Have an Integrated Sound Card
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Chaay

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Hello,
 
My computer is on loan through the college, so buying a dedicated sound card is not an option. I'm pretty inexperienced with audio tech and am wondering what to do.
 
I will be purchasing a pair of headphones soon and want decent sound quality, so I am wondering which option will produce sufficient sound for video gaming. I would also stream video and movies, but the main focus is gaming.
 
1) Use 3.5mm stereo headphones with my integrated sound card.
2) Use said stereo headphones but with a USB sound card (I have no idea what these are really. I checked this out on Amazon and am totally confused, if someone could give me a link to what I need I would appreciate it so much).
3) Use USB headset as it comes with its own built-in sound card.
 
I already have ideas for what I would buy for all three options. After researching I understand that with decent headphones, I can get along fine with an integrated sound card, but I don't know if it can provide proper bass, or directional ques, etc.
 
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Roseval

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The first thing is to get a decent headphone.
If you buy a crappy one, the sound will remain bad no matter what you do.
 
Our audio on a computer is digital, our amps and speakers are analog.
We need something to convert the digital to analog.
This is called a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), a chip doing the conversion.
As its output of a DAC is weak we need and amp.
 
The on-board audio is a DAC+ amp.
A sound card is a DAC+amp
A USB soundcard is a DAC+amp but most of the time it is called a USB DAC.
 
Try the on-board audio first. Today you often get a very decent sound.
 
 
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trog

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Whatever you do please stay away from USB headsets and get some half decent stereo cans hehe In fact i would nab as awesome a pair of cans i could afford 1st then worry about sound card, etc cos an awesome one can't help much if the cans are awful 

 
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Luminair

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One step at a time.  The best thing you can do now is visit a local audio store and try on all their headphones.
 
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Tacoboy

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Superlux HD-681, places sell them mail order with free shipping and zero tax.
Asus Xonar U3, USB sound card, also sells mail order with free shipping and zero sales tax.
 
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Tacoboy

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http://www.head-fi.org/forum/thread/534479/mad-lust-envy-aka-shin-cz-s-guide-to-headphone-gaming-particularly-with-dolby-headphone
 
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Chaay

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Thanks for the replies everyone. I've decided to buy stereo headphones after reading several times that even integrated sound can still sound fine with a decent pair of cans.
 
This probably isn't the place to post it but in case you guys are curious my headphone choices are something along the lines of (budget between $50-$100, mostly multiplayer/singleplayer gaming):
http://www.amazon.com/Technica-ATH-AD700-Open-air-Audiophile-Headphones/dp/B000CMS0XU
http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD-280-Pro-Headphones/dp/B000065BPB
http://www.amazon.com/JVC-HARX900-High-Grade-Full-Size-Headphone/dp/B0013P3ZOE
http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD201-Lightweight-Over-Ear-Headphones/dp/B0007XJSQC
 
The AD700 seems really great, but since I will have a roommate this year I worry that noise escaping will be a disturbance to them (not sure if this would be the case or not), which makes me consider the HD280 Pro, my second choice.The last two are a recommendation for noise isolation and a cheap $20 option.
 
@Tacoboy,
 
Thanks for your recommendations. I checked out that thread before making the post. I'm pretty sure my integrated sound doesn't support dolby, but with the USB sound card, it would?
 
 
 
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Tacoboy

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The Asus Xonar U3 does support Dolby.
I've been lead to believe that some games come with support for Dolby.
and most DVD movies support Dolby
http://techreport.com/articles.x/21256/1
http://www.asus.com/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_U3/
 
The AD-700s are nice headphones, but are very open, so you get to hear every bit of outside noise
If listening to soft music, I do not think it would bother roommates, but would with hard rock or gaming.
 
The JVC HA-RX900 are nice headphones, but you do look like a Cyberman wearing them.
 
Hopefully you will take another look at Superlux "semi-open" headphones, they actually leak very little sound.
I've been using my new Superlux HD-668B for the past week, they give my Beyerdynamic DT-770 250-ohm headphone
a run for the money and the DT-770s cost over three times as much.
Also the Superlux HD-681 are a really good price.
 
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Chaay

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Quote:
The Asus Xonar U3 does support Dolby.
I've been lead to believe that some games come with support for Dolby.
and most DVD movies support Dolby
http://techreport.com/articles.x/21256/1
http://www.asus.com/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_U3/
 
The AD-700s are nice headphones, but are very open, so you get to hear every bit of outside noise
If listening to soft music, I do not think it would bother roommates, but would with hard rock or gaming.
 
The JVC HA-RX900 are nice headphones, but you do look like a Cyberman wearing them.
 
Hopefully you will take another look at Superlux "semi-open" headphones, they actually leak very little sound.
I've been using my new Superlux HD-668B for the past week, they give my Beyerdynamic DT-770 250-ohm headphone
a run for the money and the DT-770s cost over three times as much.
Also the Superlux HD-681 are a really good price.

I took another look at those headphones, and I'm actually pretty impressed. I found a thread on here about them and they seem to have a good soundstage and bass (the guy tried them with Left 4 Dead and Unreal Tournament 3). I can get a pair for only $38 on Amazon too. I actually might order them on Amazon tonight but I was hoping you could clarify on their sound leakage.
 
The dorm room is not very big, so if the room was quiet, and I was watching TV/playing a shooter on them at moderate volume, would the roommate notice? And if so, how loud? If you own the headphones and it's not any trouble, would you mind turning them up to an average volume and seeing how much you can hear them from ~10 feet away?
 
 
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Tacoboy

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I can barely hear them (HD-668B) from 3 feet away, using a rolled up bath robe as the "head".
I also tried comparing them to my DT-770 250-Ohm (very closed headphones), technically the HD-668B make very slightly more noise,
tested using Metal at a volume for day listening. The volume for night listening would be even lower.
 
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Tacoboy

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Just figured out something, my HD-668Bs are technically a little less open then the HD-681 model.
So It might be wise to spend the extra money ($15) for the HD-668B model.
Or just for for the closed model HD-669.
 
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Chaay

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Thank you for testing it out for me. The model I would be getting is the HD-681, but I imagine they will work similar or equal to your 668B.
 
Edit: I see, I will have to reconsider if the 681 is worth it for me then. Even going for the closed is still under my budget though.
 
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Tacoboy

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I would still say go for the HD-668Bs.
A fully closed headphones (HD-669) would put more fatigue/pressure on the eardrums.
So you might have to take more breaks.
 
But I'm 47, so my ears can't take the hours on end of all night gaming anyway.
So I may not be a good judge of what you "young" folks can take.
 
Audiohipster appears to have the best price for the HD-668B
 
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