Headphones for Surround Sound Gaming (Dolby vs dts?)
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Hardrive

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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?
 
Thanks!
 
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NamelessPFG

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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.)
 
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PurpleAngel

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Quote:
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?
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)
 
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tripletopper

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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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Curtis95

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I'm looking for some new headphones myself, but I need one with a mic as I game a lot with friends.

It's a bit off topic but I cannot make a new thread due to limits on my account, but I was wondering if someone could give me some advice.

I found this list- https://gadgetgang.com/best-headset-for-cs-go/ (Feel free to remove the link if this is not allowed, I am very new here so apologize in advance) , however I cannot seem to decide what to go for, I was thinking maybe the HyperX headphones, it's for a game called CS:GO which I am sure you have all heard off lol, I love competition so I need a good surround sound headset, but at the same time I also love my music. Please advise.

Thanks guys, oh and in regards to your post looks like TripleTopper has you covered!
 
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If you can get a DAC with Dirac sensaround it trumps the other signals completely.
 
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rc10mike

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If you can get a DAC with Dirac sensaround it trumps the other signals completely.
How does this compare to Dolby Headphone, DTS etc.. From what Ive read about Dirac Sensaround is that the effect is subtle..
 
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About those Sony headphones...

They were in Cinema mode. I don't know l llwhat cinema mode emphasizes. But direction is not it.

I saw there was a game mode. Would game mode be better for the"turtle Beach effect" in movies, being able to hunt/track by ear, despite 5he fact it's not a game, but a movie?
 
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JackFX

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How does this compare to Dolby Headphone, DTS etc.. From what Ive read about Dirac Sensaround is that the effect is subtle..
Dirac is onboard where as Dolby is extra processing done by the computer. Dirac allows a cleaner sound. I really enjoy it.
 
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tripletopper

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Someone suggested Sony headphones both the code DTS and Dolby and convert them to Sony's virtual headphone mode. The most directionally accurate version of that mode is game mode and sounds like a Turtle Beach.

The only 2 problem with Sony's are they don't decode lpcm and I can't get a 3.5 mm output from a Sony so I can broadcast to track headphones around like a can on the Turtle Beach x41 or DSS.

Someone said that USB carries uncoded uncompressed 7.1 audio natively,. and any USB headphone takes the date of 7.1 and converts it to whatever headphones standard each individual headphone uses.

A lot of these headphone companies are moving to direct USB decoders. There are even 7.1 USB to 3.5mm headphone decoders. I don't know if they down convert to a 2.0 mix or if they convert to headphone 2.0 mix which is directionally accurate?

Someone was suggesting that on AVSforums.com. Also I've seen HDMI 2 eight separate RCA channel decoders. that has a USB port but I don't know if it's power only or if it converts it to USB uncoded uncompressed 7.1.
 
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mindbomb

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Dirac is onboard where as Dolby is extra processing done by the computer. Dirac allows a cleaner sound. I really enjoy it.
Hold on, the reason people like stuff like dolby headphone is that it converts surround sound into binaural audio that can be listened to on headphones. With surround sound, you can have discrete channels for left, right, front, side and rear, which is advantageous compared to stereo, which has only left and right.

Afaik, the dac that has dirac sensaround only supports stereo input. So even if it creates a good out-of-head experience by converting that into front left and front right, it is still lacking compared to what is possible with surround sound.
 
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JackFX

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Hold on, the reason people like stuff like dolby headphone is that it converts surround sound into binaural audio that can be listened to on headphones. With surround sound, you can have discrete channels for left, right, front, side and rear, which is advantageous compared to stereo, which has only left and right.

Afaik, the dac that has dirac sensaround only supports stereo input. So even if it creates a good out-of-head experience by converting that into front left and front right, it is still lacking compared to what is possible with surround sound.
Headphones only have a left and a right not true surround sound. What dirac does is create bleed similar to loudspeakers so that it creates a better surround sound experience. Dolby does the same by virtualizing speakers on board and deciding how much to output to each left and right speaker. Its a similar mechanic
 
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mindbomb

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Headphones only have a left and a right not true surround sound. What dirac does is create bleed similar to loudspeakers so that it creates a better surround sound experience. Dolby does the same by virtualizing speakers on board and deciding how much to output to each left and right speaker. Its a similar mechanic
So headphones have only left and right channels. But people only have two ears. So if you were to make a 1:1 recording of what the eardrums ultimately receive while listening to a 7.1 system, and then play that back over headphones, you would have a similar spatial experience. So that outlines the principle behind all these technologies and how it is even possible in the first place. The issue is that when the device only supports 2 channel input before the processing has occurred, then you have limited directional information in the audio to begin with.
 
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tripletopper

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Communal surround sound takes sound and put some in 6 to 8 separate destinations. And from those many destinations sound arrives to your to ears which can be thought of as microphones.

If microphones we're place right at your ear then there's only be two sources, what the sources would accurately pick up the reverb Echo and other timing effects which in the human mind makes two audio tracks sound like 360 by 360 surround sound, with front/back, left/right and high/low and and direction in between considered.

Let's just say if the illusion is broken in the movie you just feel a little jarred. if the illusion is broken in a game it could be a matter of virtual life and death.

even in the 16-bit wars Nintendo and Sega had different philosophies for simulating surround sound.

Despite the fact that the Sega Genesis had a headphone port, Super Nintendo was trying to make headphone surround. Some games had on the option mode is a mono, traditional stereo and headphone stereo. Headphone stereo gave you a spherical surround. and the weird thing is most people didn't hear it because most of the headphones users were Genesis users, because the Genesis had headphone ports.

And the Genesis took the opposite approach and use Q sound which requires a whole bunch of making sure that the speakers are pointed in the right direction at the same height level equadistant to player, and a whole bunch of stuff. so basically Sega took regular stereo speakers and made the concept of the surround sound bar in advance.

Unfortunately for the Sega sell the work you have to compensate for the room. I'm over-the-ear headphone automatically compensates for all the acoustics in a headphone / Nintendo set up.

and when I was able to output my sound more than just physical headphones you could record it on a DVD-R or story on a PVR and playback and it would play back accordingly what was originally recorded which if you listen in headphones sounds like headphones around by communally very few people know the difference between true stereo and headphone surround listen to in a communal environment.

No one suspected when I got Star Trek Continues off the web onto DVD-R did I use post encoded Dolby Surround until I made a mistake and did it twice in the same show does double decoding it which sounded echoey.

What is the point of true stereo anymore in movies and games? Why can't the default to track mode be headphone mode. very few people notice the difference let alone say it's worse when both headphones around and true stereo or listen to communally. but when putting headphones everyone hears the difference and loves headphone encoded two track versus true stereo.

Heart of blind taste test? This is a blind hearing test.
 
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