770's beyersmile.png

your various testing shows the importance of good source components.

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

okay, so I'm still researching.   now back to looking at the upcoming Sound Blaster Z line

 

apparently, it's got the powerful 600ohm rated headphone amp, which I need and it's based on the new SoundCore 3d that replaced X-fi.    all of the reviews for the first generation SoundCore 3d products (the  Recon3d line that came out in the last year) support it as being a great product for gaming with very high marks for 3d surround virtualization across the board.   it did take a beating for its overall audio (specially music) performance and it seems like Creative knows that it had decent tech that they threw into a poorly implemented product, hence the release of this new Z line so soon afterwards. 

 

looks like they've rebranded the THX TruStudio Pro under their new moniker 'SBX Pro Studio' (one reviewer opined that it was simply a license expiration), but the feature set is very similar and they kept 'scout mode' which was well received in the Recon3d reviews.     appears that the install/drivers process has been pretty painless for the few early adopters and the software suite seems very streamlined and accessible, specially when compared with the X-Fi line (based on reviews, obviously, since I don't have a card)

 

with the higher specs (116db SNR for the Z and Zx,  124db for the $250 flagship ZxR, posed to challenge the STX?), vs the 102db SNR in the Recon3d line (yes, I know that SNR is not the whole picture, but its a solid gauge of overall audio fidelity), this may be the product that I've been searching for, ie -  powerful headphone amp, top tier 3d surround virtualization, build quality, high quality overall audio for movies and music and then this 'scout mode' thing (yeah, kind of a niche feature, but might be fun to play around with, specially since I'm primarily an FPS guy).       preliminary reviews of the Z (base model) are starting to trickle in and are all positive.   curious to see what the next 7-10 days brings as far as official reviews from the usual sources (hardocp, guru3d).

 

yeah, I know it seems like I change my mind more than my underwear, but hopefully the info I've posted helps someone else make an informed decision down the road.  more to come.

post #15 of 17

yeah a member on [H] has the Z, says he really likes it.  do you enjoy the virtual surround sound of pc sound cards?  i periodically go back and try out CMSS-3D on my Titanium HD, but it always just sounds like garbage to me.

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