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Looking for Headphones equally good for Gaming and Music

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi Guys,

 

I live in a college dorm and need some advice on which headphones to buy for late night gaming.

Read the entire list of reviews here and still can't make up my mind; I have some very specific requirements for this pair of headphones.

Let me share my background to give you an idea of what i'm looking for.

 

The main difference in my purpose is that I'm a PC gamer and thus, don't need a mixamp to decode DTS signals.

I am an avid gamer and audiophile, I enjoy one as much as the other

 

I primarily play Battlefield 3 and Natural Selection along with the occasional Space title that usually comes with an epic soundtrack (Endless Space). I believe, like the rest of the posters in the above link, that clear, directional sound gives you an edge in performing competitively.

Music-wise, I listen to a large variety from House to Classic Rock to Korean Pop.

I was huge into the in-ear/headphones scene back in 2006-7 and eventually graduated to speakers, and am now utterly lost moving back into headphones. I currently use UE10Pros with an iBasso DX100 for my portable rig.

Back home (in Singapore), I used to run a very decent pure-audio rig with a Meitner MA-1 -> Mimetism Integrated 15.2 -> Focal Diablo Utopias.

I had to sell the setup to fund my college education *sadface*, also, space constraints and drunk college students prevent me from building a rig of those proportions.

With that in mind, you could say that I like my music signature to be neutral, with a touch of warmth and a little hot on the treble.

 

I'm looking for headphones and/or DAC/Soundcard which are:

1. Combined cost of below $400; buying used would be great

2. I'd like my computer rig to be in the ITX form factor and thus, won't have space for a decent soundcard, all I will have is the Realtek ALC892 Integrated chipset. If you guys feel strongly about getting a decent soundcard instead of a DAC/Amp combo, I am willing to move to an ATX motherboard so I can add that in

3. Able to wear comfortably for long hours

 

Also, if you have advice on a decent pair of PC speakers equally adept at gaming and music, please share it.

I'm looking at the (in ascending order of price), Logitech z623, Klipsch ProMedia 2.1, Corsair SP2500 and Swan m50w (which are out of stock everywhere).

 

Thanks for reading this long post and thank you for your advice in advance.

post #2 of 11

If you want good gaming audio, then get the ATX motherboard, so you can get an internal sound card.

 

Sound card

Sound Blaster Zx ($120)

 

Headphones

Beyer DT770 Pro 250-Ohm (closed), $170

Beyer DT880 Pro 250-Ohm (semi-open), $210-$240

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Bring Up My Post

post #4 of 11

Heya,

 

Headphones to consider:

 

Beyer DT880 PRO

Sony MA900

AKG Q701

 

If you really want a sound card an directional sound and all that, then an Asus Xonar STX would be good, or even a Titanium HD card. But that puts you into the m/atx realm of size of boards.

 

Alternatively, get an X-fi chipset external USB card, and maybe a headphone amplifier and go that route.

 

As for speakers, I would not even look at "PC speakers" type stuff at all. Just look at solid active powered monitors, and/or look at passive bookshelf or loud speakers and get an amplifier or receiver (AVR). You could use the AVR if you did this to also power your headphones. A yamaha with silent cinema for example would be ideal if you went that route. Two birds with one stone.

 

Very best,

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

I was in luck and my floormates owned a pair of DT880 (32ohm) and DT990 (no idea which ohm). Unexpectedly enough, I think the Beyerdynamic treble is too hot for me in general. Do you think the AKG Q701 will have a more natural sound with flatter treble and fuller mid-range?

post #6 of 11

Why are soundcards better for gaming?

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by McNuggetsPie View Post

Why are soundcards better for gaming?

Sound cards provide support for 3D positional audio in games.  For some genres, like strategy games, it doesn't really matter because you don't need directional sound.  For other games, like shooters, it gives players a competitive edge since they are able to hear where exactly a sound (like a footstep or gunshot) is coming from.

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caessa View Post

Sound cards provide support for 3D positional audio in games.  For some genres, like strategy games, it doesn't really matter because you don't need directional sound.  For other games, like shooters, it gives players a competitive edge since they are able to hear where exactly a sound (like a footstep or gunshot) is coming from.

But what can a sound card do that a DAC can't do?

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by McNuggetsPie View Post

But what can a sound card do that a DAC can't do?

 

Good question. I'm not convinced that particular hardware has to be a requirement, from a technical standpoint, for the sudo- surround sound features he's referring to but it is what it is... you can't use those features without a soundcard/DAC that supports them. Most sound cards do and most DACs don't. Personally, in over 10 years of playing FPS's, I've never used any of those features and I can tell exactly where sounds are coming from in my games. First person / third person / etc games have 3D audio placement already built into the game engine. In the games I play I find it plenty adequate for accurately determining the direction and distance of noises. Maybe if I tried one of these 3D positioning features it would wow me but I'm not convinced its necessary, even for competitive players.


Edited by devhen - 1/31/13 at 3:27am
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by McNuggetsPie View Post

But what can a sound card do that a DAC can't do?

The DAC chip, in an external "DAC" or mounted on a sound card, takes a digital (zeros & ones) audio signal and changes it to an analog (wave) audio signal.

Modern audio is stored and processed in a digital form, but amplifiers and the human ear work in analog.

All the DAC does is convert.

Audio processors on a sound card can make real changes to a digital audio signal, before the digital signal is sent to the DAC chip.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by McNuggetsPie View Post

But what can a sound card do that a DAC can't do?

 

In the old days, starting around 1997 or so, sound cards usually had DSPs on them to offload the processing from the CPU, and games were designed to take advantage of them. The software fallbacks for those games generally sound quite bad by comparison, as the surround sound effect is noticeably worse and entire effects go missing.

 

This continued up 'til 2007 or so, when XAudio2 + X3DAudio and FMOD Ex, both software-based mixers, started becoming dominant, save for the rare game that still uses OpenAL or has it buried as an option in the .INI files. Too bad that OpenAL + X-Fi with CMSS-3D Headphone or Rapture3D in headphone HRTF mixing mode still sounds way better to my ears than most software mixers in today's games do.

 

On top of this, audiophile DACs don't even have anything like CMSS-3D Headphone or Dolby Headphone. This means that you're at the complete mercy of the software audio mixer for the game in question, which most likely treats headphones as one-dimensional stereo panning devices instead of offering a proper binaural HRTF mix that sounds like real life, or at the very least, a virtual 7.1 speaker system.

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