Need PC Gaming Headset Advice
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betteroff

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I'm looking for some guidance on a new PC gaming headset. In the past I've been satisfied with low end headsets, but decided I'd like to step up a bit. I previous owned a G35 until one earpiece broke due to what seemed like poor build quality (I'm very gentle on my equipment). When looking for better build quality I stumbled upon the 2013 Astro A40s. They seemed to get decent reviews from gamers until I dug deeper and found that most audiophiles seem to scoff at them.
 
I don't presently own a sound card. My onboard is Realtek which does include an optical out, but lacks DDL (EVGA 141-BL-E757-TR). I would really like to be able to enjoy games like Battlefield 4 with positional audio on a fairly tight budget and I absolutely must have a mic.
 
I am also a drummer and would like to have a headphone/headset that could also perform decent for play-alongs. Doesn't have to be anything over the top amazing, but just better than the dollar bin ear-buds I'm currently using. Still prefer gaming performance above music. I would prefer to have something that can be driven by my phone (Galaxy S3) with decent results. I'm also unsure about the open/closed side of things. I've never used an open headphone before so I'm not sure if would allow too much outside noise bleed from cymbals and such that I couldn't hear my music. I also own a PreSonus 44VSL for recording that I could also configure to drive my headphones if needed for my play-alongs.
 
Here are the two avenues that I've considered so far:
  1.     Buy the 2013 Astro A40 with mixamp for $179 and use onboard until I can afford a sound card
  2.     Buy a Sound Blaster Z and pair with a better quality headphone??? using the included Creative mic
 
Anyone have suggestions on a good headphone for my situation or an entirely better setup that I could use? I'm probably going to have to keep it to not much more than $200 if I'm going to also be purchasing a $100 sound card. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
 
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PurpleAngel

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  I'm looking for some guidance on a new PC gaming headset. In the past I've been satisfied with low end headsets, but decided I'd like to step up a bit. I previous owned a G35 until one earpiece broke due to what seemed like poor build quality (I'm very gentle on my equipment). When looking for better build quality I stumbled upon the 2013 Astro A40s. They seemed to get decent reviews from gamers
I don't presently own a sound card. My on-board is Realtek which does include an optical out, but lacks
Here are the two avenues that I've considered so far:
Buy the 2013 Astro A40 with mixamp for $179 and use on-board until I can afford a sound card
Buy a Sound Blaster Z and pair with a better quality headphone??? using the included Creative mic
Anyone have suggestions on a good headphone for my situation or an entirely better setup that I could use? I'm probably going to have to keep it to not much more than $200 if I'm going to also be purchasing a $100 sound card. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
The Asus Xonar DG (PCI) sound is about equal (should be equal) to the Astro Mix-amp.
The DG can drive headphones up to 150-Ohm.
The DG is $25.99 and Amazon has a $10 mail in rebate this month.
 
The Sound blaster Z ($98) has a better DAC chip (CS4398), then the DG (CS4245).
I would assume the Z's amplifier is more powerful the the DG's
The Z model #SB1500 also comes with a mic.
 
Headphone wise.
Sennheiser (50-Ohm) HD558, $130, add any add-on mic you like.
Sennheiser (50-Ohm) PC360, $170, I believe it has the same driver as the HD5198/HD558/HD598.
And the PC 360 comes with a built in mic.
 
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betteroff

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  Headphone wise.
Sennheiser (50-Ohm) HD558, $130, add any add-on mic you like.
Sennheiser (50-Ohm) PC360, $170, I believe it has the same driver as the HD5198/HD558/HD598.
And the PC 360 comes with a built in mic.
 
Thanks for replying! The 558s were one of the few sets that I had been looking at. Could you direct me to a place that carries the HD558 for $130? Normally my Google-fu is strong, but everywhere I look they appear to be $180 or above.
 
Those definitely look solid for gaming. On the music side my concern is still related to the open headphone design with loud external noise. Also I'm wondering about noise bleed while recording. I'm sure I can easily roll it off during mixing if mics do pick it up and I'm not aiming for professional quality anyway. The music side is not a deal breaker, but having a headphone with dual purpose helps me justify spending a bit more.
 
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PurpleAngel

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Thanks for replying! The 558s were one of the few sets that I had been looking at. Could you direct me to a place that carries the HD558 for $130? Normally my Google-fu is strong, but everywhere I look they appear to be $180 or above.
 
Those definitely look solid for gaming. On the music side my concern is still related to the open headphone design with loud external noise. Also I'm wondering about noise bleed while recording. I'm sure I can easily roll it off during mixing if mics do pick it up and I'm not aiming for professional quality anyway. The music side is not a deal breaker, but having a headphone with dual purpose helps me justify spending a bit more.
http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-504631-HD-558-Headphones/dp/B004FEEY9A
 
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Maximum PC just released a guide about this.

http://www.maximumpc.com/best_gaming_headset_2013

But nothing will beat dedicated headphones + dedicated mic + dedicated sound card.
 
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betteroff

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I ended up going with the HD558/Sound Blaster Z combo. Been using them heavily for several weeks and have been very pleased. Battlefield 4 sounds excellent and I've really enjoyed going back and listening to my favorite music again in a whole new way. It took me awhile to get used to the insane gain from the Sound Blaster Z, but the HD558's are comfy and work perfect for me.

I'm probably going to eventually go with an IEM for my drums if I ever get the funds. My Galaxy S3 just doesn't provide enough gain to use them while playing on my kit.
 
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