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Audiophile Cans for Gaming, Music, and Movies?

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

I am looking for a high quality headset or pair of headphones + mic and possibly external amp + dac that reach "audiophile" level. I would like to stay under $500 for the setup, if possible. This will be used for gaming on my Xbox and PC plus music and movies on my PC.  As far as taste goes, I don't care for headphones that have extremely pronounced highs leading to fatigue and overall just aren't enjoyable. At the same time, I don't want something that's too plain and bland. The bass needs to be present, accurate, and tight, but not too prominent as to ruin the clarity and minor details that are needed for gaming.

Hopefully, that gives enough backstory for you guys to understand what I'm aiming for. I apologize for including things that aren't headphones in this thread, but I figured making one thread was better than 4 or 5.



Here are the Headphones, Headsets, Amps, and DAC's I have come across that are well regarded for me needs within my budget:


AKG K702 Anniversary Edition
AKG K702
AKG K701
AKG Q701
Beyerdynamic DT990 Premium
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro



Sennheiser PC360
Sennheiser PC363D
Astro A50
Astro A40


FiiO E09K
Schiit Magni
Astro Mixamp (For Console Gaming)


FiiO E17
Schiit Modi

Now, for my specific questions:

#1  -  Is there a headset or pair of headphones that I left out which are better than the ones listed at the respective price level? I am relatively new to headphones so I'm sure I have.

#2  -  Do I HAVE to have the Astro Mixamp in order to have my headset connected to both my Xbox 360 and PC? I noticed the PC363D's have a USB that creates Virtual Surround so would it be an all-in-one or am I misreading that?

#3  -  Are the Amp and, especially, the DAC worthwhile investments that will make a huge difference for me?

#4  -  What specific gear would you recommend for this setup?

#5  -  Finally, how would I go about connecting all of this and what type of cables would I need?

Thanks so much for your help!

Edited by Melee - 4/6/13 at 4:48am
post #2 of 23
Thread Starter 


post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 


post #4 of 23

I've read the Sennheiser HD 600, HD 650, and Hifiman HE-400 are great all rounders and good for your purposes. You can probably get any one of these + a Fiio e17 for under 500. I've done a lot of research on this myself and I think I'm about to settle on the HE-400 + e17 combo.

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 

How would those be for competitive gaming?


From the reviews I've read, most people say they're fantastic for music and movies but mediocre when it comes to "detail whoring".

post #6 of 23

None of those that sevendeuce mentioned are recommended for competitive gaming, I think.

post #7 of 23

I guess you most have looked at MLD's gaming guide. Also, instead of a DAC, you could get a sound card. Then you will have a lot of gaming features, which are very important.

post #8 of 23
Not sure what something like an Asus Xonar STX would run you, but I think that might be a good choice as a source for your use case.
It should support the various gaming technologies, have decent SQ for music as well as mic inputs for voice.

Personally I would go for 2 separate cans, one for gaming that has a built-in mic, such as the Steelseries 5Hv2 (which is pretty cheap, the usb version is the exact same thing with a usb-dongle soundcard), and one for dedicated music/movie that does not require a mic.

That's just my preference, having not heard a proper headset for music that also has a practical mic for gaming... I suppose if you have quiet surroundings you can opt for a dedicated standalone mic, but that wouldn't work for me...
post #9 of 23

I was coming more from a music and movie standpoint, so as all rounders I assumed they would also be good for games. Not sure about competitive gaming though as I'm not a gamer, but I did come across this thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-updated-4-4-13-mad-dog-added when reading about the HE-400. Based on the ratings, the AKG K701 and K702 Anniversary Edition might be what you're looking for.

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 

As of now, if I went for a moderately expensive pair, the K702 Anniversary Edition would be my choice. I am extremely interested in them. How much could I find a pair for, either new or used in mint condition?


I will have to pair whatever I get with an Astro Mixamp in order to get Surround Sound w/ Dolby Headphone so my question is will that be enough amping to bring out their true potential or would I need to add an external amp to that?


Here is the Astro Mixamp for those who don't know what it is. As far as I know, it's the best device available for its purpose and it isn't too expensive.




After that, if I need an external amp, would a DAC be worth the additional purchase, as well? The great "affordable" options I have read about are the FiiO E09K/E17 and Schiit Magni/Modi. Which would you guys recommend or are there better options?



At the end of the day, do you think it will be worth it to spend that much for my needs? If I assume the K702 Annie's are ~ $300-ish:


Annie's  -  $300

Mixamp  -  $130

E09K/Magni  -  $100

E17/Modi  -  $100

Microphone  -  $20-$30


That's roughly $650 total for that setup.



In comparison, I could go the cheap, yet still well revered route which could be:


Sennheiser PC360 Headset  -  $130-ish

Mixamp  -  $130


$260 total on that.



I'm sorry for writing so much. haha I am just having an extremely hard time making up my mind and need some guidance.


Thanks so much!

post #11 of 23

Take the Magni Modi route. I guarantee you, they are well worth their price. Never heard the rest though. Check out Audio technica's Art series. They sound wonderful :)

post #12 of 23

Sound card is out of the picture?

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Thracian View Post

Take the Magni Modi route. I guarantee you, they are well worth their price. Never heard the rest though. Check out Audio technica's Art series. They sound wonderful :)


Thank You for your input. =) Think I can find a good deal on the combo or would it be better to just buy them new?


Are you referring to the Audio Technica headphones? I had the AD-700's which were amazing for gaming but they left me wanting. I wasn't a big fan of them for music and movies at all as I'm hoping to find a pair of headphones that excel at everything instead of just in one area.


Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

Sound card is out of the picture?

No, I just don't really understand sound cards, tbh. haha I will have a lot of different things connected, including my xbox, so I wasn't sure if a sound card would work for things outside my pc?

post #14 of 23

If gaming is a top priority, the Mixamp and you can add a headphone amp later if you feel the need of extra power. 

post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 

My priorities are gaming + music at pretty equal amounts and movies/tv being a much less uncompromising focal point.


The MixAmp's power output is rated at 70mW 32ohm Per Channel. However, that single weak amp has to power both the audio coming into the headphones and the voice chat going through the microphone.


My two options right now are either the K702 Annie's (if I can find one for a good price) or the Sennheiser PC360 for an affordable headset option. How much power would you guys recommend to get them to perform at least CLOSE to their full potential?


My fear is that if I only get the Mixamp then spend a decent sum on the K702 Annie's, that I might get a bad first impression just because they don't have enough power which would be a shame. I don't want to spend money unnecessarily but I also don't want to waste money on a "budget" setup that is far from satisfying.


Thank You SO MUCH once again for all the help so far. This forum is amazing!

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