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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (12/10/2019: Schiit Gaming Dac/Amps 'Hel' and 'Fulla 3' added)

Discussion in 'Video Games Discussion' started by mad lust envy, Jan 17, 2011.
  1. SierraMadre
    Out of curiosity, have you tried a compensated comparison for gaming? For example using Sonarworks Tru-fi, Equaliser APO etc.

    I don’t own the Arya but have tried one and also find it a better all rounder and generally more pleasant to listen to. The HD800s, I have to use a tube amp or compensation otherwise I find it too fatiguing. Were it not for those, I would have sold them but with tube and/or compensation, gaming and movies on the HD800s are the best I have experienced, especially when compensated. Compared to the Arya (also compensated) I still found the HD800s to have the more holographic soundstage and precise imaging (not that the Arya was bad, it was still excellent in its own right).
  2. Yethal
    Try installing SuperDupont Resonator in the cups of hd800 to reduce fatigue
    SierraMadre likes this.
  3. SierraMadre
    Thanks but it’s the HD800S I have, not the vanilla HD800.
  4. Module
    Can you please provide more depth comparison between Arya vs Ananda? Which one you prefer and more suitable for music of many genres, through I'm especially interested in music with busy mixes such as rock/metal? I heard Ananda has more bass and upfront sound signature, but Arya has more resolution being laid-back sounding. What about compression/dynamics? Also strange fact, people comparing these headphones often have opposite opinions about treble, some of them saying Ananda is too bright and they couldn't stand that treble, while others saying Arya has grain in its treble and tends to sibilant while Ananda is perfect smooth. Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  5. jamieskella
    I've used Sonarworks briefly, and Equaliser APO extensively. Part of my mission was find a pair of headphones that I didn't need to EQ, yet retained all of the qualities - for both competitive gaming and music - that I was after. I would agree there's something that feels more 'holographic' about the HD 800 S; there still seems to be a greater sense of spacial depth using them. Ultimately, it still has a larger stage, even than the Arya which is better than most other headphones in this department. However, the HD 800 S has a bit of a slump in the vicinity of ~2-3kHz, which is often a part of the range where effects such as footsteps reside, perhaps creating a sense of extended distance. Contrasted with other parts of the frequency response, I think this slump may play a role in why the HD 800 S stage presents the way it does. I actually bump my HD 800 S a dB or two in that range. Coincidentally, metal571 had done the same with his HD 800.

    My preference for metal are headphones that don't have a neutral low end. Instead, I find a bass boost in the range of ~50Hz-150Hz does wonders for thickening up geners like metal, which can otherwise sound a touch too thin for my liking on brighter cans (depending on the band and how it's mastered). Thus, I'd say that both the Arya and Ananda are not ideal for metal, at least according to my preference, unless you're willing to EQ them. I feel the same about my HD 800 S (but to an even greater degree). Generally, I think the Arya is a better choice than Ananda for a broader range of musical genres because of how it presents high frequencies - I'll elaborate on this below.

    It must be said I listen to very little metal, though. I enjoy quite a bit of acoustic and brass, including jazz, as well as a lot of alt rock, electronic, and EDM. The Arya, while it doesn't have the pronounced sub-bass of my TH-900, completely satisfies me across all of these genres. I enjoyed rock and EDM less on the Ananda. The speed, decay, separation etc. that high-end planars sport are sonic characteristics that "wow" me far more than having my head rattle with Fostex drivers.

    I don't find either the Ananda or Arya to be sibilant. Neither are simply too bright either, in my opinion. However, using "Unsainted" from Slipknot's latest album as an example, this track sounds a touch harsh with both the Ananda and Arya. That track is similarly harsh wearing the HD 800 S, and is horribly harsh with the TH-900 (I'd say it's un-listenable, without EQ).

    Higher frequencies sound obviously more forward on the Ananda at a similar overall listening volume, seemingly permanently so, but I didn't find any harshness to speak of with most music despite that. This apparent forwardness may be because of the more intimate stage, or perhaps the stage feels more intimate because of this property? Detail lovers will likely love this facet of the Ananda, despite it not actually being more detailed in an honest sense of the definition. Relating to this point, I wouldn't call the Arya 'laid-back', I'd simply say I feel the Arya is better balanced than Ananda, with the presentation of higher frequencies making more 'natural' sense in the context of everything else you're hearing. If I was to try to describe this very crudely, I'd say that "the Ananda's treble is louder", despite that not being reflected in FR.

    Finally, you'd have to try pretty hard to discern meaningful bass quantity differences between the Arya and Ananda. They're very similar in this regard. Because the Arya's higher frequencies aren't so forward, I'd actually say the Arya might deliver the superficial perception of having meatier bass, but it's really only because overall it sounds a bit warmer.

    The difference between them is nuanced, yet obvious. I don't think it's a case of one being objectively and outright better than the other (it rarely is with comparisons in the US$1000+ category), but because of the Arya's combination of traits - being similar to the Ananda, but with a bigger stage among other differences or improvements - it's better for me, as it single-handedly covers all of my favourite genres and use cases, such as gaming.

    Edit: might also be worth mentioning that the Arya does seem to require a fair amount more power. On my JDS Labs Elements I can run the Ananda on low gain at all times - this is to be expected, as the Ananda has a thinner diaphragm and is more efficient, better suited to be powered from mobile devices. Running the Arya on low gain means I'm often running out of volume, so I run it on high gain permanently. The Arya's drivers are also larger: 65 X 100 mm versus the Ananda's 50 X 80 mm.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
    Fegefeuer, SierraMadre and Module like this.
  6. Module
    Thanks for detailed answer! You said you like Arya more than Ananda for rock, why so? BTW, there is much difference in engaging factor between them in these genres? Simply that post-rock/post-metal is my main genres, maybe also orchestral and I'm so torn between Ananda and Arya. HIFIMAN gives me opportunity to upgrade my RMA'd Sundara to Ananda for $250 or to Arya for $1000 and I'm willing to upgrade. So 4x price, from value perspective, I think Ananda is more steal for added $250 than Arya for $1000 from what I've read so far, but I mean if Ananda couldn't do well post-rock/post-meta, while Arya can and do it very well, then to hell with it, I'd go straight for the Arya and call it end-game.:)
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  7. SierraMadre
    The question was simply in respect to a compensated / ‘flattened’ comparison for gaming and cinema rather than general usage. Compensation making the HD800S tolerable/non-fatiguing for my ears is just a bonus in this context, the crux of the question being to do with the ability of the headphones to best render virtual surround sound as the general consensus / accepted wisdom among users and players in the industry appears to be that flattening the headphones’ response curve produces the most holographic and accurate positioning positioning and imaging when rendering virtual surround sound. THe Smyth Realiser utilises headphone specific compensation profiles for this reason, as does Creative’s Super X-if with its ‘Super X-fi certified’ headphone profiles and additionally one of the other users on this thread mentioned that the guys at DTS are seeking to incorporate the feature into DTS Virtual X headphone too for the same reason.

    In any case, thanks for sharing your experience.
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2019
  8. jamieskella
    The Ananda may be perceived more engaging because of it's up-front high frequencies. The Arya might be perceived as more engaging because of it's stage. Yet, both could be detractors, depending on your sonic preference. Is it possible for you to find a place stocking both to do a side-by-side comparison? Sitting them both side-by-side, the Ananda is incredible value. However, if that extra $750 is an amount you can spend without gritting your teeth and living off of instant ramen for the coming months, then perhaps a decision based on value alone is not the right lens to look at your purchase through. Good value is important with any purchase, but the performance-price ratio will almost always yield diminishing returns post a ~US$300 pair of headphones in my opinion, and value is subjective. For what it's worth, I feel the build quality and aesthetic of the Arya is also markedly better than the Ananda.

    Because most of my gaming is competitive in nature, and I periodically still play tournaments at LAN, I don't want to use anything that fundamentally changes game audio (that isn't controllable within the game itself). Rocking up to play in a finals event and hearing things very differently, perhaps worse, is a great to way to ensure a quick exit from the tournament. I'd prefer to take a slight hit in positional accuracy potential, if it means the positional cues I'm hearing remain consistent regardless of which computer I'm on.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
    Module likes this.
  9. Module
    Thanks, it's really helpful to making decision. Do you think JDS Objective 2 will be able to drive Aryas properly? It runs Sundara at low gain with some headroom.
  10. jamieskella
    The Sundara and Arya have rather similar power requirements: 37 ohms and 94 dB vs. 35 ohms and 90 dB, respectively... I suspect you'll probably be fine on the Objective 2.

    Edit: actually, on second thought, considering the O2's max power at 32 ohms is 0.6 W (whereas it's 1.5 W on my JDS Labs Element), you may be cutting it very fine in respect to whether you can get enough volume out of it for your liking.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  11. deucefive
    Great to hear, @jamieskella -- coincidentally, I'm still on the fence related to same headphones. If you had to start over, would you pick the Arya (over HD800S and Ananda) and a decent DAC/amp (THX 789 + Airist R2R) + external mic (USB or ModMic 5.0), and call it a day as far as gaming and music? Thanks!
  12. SierraMadre
    So I got the Soundblaster X3. I already have the SXFI Amp and Sound Blaster G6.

    I don’t regret it and it provides what I bought it for, the 7.1 analogue out and Dolby Digital encoding and SXFI capability but otherwise it’s a bit underwhelming albeit predictably so given the specs and the info released this far. It’s basically the weaker specc’d love child of the SXFI dongle and the G6 / X7.

    The big disappointment is less the weaker spec but rather that the new Sound Blaster Command control software adding no extra customisation or features to the SXFI element. It’s still just EQ profiles and headphone compensation profiles. Unlike with the Audeze Mobius and it’s reverb / room effect slider, SBX with its surround intensity slider or Sennheiser GSX with its 3 degrees of reverb, using the X3 for SXFI offers no capacity for adjustment to the VSS algorithm’s implementation. Also , SXFI cannot be pushed out of the front channel analogue-out or optical out. The next stage in SXFI’s evolution this is not.

    That being said, for those who want a versatile all-in-one it’s a good buy and cheaper than the SXFI dongle, especially if bought with the Soundblaster upgrade 15% discount. For those not concerned with discounts, all-in-one convenience, 7.1 analogue out and Dolby Encoding though, I’d recommend the X7 or G6 plus SXFI amp/dongle over this. Similarly if you already have one of the aforementioned SBX predecessor dac/amps and are looking to dip your toes into SXFI then just get the SXFI AMP dongle if you don’t mind paying a bit more, and vice versa too, if you have the SXFI AMP dongle and are looking for a SBX dac/amp, just get the G6 or X7. As far as a SBX and SXFI dac/amp goes, the X3 is a competent jack of all trades but master of none.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
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  13. jamieskella
    This year I've owned Beyerdynamic MMX 300, Beyer DT 1990, Acoustic Research AR-H1, Audio Technica ATH-AD700X, Sennheiser HD 800 S, Fostex TH-X00 Ebony, Fostex TH-900, Hifiman Ananda, and Hifiman Arya. I've used many, many more for music, but hadn't had the chance to test those many more for gaming.

    Starting over, having been through that lineup of cans - if you're hoping to find a single pair that achieves zero-compromise outcomes for both music and competitive gaming (according to my taste and preference, at least) - yes, I'd simply go straight to the Arya. If you want a collection of headphones because you've caught the bug, or you prefer cans that do certain things incredibly well (at the expense of other things), such as the sub-bass of the TH-900, you'd likely still buy multiple pairs, regardless. As for microphone, I use a Razer Seiren Elite on a Rode boom arm. If you travel with the headphones, a ModMic makes more sense.
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  14. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    Spoke to Audeze after seeing the new LCD-1 here, and should expect it to come my way in the near future. I'll keep you guys updated. At around 250g, this will be the first truly lightweight Audeze in full sized enclosure, which should hopefully make for a good recommendation for long gaming sessions. I'm excited.
    Fegefeuer likes this.
  15. Fegefeuer
    Looking forward to your impressions.

    Metal praised the sharp and clear imaging, however soundstage wise it wasn't above HD 650 size, at least cohorent and not 3 blob.

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