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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (9/10/2019: Grado WH1 'The White Headphone' Added)

Discussion in 'Video Games Discussion' started by mad lust envy, Jan 17, 2011.
  1. MassEffectFan
    @ MadLustEnvy would you mind telling me roughly how you would rate the Game One as a "fun" headphone? I'm confident it would help me perform well, but how does it compare to something like the DT 990, or the HD 598 for fun factor?

    And does anyone else want to weigh in on this? How is the Game One for fun factor?
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
  2. mindbomb
    Let's back up and think about what the limitations of stereo are and what virtual surround sound does. Since stereo is 2 channels, it creates a fundamental limitation where you can only have 2 distinct directions, left and right. To hear front and back, you have to turn in game, and listen for the change in channel balance, because you don't have those directions natively.

    With 7.1 virtual surround sound for headphones, you take the 7.1 audio from the game, and convert it to a binaural mix for headphones. This means you take into account the effects of the outer ear, head and room, and how it effects one ear relative to the other depending on where the sound is coming from. For example, a sound 30 degrees to the left will hit the left ear first, get certain frequencies amplified by the left outer ear because of the angle, get it's high frequencies cut by the head as it passes to the right side, hit the right ear second with a different sound profile because of what it's gone through, then bounce off the room and hit the right side again with yet another sound profile. There is a pattern there that encodes the direction, and it is distinct for 30 degrees left vs 150 degrees left. This information is absent in regular stereo headphone listening, and why there can't be a distinction between those different directions - there is just one left on stereo.

    The entire system where you are subconsciously cross referencing the same sound as it travels over time and changes as it hits different structures is missing with normal stereo headphone listening, and is responsible for the poor imaging. That's not something you can fix just by getting better headphones, you have to use a virtual surround sound system to add that information back digitally.

    Here is a demonstration where the lack of information in stereo causes problems in tracking an object (at 2m42s).

    Because there isn't a distinction between front and back in stereo, there are multiple plausible ways the object could be moving, and there isn't a way to know which is correct. Only with virtual surround sound (baked into the video) do you have enough information to know how the object is moving.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
    Mad Lust Envy likes this.
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    The Sennheiser Game One and HD-598 are both 50-Ohm, so chances are use the (basically) same driver.
    But differences in cup design might effect the sound.
    The DT990 is strong bass/treble, I like to think of it as movie theater sound.
    I like to think of my Soundmagic HP200 as an improved DT990.
    Currently I'm getting a good "fun" sound from my Massdrop/Sennheiser HD58X
  4. WK446
    You are most welcome.

    Closed headphones for gaming have a place, but ones that have a large soundstage generally cost far more than the equivalent open version.

    One of the main problems is where your gaming rig/system is located. With an open headphone, you will likely disturb someone if you game into the wee hours.

    It is a bit about compromise. Price is a factor. Purpose is a factor, i.e., do you want a good set of cans that are musical as well as excellent for gaming or do you want something dedicated for gaming.

    I have had the opportunity to listen to a number of cans at headphone meets and some Beyerdynamics are better than others. I might have a sensitivity to the treble on Beyers while you might not and think they are superb. Here lies the difficulty in chosing sound that is very personal.

    I did think the HD598CS were quite good until I started listening to other headphones. It's a very slippery slope. I have cans that are for gaming only as well as others for music/gaming. I do own the Sennheiser Game One as well as the Sennheiser/MD PC37X. Both of latter mentioned cans are far superior for gaming in addition to excellent built-in microphones. I still have the HD598CS.

    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
  5. MassEffectFan
    I can definitely hear front and back even with stereo headphones, and am able to get a decent sense of front-left, front-right, back-left, back-right, center-left, center-right, etc. Depending on where objects are located, I hear them as more or less forward on the left or right channel, while an object directly in front of me, sounds hit the front of both the left and right channels simultaneously. However, given what you've said I wouldn't be surprised if VSS improved positional accuracy. When I listened to MadLustEnvy's VSS recording of Skyrim's opening scene, it seemed more like I was hearing one sound field and less like listening to two separate sound fields. That demonstration looks particularly interesting, I will have to watch that when I get home (don't have headphones with me atm).
  6. MassEffectFan
    Ok thanks for the advice Purple Angel, I'll definitely keep that in mind.

    WK446 that's good to know, I will stick to open headphones. I honestly don't need the isolation a closed headphone provides. I live with my parents and play video games but I game in the basement and they're upstairs so they never hear anything unless they're in the room with me. My Dad's hearing is mediocre at best anyway lol. I was mostly drawn to closed back options due to their richer sub-bass response. A lot of them seem to produce less distortion than open headphones as well, judging by rtings.com reviews. I wish there was some solid-state amp with a bass boost restricted to 20-60 hz. I also wish there was a greater variety of open phones with a more pronounced 20-60 hz region, but I think I might end up sacrificing low-bass and purchasing something like an HD 598/game one. Or what about the HD 599? Does it do a good job of positional audio? I looked at rtings.com's tests/graphs illustrating its frequency response and it looks good (seems to have significantly more punch in the 20-60 hz region than most open headphones), and seems to have a similar soundstage to that of the HD 598, but it also looks like its drivers aren't as well-matched in terms of volume/frequency response.

    Has anyone used the HD 599 for gaming? How does it perform in terms of positional accuracy?
  7. mindbomb
    With stereo headphones, you can't natively hear front and back, you have to rely on moving your mouse to the left and right in game (assuming a pc fps), to create pans in different directions, which imply front or back. Otherwise there is no mechanism that indicates whether a sound is intended to be in the front or back, and no mechanism to create the perception of front or back.

    A real world example of this is looting in black ops 4. Since you can't turn while looting, front/back is ambiguous on stereo, but you can tell the difference with virtual surround sound. Or in Overwatch, after spawn, people often walk in straight lines to a choke. On stereo, this makes them extra vulnerable to sneaky flankers camping outside spawn that are looking to attack from behind.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2018
  8. MassEffectFan
    Ok I'll keep that in mind. I may eventually get VSS, if I start playing competitively I'll almost certainly give it a shot
  9. Clean6eR
    Some people are very sensitive to lag. Play super mario on a crt then on a 4k tv using a framiester and jumping at the right time is a challenge. Vss also adds a processing delay. If you watch an interview on youtube and flick it on and off you might tell by looking at their mouths move in time to the audio. Some cant tell and the majority adjust to it quickly anyway. If i play a round of overwatch with vss on then off i find off to feel very conected, with it on it feels much more envoloping and immersive but also more surreal. If the device adds vss to the chat channel to i wont use it in comp at all if i need closed back if voice monitor has any delay i cant use it. If i want vss only turtle beach tac (too much hiss and chat channel is low quality but useable) astro mix amp tr (good but voice monitor is very quiet) or best of all steelseries gamedac (does it all, line out to hp amp is naff but to speakers is ok, hp out on it is good, chat cannel, good vss, good,monitor,good!) But i prefer the direct feeling so my audio setup is gamedac and arctis pro as one option, mackie onyx and shure sm58 beta mic and beyer t70 for good mic audio when gaming online, and musical fedilty mx dac and mx hpa balanced into hd800 if i want to hear alot in my game, using onyx for mic.
  10. JoshMo87
    Hey so I’ve got HD58X’s and I’m looking for a dac/amp for console. The G6 sounds nice but would something like the SMSL M3 be better purely from a sound quality perspective? VSS sounds nice, I just don’t know if it’s worth the extra $$$ if a cheaper piece can produce better sound. I’m also pretty new to this type of stuff, so forgive me if I ask a dumb question.
  11. headphonesonly
    They’re both going to sound the same. The only thing that makes the g6 a little bit better is the mic input.
    JoshMo87 likes this.
  12. JoshMo87
    Gotcha, well in your opinion do you thing the G6 is worth the higher price for VSS and whatnot? Keep in mind I’ll be using it on console 90% of the time.
  13. illram
    It's hard to really answer this as whether you like Virtual Surround is really subjective. Personally I can't game without it anymore. I also don't think there is really much of a sacrifice in audio quality depending on how you tweak the settings. SBX is less reverby than others and retains more of the authentic sound.

    If you can, try testing out VSS in a PC game with something free like HeSuVi or a free trial of Waves NX or even Out of Your Head. If you like it then the G6 is absolutely worth it.
  14. MassEffectFan
    Never heard of the M3 but I know other SMSL products have performed well, can't say for sure that the M3 would. That or what I suggested is probably your best bet purely for SQ. The atom would be better than the E1 but it costs more. The topping NX3 would offer higher fidelity than E1 but would likely clip on high gain, and I'm not sure if it could drive the HD 58x except on high gain. However, the differences between that and a Creative X G5/G6 would be slight, and Creative offers a ton of features even for console gamers (ex. you can set up EQ presets on PC and they should carry over to console.)

    So the X G5/G6 is probably your best bet overall. However, note that as far as I know SBX surround doesn't work on console, although the G6 can decode dolby digital surround on console so that's nice.
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2018
  15. illram
    As others also have done, I went for the recent GameDAC sale, and gave it a try tonight on the Xbox One with COD: Black Ops 4. Impressions can be summed up as: I am happy with the G6, and definitely X7, over it.
    • Very underpowered even at "High" gain. My 598's are not that hard to drive and I need to turn the unit up close to 100% to get it acceptably loud. Running it direct from the unit, there is hiss at high volumes.
    • Tried my Koss ESP950 using its lineout into the Koss Energizer. Eliminated the hiss, but still needed to crank it to 100% volume as well.
    • The stage is closed in and overly reverby. Definitely has the "sounds like you are in a box," effect which is undesirable. On a revealing headphone that does not really have a very wide natural stage like the Koss, it was basically unlistenable. (SBX on the Koss, on the other hand, creates a very nice and large artificial stage). On the HD598 it was more tolerable and I more or less got used to it, but it still sounded overly artificial.
    • The channel separation is too abrupt. It is more or less like stereo in how shifting your view abruptly moves sound from one speaker to another. 5.1 shows its limitations here when there is not adequate panning from one channel to another. I wouldn't say rear cues were well defined other than rear left and rear right. Inadequate panning meant there was no real "behind" you audio cues since it really wants to put the noise in one rear channel or the other.
    • It's very bright. Almost piercing. Treble noises like gunshots are super loud while other frequencies are not as high, which is a problem since you need to put the volume up high to hear mostly everything else.
    • I love the OLED screen. It is super useful to control this from that screen rather than on your PC.
    • I did not mess with the chat functionality but it seems easier for microphone purposes than the G6 or X7, especially given the OLED menu. It even has an EQ which I am a huge sucker for.
    I will give it some more time and maybe mess with the EQ, but, I think my curiosity about this device is more or less satiated. Adequate if you have very easy to drive headphones that are not super revealing, like a lot of headsets, and you need chat. At $65 I'd say it's an interesting cheap foray into VSS, but at their non sale price I would say purchase anything else. (My opinion.)
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2018
    Vader2k, Yethal and WhiteHartMart like this.

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