SteelSeries Arctis Pro + GameDAC Gaming Headset: High Res At A High Price

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mac_angel

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Few points of contention. Not sure how many will read all of this since it's quite long.

1. THX is also a certification that needs to be paid for. Many A/V Receivers are capable of producing the same quality audio as THX certified A/V Receivers, they just didn't pay for the logo.
2. Hi-Res Audio and High Resolution Audio are ambiguous and confusing, and personally wish they could have a set rule. But saying it is more suitable for studio use is extremely wrong and a poor (wo)man's opinion. There are many music and audio enthusiests that can differentiate and appreciate the difference between CD, SACD, and what enthusiests consider "high res audio". Try listening to Pink Floyd's "The Wall", Dire Straits "Brothers In Arms", or Tom Petty "Wildflower" both on CD and then in High Res, with proper equipement, and then state your opinion. Even comparing High Res music to vinyl is quite different because they still use normalization techniques before recording to vinyl. That, of course, also depends on musical tastes as well as a full appreciation to music. It's one thing to analize on paper what the headphones are capable of, but it's quite different to hear it and appreciate it.
3. You need actual high res audio files, and a player (software), to appreciate the headphones to their full potential. MP3, or even FLAC is wasted on this. And I'm willing to bet there are no games that are capable of playing high res audio. And their "sound stage" is also dependent on the player as well as the headset.
4. The actual drivers in the headset are the same ones that are in the Arctis Pro and the Arctis Pro Wireless. The $70 for the high quality DAC is a good price, as you mentioned, but but now days a lot of newer cell phones are capable of playing high res audio files even higher than what the DAC is capable of, with the correct software installed. And, yes, this will play on the Arctis Pro Wireless with the analog cable that is provided. The only reason why the Arctis Pro + DAC is "certified" hi-res is because of the DAC. But all three headsets are capable of playing the same hi-res music.

Yes, these may seem on the expensive side for gaming headphones, but these are very low, entry level priced headphones when compared to a basic, decent DAC/headphone amp starting at $500, and headphones getting into the butt-hurt price range. I, myself, am an audio enthusiest and have a deep appreciation for music, as well as really enjoy gaming. I've been reading up on headphones for a long time and trying to figure out how I can afford the things I want, a gaming headset so I don't piss off the neighbours at night, and a high res audio player and headphones to match. Sadly, I'm on disability and funds are very limited. These things have been on a wish list for a long time while I kept researching. I came across the Arctis Pro + DAC and thought these were going to be absolutely perfect for what I wanted and could afford. Then I found out that I could hook the Arctis Pro + DAC to my cell phone to take them on the go, but it would literally be hooking up a DAC on top of a DAC. And, as you pointed out, with more limitations. As I pointed out, the Arcis Pro Wireless have the same drivers as the Pro + DAC, and you just have to hook them up with the cable provided. Lets me use my cell phone to play high res audio with Neutron Music Player, as well as game wirelessly on my computer. I could have opted for the cheaper Arctis Pro and used the cables provided with that, but I decided to splurge (much to my fiance's wrath).
 

metalmechanic

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My buddy had one, microphone was absolute garbage. I would steer clear of this thing. Buy some studio headphones and an addon mic and be done with it.
 

NinjaNerd56

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I bought the Corsair HS-60 headset to replace a Logitech gaming headset recently, and it looks similar to Arctis rig...but cost $60.

The software is decent, and everything sounds pretty great.
 

therealduckofdeath

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Metalmechanic, I'd agree with buying high quality headphones, just don't suggest studio headphones as they're generally the opposite a gamer wants as their sound profile are deliberately flat for accuracy. It kills any atmosphere or large space sensation. Studio headphones are only good if you want to make out details in sound not to give you a great listening experience.
 

therealduckofdeath

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Mac_angel, I have plenty of 24-bit FLAC music. Places like 7digital or Qobuz actually sell that these days. If you want to review a review on the little details, you need to get the corrections right. :) Can I, personally, hear a difference between my 16-bit FLAC and 24-bit FLAC? Probably not. Maybe if I had been 20 years younger...
 

BrandonYoung

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This is roughly the same price as the Sennheiser HD1. I strongly recommend them if audio quality is your main concern.

@THEREALDUCKOFDEATH You can E.Q. studio headphones so they aren't quite as flat.
 

mac_angel

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I knew that "FLAC" was going to come back on me. It was already a long enough rant that I didn't really want to go into more. FLAC is just an uncompressed audio file. It really depends on the source, which can be anywhere from a crappy 8bit recording to a 24bit, 384kHz or greater. Many enthusiasts will say that high res will be uncompressed 24bit/192kHz or greater, though there are sites that offer 24bit vinyl rips, claiming they are high res, and so many other variants. As I mentioned, there really does need to be a standard put in place.
Your age is probably close to mine, though no need to post them or anything. Yes, as we get older, our frequency bandwidth shrinks. But high res audio isn't just about going really high and really low, it's about having more "information". And you definitely need the right equipment to be able to hear the difference. And, regardless of age, you can still train your ears to hear the difference more and more. I remember when I first got the headphones, I had already started collecting high res music. I listened to "Hotel California", first on MP3, and then on high res FLAC. Turned off the lights, laid in bed, eyes closed and just listened. There was so much more that you could hear in the high res that you couldn't with the MP3, and it was a good MP3 rip. Now, yes, you can mention that I'm talking about far ends of the spectrum, but I'm also talking about listening to them the first time, and the headphones not even being broken in yet. My appreciation has grown since then.
I can't say for the sites you listed specifically, but I do know that there are a lot of sites that are selling/streaming "high res" FLAC audio, but when tested, they turn out to be upsampled from a regular 16bit/44.1kHz. Much the same way as a lot of projectors now are claiming they are 4k, but just means they take a 4k signal, but not really display proper 4k resolution.
 

rdgoodri

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I own this. The sound quality is great, but some negatives i've experienced are: a) too small, won't fit my 'big' head, b) too quiet, doesn't get very loud, c) cords are too short from DAC to headset.
 

tacgnol06

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No, I highly doubt you can hear the difference between a high bitrate MP3 and "high resolution" audio, even with $500 headphones. I don't think Rick Rubin could hear the difference. I think that's a load of taxpayer-funded post-purchase rationalization. But what do I know? I listen to music on a pair of MDR-V6's. Might as well be Skullcandy amirite?
 

therealduckofdeath

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Those sites I'm listing never fake 16 or 24-bit sound. If they don't have a hi-res edition of a song they don't sell a fake one. What you're thinking of is probably some subscription service offering 16-bit streaming and even there I'd bet you it's extremely rare (if ever) as it is very easy to hear the difference between lossless and 256/320 kbit compressed sound with a pair of half decent headphones.
In order to sell 24-bit sound with a clear conscience the master has to be 32-bit. That's the main reason 24-bit is still very rare. The headroom is needed for editing without losing detail as a master recording never is perfect. They need to fix sound levels and signature to create the sound the artist or producer likes. Regarding your bat levels of hearing, that you claim you can train your ears to hear detail loss on 16 bit PCM sound, I don't doubt a lot of people can tell themselves they are able to, but the "noise" will only be noticeable in extremely high frequencies above 20kHz. Bats probably hate 16 bit sound, a human might be able to tell a definite difference if they used $50,000 headphones attached to a flawless amp. The difference you hear compared to vinyl, which definitely is a massive one, is the added analogue distortion vinyl inevitably generates. It's mechanical and analogue, so it's not accurate at one single point from the studio to your ears. It's not a bad sound it's just not the actual accurate sound. I like analogue added to my music too, but I limit that to using tube amps with digital sound going through. Just the right amount of soothing distortion. :)
 
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