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Dolby headphone, any opinions?

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by chris haigh, Oct 25, 2012.
  1. Chris Haigh
    Hello everyone.
    I'm looking for someone with some time to read through my post and provide some feedback, any comments will be much appriciated, and should I be in the position to help you in return I will do so gladly.
    Okay, here's some background.
    Prompted by a friend I've been doing allot of reading about surround sound headphones and the various ways it's accomplished. I've been lucky enough to try 2 of the common flavors of surround sound extensively. I have both "multi angled driver" headphones, and Dolby surround headphones sitting on my desk, both from reputable brands. However they're both "Headsets" and work either through USB, or USB and multiple 3.5mm jacks. I'm very keen on getting a Dolby surround source to try with any stereo headphone.
    So this is my Layout idea. (kind of messy, but gives you an idea of what I'm working with) I'll put it in writing aswell after-wards.
                                                                               /=---->Multi channel accepting headphones/speakers
           /--------> Current 6 channel sound card-------<
    PC--|-------------------> FiiO E17-------------------\__
           \----------->My future Dolby device-----------/    \-------> FiiO E09K -------> Stereo headphones of my choice
    In writing:                                                      
    I will use windows as my base. it will then split to 3 audio devices, FiiO E17, a creative 6 channel sound card, and a Dolby processing device. These 3 devices will then all go to the FiiO E09K(through an RCA selector box if required). The creative card will have it's stereo signal split, going through the E90K and going elsewhere in my setup. The E90K will then output to whatever headphones I feel like.
    That explains the necissary parts of my setup. The Dolby processing device is the item in question. it needs to be able to accept a signal from my PC, and then output the dolby surround signal through an analogue interface. From what I have read there are 2 main types of devices that can do this, a sound card and a "device". I'll explain my concerns with both below.
    Sound Card
    So, the sound card seems like a nice option, nothing sitting on my desk, everything packed away inside my PC, However:
    I am very wary of getting an expensive sound card as I've had loads of issues with interference and sound cards. I've never really been sure whether this is a sort or electro-magnetic interference, or if it's actually coming through the PCIe interface itself. I see many modern sound cards from Asus and Creative have a sort of shroud covering them, similar to modern GPUs. Is this really for the purpose of shielding? this would suggest that EMI sensitivity (electro magnetic interferance) is a common problem in sound cards, which they have addressed.
    I am, however, easier convinced that those shrouds are there only to make the card look good, which I have no problem with. I have no issues with dressing up a nice piece of gear, even if it serves no practical purpose.
    This seems to be a slightly larger market, presumably because it is really piggy-backing off the enormous console market. I also don't mind having the extra little box on my desk, as long as it is of high quality and reasonably weighty. I will have the E09K and an E17 sitting there anyway, so I'd have no problem putting something underneath them, or on the side.
    Thanks if you took the time to read this, I would appreciate any feedback.
  2. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    The E09K has an RCA line out, and as long as the E9K is on, whatever is hooked up[ to the line out will get a signal. I wouldn't get an RCA box if it's just one thing being connected in addition to the E9K.

    As far as Dolby device, I dunno. You said you need it to be hooked up via an analog. The ones I know need a digital connection. Nameless is more keen on that stuff, and it's best to ask him and the other computer gamers...

  3. NamelessPFG
    Going by your sig, you have one of those "fake" X-Fi cards that Asus bundles with their motherboards. That should at least give you software-processed CMSS-3D Headphone or THX TruStudio Surround, though a proper card with the actual hardware DSP is always preferable.
    I wouldn't be concerned too much about EMI. Most modern sound cards will sound completely clean, unless there's a ground loop issue or a not-so-ideal PSU installed. I personally don't hear any noise that shouldn't be present with the X-Fi cards I've used (Prelude, Forte, Titanium HD), at least out of the card's built-in outputs. (Front-panel audio jacks on computer cases tend to have a ground loop with the other jacks, adding lots of undesired noise.)
    For PC gaming, devices like the Astro Mixamp provide less sound quality at greater cost. They're meant for use with consoles where S/PDIF output is the only option and provide none of the other DSP features that older PC games were built around, not even basic EAX 1/2 for reverb/chorus/occlusion.
  4. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Get the Asus Xonar DG (PCI, $25) or DGX (PCI-E, $40) sound card, comes with Dolby Headphone 5.1
    I'm assuming your a gamer.
    Refurb Creative X-Fi Titanium (non-HD) PCI-E sound card, CMSS-3D headphone surround sound, $50
    Both cards can output their headphone surround sound thru the optical outputs, to the Fiio E17.
    The E17's DAC chip (WM8740) should be better then your motherboard DAC and the DG(X) DAC and the Titanium (non-HD) DAC.
    And your Fiio E09K can connect straight to either sound card (or use the E17 as a DAC only)
    Sell off all your headphones and buy a nice (quality) stereo headphone and maybe a separate add-on mic.
  5. Chris Haigh
     Yes, that's exactly what it is, I've never been very keen on it apart from the pretty blue lights. I have never tried to enable any of the functions you say it has, when my stereo phones arrive I will take another long look at it, although in the long run I will be moving away from it.
    Okay, I have tried 2 PSUs. But I have also had an issue where my PC shocks anyone that touches it (great fun at lans, but annoying now). So it's probably the same thing causing my weird static. It's not really static, it's a sort of sequential beeping that is directly proportional to my GPU usage.(getting louder, more frequent). Somebody else told me that it was my PSU struggling when my GPU had to be extensively used, something about the "12volt rail". Anyway that is an issue that I will address when it arises again, would be silly to buy something more expensive and not as good just to solve that issue.
    I did allot of research into the Dolby headphone devices this weekend, and have decided I don't really like any of them, they all seem cheap and plasticy, maybe that's not important, but i don't like spending money on things I don't really like.
    Thanks for your input Nameless, I really appreciate it.
    That sounds perfect I will defiantly work towards a setup like that.
    So I can have a "surround sound" output in digital, and have that digital signal converted to analogue by my E17? That would be really cool.
    As for selling my headphones, I love them too much, I couldn't loose any of them. I do have DT880s on the way though. While not perfect for this application, they should give me an idea, and offer a suggestion of what to look for in a pair possibly dedicated to gaming. My buddy also has some AD700s on the way which I will get to try out.
    Now I think my search changes to what sound card to get. This is separate so I wont continue in this thread. I'll spend the week getting myself clued up on sound cards, then if I haven't made a choice I'll start a new thread and ask you guys again.
    Thanks for all the help,
  6. belloausherne
    So I'd like to offer to you my five cents regarding your question. I have been in the situation where I could no longer use my existing surround sound speakers anymore and had to go for headphones instead. I missed the surround sound stage that I previously enjoyed and so I set out to find headphones with surround sound. I ended up finding the Dolby Headphone technology you're referring to in your subject. So this is the actual "Dolby Headphone" tech as implemented by Dolby Laboratories, not some surround headset that has multiple speakers in it. Look it up on Dolby's web site if you haven't already.
    The device I went for, and my decision was in the end based purely on price, is the Turtle Beach EarForce DSS. This product uses Dolby Headphone DSP technology to present to your ear a sound stage that closely simulates Dolby Digital 5.1. I am using it together with a JVC HA-RX300 headphone which also had a nice price tag on Amazon, feels good on the head and sounds really good. Now, I use this primarily for games, First Person Shooters to be sure. I can clearly say there is a big difference between the pass-through stereo mode (it's a button on the device) and the Dolby Headphone processing. The sound expands really well and I can hear game characters or environmental noise from various directions in the game. I wasn't quite so fond of watching DVD movies with it, though. That somehow didn't translate into surround as well as games did. Not sure why... it's really hard to explain, too, because a lot of what this device does depends on your perception.
    In fact, it will take a while to get used to the sound stage. First time I plugged it into a game, the sound felt a bit metallic and echoy (that's not even a word). But after a while of listening to the sound and playing games, the surround sound stage really takes shape in your head and matches the on-screen experience.
    So the device is usually bundled with Turtle Beach's premium surround headphones, but they also sell it separately. If you want to find out how Dolby Headphone sounds, check out some of the YouTube videos highlighting the technology. You should definitely set the video quality to HD as the sound compression is not compromised as much as the 360p and below. Here is one video in particular that helped me decide and actually try out Dolby Headphone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMkunPQMhN4 will have somebody shake a match box around your head. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcp9mNbhtFo this is another good video that shows some ingame footage with the audio processed in Dolby Headphone.
    Btw: TB is now selling the newer DSS2 sound processor. Difference is that it allows you to select different virtual speaker angles. I don't have that device, but its predecessor, the DSS. If you want, I can record some audio and send it to you for comparison. Bought DOOM 3 BFG for the PS3 today. It should have some serious surround sound effects going in game.

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