Best headphones sound experience for PC

fustrun

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Hey !

I'm a composer/musician and i use my speakers for music production purposes and i use a recording interface as my soundcard and now i want a seperate earphone entertainment setup, meaning mostly gaming and music.
So the last time i had an intrest in soundcards was about 8 years ago which has changed alot . . i hear creative's products are just dangerous to buy these days ( have a brand un used X-Fi card lying in the drawer because it gives me a blue screen each boot).

So i'm sitting here and scratching my head . . now i know there are USB interfaces and amps and dedicated PCI cards.
Gaming headphones that work through USB and ones ones that work through 3.5 jacks.

So what's the best gaming/movie expirience setup i can have with earphones ? leaning towards gaming if you ask.
The main thing i understand is that by using a USB headset a soundcard becomes a futile option . .

Any thoughts ?
 

shanky887614

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a usb headset is not as good as a dedicated soundcard and seperate headset



if you have decent
 
very few usb headsets are any good.
the exception being the logitech g35 and g930.
creative have just released a new set of wireless bins that use uncompressed audio like the g930 but have bigger nimdim 50mm diaphragms. so would be worth a test run.

razer do some decent gaming headsets sound wise but some of em are pretty fragile.
if your just wanting a set of can to mix music and the likes the stick with audiophile grade gear... they will give a truer representation of actual instruments which is where most gaming headsets will let you down.

currently asus do some of the best sound cards and will work well with most decent headsets.
 

casualcolors

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An X-fi capable soundcard, real headphones (not a gaming headset) with analog inputs. The best headphones you can find that don't require amplification are the audio technica AD700's in terms of gaming. They run about 115 bucks on amazon presently.

Any X-fi capable soundcard will be able to emulate better directional queues with CMSS-3d 7.1 surround and real headphones with a large soundstage, than any "true 5.1" headset, or weaker attempt of the same alignment (g35's with their small onboard soundcard and weak 7.1 emulation).

Buy a clip-on mic such as the zalman for 9 bucks. You can get X-fi soundcards as low as 59.99. So out the door you're looking at about 175-180 dollars to provide performance that noticeably surpasses gaming headsets and headsets with onboard soundcards+usb inputs.

By comparison to AD700's with a modest 60 dollar soundcard and an 8 dollar clip-on mic, the G35's, G930's, Tritton AX series, etc all pale in comparison. Both in terms of sound quality and in terms of directional sound queues for gaming. The only headset that provides any sort of quality is the Sennheiser PC350's. Unfortunately you'll still need the soundcard for the emulated 7.1 and the headset itself retails for 135 dollars and provides lower quality directional queues than the AD700 headphones.
 

fustrun

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First of all thank you all ! i really appreciate your help !

Well i see no one recommends any interfaces or USB cards so i guess a dedicated PCI x-Fi is necessery . . what card should i get ?
I saw a line of very appealing Creative products but i really want to stay away from them as i previously stated . . now what about the Xonar Essence STX Virtual 7.1 ?
would this be my best choice for a card ?

@casualcolors
Thats a very intresting approach! i read somewhere that proffesional headphones are not really that good for gaming, but i really have no idea.
Do you currently do this ?
Now the Xonar Essence STX Virtual 7.1 has big jack inputs rather then the regular mini 3.5 jack . . if i buy earphones that use a small jck and plug it in with an adapter how will it have any affect on the sound ?
 

casualcolors

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I currently use AD700's because they have a tremendous soundstage and combined with CMSS-3d on my soundcard, they give better surround sound (more accurate positioning) than a dolby headphone adapter. I can't vouch for the Asus cards although I've heard several models are good. You don't necessarily need to judge by price though. The Essence for instance is considered more of a home theater/production card than a gaming card.

I just use a simple Creative X-Fi Titanium which was 59.99. For the purpose of gaming it is perfect, although I had to use some hacked drivers to keep audiodg.exe's cpu use under 1% with no mic present. If you do end up going this route, send me a private message and I'll give you a link to the driverset that I used.

An adapter on the analog shouldn't have any detrimental affect on sound quality, but there is no reason to seek out a soundcard with the accommodating input. The regular 3.5's are fine for your purpose.

As to what you read, some* professional headphones are not good for gaming. Usually they carry too much bass and not enough treble. The ones that I linked are very light on bass (since they are open backed cans), and have very strong treble. These are the properties that make them so strong in gaming.
 

fustrun

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I see, and i'm ashamed to say that as a music producer i don't know squat about headphones, if you could post the names of additional earphones that would fit the purpose i would be very greatful since i live in a remote location and ordering online is not an option :( so i would have to look around in shops and i want to have a few options that could be in stock.
 

fustrun

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Thank you so much for your help ! i really appreciate it !
Now i will need to choose between creative and asus . . .
 

casualcolors

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Well if you buy from Creative, you're selling your soul. On the other hand, their sound crystallization option combined with their own CMSS-3d is pretty much ridiculous and a ton of fun at a low price point.

It is a hard decision to make I realize. I can only speak personally for the Creative cards when I say that their driver support is lame, but with community hacked drivers they are actually good X-fi soundcards.
 

fustrun

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Yeah thing is i have 350$ for the sound card and the ultimate headphones will follow so i want to buy the best things nad as i see it it's either

ASUS Xonar Essence STX or the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro

These are the best cards around as i read it . .
I'm just afraid of creative, as we speak i have a card lying around . . bought it 3 years ago . . no support for Windows 7 and everything i tried and tons of drivers and forums . . each boot gives me a blue screen . . anyways back to topic.

So your for the creative ?
 

casualcolors

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I'm reluctantly for the Creative only because I don't have personal experience with Asus, and I believe they do have a couple of cards that are X-fi CMSS-3d capable (creative licensed the tech to them at some point), but I am not 100% sure about which models. That will be research you might want to do on Head-FI.

I think that the price-being-no-object sort of mentality lands a pretty big blow against Creative, since I can't see any reason to invest in one of their more expensive cards when a simple X-fi Titanium gets the job done for gaming.
 
actually cas i think you would be suprised at the sound quality of the g930 they are 1 of the best headsets currently available for gaming. true there not audiophile quality but as a gaming headset they wipe the floor with a lot of cards and headset combos..

i have an x-fi extreame gamer card and a creative headset and they just cant touch the logitech for its spacing.. you just gotta know what settings to use... the 7.1 isnt that good for spacing but the stereo setting seems to space properly... i dunno why but on bf3 they can pick up a foot fall and you can tell exactly where it is just by listening... it is that good...
 

casualcolors

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I've actually sat down for some gaming with the G35's which sound-quality wise are on the same tier as the G930's. There just isn't any comparison between these headsets and real headphones at all. And logitech's 7.1 doesn't even broach the first 30% of the soundstage that is set with CMSS-3d. The problem is your headset is pushing too much bass with the soundcard's EQ whatever you have it at. That is why you can't hear footsteps without your G930's.

Simply having a soundcard and then playing through a headSET such as your creative headset, isn't at all what I was talking about. It is actually the exact opposite. Headsets are junk. They are literally awful in their quality and why wouldn't they be? Look at the demographic they are marketed to. $$$

By the way, I can't stress enough how skeptical I was going into the whole soundcard surround sound+quality stereo headphones thing back when I first got away from gaming headsets. Fortunately though it ended up being a great move, and I'm not at the mercy of hardware designed around planned obsolescence anymore. That was probably my biggest gripe of all with gaming headsets. They are designed and constructed so poorly you would think the engineering team all graduated from an ITT Tech. It has always been mind boggling to me how many times I had to replace my headsets, and how many threads I read on the internet along the lines of "Well my Tritton's broke again, gonna buy another pair though that True 5.1 is just too beast" etc etc. It's like a really poorly played joke on the consumer.

Your mind would be blown if you saw how many headsets with onboard soundcards don't even utilize soldering. They are glued. A lot of them are literally glued.
 

fustrun

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Wow guys, a sensetive subject i see, but i can understand it since i'm also abit afraid into getting into all of this . . i can't deciede between the cards aswell . . i listen to music ALOT and i would need to switch interfaces all the time if i go with the asus . . but yet again im so afraid from creative . . people say the front panels don't work and god knows what, and i wouldn't want to crawl through forums to get it to work the way i want . . i'm lost again :(
How does the 7.1 sorround sound works anyway ? does it pick up games automatically and activates it and when you want to listen to music you have to turn it back to stereo mode ? how hard it is to set it up ?
Would the music sound bad on the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro comparing it to an on-board soundcard ?
 

casualcolors

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If you want the best quality sound, you should never use the frontpanels. Those are unshielded wires =). Music will sound better on any soundcard when compared to on-board sound. You would just want to disable CMSS-3d for instance. There are other options like sound crystallization and better EQ settings, better bass boosts, etc associated with either the Creative or the Asus cards. I will say that I have heard from reliable sources that the Asus cards are better if you're doing a mix of gaming and music listening/producing. The Creative X-fi cards are the best gaming-only soundcards, but they don't beat the Asus in music. Granted this is bordering on audiophile type stuff and at that point, I probably couldn't tell the difference when listening to music on a Creative X-fi card vs. an Asus Xonar Essence.

Only reason the subject to me is so annoying is because these gaming headset companies just take advantage of gamers the same way that spam email takes advantage of senior citizens.

The way that the 7.1/CMSS-3d surround works is you enable it in the controller suite associated with whatever soundcard you are using. Then for instance in BF3 you would enable the in-game Home Cinema audio settings. Other games such as Crysis or Crysis 2 for instance, don't have an in-game option defining surround sound, but they deliver positional queues as well that are played accordingly with the virtual surround.
 
sorry dude i cant agree with you on this...
i was trained from a young age to tell the difference in audio quality by my father who is an audiophile
CMSS-3d is 1 of the worst digital compression algorithms for expanding stereo to 7.1 its not a true 7.1 experience and is completely fake... things like synthesized binaural cues may sound technical but all it really is doing is playing sound in 1 speaker slightly louder than in the other making your brain think that its more to the left then it is to the right so when you spin around in a 3d space the 3d audio effect is timed (cued) to match the position of the avatars (your) head. as some1 who was brought up on vinyl and linn hardware, i really can tell the difference between real 3d spacing and enhanced. cmss 3d is just way to intrusive and best turned off when your not gaming... and please dont get me started on crystallizer...

im not the only 1 who think this, dice who make battlefield do also and is the reason that they scrapped it in favor of there own sound engine(which they have won awards for).

it may work well enough in games in games but its absolutely crap for real music as it interferes with the actual placement and is in no way as good as thx for instance... also you fail to mention creative have 1 of the worst track records in pc gaming, (actually worse than realtech which is hard to do) not just because of there audio output but because there drivers often conflict with windows itself.

your opinion may differ from mine and im not saying your wrong, but thats the good thing about asking opinions, every1s is different... you may not agree with mine but you have to understand that i have a different understanding of audio to most people who were brought up in the digital age.

i much prefer uncompressed unfiltered audio to the digitally enhance audio that creative bring to the table.

and just for reference the g930 sound nothing like the g35 in most cases as the g930 uses its own uncompressed audio while the g35 uses what ever its plunged into... they may look similar and have similar physical make up with the nimdims and diaphragm but the audio sampling is way different.

anyways to the op. some of the best headbins for gaming are steelseries and well worth a look especially the 555 and 558 models. technica are ok for midrange audiophile gear but really your paying a lot extra for not much more quality and are only really worth it if your into pro-am music production.


 

casualcolors

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There is no such thing as true 7.1 in headphones lol. There isn't even any such thing as true 5.1 in headphones. The drivers are too close to your ears for you to take 360 degree positional queues from them. Case in point, the Tritton AX Pro headset that has 4 drivers in each can, comes with a dolby headphone adapter to do the same thing as CMSS-3d. If you want true 7.1 you are limited to speakers. You are completely misguided on this subject lol.

Any headphone surround sound effect is going to be an algorithm playing with your mind's perception of the sounds. The only way to judge any headphone surround is by how successful it actually is. In this regard, CMSS-3d and Dolby Headphone boxes do a pretty equally good job. Next best after them is logitech's uncompressed audio format. Then realtek's virtualized soundstage being the least successful.

The Audio Technica AD700's aren't suitable for music production. They are way too light on the bass. The only thing they are good for is gaming really.

But don't even get me started on audiophiles... I'm just talking about the basics of what is actually noticeably better to a regular person. I can't begin to appreciate the nuance that 1000 dollar placebo wiring brings to listening to waves crash.
 

fustrun

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yes the subject is to get as close as possible to the best sound experience in gaming while using headphones and not speakers ! it's obvious you can't get a real 7.1 or 5.1 sorround sound while using headphones . . but thats the subject and we should all put an emphasis on "as close as possible" since we know it's not possible.

I guess it makes sense that you'd get better positioning and better quality in a 350$ proffesional headphones then a 150$ gaming headset, not to mention that most of the headsets are usb powered and have a dedicated sound processor on a remote, whilst using a dedicated 250$ soundcard with proffesional headset really does sound like it could provide a better expirience then just a USB headset.

I'm still shitting bricks over the idea of buying a creative product . . i wonder how much the expirience would be diffrent with the asus then with the creative.
 

casualcolors

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If you don't want a Creative soundcard, Asus makes perfectly fine soundcards. There is also Auzentech although I've heard that there may be some driver issues that you would need community driversets to resolve.

If this puts you at ease at all, the Creative cards might be 10% better in gaming for instance. The Asus cards will be 50% better in music though. So just decide how much of a mix of the 2 you want to do on your PC and that should give you your answer.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132006 for instance from Asus. It is using dolby pro logic which is not quite the same as creative's CMSS-3d, but they are both going to eclipse usb gaming headsets. Overall the Asus is the better card. The creative card just happens to be slightly better for gaming positional audio. For me, I game on my computer. The music that I listen to sounds great with the creative card, but I know the Asus would be better in that regard. It just doesn't outweigh the gaming aspect for me personally. That is a different answer for each individual though.

Obviously you do spend a little more going down this road though. Not much more, but the threshold to cross sits around 160-180 dollars and only goes up from there whereas there are not many gaming headsets in that price range (and the ones that are, are coincidentally bad even by headset standards).
 
i know theres no such thing as 7.1 in headphones in fact theres only a couple of headphones that have multiple diaphragms that will give a truer representation of surround sound... please dont jump to conclusions or infer something from what i post... im dyslexic and because of that i dont do between the lines...

cmss 3d is completely synthetic and over done, thats what i dont like about it... like i say it has its place in games but when your watching movies it often contradicts or doesnt quite match the original audio.

you may like it but its just not for me... to be honest i think there are much better alternatives you may not agree but to me other companies do 3d surround better. i would recommend that you try asus xonar d2 with a decent set of bins and you will see theres a whole lot of difference... not forgetting that every ear is different, what you find comfy to listen to , some 1 else may find harsh, and vise versa