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Headphones for Surround Sound Gaming (Dolby vs dts?)

Discussion in 'Video Games Discussion' started by hardrive, May 28, 2012.
  1. Hardrive
    I'm trying to figure out what the best way of doing surround sound gaming on headphones is.  From the reviews I've read, it's pretty obvious that the actual surround sound headphones are garbage.  So this leaves normal stereo headphones with some kind of fancy magic that takes a surround sound signal and outputs it in stereo.  
    I've read Mad Lust's guide (http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-updated-5-9-2012-he-4-and-dt990-pro-added) and have pretty much decided on getting the PC360 headphones (I was already looking at these before I read the reviews, so this was a good confirmation).
    However, I'm a bit stuck on how to actually get a good signal to the headphones.  From what I can tell, there are two different technologies:
    1. Dolby Headphone Virtual Surround
    2. dts Surround Sensation Headphone
    Mad Lust seems to prefer Dolby Headphone Virtual surround.  However, my motherboard only supports dts Surround Sensation Headphone.  I tried this with the current headphones I have (HD280) on Team Fortress 2, and it makes everything sound like garbage.  The explosions sound awful, and everything sounds almost lighter (I don't know how to describe it, so I hope this makes sense).  
    So I have a few questions:
    • Is it my sound card, or does dts Surround Sensation Headphone sound bad on all hardware?  
    • Does Dolby Headphone Virtual Surround sound any better than dts Surround Sensation Headphone?  The video in Mad Lust's guide doesn't sound bad, but I was wondering about other opinions.
    • Are there any sound cards that you would recommend for either implementation?
  2. NamelessPFG
    For PC gaming, I opt for CMSS-3D Headphone on X-Fi cards instead, with a bit of EQ to compensate for its sound signature skew (slightly lowered bass and raised treble; Dolby Headphone is the opposite, which makes it more appealing when not factoring EQ).
    Just as effective as Dolby Headphone in XAudio2 and FMOD Ex games (software audio mixing), far more effective in DirectSound3D and OpenAL games (hardware audio mixing, uses 3D positional information for a binaural mix instead of mere virtual 7.1, complete with height cues, smooth panning, etc.), which constitutes a lot of what I play.
    Rapture3D has the same benefit with binaural mixing, more HRTF options (six, to be exact), and runs entirely in software...but only works on OpenAL games, sadly.
    I have no experience with DTS Surround Sensation, but Dolby Headphone is good at what it does-providing virtual 7.1 over headphones. I just wish that PC sound cards using it could go beyond a mere virtual 7.1 and use that extra sound data in older PC games for a true 3D binaural mix. (Not that it concerns Mad Lust Envy at all; he's a console-only gamer, and console games never had binaural mixing options the way PC games did because they were intended to be used with home theater speaker systems in a living room. Headphones were probably an afterthought.)
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    DTS Surround Sensation Headphone might just be better for movies, encoded in DTS (DVD & Blu-ray).
    This is the first time I've even heard about DTS Headphone.
    Try the Asus Xonar DG (or DGX) sound card, they come with Dolby Digital 5.1 (Dolby Virtual Headphone) and a half-way decent headphone amplifier.
    The Xonar DG is only $27, try it with your Senn HD280, see if you like Dolby better then DTS for gaming.
    Try gaming with Dobly enabled and disabled
    Remember to disable your built-in sound in your motherboards bios when you install the DG (or DGX)
  4. tripletopper
    If you're playing on a modern console, I found a Turtle Beach X41 works fine. It takes a Toislink output from systems as old as PS2 and Original Xbox and converts native unfiltered Dolby 5.1 into Dolby Headphones, which is a 2-track headphone version of Surround Sound. It works just as well in DVD, HD DVD, Blu Ray, 3D, and 4k Players.

    On consoles starting with the Xbox 360, you can choose to either "keep native" or engage Dolby Surround mode which converts DTS in to Dolby for those Turtle Beaches to use. Since all headphones then were Dolbys, that came in handy even for DTS media. The PS3 has 3 options, keep native, convert DTS to Dolby, or convert Dolby to DTS. The Xbox One has 3 options, either uncomrpessed 2.0, Convert evertything to Dolby, or convert everything to DTS. (the "keep native" option is also hidden if you check, "let external receiver decode" somewhere else on the menu opitons.)

    However on stand-alone movie players, they are not powerful enough to do live transcodings. So most if not all stand-alone media players are in "keep native mode". So if you want to listen to both DTS Movies AND games, you have to buy separate Dobly input headphones, or DTS input headphones. Ironically Turtle Beach has a DTS:X Headphones model, but it only deals in Dobly Inputs. Yes their DTS headsets take Dolby input and convert it to DTS output. I had to send a catalog of all my sotre-bought Blu Rays, listing whether their surround technology was Dolby, or DTS. (I even have one, Apocalypto, which is ONLY LPCM 5.1 via HDMI, since Toslink can only handle LPCM 2.0, good luck converting that, even on a game machine.) They'll consider it if they make a mode for stand-alone movie players primarily. I showed them that a typical collection, by about a 3:2 ratio, favors DTS. Unless you like foreign languages, then yes, everything has Dolby. So our Mexican, Mexican-American (regardless of their paper status, but this has nothing to do with documentation, so no jingoistic Amurica or La Raza statements here.), and Quebecker friends can live with mostly Dolby only.

    I tried a dual-standard input surround headphone, like a Sony MDR-DS6500, which uses its proprietary surround-> headphone technology. My Turtle Beach X42s sound great in Dolby, but (for the front room with a stand-alone movie player) were silent on DTS movies. The Sonys were only slightly better, with a passable Dolby, and worse, a flat one dimensional L/R sound on a DTS movie. It says it decodes DTS input. What they didn't say was it outputs DTS into a 2-channel 1-dimensional track, but not as rich as LPCM 2.0.

    Can anyone recommend either a) a dual-standard input (tri-standard if you count the Wii U and Switch's LPCM 7.1 via HDMI) headphone that converts both modes into a 2-channel headphone binaural mix, or if not, b) A DTS 5.1+ input-> DTS: X Headphone output, (and as an extra feature, but not a dealbreaker, have either a 3.5mm or L/R out so I can stream in Binaural surround on twitch)?

    I see people want directional accuracy in their headphones first. I had a tough time finding movie lovers on LDDB.com, the Laser Disc website, when I asked a straight question like do I need anything to accurately enjoy Dolby 5. 1 movies in my Turtle Beach X41 headset, most people were insulting the idea of getting surround sound out of 2 ear-headphanes. The answer is you need 2 or 3 things, depending on the media, depending on whether you want DTS or Dolby. DTS needs a LD player with Toslink (or Coaxial with Coaxial->Toslink converter) and a DTS input->DTS Headphone output headphone. Dolby needs 3 things, a LD player with both a Toslink output (or Coaxial + a possible Coax->Tos, depending on the next item) and something called an AC3RF Coaxial output built into the LD player. (There are ways to add one if you are a hacker by bypassing the LCPM processor and drilling a coaxial hole routed form the right channel, but I won't go into that), and something called an AC3RF adapter, sometimes called a demodulator or a digitaizer, which takes analog AC3, (remember Laser Disc was originally an analog format and AC3RF was Pioneer's and Dolby's hackery to put a surround track on an analog audio track which has to be converted to standard Dolby 5.1 via Toslink that DVDs and above, and more importantly, stereo equipment, recognize.)This device may have either a Toslink output, a coaxial output (in which case, you need ANOTHER Coaxial->TOslink converter for Turtle Beaches) or both, and finally any brand of Dolby 5.1 or higher-> Dolby Headphone converters.

    I have an X41, an X42, and a DSS, an adapter that outputs the resulting 2 track surround sound for stereo streamers, DVD recorders and other media savers. (And yes, playing them back in headphones preserves the surround accurately, but ONLY if you listen via headphones. I recorded an Episode of Star Trek Continues through an x41 which has a 3.5 mm output, and my brother and dad was none the wiser. They didn't say it sounds fake.) If you have a different brand preference,you can either discuss it with us or sillenty make your choice, your choice.

    So can anyone recommend a DTS 5.1 or higher input-> DTS Heapdhone output, preferably with a 3.5 mm output? The priority is directionality. I'm not enough of a music fan where playing with treble/bass/midrange can help me.

    Finally, we should raid LBBD.com forums to show that there are Headhone lsiteners who would be interested in listening to Laser DIscs on surround headphones. To the naysayers, I say, if you can't get accurate directions in 3D in headphones, then why can I track the apple juice boss on the circumference of an apple and do the magellan and intercept him in Sonic Lost World, and doesn't have Dolby 5.1 via Toslink on the Wii U, so I had to rely on the headphone-0mixed 2-track sound? Same with Legen dof Zelda Breath of the Wild on the Switch, dodging Goblin club swings without seeing them as they are chasing me, and that's a 2-track headphone mix? All the Dolby heapdhones adapter does is convert existing Dolby 5.1 or higher dolby into a 2-channel binaural track.

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