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High End Computer Audio Gaming Setup

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

All,

 

Hopefully this is the right section for this, I've only been lurking for a few days now.If not I can move it wherever.

 

My G35's broke recently after a couple years of use, and I am looking to finally put together a higher end setup, and I have a few questions:

 

1) I think I have decided on Xonar DG--> DAC --> Tube Amp --> One of the Beyers (probably 990 pro 250 ohm). Does the DG wrap the Dolby headphone through the optical out, So I can use a better DAC than the DG itself?

 

2) I am thinking that a tube amp would be great, for when I am listening to music, and I love the possibilities of the extra layers a tube amp can supply. Also I have heard the 990s can be a bit bright, so a tube amp could slightly warm them up? I was thinking of the Schiit Valhalla.

 

3)What would be a good DAC for this purpose, assuming everything can work together?

 

4) Any other suggestions, or things that I should do differently?

 

5) I am slightly sold on the Beyer 990s but what I am really looking for is a pair of open cans (75% gaming, 25% music) with some bass. I don't play competively, but do really appreciate positional accuracy, but since I dont play competively I want some Fun factor too, with the bass. Is there a better headphone choice?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 17

Could save a few dollars.

Get the Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card and plug the external headphone amplifier into the sound card.

 

The Xonar DG can output headphone surround sound thru the optical output.

post #3 of 17

Not sure whether this is of interest at all, but I use two soundcards. I'm not a huge fan of the Asus' for gaming, especially for headphone-based surround, so on my gaming + all-purpose rig I have a Fatality whateveritis feeding analog into an RME Fireface UFX with the Creative card set as the default sound card.

 

 

All the output devices (monitors and headphones) are attached to the RME, as is the mic pulling headset duty. In terms of listening to music obviously any proper playback software can route output to a named source (while games and other software which may not be able to address specific soundcards just go to the Creative), so I just mute the Fatality inputs in the RME panel and that's pretty much it. Any lag there might be seems not to be cramping my gaming and I end up with a very flexible setup.
 

 

I'd also not bother with a tube amp, but learn to use EQ subtly.


Edited by bangraman - 1/3/13 at 6:03pm
post #4 of 17

My setup is almost exactly like the one you're planning. I have an Essence STX->LittleDotMKIV->DT880/600 setup. It sounds absolutely amazing to me and every single time I listen to music through it, no matter what I play, I am simply stunned at the beauty and detail I am hearing. The DT880s can be driven well off the STX amp (the bass is strong and clean) and they are uncompromisingly accurate with it. I've upgraded op amps and tone is fairly good but occassionally bright. Off the Little Dot some details get lost, it's not as laser-accurate, but the highs are more laid back and the mids become very rich when using warm tubes - some tubes are downright SS-like though, it depends. All in all, the best sound I've heard in my life. Sounds to me like the audio version of cotton candy. The Dolby Headphone output is great - I have a 5.1 speaker setup with large towers and the Dolby Headphone does a perfect impression of them in surround sound gaming. I often take the headphones off to make sure its them I'm hearing not the speakers. It's kinda spooky actually, but very welcome for late night FSX or Skyrim sessions. One caveat though, the DT880s have alot of high frequency detail (and the 990s will probably have even more). Music sounds wonderful on it, but gunfire and explosions sound exactley like gunfire and explosions, which is to say they can be deafening and brutal. If I play a violent game with those kinds of sound effects (and that's usually straight off the sound card's internal ss amp) I usually EQ the treble and upper mids way way way way down.   

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangelove424 View Post

My setup is almost exactly like the one you're planning. I have an Essence STX->LittleDotMKIV->DT880/600 setup. It sounds absolutely amazing to me and every single time I listen to music through it, no matter what I play, I am simply stunned at the beauty and detail I am hearing. The DT880s can be driven well off the STX amp (the bass is strong and clean) and they are uncompromisingly accurate with it. I've upgraded op amps and tone is fairly good but occassionally bright. Off the Little Dot some details get lost, it's not as laser-accurate, but the highs are more laid back and the mids become very rich when using warm tubes - some tubes are downright SS-like though, it depends. All in all, the best sound I've heard in my life. Sounds to me like the audio version of cotton candy. The Dolby Headphone output is great - I have a 5.1 speaker setup with large towers and the Dolby Headphone does a perfect impression of them in surround sound gaming. I often take the headphones off to make sure its them I'm hearing not the speakers. It's kinda spooky actually, but very welcome for late night FSX or Skyrim sessions. One caveat though, the DT880s have alot of high frequency detail (and the 990s will probably have even more). Music sounds wonderful on it, but gunfire and explosions sound exactley like gunfire and explosions, which is to say they can be deafening and brutal. If I play a violent game with those kinds of sound effects (and that's usually straight off the sound card's internal ss amp) I usually EQ the treble and upper mids way way way way down.   

 

I was thinking I could save a little money with going to the DG optical out to a 100 dollar DAC. So it would be totally pre amped before the amp. Are you using a line out of the STX?

post #6 of 17

Yes, line out to the tube amp. Personally, I got the STX because it's kind of a swiss army knife. It measures extremely well as a DAC and can carry Dolby Digital Live to my receiver via its optical, which is necessary for gaming (the card mixes all the positional sound effects into 5.1 dolby format on the fly - then the receiver decodes it like it was coming from a pre-encoded DVD, pretty neat). But if you don't need Dolby Live for gaming, or the handiness of an onboard SS amp, then yeah a good quality external DAC will give you essentially the same audio quality as STX line out, and be cheaper + more mobile.   

post #7 of 17

I have STX paired with Beyer 990's 600ohm version and its music heaven each night. I'm a big gamer, specifically Battlefield 3. I currently use an EQ through Xonar Audio Center to tweak what I want to tone done the high end and increase the bass. I have a separate thread for everyone to see an EQ generator for the Xonar Audio Center. One recommendation I would make..upgrade those stock OPAMPS.  

post #8 of 17
I find imaging, instruments placement are very good on DT990(600 Ohm), DT 880(600 Ohm) compared to many other headphones and gaming sound superior on these due to better imaging.
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 

Do you guys think the FiiO D3 would be a good enough DAC to use, instead of the Xonar DG DAC? I was looking to spend around a hundred, but cant really find any DACs that have an optical input (to accept the Dolby Headphone signal from the DG) for less than 150. If I spend 150, i might as well get the STX, ad use its line out to the amp.

 

Which I have changed to the Little Dot IV, instead of the Valhalla, because I have heard the Valhalla is a little bright, and I wanted to warm the 990s up just a tad.
 

post #10 of 17
I don't PC game but rather console. So I can only comment on the headphone side. I have at one point had at the same time DT990 and DT880. I've stuck with the 880 as the 990 were a little "light" in sound for gaming. I sold them. I love the 880 for gaming and music mix. I have the 600 ohm pair. They have more bass and mid sounds for gaming than the 990.
That all I got.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhalf View Post

Do you guys think the FiiO D3 would be a good enough DAC to use, instead of the Xonar DG DAC? I was looking to spend around a hundred, but cant really find any DACs that have an optical input (to accept the Dolby Headphone signal from the DG) for less than 150. If I spend 150, i might as well get the STX, ad use its line out to the amp.

 

Which I have changed to the Little Dot IV, instead of the Valhalla, because I have heard the Valhalla is a little bright, and I wanted to warm the 990s up just a tad.
 

I'm going to guess the DAC chip on the Xonar DG is better then the one in the Fiio D3

post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

I ended up buying the k702 annies today, after hearing MLEs impressions. Now to put together an amp and DAC. Any suggestions for a nice optical DAC?
 

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

Which I have changed to the Little Dot IV, instead of the Valhalla, because I have heard the Valhalla is a little bright, and I wanted to warm the 990s up just a tad.
 

Leave an extra $15-20 in your budget to roll in some new tubes. The stock LD MKIII/MKIV GE tubes are kind of boring, lacking detail, and have a tiny soundstage. Mullard M8100 driver tubes (used on the MKIVSE version) have a major effect on the sound, and will give you the warmth you're looking for in addition to more detail and space.         

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Strangelove424 View Post

Leave an extra $15-20 in your budget to roll in some new tubes. The stock LD MKIII/MKIV GE tubes are kind of boring, lacking detail, and have a tiny soundstage. Mullard M8100 driver tubes (used on the MKIVSE version) have a major effect on the sound, and will give you the warmth you're looking for in addition to more detail and space.         

 



Thanks for the advice, and I probably would have just bought the SE with them, but now not sure which amp to get after switching headphones^ See above

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jhalf View Post

Thanks for the advice, and I probably would have just bought the SE with them, but now not sure which amp to get after switching headphones^ See above.

 

I've only listened the K701, and preferred the DT880, but the K701 needed alot of power and tended to sound thin, so I'm assuming it would work well with an OTL tube amp which could supply the necessary voltage while giving some thickness to the sound. I would peruse the AKG threads though to get some first hand accounts of people that heard particular amps with them.  

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