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Advice for headphones purchase for gaming and movies (budget $200 to $300)

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi,

 

There is a lot of information on these forums and I am thankful for it. Having done my research I am a bit more confused on what I should buy and wanted advice from this community.

 

My usage would primarily be for PC gaming and movies with some light play on PS3 (I primarily play single player games). I currently own the Sennheiser HD201 but I feel the audio isn't very crisp and the bass can't really be felt. But those were only $40 (I live in Canada) so I did get my money's worth.

 

I was almost set on purchasing the Sony PS3 Elite Pulse headphones for $150, however I noted that the virtual surround sound does not work for pc games or movies not on the PS3. I then looked into the Astro A40s and A50 whereby I came across the forums here and noted that those gaming headsets do not provide the ideal sound quality.

 

In short I need recommendations for a headphone (or headphone and amp combination) that would not exceed $300, but I would prefer to stay towards the $200 range if possible. As per my understanding the studio headphones with good sound quality are only stereo, whereas I would like to get the surround sound experience.

 

Many thanks!

post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 

I should mention, this is the motherboard on my pc:

http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3855#ov

 

It looks like it doesnt have dolby technology but still has some form of surround sound.
 

post #3 of 7

Which do you value most.....Bass or Sound-stage? They tend to be the "Anti" to one another. Open or closed? 

 

If you prefer a more balanced sound a suggestion is the AKG Q701.  I had this headphone for gaming and it was a very balanced headphone.  Not a ton of bass yet kept a good soundstage and imagery.  To be honest, I actually betrayed the Q701 and returned it because I could not justify the price difference compared to my Superlux HD668B (for gaming audio).  However the build and comfort of the HD668b - while acceptable -  was not as good.

 

I really like my ATH-AD700 when I am looking for a good soundstage and accurate positional ques.  And then I use my budget/bargain buy Panasonic HTF600-s when I watch movies since they sound very good and have that extra bass. 

 

I have suggested this on another forum to someone asking the same thing - but if you have $300 in your budget, you can afford to buy more than one headphone with different qualities to customize your listening needs.

 

For example - you could buy an ATH-AD700 (open) for the airiness and soundstage for long gaming sessions.  And then you could buy the a ATH-A900x (closed) which has more of a bass factor. 

 

I do not mean to only stick with Audio Technica brand....of course you can choose any headphone you want.  But keep in mind that most games and movies do not have very high audio quality and are usually at CD quality bit rates. So, you do not necessarily need a super expensive headphone that most audiophiles rave about, because your audio is only as good as the source and no matter how good your headphone is, it does not matter if you have a mediocre source / amp.  

 

I would say that a preferred sound signature is what will make the decision for you.  So, back to my original question what are the characteristics you prefer or value in your game/movie sound?


Edited by Povell42 - 4/29/13 at 12:53am
post #4 of 7

Also, with that motherboard I am pretty sure if does not have any surround sound options for a 3.5mm headphone. I did not see anything that gave me that impression.  However, even if it did it is not going to be near as good of sound as a dedicated sound card.  I would suggest putting some of your budget towards a decent sound card like the Creative Sound Blaster Z sound card for $100 bucks.  That will make any headphone sound extremely better, especially for gaming and music.  Also that way you will be able to get a very good virtual surround sound effect, plus you can plug your PS3 into the back of it via Toslink/Spdif and play your games through the sound card using all of its features and surround sound options.

 

That is the sound card I have, and I love it.

 

Until you do that I would not waste your money on a $300 headphone.

Seriously though, That sound card paired with even the $30 Panasonic HTF600-s will give you better sound than the Astro A40/A50. Trust me, I have had or used almost every major "console" gaming headset.
Edited by Povell42 - 4/29/13 at 12:59am
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the timely response. I went to a music store today and tried the sennheiser 595 and didn't really find it anything special. They were comfortable and had great audio quality, but i didnt find them to be 10 times better than my current hd 201. That being said I tested only through music on my iphone.

 

I think I'll invest in the sound card first. Can you kindly expand on the toslink/spdif connection for the ps3 to pc?

 

Thanks,
 

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by adazz View Post

Thank you for the timely response. I went to a music store today and tried the sennheiser 595 and didn't really find it anything special. They were comfortable and had great audio quality, but i didnt find them to be 10 times better than my current hd 201. That being said I tested only through music on my iphone.

 

I think I'll invest in the sound card first. Can you kindly expand on the toslink/spdif connection for the ps3 to pc?

 

Thanks,
 


HD 595 don't come to their full potential driven through your phone. Since you're looking for a good unamped headphone, these probably won't be your choice. Often times headphones marketed as 'portable' will sound close to their full potential without an amp because they are designed for mostly unamped use. You could look around for these at your local music store, or search some up. Also pay attention to efficiency in the specifications; while it isn't a universal rule as there are always exceptions, usually headphones with an efficiency of 100+ db/mW perform fairly well without an amp and will reach solid volume levels.

post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by adazz View Post

Thank you for the timely response. I went to a music store today and tried the sennheiser 595 and didn't really find it anything special. They were comfortable and had great audio quality, but i didnt find them to be 10 times better than my current hd 201. That being said I tested only through music on my iphone.

 

I think I'll invest in the sound card first. Can you kindly expand on the toslink/spdif connection for the ps3 to pc?

 

Thanks,
 

 

Connect the PS3 optical-out to the Sound Blaster optical-in. You have to make sure that the audio going into the the sound card from you PS3 is in PCM stereo. It will not recognize or decode a Dolby Digital signal.

 

So for me I had to go into my PS3 audio settings and disable the Dolby and DTS sound options and make sure the PCM audio is checked.

 

So whatever audio source you are using just make sure it is sending out stereo. You can use the the SBX software's surround sound option along with all the other adjustments such as bass boost and the equalizer.

 

Here is a link form creative about it.

 

http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=107680

 

 

QUOTE from Creative:

 

"The PCIe Sound Blaster Optical-In takes in only PCM audio and not the surround encoded signals like Dolby Digital and DTS. Please note that the sound card's drivers do not have the built-in decoder to decode signals coming from Dolby Digital and DTS. "

 

"For gaming console such as the Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 connected to the Optical-In of the sound card, the audio settings have to be configured to run PCM Audio."

 

 

    So, the card can not DECODE the Dolby or DTS.   BUT,  it will ENCODE Dolby and DTS via optical output.

 

I would suggest getting the Sound Blaster Z instead of the Zx. It is the exact same sound card. The only difference is the Audio Control Module (ACM) and the ACM degraded the surround sound audio quality. The Zx has a little better microphone built into the ACM....but it is not $50 worth for the price difference. For more detail on the Zx model - I wrote a review on amazon. Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Blaster-Gaming-Control-SB1506/product-reviews/B009XDWUCQ/ref=cm_cr_dp_qt_hist_three?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addThreeStar&showViewpoints=0 My user name is Povell42 on amazon as well.

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