What do I need to get a decent headphone surround sound setup with my motherboard?
May 16, 2013 at 5:06 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8


New Head-Fier
May 16, 2013
I want to get some headphones with 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound for gaming, and thought I might be able to make a decision fairly quickly after googling "best 7.1 headphones for gaming"...little did I know it is not as simple as that!   
   I have been doing a bit of research and it seems the more I look into it the more confusing it gets, so just need a few things confirmed more than anything.
First of all, it is correct that "virtual" surround sound is the way to go isn't it? ie Dolby Headphone rather than the "true" multi driver headphones.
I kept reading about this Mixamp device but wasn't sure exactly what it does and if that is more for ps3/xbox rather than PC?
From what I understand so far, what makes the Mixamp device so great is it can be used with ANY(?) 2 channel headphones although the virtual surround sound placement works a lot better with some than others?  But it requires Dolby Digital Live output from my soundcard/motherboard right?
I have been struggling to find out if my motherboard does support DDL or not.  This is my motherboard...
And this is from the spec sheet...
Intel® High Definition Audio3 subsystem in the following configuration:
  1. 10-channel (7.1+2 independent multi-streaming) audio subsystem using the Realtek* ALC 892 audio codec
  2. Five analog audio outputs and one optical S/PDIF out port
  3. Internal S/PDIF header and front panel audio header
And this from elsewhere on the intel site...
Intel HD Audio is able to support all the Dolby technologies, including the latest Dolby Pro Logic* IIx, which makes it possible to enjoy older stereo content in 7.1 channel surround sound.
If my mobo doesn't support DDL, should I get a soundcard that does, or are there headphones/headsets that can do a similar job by making use of the optical digital out that my mobo does have?  I.e. is this what the Logitech G930 does?
Oh I was only looking at wireless to start with too, but it sounds like you definitely compromise sound quality by buying cheaper wireless?
But I am no audiophile, so was hoping to spend about $100 US.  Thanks in advance 

May 16, 2013 at 9:42 AM Post #2 of 8
Long story short i would get a PCI/PCIe sund card and if mated with very demanding cans a seperate headphone amp Avoid "headsets" and go with wired stereo cans all the way for me
May 16, 2013 at 4:05 PM Post #3 of 8
Thanks trog, you reckon I can get a sound card, headphones and amp for $100 though?!
I probably should have explained what I am wanting to achieve in a bit more detail...
As I said I am no audiophile, so from what I've read so far the sound quality of something like the Logitech G930 should be sufficient for me.  (I know, don't laugh!).  Basically my aim is to step up a bit from my $10 headset I got for Skype years ago, to something a bit better quality for gaming.  I don't do an awful lot of gaming and they won't be used for music so don't want to spend a lot when I already have a setup that "works".  I find the cable on my current headset a bit annoying at times hence leaning towards wireless.
Also I wasn't even aware the virtual surround was a worthwhile thing until yesterday!  I had heard of it but thought it was just a gimmick.
So now I have read on sites such as this that virtual surround these days can be quite impressive, I have decided this is a higher priority than outright sound quality (because of it being used for gaming).  I was all set to buy a G930 but then read some reviews saying the virtual sound in these is not that great.  Is current virtual surround that amazing?  Should I be worried about having it even?
Before I get to the stage of narrowing down what headphones/headset I want though, I am just trying to get a better understanding of how the different options work, and which setup is ideally best for what I want.  By the way I realised after I posted last night that the G930 doesn't make use of my optical output, but of course used a USB to connect to PC.  Does this mean it uses it's own Logitech software to create the virtual surround, and that's why it is inferior to Dolby Headphone or mixamp?
Once I understand that I'm sure I can work from reviews what headphones I want after that.  For example I have seen http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-updated-4-30-13-koss-esp-950-added but am not sure how the virtual surround is achieved with most of these.  Mixamp? Soundcard/mobo with Dolby Headphone?
Sorry about all the questions, I just find it a bit confusing to work it all out when I kept reading one thing and thought it was true (that A40 and mixamp is right up there as far as virtual surround goes) but then I read in the above guide the complete opposite!.  So then I don't have a clue how G930 vs A40 rates!??????? 
 Get me? 

May 17, 2013 at 10:46 PM Post #4 of 8
  Hmmm...maybe a better title would have been "Need help with understanding the basics with different headphone surround sound options"
Have been reading a bit more and it sounds like there are 2 main surround headphone technologies that work with any stereo headphone directly from the motherboard or soundcard - CMSS 3D or Dolby Headphone.  
The Astro Mixamp does basically the same thing as these 2 except it requires a Dolby Digital Live input?
Other technology like the Logitech G930s is software based and doesn't require surround sound hardware (mobo or soundcard) but also doesn't work as well as CMSS/ dolby/ mixamp?
May 27, 2013 at 10:46 PM Post #5 of 8
I'm not really a fan of any "surround" audio processing. If you're gaming competitively a good pair of detailed stereo headphones is almost always the best way to go. 
If you just want things to sound cool though Dolby Headphone does seem to be what people recommend. 
Sep 24, 2013 at 3:27 AM Post #6 of 8
Vlad, welcome to Head-Fi, sorry about your wallet. :D

The Mixamp is used for combining VoIP traffic and game audio through a set of headphones - unnecessary for PC gaming or music.

As I recall the G930 licenses the Dolby technology; when games implement their own positional audio, you can turn this off with a switch on the back of the left earcup. If they're bad at it, or are expecting to drive speakers (many games have separate speaker and headphone modes now!) you can flip the switch and make up for it.

I generally use Logitech headsets for gaming, and they sound way better than you'd expect them to at any given price point. You can score a G930 for $60-90 with patience and resourcefulness; they're quite comfortable and the on-board controls are fantastically convenient. You can bind them in games, or set them to play/pause &c. in your audio program of choice.
Sep 24, 2013 at 11:09 PM Post #7 of 8
  I'm not really a fan of any "surround" audio processing. If you're gaming competitively a good pair of detailed stereo headphones is almost always the best way to go. 
If you just want things to sound cool though Dolby Headphone does seem to be what people recommend. 

+1 good advice 

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