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Very High Quality Audio Solutions ($750-1000) for Gaming?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I know that gaming audio is basically a joke, for good reason, but as a long-time lurker (5+ years at this point) and a big-time gamer, it's been killing me that there really aren't any great audio products available for gamers. Seems like a case of "you get what you ask for"--the gaming market is flooded with horrifyingly poor products and fads (vibrating headphones, anyone) that make me ashamed of the community in general.

 

At this point, I've tried a wide variety of headsets (Sennheiser PC350/PC360, Beyerdynamic MMX300, Astro A40, etc) and IEMs (Etymotic HF3, Westone UM-2/UM3X-RC/W40, etc) with lapel microphones, with mixed results.  

 

Basically, the problem boils down to one of three things: either I'm stuck listening to mediocre headphones, I've got a million wires attached to me, or I can't hear myself talking to my buddies over the microphone because my ears are plugged up with an IEM and I wind up sounding like a deaf guy.  

 

Given that the chances are nil that Sennheiser will create a HD650 with a hypercardiod boom microphone, I was wondering if you guys had an out-of-the-box idea for an audio system build that could marry great sound quality (preferably with a closed circumaural headphone, to reject computer fan noise) with excellent off-axis microphone noise rejection (mechanical keyboards perform great, but tend to be obnoxiously loud), for less than $1000.  

 

Personally, I'm considering mounting a shotgun microphone (e.g. Rode Videomic Pro) to the top of my monitor, and then picking up a Sennheiser HD650 to see how well my Essence STX can drive it.  But I'm totally open to any suggestions you might have.  Thanks!


Edited by Fuzzylog1c - 3/19/14 at 9:30pm
post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzzylog1c View Post
 

I know that gaming audio is basically a joke, for good reason, but as a long-time lurker (5+ years at this point) and a big-time gamer, it's been killing me that there really aren't any great audio products available for gamers. Seems like a case of "you get what you ask for"--the gaming market is flooded with horrifyingly poor products and fads (vibrating headphones, anyone) that make me ashamed of the community in general.

At this point, I've tried a wide variety of headsets (Sennheiser PC350/PC360, Beyerdynamic MMX300, Astro A40, etc) and IEMs (Etymotic HF3, Westone UM-2/UM3X-RC/W40, etc) with lapel microphones, with mixed results.  

Basically, the problem boils down to one of three things: either I'm stuck listening to mediocre headphones, I've got a million wires attached to me, or I can't hear myself talking to my buddies over the microphone because my ears are plugged up with an IEM and I wind up sounding like a deaf guy.  

Given that the chances are nil that Sennheiser will create a HD650 with a hypercardiod boom microphone, I was wondering if you guys had an out-of-the-box idea for an audio system build that could marry great sound quality (preferably with a closed circumaural headphone, to reject computer fan noise) with excellent off-axis microphone noise rejection (mechanical keyboards perform great, but tend to be obnoxiously loud), for less than $1000.  

Personally, I'm considering mounting a shotgun microphone (e.g. Rode Videomic Pro) to the top of my monitor, and then picking up a Sennheiser HD650 to see how well my Essence STX can drive it.  But I'm totally open to any suggestions you might have.  Thanks!

 

Get an Audio-GD NFB-15.32 ($300) or NFB-11.32 ($380) external DAC/Amp.

You can connect it using S/PDIF to the Essence STX,

or sell off the Essence STX for cash ($160) and buy a used Xonar DX ($60).

The STX and DX provide the same features, when it comes to working with an external DAC/Amp.

post #3 of 9
I would say that the Sennheiser HD598 with a mic is a great idea because it has an amazing soundstage for the price and you can scale up the mic however you like. I would say open headphones are your best bet, but for closed performance, I find that the Beoplay H6 (Bang and Olufsen) has an astoundingly natural soundstage for a closed headphone and the imaging is the best I have EVER heard on a closed headphone. The only problem with the H6, though, is that it is very inconsistently produced, so you are likely to get a dud. If it sounds "off" just return it and get another. It is for sure worth the trial!

Also, Sennheiser: http://www.sennheiser.ca/live/senn/produit/en/3003/158
post #4 of 9
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fuzzylog1c View Post
 

Very High Quality Audio Solutions ($750-1000) for Gaming?

 

I know that gaming audio is basically a joke, for good reason, but as a long-time lurker (5+ years at this point) and a big-time gamer, it's been killing me that there really aren't any great audio products available for gamers. Seems like a case of "you get what you ask for"--the gaming market is flooded with horrifyingly poor products and fads (vibrating headphones, anyone) that make me ashamed of the community in general.

 

 

For that kind of money you might as well just set up a home theater system instead of fussing around with headphones. You can get a decent receiver off Amazon for $300, and good speakers and sub for $600, and a good microphone that won't need a preamp hooked up directly to the mic input of the computer (no need for a nice cardoid mic here, it's not like you're gonna sing into it). There are USB Bluetooth headset(2-way) interfaces or even audio interfaces for professional mics, but I'm not sure if you can configure those USB Audio devices for input while using the graphics card's HDMI 1.3 output for digital audio output (and video).

Just for kicks, I was at a friend's house and my buddies then had no idea what Total War was, so I got my laptop from my car (so it isn't my desktop, but hey it works at High graphics settings well enough) and hooked it up to his home theater (along with my wireless mouse and a wireless keyboard). Not only were they amazed that a strategy game actually looks like real combat (as opposed to Knights and Orcs slapping a building with swords and burning it down) with Samurai in full armor charging enemy lines, but it sounded like real combat on a surround system - you get to appreciate more how chaotic it is (as long as you kept the game camera within the ensuing melee) while you have to give commands to the troops. Considering this was an AMD APU running High (not Ultra) there was none of the tearing nor any of the other problems people usually associate with using a large HDTV for PC gaming. Crysis (yeah, sure, not Crysis 3) actually worked fine out of the same laptop in the same system.

 

Also my brother's been bugging me to move to California, and one thing he's been excited about is that we can play over LAN instead of my crappy internet here. Since it will be impractical to actually fly in my desktop, what I'll do is sell it and add to whatever money he loans me to build a new PC. Knowing how little gaming I actually do aside from campaigning on TW with him, I'll cut costs and instead of getting a monitor, I'm planning to hijack his living room for my gaming rig, so I can play 1080P on a 46in screen. Ergonomics won't be a problem considering Takeda in the opening vid of Shogun II sits on a folding stool wearing armour, whereas I'll get a larger table and a comfortable couch wearing khaki shorts and a cotton shirt.

post #5 of 9
I agree. A home theater setup can be a nice alternative. But don't just buy anything since there's quite a range of quality for your money. If you are interested, I suggest asking for recommendations at the AVS speaker forum so that you get the best price/performance value and so that you don't misallocate your budget toward the wrong components.
post #6 of 9

I have been a competitive gamer for years and purchased several headphones and headsets in the <$100 region. I really hated the PC350s so I upgraded to 650s last year. I found them to be really poor at footsteps in CS:GO, specifically. I actually downgraded to 550s and have noticed a substantial improvement, but no longer have the same positional awareness. It may be due to an inadequate amp, but I would use the Head-Fi guide to PC Gaming Headphones to be sure.

 

Also, my modmic arrives on Friday, but I hear that it's the best choice for pairing HiFi headphones and competitive gaming.


Edited by jchill2hf - 4/2/14 at 2:15pm
post #7 of 9

As for better amplification, some motherboards like MSI's Gaming series have discrete BB op-amps driving the headphone output; what I am not sure of though is whether that is only for the 5.1 output in the rear (which might not make a lot of sense) or if that also works on the front panel where the mic is also when the chassis terminals are hooked up to the motherboard.

post #8 of 9

I use the W3000anv and the UERM with an external mic - ATH-ATR2500. Works really well, high quality sound for me and my friends can hear me clearly when I chat.

post #9 of 9

That's Stax money, easily.

 

Start shopping for some vintage Lambdas and an SRM-T1 to drive 'em with, or maybe consider a modern SR-307/SRM-323S combo once they fall back to $1,000 again.

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