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Would like some suggestions for a gaming setup

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

EDIT. Need new advice.

 

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR got delayed. I'd like suggestions for alternatives. How would a Sound Blaster Zx with an external headphone amp compare to a Creative card with a built-in amp?

 

Also, had the opportunity to try out some headphones the other day. I tried a Sennheiser HD 558, an Audio Technica ATH-A900x, and an AKG K550. Preferred the Sennheiser, so I may end up saving up for an HD 598 or HD 600/650 (depends on what I want for impedance). It just seemed to fit wonderfully. Did not know I'd prefer open audio to closed so much.

 

Hello all, new user here. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask for recommendations, so I apologize in advance if I'm in the wrong area. I've currently got a Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty Titanium Professional, paired with a Creative Fatal1ty Headset MKII. It's a phenomenal upgrade over onboard sound, but I'm looking for something better.

 

I would like recommendations on a new sound card and pair of headphones for gaming. I'd prefer not to use any kind of external audio processing equipment, just a sound card and a headset. I'm currently scoping out pairing a Creative Sound Blaster ZXR with an Ultrasone H-Fi 780.

 

In terms of personal taste, I prefer sound accuracy with a good sound stage (this is for positional audio) over things like boomy bass. I prefer my bass being accurate moreso than overpowering. I'd also prefer something with good build quality, closed-ear, and a black and/or silver design (I do not like plain white).

 

For the sound card, I'd like something that supports good positional audio. My X-Fi card has CMSS-3D, and I absolutely love it, but if another sound card manufacturer supports something better, that's good, too. How are ASUS and HT Omega for positional audio support?

 

Thanks in advance for recommendations.


Edited by BetaWolf - 1/28/13 at 3:58am
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetaWolf View Post

Hello all, new user here. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask for recommendations, so I apologize in advance if I'm in the wrong area. I've currently got a Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty Titanium Professional, paired with a Creative Fatal1ty Headset MKII. It's a phenomenal upgrade over onboard sound, but I'm looking for something better.

I would like recommendations on a new sound card and pair of headphones for gaming. I'd prefer not to use any kind of external audio processing equipment, just a sound card and a headset. I'm currently scoping out pairing a Creative Sound Blaster ZXR with an Ultrasone H-Fi 780.

In terms of personal taste, I prefer sound accuracy with a good sound stage (this is for positional audio) over things like boomy bass. I prefer my bass being accurate moreso than overpowering. I'd also prefer something with good build quality, closed-ear, and a black and/or silver design (I do not like plain white).

For the sound card, I'd like something that supports good positional audio. My X-Fi card has CMSS-3D, and I absolutely love it, but if another sound card manufacturer supports something better, that's good, too. How are ASUS and HT Omega for positional audio support?

I would say to keep the Titanium Pro sound card and sell off the Headset MKII.

Buy the new Schiit Magni external headphone amplifier and the Ultrasone HFi 780.

As the HFI-780 are only 35-Ohm, an external headphone amplifier, with a low impedance, would be the best choice for sound quality.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I didn't mention that the sound card is having issues with crackling at certain frequencies. I need a new one. Also, I do not want to use any external hardware, so I'd like a setup without an amp.

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetaWolf View Post

I didn't mention that the sound card is having issues with crackling at certain frequencies. I need a new one. Also, I do not want to use any external hardware, so I'd like a setup without an amp.

Then it sounds like the new Creative Z series would be your better choice.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice. I'd like to hear other opinions though.

post #6 of 13

I would have suggested the X-Fi Titanium HD, but your insistence on a built-in headphone amp does put a damper on that.

 

The thing is, if you get one of the new Sound Core3D-based cards, not only will you be giving up hardware DirectSound3D and OpenAL acceleration, among other things, but you'll also be trading CMSS-3D Headphone for SBX Pro Surround, which if it's just THX TruStudio Surround rebranded, will sound noticeably worse IMO.

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

I would have suggested the X-Fi Titanium HD, but your insistence on a built-in headphone amp does put a damper on that.

 

The thing is, if you get one of the new Sound Core3D-based cards, not only will you be giving up hardware DirectSound3D and OpenAL acceleration, among other things, but you'll also be trading CMSS-3D Headphone for SBX Pro Surround, which if it's just THX TruStudio Surround rebranded, will sound noticeably worse IMO.


That's the kind of reply I'm looking for. I didn't realize that the newer Z cards did not support CMSS-3D. I have heard that the majority of games do not support CMSS-3D and OpenAL, however. I've also read that Windows 8 allows Core3D to accelerate hardware. Should I be looking for something from Creative's competitors for gaming, though? Still curious as to how ASUS and HT Omega are for gaming.


Edited by BetaWolf - 1/5/13 at 6:37am
post #8 of 13
I'm also interested in getting a sound card... I'd like to see what you guys come up with smily_headphones1.gif
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetaWolf View Post
That's the kind of reply I'm looking for. I didn't realize that the newer Z cards did not support CMSS-3D. I have heard that the majority of games do not support CMSS-3D and OpenAL, however. I've also read that Windows 8 allows Core3D to accelerate hardware. Should I be looking for something from Creative's competitors for gaming, though? Still curious as to how ASUS and HT Omega are for gaming.

 

OpenAL is rather underutilized, and I don't know why. It's quite a shame. However, the advantages are also there with DirectSound3D, which is especially common in games from the 9x/XP era of Windows, at least until Microsoft stupidly killed that API with Vista's rewritten sound stack. Fortunately, that's where ALchemy comes in to restore hardware DS3D acceleration, thanks to OpenAL being completely unaffected.

 

Asus, HT Omega, and other vendors that use C-Media chipsets could be competitive gaming-wise, but the issue at hand is that Creative holds so much awesome PC gaming 3D audio tech in their iron grasp after buying out Aureal and Sensaura years ago, and they sure aren't going to let their competitors have it, even if fewer and fewer games will really leverage it these days. EAX 3/4/5 is Creative-exclusive, and the usual headphone surround technologies on C-Media cards don't use DS3D and OAL positional audio coordinates for a more accurate mix like CMSS-3D Headphone will.

 

All this talk about Windows 8 restoring hardware acceleration sounds promising, but I don't think they actually brought back DirectSound3D support, in which case it's still completely useless from a gaming standpoint. It's that API specifically that needs to be restored for older games to have hardware sound acceleration without needing wrappers like ALchemy or DS3DGX first. I suspect that Win8 hardware sound acceleration has more to do with increased battery life on ARM devices (Windows RT) than actually benefiting gaming PCs.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

I was asking more for opinions on Dolby Headphone vs. X-Fi CMSS 3D. I'm specifically calling out the HT Omega eClaro and the ASUS Xonar Essence STX. I'd like to go top-end for my gaming sound card, so any kind of advice on the matter would be appreciated. Positional sound is my top priority, top over hardware acceleration. My setup is not so my CPU will be bottlenecked if it has to do the sound processing. What is the best kind of gaming audio hardware you can get for headphones?

post #11 of 13

I believe someone told me in my thread that Creative x-Fi Titanium HD is the best for gaming atm.

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetaWolf View Post

I was asking more for opinions on Dolby Headphone vs. X-Fi CMSS 3D. I'm specifically calling out the HT Omega eClaro and the ASUS Xonar Essence STX. I'd like to go top-end for my gaming sound card, so any kind of advice on the matter would be appreciated. Positional sound is my top priority, top over hardware acceleration. My setup is not so my CPU will be bottlenecked if it has to do the sound processing. What is the best kind of gaming audio hardware you can get for headphones?

 

Oh, if that's what you want to know, they perform about equally for most games in terms of positional cues...until you throw DS3D or OAL into the equation, then CMSS-3D wins by miles. Virtual 7.1, as good as it is, can't touch a proper binaural HRTF mix.

 

That's why I stick with X-Fi cards more than anything-because CMSS-3D Headphone sounds the best to my ears. Only Aureal A3D on Vortex-chipset cards really compares, but Creative bought out and buried Aureal over a decade ago.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Bump. Things have changed a bit.

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