Question Best headset for around $150?

Dec 1, 2020
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What is the best wired headset for mainly gaming around $150? I can go above or below that budget if needed, and I also don't need a mic attached. Thanks :)
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
If you say "headset" that assumes a mic on it, without a mic it's just a "headphone".

Best in headphones is a personal pick, start with beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO in 80 ohm so a motherboard can drive them. Phillips Fidelio X2HR are good but I like their cheaper SHP9500 better, the X2 are a bit too analytical for my taste, I like the music and sounds to be more mixed in, the X2 really separates them. That may be a plus to some, but I find myself using the HSP9500 or my Sennheisers much more often.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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If you say "headset" that assumes a mic on it, without a mic it's just a "headphone".

Best in headphones is a personal pick, start with beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO in 80 ohm so a motherboard can drive them. Phillips Fidelio X2HR are good but I like their cheaper SHP9500 better, the X2 are a bit too analytical for my taste, I like the music and sounds to be more mixed in, the X2 really separates them. That may be a plus to some, but I find myself using the HSP9500 or my Sennheisers much more often.
Thank you for the advice! If I wanted to get 250 ohm instead of 80 on the DT 990 PROs what would I need to additionally get to run that properly?
 
Thank you for the advice! If I wanted to get 250 ohm instead of 80 on the DT 990 PROs what would I need to additionally get to run that properly?
A decent headphone amp, or Home Theater AVR if you use your display for movies as well. I run my 770 Pro 80 OHm through a low end Yamaha AVR (RX-V371) I bought 8 years ago and is still running strong. I paid more than I needed to though. Shortly after the holidays it went down to like $165 on Amazon, after I bought mine on Amazon for $230.

If you don't want the expense or clutter of an AVR on your desk though, a pretty compact, affordable, and well reviewed amp is the Behringer, and Amazon has it for under $25. Some claim it causes humming, buzzing, but the review by "hopmeister" a little ways down the first page I think sums it up. He had the same problem, but then read a blog that said to check your cables and adapters and swap out any cheap ones you're using, then he had no sound problems. Anyway, the best thing about Amazon is you can always return an item if it doesn't work well, especially electronics items.

Note that a little ways further down the same review page, pbaxley says it works with his Beyer 880 250 OHm, but not to full volume potential, so it depends how loud you like to use your headphones.

https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-HA400-Ultra-Compact-4-Channel-Headphone/dp/B000KIPT30/ref=sxin_9?ascsubtag=amzn1.osa.06f8e2c8-c120-4d88-b61f-12d58a364ae7.ATVPDKIKX0DER.en_US&creativeASIN=B000KIPT30&cv_ct_cx=headphone+amp&cv_ct_id=amzn1.osa.06f8e2c8-c120-4d88-b61f-12d58a364ae7.ATVPDKIKX0DER.en_US&cv_ct_pg=search&cv_ct_we=asin&cv_ct_wn=osp-single-source-gl-ranking&dchild=1&keywords=headphone+amp&linkCode=oas&pd_rd_i=B000KIPT30&pd_rd_r=9b6b4b4c-1e15-44c8-8659-d069b14cc27e&pd_rd_w=cBZgp&pd_rd_wg=BABAy&pf_rd_p=f52a4b3a-a94a-44a3-a24c-a2264d738672&pf_rd_r=DWXHX6PPJ0JHQX3CWK77&qid=1606938606&sr=1-1-d9dc7690-f7e1-44eb-ad06-aebbef559a37&tag=popularscience_os-20&th=1

That said, and this is VERY important if you are picky about sound, versatility, and getting the most out of your headphones, shop around and look at the specs. There are small vacuum tube preamp/amps that have up to 300 OHm output, and are under $100.


Pay as much attention to the star rating as the number of reviews, because a TON of people on Amazon buy more based on price, ads, etc, than specs, features, etc. Also, if you get a vacuum tube amp, be aware those tubes are fragile and do not break them. They sound incredible though.
 
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Dec 1, 2020
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A decent headphone amp, or Home Theater AVR if you use your display for movies as well. I run my 770 Pro 80 OHm through a low end Yamaha AVR (RX-V371) I bought 8 years ago and is still running strong. I paid more than I needed to though. Shortly after the holidays it went down to like $165 on Amazon, after I bought mine on Amazon for $230.

If you don't want the expense or clutter of an AVR on your desk though, a pretty compact, affordable, and well reviewed amp is the Behringer, and Amazon has it for under $25. Some claim it causes humming, buzzing, but the review by "hopmeister" a little ways down the first page I think sums it up. He had the same problem, but then read a blog that said to check your cables and adapters and swap out any cheap ones you're using, then he had no sound problems. Anyway, the best thing about Amazon is you can always return an item if it doesn't work well, especially electronics items.

Note that a little ways further down the same review page, pbaxley says it works with his Beyer 880 250 OHm, but not to full volume potential, so it depends how loud you like to use your headphones.

https://www.amazon.com/Behringer-HA400-Ultra-Compact-4-Channel-Headphone/dp/B000KIPT30/ref=sxin_9?ascsubtag=amzn1.osa.06f8e2c8-c120-4d88-b61f-12d58a364ae7.ATVPDKIKX0DER.en_US&creativeASIN=B000KIPT30&cv_ct_cx=headphone+amp&cv_ct_id=amzn1.osa.06f8e2c8-c120-4d88-b61f-12d58a364ae7.ATVPDKIKX0DER.en_US&cv_ct_pg=search&cv_ct_we=asin&cv_ct_wn=osp-single-source-gl-ranking&dchild=1&keywords=headphone+amp&linkCode=oas&pd_rd_i=B000KIPT30&pd_rd_r=9b6b4b4c-1e15-44c8-8659-d069b14cc27e&pd_rd_w=cBZgp&pd_rd_wg=BABAy&pf_rd_p=f52a4b3a-a94a-44a3-a24c-a2264d738672&pf_rd_r=DWXHX6PPJ0JHQX3CWK77&qid=1606938606&sr=1-1-d9dc7690-f7e1-44eb-ad06-aebbef559a37&tag=popularscience_os-20&th=1
I saw this https://bit.ly/2I8LHcI and considering the headphones alone usually cost $150, I thought that this was a good deal. I don't know too much about amps though so what do you think about it?
 
I saw this https://bit.ly/2I8LHcI and considering the headphones alone usually cost $150, I thought that this was a good deal. I don't know too much about amps though so what do you think about it?
I'd be very leary of a bundle that has a total price of barely more than most are selling the headphones for. It would be one thing if it were a vendor that offers full refund returns for any reason, but in this case, for all you know the amp could be refurbed and they're only adding it in to clear out old Beyer stock. I've also read some reviews on that amp that talk of humming, buzzing noise, and worse, one that says it has NO EMI shielding, which can certainly be the cause of those noises.

I wouldn't advise buying a $150 set of headphones, then skimping on the amp. That's like buying a high end GPU, and feeding it power from a cheapo PSU.

Rockville had a great deal on the Beyer 990 with their 600 OHm capable tube amps for $185, but unfortunately as these are older models, they're out of stock. They now have a 990 bundle with a more digital 300 OHm capable amp for $175, but it's made for portability, so rechargeable and only runs 8 hrs on a charge, and that may be with the more average impedance headphones.


https://www.amazon.com/Rockville-HeadRock-Rechargeable-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B082FNBMD2

Again, if you want to try a more affordable amp, I highly recommend buying it from a place that offers full refunds for any reason, like Amazon.

[EDITED]
Just noticed this bundle has an option to give them your email address to be notified when it's back in stock. THIS looks like a great deal to me. https://www.rockvilleaudio.com/dt-990-pro-250tubehead/

I can tell Rockville take amp design seriously, because they warn that many manufacturers embellish their amp specs, (which is common in that industry). They also list a TON of tubes you can use in their tube amps, and I imagine they can exactly describe the sound each will yield. What I also like is they emphasize their tube amps have a very warm (natural) sound, which is getting harder and harder to find these days.
 
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Dec 1, 2020
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I'd be very leary of a bundle that has a total price of barely more than most are selling the headphones for. It would be one thing if it were a vendor that offers full refund returns for any reason, but in this case, for all you know the amp could be refurbed and they're only adding it in to clear out old Beyer stock. I've also read some reviews on that amp that talk of humming, buzzing noise, and worse, one that says it has NO EFI shielding, which can certainly be the cause of those noises.

I wouldn't advise buying a $150 set of headphones, then skimping on the amp. That's like buying a high end GPU, and feeding it power from a cheapo PSU.

Rockville had a great deal on the Beyer 990 with their 600 OHm capable tube amps for $185, but unfortunately as these are older models, they're out of stock. They now have a 990 bundle with a more digital 300 OHm capable amp for $175, but it's made for portability, so rechargeable and only runs 8 hrs on a charge, and that may be with the more average impedance headphones.


https://www.amazon.com/Rockville-HeadRock-Rechargeable-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B082FNBMD2

Again, if you want to try a more affordable amp, I highly recommend buying it from a place that offers full refunds for any reason, like Amazon.

[EDITED]
Just noticed this bundle has an option to give them your email address to be notified when it's back in stock. THIS looks like a great deal to me. https://www.rockvilleaudio.com/dt-990-pro-250tubehead/

I can tell Rockville take amp design seriously, because they warn that many manufacturers embellish their amp specs, (which is common in that industry). They also list a TON of tubes you can use in their tube amps, and I imagine they can exactly describe the sound each will yield. What I also like is they emphasize their tube amps have a very warm (natural) sound, which is getting harder and harder to find these days.
Do you know if it's possible to keep that amp plugged in charging as I'm using it?
 
Do you know if it's possible to keep that amp plugged in charging as I'm using it?
I just called Rockville, which is based in NY, and so far have only talked to their receptionist whom said someone in their tech dept would get back to me. I told her to let them know I wanted to find out what battery run time would be on a 250 OHm headphone, and if you can use the amp while charging. I'm also going to be asking questions about possible restocking of their tube amp, how long the tubes generally last, and if they sell the tubes or know where they can be bought at a good price. That is the one neg about tube amps, is they run a bit hot and need replacing every 1-5 yrs, but I imagine Rockville uses high grade, long life tubes. In Google searching I saw some that range from $1 to $4 apiece.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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I just called Rockville, which is based in NY, and so far have only talked to their receptionist whom said someone in their tech dept would get back to me. I told her to let them know I wanted to find out what battery run time would be on a 250 OHm headphone, and if you can use the amp while charging. I'm also going to be asking questions about possible restocking of their tube amp, how long the tubes generally last, and if they sell the tubes or know where they can be bought at a good price. That is the one neg about tube amps, is they run a bit hot and need replacing every 1-5 yrs, but I imagine Rockville uses high grade, long life tubes. In Google searching I saw some that range from $1 to $4 apiece.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I'll be waiting to see when you hear back from them :)
 
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I'll be waiting to see when you hear back from them :)
No problem, I'm kinda taking interest in their stuff too. She was very nice and I get the feeling they have great customer service.

BTW, are you planning on using these headphones for things other than games, like music and blu-ray movies? Reason I ask, is games always have compressed audio, so to a point, a really high end sounding amp is not going to be noticeable for gaming because of that. It's always very important of course to look for an amp that doesn't have the dreaded buzzing and humming though, and some start doing it at just half volume.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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No problem, I'm kinda taking interest in their stuff too. She was very nice and I get the feeling they have great customer service.

BTW, are you planning on using these headphones for things other than games, like music and blu-ray movies? Reason I ask, is games always have compressed audio, so to a point, a really high end sounding amp is not going to be noticeable for gaming because of that. It's always very important of course to look for an amp that doesn't have the dreaded buzzing and humming though, and some start doing it at just half volume.
This will mainly be used for gaming which I want good audio for. I will listen to music but I don't need the most perfect audio for it, just something to get the job done.
 
This will mainly be used for gaming which I want good audio for. I will listen to music but I don't need the most perfect audio for it, just something to get the job done.
Yeah I use my DT 770s mainly for gaming, and I can honestly say they are plenty adequate for it. I realize many prefer open design, but I prefer closed, as it makes it easier to hear faint sounds like enemies sneaking, and the bass is enhanced. Plus I live where there's loud outdoor noises like sirens, which the closed design helps block out when I have my windows open in the summer. I also find the closed designed is just overall more immersive for gaming, as you only hear the game sounds.

I also sometimes listen to music on them, but generally just Spotify, which is also compressed audio. If you aren't listening to any CD, FLAC, turntable, etc, music though, you definitely don't need a tube amp. It would just become an unnecessary nuisance having to replace tubes every now and then. Then again, the portable nature of the other one and having to recharge it frequently may become a bit of a nuisance as well, if you don't need portability.

Like I said, these are all things you want to consider before you buy.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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Yeah I use my DT 770s mainly for gaming, and I can honestly say they are plenty adequate for it. I realize many prefer open design, but I prefer closed, as it makes it easier to hear faint sounds like enemies sneaking, and the bass is enhanced. Plus I live where there's loud outdoor noises like sirens, which the closed design helps block out when I have my windows open in the summer. I also find the closed designed is just overall more immersive for gaming, as you only hear the game sounds.

I also sometimes listen to music on them, but generally just Spotify, which is also compressed audio. If you aren't listening to any CD, FLAC, turntable, etc, music though, you definitely don't need a tube amp. It would just become an unnecessary nuisance having to replace tubes every now and then. Then again, the portable nature of the other one and having to recharge it frequently may become a bit of a nuisance as well, if you don't need portability.

Like I said, these are all things you want to consider before you buy.
Yeah, my music listening is about 100% Spotify and youtube so I won't be needing a tube amp. When the website responds I can figure out if I can charge it while using it so I could plug it in and just keep it there like a non-portable amp.
 
OK, just got a call back from Rockville. He said, yes, you can use the HeadRock amp while you're charging it. I also asked about battery run time on 250 OHm headphones, and he said you'd first want to use the high gain mode for those. He gave a 5-8 hr runtime spread regarding high gain headphones, so it could end up being closer to 5 hrs at high volumes, though I'm doubting you'd need high volume settings when on the high gain mode.

I also asked about the distortion (background noise) level, and he said this compares well to other solid state headphone amps. There's a little noise you can hear when nothing's playing, especially at high volume settings, but nothing that would get in the way of whatever media, games, etc you're listening to. He also said they back up their products with a 90 day satisfaction policy, and even send out a free label to send it back and get a refund. That alone is unparalleled in this industry.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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OK, just got a call back from Rockville. He said, yes, you can use the HeadRock amp while you're charging it. I also asked about battery run time on 250 OHm headphones, and he said you'd first want to use the high gain mode for those. He gave a 5-8 hr runtime spread regarding high gain headphones, so it could end up being closer to 5 hrs at high volumes, though I'm doubting you'd need high volume settings when on the high gain mode.

I also asked about the distortion (background noise) level, and he said this compares well to other solid state headphone amps. There's a little noise you can hear when nothing's playing, especially at high volume settings, but nothing that would get in the way of whatever media, games, etc you're listening to. He also said they back up their products with a 90 day satisfaction policy, and even send out a free label to send it back and get a refund. That alone is unparalleled in this industry.
Perfect thank you! So do you think considering my options with the DT 990s this one is the best?
 
Perfect thank you! So do you think considering my options with the DT 990s this one is the best?
Well, to be quite honest, even though I feel the 90 day satisfaction policy is great (and also mentioned right on the main page of their website), if for some reason you are not happy with the amp, it very well may mean you have to send the headphones back too, since it's a bundle deal.

I mean, 90 days is a long time to try something, and it could come down to just getting sick of plugging it in to recharge it all the time. Plus, eventually the batteries will stop taking a charge, but since it's a fairly inexpensive amp to begin with, I'm not sure that will matter much to you.

BTW, I know you said you don't want/need a tube amp, but I did find out where to source replacement tubes for their tube headphone amp. The 6K4 tubes it uses is also same as the 6K4п on their list of cross refence tubes that work just as well, and they can be had in good quantities on eBay from Ukraine pretty cheap, but take a few weeks ship time. My idea if I were to get one would be to try it out the 90 days, and if satisfied, buy several tubes ahead of time.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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Well, to be quite honest, even though I feel the 90 day satisfaction policy is great (and also mentioned right on the main page of their website), if for some reason you are not happy with the amp, it very well may mean you have to send the headphones back too, since it's a bundle deal.

I mean, 90 days is a long time to try something, and it could come down to just getting sick of plugging it in to recharge it all the time. Plus, eventually the batteries will stop taking a charge, but since it's a fairly inexpensive amp to begin with, I'm not sure that will matter much to you.

BTW, I know you said you don't want/need a tube amp, but I did find out where to source replacement tubes for their tube headphone amp. The 6K4 tubes it uses is also same as the 6K4п on their list of cross refence tubes that work just as well, and they can be had in good quantities on eBay from Ukraine pretty cheap, but take a few weeks ship time. My idea if I were to get one would be to try it out the 90 days, and if satisfied, buy several tubes ahead of time.
It would be annoying charging all the time, but you did say you can use it while charging, so if I just use it while charging I can practically turn it into a normal amp, it is also quite cheap so I can always just replace it down the line and keep the rechargeable one as a spare.
 
It would be annoying charging all the time, but you did say you can use it while charging, so if I just use it while charging I can practically turn it into a normal amp, it is also quite cheap so I can always just replace it down the line and keep the rechargeable one as a spare.
True, and you never know, you may at some point have use for the portability of the amp as well. If not using it on the bus or whatever, a LAN party, etc.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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True, and you never know, you may at some point have use for the portability of the amp as well. If not using it on the bus or whatever, a LAN party, etc.
That is true as well. Thank you so much for your help! never thought someone would have the kindness to go this in-depth with me to find a headset. If you have anything else to say I'm still open to advice.
 
That is true as well. Thank you so much for your help! never thought someone would have the kindness to go this in-depth with me to find a headset. If you have anything else to say I'm still open to advice.
Well, that's kinda what these forums are here for, tech help, and like I said, I've been considering a tube amp for some time, so that was a big reason I called as well.

The only other thing I can think of is there may be more deals, including bundle deals, over the holidays, but so far the trend during COVID has been that those deals are showing up early. It's also typically the case that you see the best of them by Black Friday, and the longer you wait, the more risk of things getting sold out.

That said, it's hard to predict how things will go during COVID.
 
Dec 1, 2020
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That is true as well. Thank you so much for your help! never thought someone would have the kindness to go this in-depth with me to find a headset. If you have anything else to say I'm still open to advice.
With the tube amp deal you mentioned earlier that was sold out, I was looking around for it and found this https://bit.ly/2JsF5GQ with a side by side comparison it's almost identical to the Rockville one. Is it possible Rockville just rebranded this amp?
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
With the tube amp deal you mentioned earlier that was sold out, I was looking around for it and found this https://bit.ly/2JsF5GQ with a side by side comparison it's almost identical to the Rockville one. Is it possible Rockville just rebranded this amp?
There are a lot of products like this that are made by the same company in China with different stickers on them. Issue is that the insides can be slightly different and construction quality may differ depending on how much they were willing to spend on parts when ordering. Basically they go to some large Chinese manufacturer, and say "I want to make this product, with my company name, for this much money" and they do it. If you can buy a few 100 or few 1000 units you can start your own brand this way :) Just need a nice logo and some marketing. Due to the lax way China handles copywrite and ownership you can buy knock off brands or copies of a product that is made by the same factory as the original brand.
 
Yeah, like hang-the-9 said, electronics industries commonly adopt a certain base product, and designate small changes in spec, be it just cosmetic, or caps, tubes, what have you. Since the FX Audio one is a commonly sold unit, but retails for roughly $20 less than prices I've seen on Rockville's version, it could be Rockville is specing more robust parts here and there, or that could also just be old pricing I saw on the Rockville. Pricing can drop once a product becomes more popular and bought/sold in larger quantities.

One PC component that is commonly adopted and re-speced by manufacturers (or just rebranded cosmetically), is PSUs.
 

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