NO UNSOLICITED PRIVATE MESSAGES ASKING ABOUT GAMING HEADPHONES. PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS ON THE THREAD.
This quick guide is for Headphone gaming WITH virtual surround. NOT stereo, so those looking at this guide as a headphone guide for stereo gaming will need to note that my reviews aren't based on stereo gaming. I play most games with virtual surround DSPs like Dolby Headphone and THX Tru Studio, so I CAN'T make suggestions to those who wanna play in plain stereo, as I find most headphones to be on a more level playing field in stereo due to the lack of dimensionality in plain stereo.
The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming: For PC Gaming Audio advice, I highly recommend you guys read this guide, which is written by NamelessPFG, and specializes in the PC related side of gaming audio, which I am 100% not knowledgeable of. I'd consider it a great extension to my own guide for those who aren't console gamers.
CONTRIBUTORS' YOUTUBE ACCOUNTS: PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!
Added Virtual Surround dac/amps Setups, Sinegen Frequency Testing, Final Notes (thanks to Yethal for the setup diagrams)
Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus, Shure SRH1540 added
Philips Fidelio X2 FULL review update
Philips Fidelio X2 Review added (partial review), Creative X7 gaming dac/amp guest reviews added
Beyerdynamic T70 added
Beyerdynamic T51i Added
Ultrasone HFI-15G Added.
Also, from this point on, reviews will have a like, dislike, and unfiltered thoughts section. This is to let everyone know my thoughts on the headphones, professionalism aside. I will bluntly state what I like, don't like about a headphone.
AKG K612 and K712 Pro added + edits
I will also be editing many scores very soon, as I feel my scoring has been a bit generous with too many 9 scores thrown about. They will be downgraded in the 8 range. This doesn't make the headphones worse. It is SIMPLY a change to reflect a more realistic approach to scoring. For example: The K702 Anniversary's score will be lowered to accommodate the K712 Pro, as they are similar, with some tradeoffs. I will note them in the K712 Pro review. Again, this doesn't make any headphone worse. I will let you know when the scoring changes have started/finished.
Ultrasone HS-15 (*headset*) added. Fixes to the layout, and minor changes to scores for some headphones.
Astro A30 added
Monster DNA On Ear added
External microphone section rebuilt/updated, V-moda BoomPro and chicolom's FAQ added. Thanks to a great friend and contributor to the guide, chicolom for the FAQ. It will be updated here and there.
V-moda Boompro compatible list will be updated periodically.
Here are some Dolby Headphone and other virtual surround processors at work. These may let you know if it is right for you, or if you're better off in plain stereo.
EVERYONE can hear this, so try it! If you can't hear the surround cues at the time stamps I mention, then Dolby Headphone may not be for you, or your headphones don't pair up well with it.
Mad Lust Envy aka. Shin CZ's Gaming Headphone/Headset Guide
Before I start, let me get a few things out of the way. Everything I say is PURELY personal opinion. I'm not a professional. I have clearly stated that is is all my opinion, with subjective preferences as well as objective ones. Okay, moving on.
Hello everyone. I wanna make an introduction on my journey into headphone gaming, and pretty much headphones in general. I myself actually got into this audiophile hobby BECAUSE I fell in love with the sound of the AD700 when I paired it up with my Mixamp. I first started this journey when I looked for a discrete solution for gaming during the night time, where my home theater at the time (Pioneer HTS-G1) was just too much for my roomates and neighbors. Being someone who reads up on the things he buys before making purchases, I read up about how good the A40+Mixamp combo was, and that it would be all I would ever need. It was $250, which was extremely expensive for me at the time (at least I thought such a thing was too expensive back then). I caved in and went for it, as long as it delivered as promised.
Once I got it, I have to say that I was somewhat underwhelmed. I was expecting something that mimicked my surround sound. I wasn't feeling Dolby Headphone in the least. I was so underwhelmed that I barely used it, and decided to just play my games really quietly, which to me hurt, as I like to be immersed, and concentrate quite a bit when I game online. Fast forward to a few months later, where I decided to give it another try. Much to my dismay, my practically brand new A40s (very rarely touched back when I did use it) had lost the right side audio. I was so peeved that I didn't bother contacting Astro. I tossed them... just like that.
So there I was back again, with a seemingly useless Mixamp, and no headset. I went back online and read up on ACTUAL headphones that worked very well with gaming and the Mixamp in general. I, like many of you, heard how grand the AD700s were especially for games like Call of Duty 4, which was my favorite game back in the days I got into this hobby. So what the hell, I went for it. When I got it, I was somewhat turned off by the color, and they didn't exactly sit well on my head. It was slippery as hell, and it just sorta pissed me off. I then did the rubberband mod and then felt it was good enough to try.
I then hooked them up to the Mixamp, and fired up Call of Duty 4... let's just say... my mind was BLOWN. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was hearing EVERYTHING. Sounds were coming from all around me. I could hear exactly where people were around me. A pin drop was easily distinguishable for me. I did notice the distinct lack of bass, but for this game, I couldn't care less. I felt like I had an unfair advantage against those who DIDN'T wear a headset. Bass was the last thing on my mind. My speakers sounded like pure crap next to this ridiculous soundfield I was suddenly enveloped in. Dolby Headphone and Headphones in general showed me what a miraculous combo they could be, and I told myself I would never seriously game without either of them ever again. I had converted. This was just but the first step into this disease called upgraditis.
Since then, I have somewhat gone through seemingly countless amount of headphones, both for gaming, and for music/movies. I knew I'd have to own at least two pairs: One for direct hardcore gaming, where bass was on the lighter side so I could focus on the more important sounds like a grenade pin being released, footsteps, or claymores being placed. The other would be for more, non-competitive gaming where I could enjoy what audio as a whole has to offer. I wanted a nice boost in bass, to feel the explosions. Something to directly contrast the sound of the AD700 but still work well with the Mixamp. I was also a budget headphone hunter. I loved what cheap headphones had to offer: bang for the buck. So I have bought my share of garbage, and gems.
Enough of that, I'm now going to attempt to remember ALL the headphones I have bought and used since the beginning of my journey. One criteria HAD to be met at first: The headphones would have to work well with Dolby Headphone, or they were gonna be returned or sold. It was that simple to me.
Okay, I'm gonna list my share of WORTHY headphones, especially for gaming. By worthy, I mean worthy of being discussed (some may be added to let you know they are NO GOOD for gaming with DH). This list doesn't include headphones I bought/used that were never intended to be used for gaming (for example, my HAS700, ES7, ESW9, though I did try them with meh results, obviously). I couldn't begin to remember them all anyway. Also rating them based on how good they are for 'fun' gaming (anything not taken too seriously, where sound accuracy isn't a huge concern), and competitive gaming (where sound is incredibly important, specifically positional accuracy and ability to pick up the finer details). The scores aren't scientific. It's just MY opinion on how they score from a scale of 1-10 by their own merits, and not how they compare to other scores whether higher or lower, so don't whine about scores, lol.
Use this for quick searching
chicolom's FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions
Koss KSC35 / Sportapro
Steelseries Siberia V1 (*headset*)
Turtle Beach Z2 (*headset*)
Ultrasone HS-15 (*headset*)
Astro A30 (*headset*)
Creative Aurvana Live! (aka "CAL")
HiFiMAN RE0 (IEM)
Sennheiser HD280 Pro
Skullcandy SLYR (*headset*)
Tritton AX720 (*headset*)
Turtle Beach PX21 (*headset*)
AKG K612 Pro
AKG K701 (K702)
Astro A40 (*headset*)
Astro A50 (*wireless headset*)
Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro Plus
Beyerdynamic DT770 (Pro 80 ohm)
Beyerdynamic DT880 (Premium)
Beyerdynamic DT990 (Premium)
Monster DNA On Ear
Monster DNA Pro
Philips Fidelio X1
Philips Fidelio X2
Sennheiser PC360 (*headset*)
Skullcandy PLYR 1 (*wireless headset*)
Tritton AX Pro (true 5.1 *headset*)
AKG K702 65th Anniversary Edition
AKG K712 Pro
MrSpeakers Alpha Dog
MrSpeakers Mad Dog v.3.2
Ultrasone Pro 2900
Ultrasone Pro 900
Virtual Surround Devices
Astro Mixamp Pro (2013 Edition)
Astro Mixamp Pro (2011 Edition)
Astro Mixamp 5.8
Beyerdynamic Headzone (Base only)
Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D USB
Tritton AX 720
Turtle Beach DSS (old version)
Fiio E9K (aka E09K)
Cavalli Liquid Carbon
Mini Clip-on Microphones (Neweer, HDE, DX models)
V-moda Boom Pro
Ruuku's Antlion Modmic, Labtec LVA-7330 Comparison
How to get Dolby Digital signals from DTS only Blu-Rays off your PS3/PS4
Virtual Surround dac/amps Setups, Sinegen Frequency Testing, Final Notes