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Need help with gaming headsets versus actual headphones for 7.1 surround sound

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

 

I am in the process of finding a pair of decent headphones/headset for gaming, movies (mostly online streaming movies/videos) and listening to music. During my search I had run across people recommending this forum so I figured I would join in to see if anyone can offer me some ideas/recommendations.

 

Note that I am aware that this forum is aimed more at higher end headphones but doing a search shows that people have been helpful offering advice on less expensive options as well. Right now I am leaning towards a cheaper gaming headset option which I would like advice on but would also like advice on other options that might be available to me if I saved more funds or an upgrade in the future.

 

General information:

 

I have currently been using Logitech H390 ($40 found at RadioShack or Best Buy) which are very cheap but do the job. I once owned a Sennheiser headeset and miss it very much as the sound quality was superior in comparison.

 

I will be using these at home only on my PC (no gaming consoles, ipods, etc.)

 

Current budget is approximately $150.

 

My current requirements:

 

  • Open ear (so that I can hear the phone or door plus they are a lot cooler than closed)
  • Comfortable
  • Good sound quality (please remember I am not an audiophile)
  • Preferably 7.1 surround option (for a more "in the game" feeling as well as hearing where other people are in FPS games.
  • Easy way to switch between 7.1, 5,1 and stereo
  • Preferably a mic built in for gaming purposes
  • Windows 8.1 compatible

 

With that said I am currently leaning towards Sennheiser PC 323D (which, to my standards, would sound much better than my current H390's and has all of the above requirements).

 

Reference link: http://en-us.sennheiser.com/gaming-headset-stereo-dolby-headphone-pc-323d

 

I know that many people seem to like Logitech G35 but a comparison shows the Sennheisers to be better for a little bit more money.

 

 

Comparison link: http://versus.com/en/logitech-g35-vs-sennheiser-pc-323d

 

 

Can anyone recommend something I should be looking at in comparison around my budget?

 

 

In addition to my above question, I would also like advice on going a different route such as actual 7.1 surround headphones and a sound card. Can anyone offer any ideas on what they would do in this case (preferably as cheap as possible even if it doesn't fit my current budget)?

 

And if anyone needs to know my computer specs (for ideas on space, onboard audio, etc.) they are found below. The onboard audio uses Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC though this is irrelevant when using a USB headset.

 

Thanks and I look forward to hearing any ideas and advice!

 

Computer Specs:

Z87 Performance Custom Computer System

 

Case: FRACTAL DESIGN, ARC XL Full Tower Case w/ Window, EATX, 9 Slots
Power Supply: SEASONIC, M12II-650 Bronze 650W Power Supply w/ Modular Cables, 80 PLUS® Bronze   
Motherboard: ASUS, Z87-PLUS, DDR3-3000 (O.C.) 32GB /4, PCIe x16 SLI CF /1+1*, SATA 6Gb/s RAID 5 /8, mini-DP + HDMI + DVI + VGA, USB 3.0 /6+2, HDA, GbLAN, ATX   
Processor: INTEL, Core™ i7-4770 Quad-Core 3.4 - 3.9GHz TB, HD Graphics 4600, LGA1150, 8MB L3 Cache, DDR3-1600, 22nm, 84W, EIST HT vPro VT-d VT-x XD   
Memory: CRUCIAL, 16GB (2 x 8GB) Ballistix Sport PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz CL9 (9-9-9-24) 1.5V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC   
Video Card: EVGA, GeForce® GTX 780 Superclocked w/ ACX Cooler 967-1020MHz, 3GB GDDR5 6008MHz, PCIe x16 SLI, DP + HDMI + 2x DVI

Hard Drives:

SAMSUNG, 500GB 840 EVO Series SSD, TLC Samsung MEX, 540/520 MB/s, SATA 6 Gb/s, 2.5-Inch 7mm,
SEAGATE, 1TB Barracuda®, SATA 6 Gb/s, 7200 RPM, 64MB cache

Operating System: MICROSOFT, Windows 8.1 64-bit Edition

post #2 of 12

Sennheiser HD558 headphones, used $110.

Asus Xonar DG (PCI) 5.1 sound card, $27 ($10 mail in rebate this month).

Any add-on microphone you like (or someone else recommends).

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi PurpleAngel and thanks for the reply.

 

I've started reading up on the products you listed and have some questions if you don't mind. I am assuming you are referring to this ASUS Zonar DG sound card

 

http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-XONAR-Headphone-Audio-Card/dp/B0045JHJSS/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1386544342&sr=1-1&keywords=asus+xonar+dg

 

I see you use the HD558's as well and have seen you recommend them in other posts during my research. Not having a mic is not a huge deal since I can purchase one and make it a headset (such as modmic.com). So I guess my concerns would be:

 

1.) The zonar card you listed isn't a 7.1 but rather a 5.1. Will this make a difference in gaming and watching movies?

 

2.) I see it comes with the Audio Center where you can adjust settings but haven't come across any tutorials on my search on what each setting actually does (for example I wouldn't know what to change the Sample Rates setting to, etc.) This is a concern because then I may feel like I am not getting the best audio I can since there seems to be quite a few settings that I know nothing about. Is it really more simplified then what I am thinking it is?

 

3.) Why would the setup you recommend be better than just getting something like the Sennheiser 323d's, plug it in and turn on the surround when I need it? (are they better head phones? What makes them better? etc.)

 

Thanks again for the help!

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markstein View Post
 

Hi PurpleAngel and thanks for the reply.

I've started reading up on the products you listed and have some questions if you don't mind. I am assuming you are referring to this ASUS Zonar DG sound card

http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-XONAR-Headphone-Audio-Card/dp/B0045JHJSS/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1386544342&sr=1-1&keywords=asus+xonar+dg

I see you use the HD558's as well and have seen you recommend them in other posts during my research. Not having a mic is not a huge deal since I can purchase one and make it a headset (such as modmic.com). So I guess my concerns would be:

1.) The zonar card you listed isn't a 7.1 but rather a 5.1. Will this make a difference in gaming and watching movies?

2.) I see it comes with the Audio Center where you can adjust settings but haven't come across any tutorials on my search on what each setting actually does (for example I wouldn't know what to change the Sample Rates setting to, etc.) This is a concern because then I may feel like I am not getting the best audio I can since there seems to be quite a few settings that I know nothing about. Is it really more simplified then what I am thinking it is?

3.) Why would the setup you recommend be better than just getting something like the Sennheiser 323d's, plug it in and turn on the surround when I need it? (are they better head phones? What makes them better? etc.)

Thanks again for the help!

Creative labs newest cards are only 5.1, so I'm assuming that 7.1 support does not make a real difference.

Not a whole lot you have to change on the Xonar control center

Audio channel, 2-channel for music and 5.1 for movies, games, 2.0 or 5.1 depends.

I leave sample rate at 96Khz

Audio output, Headphone.

 

"music" headphones seem to do well for gaming also.

and "gaming" headphone (Headsets) are more for just gaming.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info. I will continue to look up more information.

 

If I was to say that I play games and watch movies way more than listening to music would that make any difference in your recommendation?

 

Would the gaming headset I specified not be as good for movies/HD youtube videos, etc.?

 

Sorry for what may be perceived as lame questions but the world of audio is all new to me really.

 

Thanks!

post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markstein View Post
 

Thanks for the info. I will continue to look up more information.

If I was to say that I play games and watch movies way more than listening to music would that make any difference in your recommendation?

Would the gaming headset I specified not be as good for movies/HD youtube videos, etc.?

Sorry for what may be perceived as lame questions but the world of audio is all new to me really.

With a budget of ($150), there is nothing else that I (personally) would recommend.

I never use gaming headsets, but I'm guess the idea with "gaming headsets" is to sell something that looks "cool" and has a "cool" name, to someone that has never used really good sounding headphones, so really does not know any better.

Here on Head-fi there is a lot of comparisons, so headphones that offer a good value are reconized, compared to stuff that has a lot of advertising promotion.

Gaming headsets are sold to a lot of people who plug them into at gaming console or a computer's on-board audio.

For the mass of people, price effects more for what is bought, then quality.

post #7 of 12

The Xonar DG has dolby headphone to emulate surround sound. I can't say whether you'll like it or not, and a lot of that will depend on the headphones used.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the responses. I've continued some research and the general consensus is indeed actual headphones and adding a mic are better than getting a gaming headset with the mic built in. My only concern is the open back design of the HD558s. Watching some reviews shows that sound is allowed to pass through the back of the ear cups (my initial thinking was the sound would leak from the sides of the ear cushion as it is not closed like my current logitech h390s do).

 

If I had the 558's on with someone in the next room would they be able to hear everything? (assuming of course that the volume is not cranked up). If the volume is cranked up (or not) is it like a mini speaker coming out of the back of the ear cups?

 

Thanks for the guidance!

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markstein View Post
 

Thanks for the responses. I've continued some research and the general consensus is indeed actual headphones and adding a mic are better than getting a gaming headset with the mic built in. My only concern is the open back design of the HD558s. Watching some reviews shows that sound is allowed to pass through the back of the ear cups (my initial thinking was the sound would leak from the sides of the ear cushion as it is not closed like my current Logitech h390s do).

 

If I had the 558's on with someone in the next room would they be able to hear everything? (assuming of course that the volume is not cranked up). If the volume is cranked up (or not) is it like a mini speaker coming out of the back of the ear cups?

If someone is in another room, behind a closed door, I do not think you will be bothering them.

It's not like a mini speaker, which would be pointed outward, the HD558 speaker (diaphragm) is point at your ear. And you would listen to the HD558s att a much lower volume then you would a mini speaker.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks again PurpleAngel for the help. I believe I am sold. Now I have to wait a week or so (unfortunately) before I can hit that "Buy now" button and play the waiting game.

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

I've received some PM's asking me what I thought about the setup I chose so I figured I would post here to give others my opinion. Upon reading through my first posts you can tell I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to choosing headphones/sound cards which is what brought me here.

 

I ended up getting the Sennheiser HD558's with the ASUS Xonar DG sound card (suggested by, and thanks to PurpleAngel here on the forum). I am definitely happy with the setup for the price.

 

The pros:

 

* The headphones are very comfortable (I fall asleep with them on) and I have a large head.

* The sound is great to me (both the headphones and sound card. The bass is enough for me and that is without messing with the EQ in the audio center provided which could most likely increase the bass. To give you an idea I loaded up this bass test video on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8b-FEaGJG8Y) and it sounds awesome. The bass isn't "overpowering" where it drowns everything else out but the bass is definitely there big time while everything else is crisp and clear. I leave the sound card setting in Dolby mode all the time.

* The extra long cord is a perk in my book since I use the headphones on my PC in a bedroom (not hooking them up and going jogging, etc.) If I need to move, to a filing cabinet 5 feet away for example, I don't have to remove my headphones like I used to.

 

The cons:

 

* This is nothing new as it can be found on many reviews of many headphones. Since the HD558's are "open back" headphones other people will be able to hear what you are listening to if they are in the same room. This is not a big deal for me since they are used in a bedroom.

 

* Please note that I am using Windows 8.1. This is not a major issue but I first installed the latest drivers for the ASUS card from their website. I would be in the middle of playing a game and it would freeze up (and this is brand new custom built "expensive" PC. I uninstalled them then installed the Uni Xonar drivers from http://maxedtech.com/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/ and have no issues as they support windows 8.1.

 

 

So those are my basic opinions on the setup. I am definitely happy and so are my ears. Out of curiosity I even plugged in my old Logitech H390 headphones a week after using my current setup and cannot believe I actually thought those sounded okay. There is no comparison.

 

Thanks again PurpleAngel for the recommendations. Makes me wonder where I'll go from here in the future! :beyersmile: 

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Markstein View Post
 

I've received some PM's asking me what I thought about the setup I chose so I figured I would post here to give others my opinion. Upon reading through my first posts you can tell I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to choosing headphones/sound cards which is what brought me here.

 

I ended up getting the Sennheiser HD558's with the ASUS Xonar DG sound card (suggested by, and thanks to PurpleAngel here on the forum). I am definitely happy with the setup for the price.

Might consider getting this cable with a 3.5mm jack, for use with the HD558.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/261255113290?var=560215640800&ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

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