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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound)

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by namelesspfg, Jan 28, 2012.
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  1. Dead Ghost
    Would you say Silent Cinema is better sounding than Dolby Headphone? Some Marantz or Harman Kardon receivers have Dolby Headphone support, but not every one and they aren't many (at least in cheaper ones).
    The only thing holding me back from buying a receiver is their big size and the fact that i don't need (multichannel) speaker support, as i primarily use headphones, most of the time. A small 2.1 receiver, with virtual surround over headphones (DH, or Silent Cinema), would be perfect, but such a thing doesn't exist, as far as i know.
  2. Evshrug

    Or even just an integrated amp with virtual surround as an option for the headphone jack. I know.

    Fwiw, you don't HAVE to plug in all speaker channels, but they'd be there till you want them.

    Silent cinema was pretty good on my receiver (see home setup in sig for model #), the directionality was accurate, but for my tastes it was noticably echoey no matter what DSP I set it for. Might be down to taste though, and it was great when watching The Dark Knight. I don't have mine set up right now because the only place I can play right now is in my bedroom, and my Internet was shut off halfway through last month (this message coming to you from my girlfriend's).

    Since I got the more conveniently-sized Recon3D, I put the receiver back in it's box. I didn't do any critical A/B switching tests, so I can't quantify the differences, but my first impression of the Recon3D after having been using Silent Cinema for a bit, was that I was more impressed with the Recon3D. May be a personal taste thing. The receiver definitely has the better headphone amp section.
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Some like Silent Cinema better, some like Dolby Headphone better.
    I personally have no problem using Silent Cinema for headphone surround sound for movies.
    Have you looked into the Astro Mix-Amp?
  4. NamelessPFG
    The G35 basically has a USB sound card with Dolby Headphone support built-in. That's how it gets its positioning. It's a closed design, though, so I'm not expecting spectacular soundstage...or sound quality, for that matter, since it's a Logitech headset.
    Frankly, I never liked USB headsets. Better to have a headphone/headset that terminates in typical 3.5mm TRS jacks while using something like an X-Fi Go!, Xonar U3, or Recon3D USB for the USB audio part of it all.
  5. Dead Ghost
    Yes, but it only supports Dolby Digital, and i don't have DDL on my onboard realtek.
  6. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Just use an Asus Xonar DG sound card in your computer, comes with Dolby Headphone surround sound, plug your headphones straight in.
  7. Dead Ghost
    Can't, i use a mini itx gaming system.
  8. Eric_C
    PurpleAngel: I looked at the DGX review at Ars Technica, and I'm concerned about its midrange emphasis vs the DSX and DX. So now I'm considering the DX (since the DSX has no Dolby Headphone).

    Or am I just over thinking this? Is the midrange emphasis a non-issue for 100% gaming purposes?
  9. NamelessPFG
    That's the first time I've ever heard anyone put "Mini-ITX" and "gaming system" in the same sentence...sure, I know about SFF gaming systems like the Shuttle cases and motherboards, but I thought Mini-ITX was more in line with thin client terminals and whatnot, without even a single expansion card slot.
    Still, you could get a USB audio device, right? Something like a Xonar U3 or a Recon3D USB, perhaps?
  10. Phos
    Nowadays you need a processor and graphics card in a box, especially with PCIe and RAM controllers on die.  
  11. PurpleAngel Contributor
    The Xonar DX, D1, DS, DSX do not come with headphone amplifiers, headphones in the 50-Ohm to 80-Ohm will still work decently plugged to these cards.
    Adding an external headphone amplifier to the Xonar DX, D1, DS, DSX makes a great combo.
    This is the first I've heard about the mid-range emphasis, maybe Ars Technica does a more detailed review compared to others.
    So whatever mid-range emphasis there is, the Xonar DGX (& DG) are still better over all for headphones, for a stand alone sound card.
  12. Dead Ghost
    In the last years, many mini ITX motherboards come with a full 16x  PCI Express slot, and you can use any video card you wish. For example, in this current generation of intel chipsets (Z77), currently they are 5 or 6 mini itx motherboards like that. One example: Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe, but this is the most expensive one, since it's so full of stuff on it. :) Silverstone and Lian Li (among others) make small cases for them. You can use any top Intel CPU processor in such a small system, even overclock it, with any powerful GPU card you can afford. 
    All of them have realtek onboard sound chipsets, but none of them come with Dolby Digital Live support, don't know why. Only that Asus has DTS Connect encoding, the rest of them have THX TruStudio (Pro).
    Yes, i could use an USB sound card, but i would like only one external device, that could also work with consoles.
  13. NamelessPFG
    I looked up a motherboard size guide, and realize that I was thinking of the one step below Mini-ITX, which doesn't have the single expansion slot.
    Frankly, I wouldn't go with anything less than Micro-ATX (four expansion slots) for a small-form-factor system, if only because I refuse to give up my X-Fi Titanium HD. No USB device I've tried has all of its gaming audio capabilities. Four slots would be enough for a sound card on the far end while still allowing the graphics card some breathing room.
    If you want just one external device that also works with consoles well without sacrificing too much in the way of PC gaming audio support, I could offer you my Recon3D USB (which also decodes Dolby Digital S/PDIF signals for console use and offers chat mixing) for a low price. Interested?
  14. Dead Ghost
    No, but thanks for the offer. 
  15. NamelessPFG
    In that case, what are you really looking for?
    The Mixamp is going to fall short for PC gaming (and no DTS), the Xonar U3 can't be used with consoles, and I thought you said you didn't want to deal with the bulk of an A/V receiver, though if you do, you can probably find a Harmon Kardon AVR 254 or AVR 354 for sale on eBay or Head-Fi B/S/T, which are rare cases of receivers with Dolby Headphone support.
    I'm guessing that you're leaning toward a receiver and don't mind the extra bulk for something that's only going to be used with headphones.
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