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PC Upgrade help: Headphones for gaming on Asus Xonar Essence STX or ROG Xonar Phoebus?

Poll Results: Recommended setup

 
  • 20% (1)
    Asus ROG Xonar Phoebus + AKG Q701 or AKG K701
  • 0% (0)
    Asus ROG Xonar Phoebus + Audio-Technica ATH-AD700
  • 60% (3)
    Asus Xonar Essence STX + AKG Q701 or AKG K701
  • 0% (0)
    Asus Xonar Essence STX + Audio-Technica ATH-AD700
  • 20% (1)
    Creative X-Fi Titanium HD + Audio-Technica ATH-AD700
  • 0% (0)
    Creative X-Fi Titanium HD + AKG Q701 or AKG K701
5 Total Votes  
post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Greetings all,

 

I'm considering making the big leap from my Logitech’s G35 Virtual surround headset & get the real deal, a dedicated soundcard ! So take note, I’m new to all this audio technical stuff.

 

I’m a gamer & play all kinds of games but the reason driving my future purchase is getting a competitive edge in Battlefield 3 or any other modern competitive FPS. I also have Audioengine A2 speakers (only the pair) that I use when not gaming, for watching movies or music.

 

So I’ve read both "Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide" & "The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound)", plus several threads about Essence STX vs Phoebus.

 

However, the threads are all a bit outdated with the last activity being 2012. Thus could anyone enlighten me on the current state of the Phoebus? Because the STX seems to be preferred here.

 

Are the bad drivers gone? What’s the deal with dropping Dolby headphone for Dolby home theater 4, is it causing issues with games, will the sound quality be affected for better or worse? Does the Phoebus have more longevity with support for future games?

 

The setup I’m thinking about is either an Asus Xonar Essence STX or Asus ROG Xonar Phoebus with any of these headphones:

 

·        Audio-Technica ATH-AD700

·        AKG Q701

·        AKG K701

 

So which is the best combination, what do you recommend for gaming?!

 

Best regards & thanks in advance!

 

P.S : My OS is Windows 7 Ultimate, also have a copy of Windows 8 collecting dust (yup got a free one, never wanted it), might switch to it one day though.


Edited by Frencho - 3/23/13 at 6:07pm

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 7

I don't have experience with any of the sound cards / headphones you mentioned. But I'm currently using the X-Fi Titanium HD > Schiit Magni > HiFiMan HE-400 and for gaming its a great setup. Battlefield 3 sounds superb. Let me know if you'd like any more feedback regarding the peripherals I'm using.
 

post #3 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frencho View Post

However, the threads are all a bit outdated with the last activity being 2012.

 

Given that both threads are highly active to this very moment, at least for discussion, I wouldn't call them outdated by a long shot.

 

Mad Lust Envy can't help you because he's a console gamer, and as such, sound cards are not of much use to him.

 

I can't help you because my knowledge skews heavily toward Creative cards, X-Fi line in particular, and I don't feel like buying a couple of expensive Xonar cards (or other lauded C-Media chipset offerings like the HT Omega Claro Halo) just for PC gaming review purposes.

 

I can at least say that the AD700 is what everyone says it is: big, comfortable, easy to drive, and lacking in bass. Good enough for competitive gaming, but if you prefer a more cinematic experience, you may want to look elsewhere.

post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 

Given that both threads are highly active to this very moment, at least for discussion, I wouldn't call them outdated by a long shot.

 

Mad Lust Envy can't help you because he's a console gamer, and as such, sound cards are not of much use to him.

 

I can't help you because my knowledge skews heavily toward Creative cards, X-Fi line in particular, and I don't feel like buying a couple of expensive Xonar cards (or other lauded C-Media chipset offerings like the HT Omega Claro Halo) just for PC gaming review purposes.

 

I can at least say that the AD700 is what everyone says it is: big, comfortable, easy to drive, and lacking in bass. Good enough for competitive gaming, but if you prefer a more cinematic experience, you may want to look elsewhere.

Hi NamelessPFG,

 

Just a little clarification when I say they're outdated I meant the forum threads on the ASUS Phoebus/STX, not your guide or Madlust's.

 

Well seems Asus cards have gotten the spotlight lately, but I'll happily get any info on the Creative cards. Which one do you recommend for a gamer, I need Dolby headphone or some kind of surround for competitive gaming. Does Creative support the drivers well enough?

 

My concern is getting a soundcard that will still be supported for the next couple of years, with new drivers & support for next gen games like BF4 & so on.

 

Another thing that confuses me is headphone AMP, and low impedance, I'm a noob on these audio details. People say AD700 are low impedance so they don't need a massive amp to power them, but AKGs need a bigger amp to power them, am I right ? Which soundcard headphone amp should I look for in accordance to the headphones I posted?

 

So do you vouch for the AD700 over the AKGs? Mad Lust envy seemed a bit more impressed by the AKGk701 (a bit more bassy fun sounding), replacing the AD700 as his best headphones for competitive gaming.

 

 

Best regards & thanks for the reply!


Edited by Frencho - 3/23/13 at 6:11pm
post #5 of 7

Oh, gotcha on that first point about the threads. It was rather ambiguous as to the threads in question.

 

I have no real issues with the X-Fi Titanium HD's drivers; they're actually pretty solid, to the point where I haven't actually felt a need for updates. As for future OS support...well, at this rate, I don't see myself using anything later than Windows 7, not with the direction Windows 8 and the game industry at large is taking.

 

Newer games shouldn't hinge too much on sound card support, seeing as they've been diverging from hardware sound acceleration for years now...ESPECIALLY the Battlefield series ever since the move from Refractor to Frostbite. Too bad Frostbite's positional audio mixing is terrible even by software audio standards...on top of the general overemphasis on unlocks since 2142 and other gameplay-ruining mechanics...yeah, I'm a bit bitter about that.

 

In that case, it's more about which headphone surround tech you prefer, and on PC, I generally favor CMSS-3D Headphone. Even pit it against Dolby Headphone myself with the help of the SU-DH1, and while DH is quite good, CMSS-3D works even better for me.

 

The impedance thing...it's complicated. Even I have a hard time wrapping my head around it, other than that supposed "lower output impedances on the source are always better" rhetoric that at least sounds plausible. But the real issue is sensitivity, where the AD700 is a very sensitive headphone to the point where you can power it out of any sound card and even portable sources just fine, and the AKG models are allegedly not. Can't comment directly on headphones I haven't heard, after all.

 

But I did own an AD700 once, and it's pretty much what everyone says about it. Big. Comfortable. Sensitive. Affordable. And of course, lacking in bass, so if you're aiming for a more cinematic than competitive experience, look elsewhere.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the reply,

 

Indeed Frosbite's postional audio mixing is bad, you're in a quiet environment and can't even hear an enemy sneaking up behind you, arghh!

 

One last question on Creative X-Fi Titanium HD:

 

  1. Does it have a headphone amp ? If it doesn't should I get one or is it overkill for gaming?
  2. Should I download Creative's latest driver from their official site or are there some unified drivers that are better?
  3. Any recommendation on which microphone to get seeing audiophile headphones don't have one, found some mic you can attach to your headphones but could't find them in France (Modmic).

 

I'm leaning towards buying the Titanium HD & the AD700, it's cheapest setup, thus safer considering it's my first buy. However the thread has over 70 views and no one commented on the Asus soundcards! I'm still curious about those, so any info & testimony is welcomed. You can all simply vote on the poll also, don't be shy!

 

Best regards.


Edited by Frencho - 3/24/13 at 6:03am
post #7 of 7

Technically, it has some kind of amplification; all analog audio outputs do. But it's supposedly some kind of "headphone buffer" circuit, without the amp IC that's found in the Essence cards (and the FiiO E9, incidentally).

 

The AD700 won't be held back at all. The AKG K/Q701/702 line, I can't comment on without first-hand experience, but if you really want to be sure, connect a decent headphone amp to the Titanium HD's RCA outputs. (I have to use the external amp approach anyway if my Stax setup's going to work, but that's getting into stuff way out of your price range, and way overkill for gaming.)

 

As for drivers, I uploaded a package over in my guide thread. Works great for me, and it should be a bit more up-to-date than the official Creative driver package regarding a few software components.

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