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New to the world of headphones - looking for first pair music and gaming

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello head-fi,

 

I'm having a lot of trouble picking some headphones. I'm new to this world. I've been a home theater enthusiast for many years but never really looked at headphones. I'm an avid gamer and enjoy music like electronica and alt rock. I definitely enjoy a full bass.

 

Currently on my computer I have a very old (~10 years) $70 Sennheiser headset and want to improve my listening situation. I'm also moving my PC setup from a dedicated room to the living room thanks to a new baby on the way so having headphones instead of my 2.1 speaker setup will be valuable.

This is 70% gaming, 30% music. I don't play FPS competitively anymore but I do enjoy great positional sound but at the same time I love good bass.

 

This is a birthday gift to me from my wife so I'd like to keep the max price around $200 (or close to it).

 

Birthday isnt' until March so I can deal hunt for a couple months as necessary.

 

I do eventually need a mic but if I find a set with removable cable, v-moda inline mic will work well. Or I'll grab a modmic when 4.0 hits.

 

No amp yet. My mobo is a MSI p67a-gd65. It uses a realtek ALC892 codec and is THX certified? Either way, my friend's 558s sounded great out of it. I'm considering an Asus Xonar DG for some light amplification and Dolby Headphone support though.

 

I've done some research and here's some of the ones I've found that look like they deserve consideration:

 

Sennheiser HD558 - Great price. Probably the best value of anything I'm looking at? A friend of mine has a pair and let me borrow them over the weekend. I was VERY impressed with the sound quality. Bass could be a LITTLE stronger but I think I'd be happy with these if I didn't hear anything else. $130 is really really hard to beat.

 

Audio-Technica ATH-AD700x - This is one of the most mentioned headsets when talking about gaming. Great positional and good music sounds. Comfort may be a factor? Price seems to fluctuate wildly. Not a strong bass again?

 

Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-25 - This is another one that is mentioned a lot. Maybe top tier of an all-around headphone at the $150 price? I keep seeing that I won't get the most out of it without an amp though.

 

Sony MA9000 - I hear a lot of good things about these and supposedly they were supposed to be in the $150 range but now they're $220 and discontinued? Is there a successor for these? The amazon "replacement" headphones are the MDR-10R and I can't find any info about those.

 

Philips X1 - I'm soooo sad I missed the sale on these. I had JUST started looking for headphones and if I knew then what I know now, I would have grabbed them instantly at that price. From what I'm reading, they really fit what I'm looking for in terms of soundstage and full bass. So much so that I'm considering them even at the current $230 price. My wife won't be happy with that price but it's definitely being considered.

 

Others on the radar: AKG Q701, AKG K702 (probably priced out on these), Beyerdynamic DT-880 Pro (need an amp)

 

I'm really stumped here. I realize it's a subjective thing and chances are ANY of the above headphones will be worlds better than the cheap headset I have from 10 years ago but if I'm going to spend $200, I want to make sure I'm getting a good set for the money.

 

Sorry for the long winded post. I've been researching for about 2 weeks now and it's tough to make these kind of decisions without a little touch and listen unfortunately. 

post #2 of 8

Get the HD598's and a good soundcard.

 

(asus essence stx or creative Ti HD)

 

If you've got more money to spend get a second hand pair of HD650's. They will sound decent even to a seasoned audiophile when powered by said cards.

post #3 of 8

Sennheiser HD558s, you can get used ones for $110 on Amazon.

The HD558s come with black rubber tape on the insides of the cups which covers 40& of the air holes, removing the tape should help with surround sound and treble.

(Did your friend ever remove the tape from his HD558s?).

The Asus Xonar DG and DGX sound cards can easily drive the 50-Ohm HD558s.

 

Check out the AKG K612 Pro (120-Ohm) headphones, B&H Photo is selling used ones for $145 (+$10 shipping).

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the suggestions guys. The 558s and a sound card does sound like an appealing option. 

 

I looked at the AKG612 but would I need additional amplification than a Xonar DG? Also looking for something that has a nice full sound. I love electronica and good bass.

post #5 of 8

I would recommend buying the best soundcard you can afford.

 

I really like the Essence STX, it's one of the most expensive but it's actually extremely good value. It has a very solid following and users modding it with different op-amps.

 

If you get that soundcard you can easily buy better headphones later. I've driven my HD650s with similar cards and you get an insane amount of Hi-Fi for your money with a setup like that.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoEars View Post
 

I would recommend buying the best soundcard you can afford.

 

I really like the Essence STX, it's one of the most expensive but it's actually extremely good value. It has a very solid following and users modding it with different op-amps.

 

If you get that soundcard you can easily buy better headphones later. I've driven my HD650s with similar cards and you get an insane amount of Hi-Fi for your money with a setup like that.

 

Thanks for the advice. It kind of feels like the chicken or the egg here. Little point in a serious soundcard without a decent set of headphones/speakers to pair with it. Best approach might be the more budget friendly 558 and a good soundcard then. 

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by garath View Post
 

 

Thanks for the advice. It kind of feels like the chicken or the egg here. Little point in a serious soundcard without a decent set of headphones/speakers to pair with it. Best approach might be the more budget friendly 558 and a good sound card then. 

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z comes with a more powerful headphone amplifier, then the Xonar DG/DGX.

Amazon is currently selling used HD558s starting at $94.

post #8 of 8

Depends on the kind of gaming you do.

If you're gaming competitively and need excellent positioning cues than you might want to get a good soundcard to handle that.

 

If you're a casual gamer your on-board sound card is probably fine.

My on-board sound on my work computer easily drives my vintage Beyerdynamic DT990 - 600 ohm, and it sounds good even without an amp.

I even get decent positioning cues when playing first person shooters. 

 

But I guess this depends slightly on the quality of the motherboard. 

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