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Are gaming headsets better for positional audio?

  1. Mebcitadel11
    I thought I was going to buy AKG712 or HD600 but then I was told the positional audio wouldn’t be as good because they were 2.1 and lacked 5.1. But tons of people use audiophile grade headphones right? For reference, I’d be plugging them into an MSI GT75VR Titan which has a built in DAC and Nahimic 7.1 Sound. I honestly have no idea what that means. Sound technology is an unknown to me. Much more familiar with monitors and graphics.

    Here is a link to the laptop.


    I just want to make sure I get a truly great headphone experience for gaming and movies/music. I’m willing to spend $$$$ just want to make sure I don’t waste it or in the wrong place.
  2. YJX94
    No, gaming headsets are not better for positional audio.

    An open back audiophile headphone from a reputable audio company will always be better than a gaming branded headset. They tend to have large soundstages and very good stereo imaging and analytical properties for positional audio.

    Take something like a Logitech G430, it's a stereo headset but it uses Virtual Surround Sound (which I personally don't like) because it hasn't got a good soundstage at all and the imaging is less than decent, the stereo drivers in gaming headsets are usually not good at all which is why they use VSS.

    Take something like an AKG K712 Pro which is a fantastic open back reference monitor. It has a big soundstage and is very detailed with superb imaging and it's very analytical in nature, this thing will pick up footsteps better than any gaming headset with VSS. That's why audiophile headphones make for better gaming headphones because the drivers are engineered to sound amazing and don't rely on VSS which usually changes the sound way too much and not in a good way. There are some forms of VSS that are good but I still prefer the stereo imaging of an open back headphone.
  3. cossix
    Audiophile open backs will always be better, as long as you pick one with the right characteristics. The HD598, Fidelio X2, and select AKG and Audio Technica headphones will all wipe the floor with any "7.1 surround noob pwning hyper rgb light infused gaming headset" piece of crap. Those are pretty much plagued with bad sound quality and dumb designs to make gamers feel like they need one. The ones with 5 or 7 drivers are especially stupid because they don't work and sound like trash.
    JamesCanada likes this.
  4. YJX94
    LOL @7.1 surround noob pwning hyper rgb light infused gaming headset.

    And the sad thing is that gaming headset manufacturers use that kind of vocabulary on their product pages, don't fall for that crap seriously.

    To break it down for you:-

    Gaming Headset - 2 stereo drivers that are kinda crap because the company knows nothing about sound (Razer/SteelSeries/Corsair/Logitech/Turtle Beach) and VSS is used to fill in the rest of the gaps.

    Audiophile Headphone - 2 stereo drivers that are designed to be acoustic perfection by legendary audio companies (AKG/Sennheiser/Beyerdynamic/Audio-Technica/Hifiman/Audeze) and they don't need gimmicks like VSS because they do everything that a gaming headset with VSS does but they do it naturally and just leagues better.

    Gaming Headset with multiple drivers - lol what? don't even go there.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  5. Mebcitadel11
    So should I possibly use a audiophile headphone WITH VSS?

    Would I be better off with HD600 or AKG712? For under $500, are those two of the best choices?
  6. YJX94
    Audiophile headphones don't need VSS but there is no harm in trying, just make sure to use a good one that has a HRTF function. I've tried Windows Sonic and it sounds pretty good for a VSS solution. If the VSS you use changes the sound signature too much then it's a bad VSS and you should stop using it. A good VSS with a HRTF function shouldn't mess with the sound signature of the headphone, it should only improve the soundstage and positional audio.

    As for the headphone itself, if you want a larger soundstage and want to be surrounded and immersed then the K712 smokes the HD 600 in that regard and the K712 really doesn't need VSS since it's an amazing all-rounder for the price.

    The HD 600 is a lot more intimate with a narrower soundstage and is more of a music benchmark headphone but not really suited towards gaming.
  7. Mebcitadel11

    Is there anything better than the K712? Because it looks like I’m about to buy those off Amazon for only $280. My budget was $500 and I like saving money but if I could get something way better for another $100-$200 or something I would. But I am aware of diminishing returns....
  8. YJX94
    The K712 punches way above its weight when it comes to price, a true upgrade to it would be $1000+ like an HD 800 and etc.

    Since you're using your laptop, plugging the K712 directly into it won't do you any good because they need an amplifier to shine and the same goes for the HD 600. Get the K712 for $280 and spend the rest of your budget on a quality DAC/Amp for the K712 Pro.

    By plugging them directly into your laptop you're just not making use of them properly and you'll be disappointed.

    So your budget is $500, $280 for K712 and that leaves $220 for the DAC/Amp. I'd say get a Schiit Stack or a Schiit Fulla 2 for that much.

    Highly recommend the Fulla 2 for use with a laptop.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  9. Mebcitadel11
    @YJX94 the laptop comes with a DAC. Will that not be enough? Also my big problem is mobility. Whatever amp I get needs to be able to come with me into a book bag, be easily plugged up, go through airport with the laptop, etc
  10. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Headphones are normally 2.0, not 2.1
    A lot of headsets (headphones with a built in mic) are 2.0, they are just called 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound headphones, they are 2.0 headset, but come with some device in the cable that can do a "fake" 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound (using 2.0 headset).
    And some gaming headsets connect to motherboard's 5.1 or 7.1 speaker output jacks and have several (very cheap?) diaphragms in each cup of the headset.
    I'm fairly sure the AKG 712 offers better surround sound (for positional audio), then the HD600.
    A lot of PC motherboards and laptop use the same brand of DSP audio processor (Realtek or VIA or other), MSI calling their hardware audio "Nahimic" 7.1 makes it sound special.

    The 62-Ohm AKG 712 and 300-Ohm HD600 are somewhat power demanding headphones, so the MSI on-board audio might not drive the headphones to their best.
    Audio Technica ATH-A990Z headphones would be easier to drive.
  11. YJX94
    Everything that outputs an audio signal through an audio output has a DAC. The DAC takes digital audio which is in binary form so 011000110101 and it converts it into analog waveforms that the human ear can hear, you can't listen to digital audio unless you're Neo from The Matrix.

    An Amp which is short for amplifier will amplify the audio signal making it louder and clearer. Your laptop might not have an amp built in and if it does it won't be a good one, onboard audio still has a ways to go before it can catch up to dedicated solutions.

    The K712 NEEDS an amp to perform at their best because they are hard to drive. With an amp they will get satisfyingly loud and sound cleaner and clearer.

    Schiit Fulla 2 is perfect for you. It can power the K712, it is tiny and it is USB powered. It's made for portable use. You just connect it to your laptop via USB and plug your headphones into and set volume to 100% in Windows and control the volume of the headphones with the knob on the Fulla 2.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  12. Mebcitadel11

    That does sound super simple. So essentially, I am just ignoring my laptops built in DAC? And just to put my mind at ease - the AKG712+Fulla2 plugged into USB will blow away any gaming solution? Because unfortunately I already own Astro A50, but I can afford better now.

    Do I need to buy any wires or cases for travel?
  13. YJX94
    Yes you are ignoring anything to do with your laptop and you're using the Fulla 2 as the DAC/Amp. And yes the K712 + Fulla 2 annihilates the Astro A50 and any "gaming" headset.

    The K712 comes with 2 cables, one 3m straight cable and one 1.4m coiled cable that is 3m when it's straightened out. The K712 also comes with a very nice carry bag.

    The Fulla 2 comes with a 3" micro USB cable but it doesn't come with a case or bag and tbh it doesn't really need it cause it's so small, just stuff it in a small pocket on your bag.
  14. Mebcitadel11
    @YJX94 sounds good! Are you into competitive gaming? Do you recommend giving any VSS a try? Or is this setup going to be good enough at say, PUBG, where trying to do VSS will just be detrimental?

    Thank you so much for answering my questions. I’ve been wanting high quality audiophile headphones for a very long time. I think I will buy a hard case for the K712 just in case, to protect my investment.
  15. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Chances are you will also need to buy a separate headphone amplifier, to drive the AKG K712 to their best.

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