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Gaming Setup with AKG Q701

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hello, all. I'm new to the high quality audio scene, lured by the pursuit to make gaming sessions more immersive and being able to pinpoint positional details, such as footsteps and gunfire. I've looked at Mad Lust Envy's guide, and the AKG Q701's stood out the most.

My limited understanding of setting up headphones goes: PC > Sound Card > DAC > Amplifier > Headphones. I currently only have the PC right now, without a sound card, and plan to get AKG Q701's.

Which sound card, DAC, and Amplifier would you guys recommend for AKG Q701's? I'm not looking to spend more than $250 for these components (not including the Q701's).

Edit 1:
I'll be using these headphones, in order of importance, for these purposes:

- positional cues
- immersive gameplay and movies
- multi-genre music, mostly orchestral, techno and rock

Thanks for the input!
Edited by XTCrispy - 12/16/12 at 4:11pm
post #2 of 15

For the best gaming audio support, get a Creative X-Fi Titanium HD and a headphone amp like an O2 or a Fiio E9/09K.

 

The soundcard contains a high quality DAC as well as high quality components used, which provide excellent output quality, and due to the presence of the X-Fi chip, you will get full gaming audio support, including positional cue improvement algorithms that are exclusive to X-Fi powered cards.

post #3 of 15

The FiiO E11 will help the Q701 a lot. It works very, very well. :)

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

For the best gaming audio support, get a Creative X-Fi Titanium HD and a headphone amp like an O2 or a Fiio E9/09K.

The soundcard contains a high quality DAC as well as high quality components used, which provide excellent output quality, and due to the presence of the X-Fi chip, you will get full gaming audio support, including positional cue improvement algorithms that are exclusive to X-Fi powered cards.

The sound card seems solid. I'm wary of Asus competition, I'll read up on it but take your word on the Titanium HD. As for the Objective 2, I can't find it on Amazon or Newegg, and I don't shop outside those sites much. Can you link me to wherever people are getting them from? I'm assuming it's this:

http://www.jdslabs.com/item.php?fetchitem=o2full
Quote:
Originally Posted by biggbenn74 View Post

The FiiO E11 will help the Q701 a lot. It works very, very well. smily_headphones1.gif

So the Fiio E11 is portable. Will it work just as well in a desktop environment? Can I just hook it up to a laptop if I'm out on a train without much hassle?

Thanks for the responses so far.
post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by XTCrispy View Post


The sound card seems solid. I'm wary of Asus competition, I'll read up on it but take your word on the Titanium HD. As for the Objective 2, I can't find it on Amazon or Newegg, and I don't shop outside those sites much. Can you link me to wherever people are getting them from? I'm assuming it's this:
http://www.jdslabs.com/item.php?fetchitem=o2full
So the Fiio E11 is portable. Will it work just as well in a desktop environment? Can I just hook it up to a laptop if I'm out on a train without much hassle?
Thanks for the responses so far.

 

The direct competitor of the Titanium HD is the Essence STX. However, all Asus cards have partial gaming audio support (which is something separate from output quality), and won't provide as good an experience with gaming as Creative cards. For both high quality output and proper gaming audio support, the Titanium HD is the card to get, or the lower priced Auzentech X-Fi Forte, which is a custom card that licensed the X-Fi chip from Creative, therefore having the same gaming audio support.

 

Yes, that's the amp I was talking about.

 

If, for the time being, your budget doesn't allow for getting the O2 alongside the Titanium HD, I suggest getting a PA2V2 instead of the Fiio E11, as it has better driving power than the Fiio E11, the battery lasts around 100h (Fiio E11's battery lasts around 10h) and can be used while charging (Fiio E11 can't). Despite being a portable amp, it can be used on a stationary setup. Basically, you can use it with mobile systems, be it laptops or PMPs, as well as using it with a desktop computer, no hassles there.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

The direct competitor of the Titanium HD is the Essence STX. However, all Asus cards have partial gaming audio support (which is something separate from output quality), and won't provide as good an experience with gaming as Creative cards. For both high quality output and proper gaming audio support, the Titanium HD is the card to get, or the lower priced Auzentech X-Fi Forte, which is a custom card that licensed the X-Fi chip from Creative, therefore having the same gaming audio support.

Yes, that's the amp I was talking about.

If, for the time being, your budget doesn't allow for getting the O2 alongside the Titanium HD, I suggest getting a PA2V2 instead of the Fiio E11, as it has better driving power than the Fiio E11, the battery lasts around 100h (Fiio E11's battery lasts around 10h) and can be used while charging (Fiio E11 can't). Despite being a portable amp, it can be used on a stationary setup. Basically, you can use it with mobile systems, be it laptops or PMPs, as well as using it with a desktop computer, no hassles there.

This is great, detailed advice, thanks a bunch! I'll try to find room for the O2, I see it highly recommended throughout this site.

If anyone else has conflicting opinions, please speak up! All hype is making me think these components are too good to be true!
post #7 of 15

For a $250 budget my vote is strongly towards the Asus Xonar Essence STX for that Q701.  There are 3 levels of Dolby Headphone that can be used for gaming that are great for positional audio.  Most modern games support direct sound but, for the older games that don't, that card comes with a "GX Mode" for emulating EAX audio.  Most importantly, the audio quality of the STX DAC and built in headphone amp are excellent in the price range.  Personally, after having owned the STX, Titanium HD, and a Fiio E17, the STX would be my choice for gaming and music. 

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by AuxNuke View Post

For a $250 budget my vote is strongly towards the Asus Xonar Essence STX for that Q701.  There are 3 levels of Dolby Headphone that can be used for gaming that are great for positional audio.  Most modern games support direct sound but, for the older games that don't, that card comes with a "GX Mode" for emulating EAX audio.  Most importantly, the audio quality of the STX DAC and built in headphone amp are excellent in the price range.  Personally, after having owned the STX, Titanium HD, and a Fiio E17, the STX would be my choice for gaming and music. 

 

Except the GX Mode only provides EAX up to version 2, as opposed to Creative's native EAX 5, which isn't emulated, it's the real thing. Also, Dolby Headphone isn't superior to CMSS-3D, it's just a different HRTF filter. Asus cards have basic software OpenAL while Creative has hardware OpenAL, which not only provides better in-game sound but also unlocks advanced audio options that aren't available on any Asus cards. Lastly, the Titanium HD has positional cue improvement algorithms that are audio renderer agnostic, something the Essence STX (and all Asus cards) lacks.

 

Given that the Titanium HD actually has a better DAC chip than the Essence STX, and XTCrispy wants to do real gaming, going with the Titanium HD is the logical choice.

 

The point is, the Titanium HD and the Essence STX are similar in terms of output quality, but the Titanium HD has full gaming audio support while the Essence STX has partial/basic audio support.

 

EDIT: It should be noted that the Asus GX Mode feature is buggy and causes issues with games, whereas X-Fi cards display no issues whatsoever on the same games.


Edited by Roller - 12/16/12 at 2:00pm
post #9 of 15

I've had both and stuck with Asus Xonar ST model. It's practically the same as the STX. While I will say the X-fi does have an edge in gaming. The Asus Xonar STX is the better overall sound card. The overall SQ of the card is nice, with Dolby it is leaps and bounds better. If your a "Serious" competitive gamer and directional ques are the difference between collecting a pay check and not then maybe the creative is for you.

 If your a hardcore gamer and you enjoy music and movies on your PC. Then the Asus Xonar is for you.

 

Oh and BTW, both the creative and asus have built in amps(you can roll your own op-amps on the Asus card) which can hold you over until you can afford something better.


Edited by spydur - 12/16/12 at 2:09pm
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by spydur View Post

I've had both and stuck with Asus Xonar ST model. It's practically the same as the STX. While I will say the X-fi does have an edge is gaming. The Asus Xonar STX is the better overall sound card. The overall SQ of the card is nice, with Dolby it is leaps and bounds better. If your a "Serious" competitive gamer and directional ques are the difference between collecting a pay check and not then maybe the creative is for you.

 If your a hardcore gamer and you enjoy music and movies on your PC. Then the Asus Xonar is for you.

 

Oh and BTW, both the creative and asus have built in amps(you can roll your own op-amps on the Asus card) which can hold you over until you can afford something better.

 

Quick correction there. Both the Titanium HD and the Essence ST/STX have swappable opamps.

 

Very wrong statement there. DH isn't better than CMSS-3D, it simply works best for your specific ear shape and size, so don't make blanket statements like that.

 

And no, harcore gamer and Asus cards don't go hand in hand.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

 

Quick correction there. Both the Titanium HD and the Essence ST/STX have swappable opamps.

 

Very wrong statement there. DH isn't better than CMSS-3D, it simply works best for your specific ear shape and size, so don't make blanket statements like that.

 

And no, harcore gamer and Asus cards don't go hand in hand.

 



That sir, is your own assumption. As there is quite a healthy number of HC gamers using the Xonar series for their HC gaming needs..

As for the DH vs Cmss-3D i will agree i may have been a bit one sided. That said, I do not concede that CMSS-3D is any better. I will go on to say to each his own...

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by spydur View Post


That sir, is your own assumption. As there is quite a healthy number of HC gamers using the Xonar series for their HC gaming needs..

As for the DH vs Cmss-3D i will agree i may have been a bit one sided. That said, I do not concede that CMSS-3D is any better. I will go on to say to each his own...

 

The first thing to keep in mind regarding the two main HRTF filters available is that one emphasizes bass (DH) while the other emphasizes treble (CMSS-3D). And both run averaged HRTF filters in order to be compatible with as many different people as possible, due to differences between ear size and shape. That is exactly why there can't be assumptions of one filter being better than the other.

 

The fact (not opinion) is that Asus cards have poor gaming audio support, effectively on the same level of Creative Sound Blaster Live! cards (regarding EAX support) and below first generation Audigy cards (regarding OpenAL support, namely Asus' software OpenAL support as opposed to hardware OpenAL from Audigy series onwards). That, aside from a complete lack of any positional cue improvement algorithms that work on all games, from proper audio renderers up to the most basic 2D matrix audio renderers like XAudio 2, makes Asus cards a poor choice for gaming, especially competitive gaming.

 

EDIT: You're right, there are people using Asus cards for gaming, mainly due to said people having hopped on the Creative bashing wagon about driver issues, which did occur during the first Windows Vista drivers that were quite problematic. However, drivers are improved significantly since then, being rock solid on Windows 7 and Windows 8. Also, it's important to note that the Essence STX drivers currently still have some serious issues, namely causing random harsh screeching as well as static on the right channel.

 

In terms of gaming audio capabilities, even a base X-Fi Titanium (non-HD) vastly outperforms the flagship Essence STX. The X-Fi chip makes a significant difference.

 

Bottomline is, the Essence STX is a fine card in terms of output quality, but it doesn't surpass or even match the Titanium HD's gaming prowess, and its sound quality is on the same level as the Titanium HD. So, from a gaming standpoint (which is what XTCrispy is aiming for), it makes no sense getting an Essence STX.


Edited by Roller - 12/16/12 at 4:05pm
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm still new to all this, so I have to look up some of the technologies being used in examples. I'm learning a lot though, so thank you all.

 

I'm starting to think I made this on the wrong Head-Fi forum, since I've already got my headphones set in stone. I started here because I didn't see a forum that talks about the entire setup, and the headphones, to me, are centerpiece.

 

So the technologies at odds right now are Dolby Headset vs. CMSS-3D, right? Unfortunately, I've never used either technology so I can only listen to other's opinions. I don't know how I'd be able to test them out, either.

 

I'm not a professional gamer, but I do want to have an enjoyable experience, and whatever gives me the option to pursue a career like that if I so wished.

 

If I could hold off with the amp, what would I be missing? To my understanding, amplifiers allow the headphones to achieve louder volumes, but what else is there to them? Do they make the soundstage seem bigger? Can the op-amps in the sound cards achieve similar results?

 

I'm also going to edit the OP with my audio priorities. In order, they're:

 

- positional cues

- immersive gameplay and movies

- multi-genre music, mostly orchestral, techno and rock

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by XTCrispy View Post

I'm still new to all this, so I have to look up some of the technologies being used in examples. I'm learning a lot though, so thank you all.

 

I'm starting to think I made this on the wrong Head-Fi forum, since I've already got my headphones set in stone. I started here because I didn't see a forum that talks about the entire setup, and the headphones, to me, are centerpiece.

 

So the technologies at odds right now are Dolby Headset vs. CMSS-3D, right? Unfortunately, I've never used either technology so I can only listen to other's opinions. I don't know how I'd be able to test them out, either.

 

I'm not a professional gamer, but I do want to have an enjoyable experience, and whatever gives me the option to pursue a career like that if I so wished.

 

If I could hold off with the amp, what would I be missing? To my understanding, amplifiers allow the headphones to achieve louder volumes, but what else is there to them? Do they make the soundstage seem bigger? Can the op-amps in the sound cards achieve similar results?

 

I'm also going to edit the OP with my audio priorities. In order, they're:

 

- positional cues

- immersive gameplay and movies

- multi-genre music, mostly orchestral, techno and rock

 

Do head over NamelessPFG's PC gaming thread, that's the right place to ask further questions about what you're looking for.

 

Amps can help deliver enough power to demanding headphones (yours isn't particularly demanding), which then makes headphones sound better (sound proper, would be a better description), as well as allowing for louder volume.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

 

Do head over NamelessPFG's PC gaming thread, that's the right place to ask further questions about what you're looking for.

 

Amps can help deliver enough power to demanding headphones (yours isn't particularly demanding), which then makes headphones sound better (sound proper, would be a better description), as well as allowing for louder volume.

 

Yeah, I've been directed there a lot, even outside this site, and always get lost in the lingo. I'll try to soldier on this time.

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