$150-$200 Headset?

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$150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:54 pm

Hello,

I'm planning on getting my first headset that's above $20 and since I've received a lot of advice at TR on my desktop parts of course I should ask here about audio too.

At first I was leaning towards the Sennheiser PC350 or PC360 (mini9ssd sells the PC350 for only $99, while everywhere else is at least $130... Anyone ever bought from there?) but I read this thread and it seems like I'd get a much better deal if I just bought headphones and a microphone separately.

I'm interested in getting the best deal for the budget I have, which is between $100-$150 for the headphones and around $50 for the mic. I don't have a discrete sound card, but I hear the Xonar is very cheap (the less than $50 versions) and am willing to pay if it's worth the difference between onboard sound. The headphones are mainly for gaming and movies and I don't do anything like a Youtube channel so all I care about the mic is that it works, it's durable, and it isn't a pain in the ass to use.

Since I've never had quality headphones before I don't really know the difference between open/closed or which brands are good. Any advice on those would be appreciated. I don't know much about audio brands but I hear good things about Sennheiser headphones, and absolutely no clue about mics.

Please help me audiophiles! xD
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:52 pm

I'm not a super audiophile but I have the Grado SR 60. Its lightweight , durable, comfortable, sounds great and does not need a headphone amp. I bought them from Headroom. I just checked to see if they still carry them. That site has a lot of nice reviews to give you an idea of what you can get in the price range you can afford...

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/grado-sr-60i.php
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:55 pm

Spend $100 on a DAC/AMP and $100 on a set of cans. I was able to get my HD555's for $55 refurbished off Amazon. PC headsets are almost universally disappointing.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:59 pm

I am using these while playing WOW because I like the high quality of the environment. Many times I've heard crickets or owls and take off the headset to see if its real (we have them in the neighborhood), and then realize it was just a faint background sound in the game. I picked up a cheap mic headset for $20 that I wear around my neck so I can talk to the other players on ventrillo.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:00 pm

Airmantharp wrote:Spend $100 on a DAC/AMP and $100 on a set of cans. I was able to get my HD555's for $55 refurbished off Amazon. PC headsets are almost universally disappointing.

Agree with that last bit. None of the PC headsets are worth using for listening. Thus my suggestion of getting a cheap mic headset and just wearing it around your neck with the mic near your mouth.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:01 pm

Mr Bill wrote:I am using these while playing WOW because I like the high quality of the environment. Many times I've heard crickets or owls and take off the headset to see if its real (we have them in the neighborhood), and then realize it was just a faint background sound in the game. I picked up a cheap mic headset for $20 that I wear around my neck so I can talk to the other players on ventrillo.


Oh I wasn't knocking your Grados, just explaining that there are plenty of good inexpensive options out there. Better still is being able to provide them with a clean DAC and good amplification.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:19 pm

If you can (it's probably out of your reach) - you should definitely go for Sennheiser PC360's, that's the best headset I've had the pleasure to try out in its price range. It will require an analog sound in/outs, though, so you'd probably need a dedicated soundcard, making the whole thing even more expensive... :(

There's also another excellent headset (which I haven't personally tried) - Beyerdynamic MMX 300 and it doesn't need a soundcard at all (it has in-line USB "soundcard"), it is also rather expensive as "new", BUT you may find it in used/refurbished form ("Amazon Warehouse" sells it for around $200 with a 30-day return policy).
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:23 pm

I'm surprised no one mentioned the Corsair Vengeance 1500. Best $80 I've spent on audio.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:46 pm

I should be able to point you in the right direction I think.

I HIGHLY recommend that you spring for either the Asus Essence STX (can be had pretty cheap second hand) or the Creative Titanium HD soundcard. The Asus would be my choice for you as it has an excellent onboard amp - eliminating the need to buy a separate amp unless you want to spend a lot of money. There's no point in getting a better headset until you have a good soundcard in my opinion.

Then when you're ready to buy a pair of headphones this is what I recommend: www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-hd-598

They are amazing at their price point.

But if you must have closed headphones (for noise/sound isolation) then these are an alternative: www.head-fi.org/products/audio-technica-ath-m50s

All in all the Asus soundcard + HD598 should cost you something like $200-250 if you shop around for good deals. This will give you a really high fidelity setup on the cheap, you can easily pay $1000 and get less sound if you don't know what you're doing.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:16 pm

TwoEars wrote:I should be able to point you in the right direction I think.

I HIGHLY recommend that you spring for either the Asus Essence STX (can be had pretty cheap second hand) or the Creative Titanium HD soundcard. The Asus would be my choice for you as it has an excellent onboard amp - eliminating the need to buy a separate amp unless you want to spend a lot of money. There's no point in getting a better headset until you have a good soundcard in my opinion.

Then when you're ready to buy a pair of headphones this is what I recommend: http://www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-hd-598

They are amazing at their price point.

But if you must have closed headphones (for noise/sound isolation) then these are an alternative: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audio-technica-ath-m50s

All in all the Asus soundcard + HD598 should cost you something like $200-250 if you shop around for good deals. This will give you a really high fidelity setup on the cheap, you can easily pay $1000 and get less sound if you don't know what you're doing.


Refurbished HD558's for $129 and FiiO E-17, your new soundcard.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:26 am

TwoEars wrote:I should be able to point you in the right direction I think.

I HIGHLY recommend that you spring for either the Asus Essence STX (can be had pretty cheap second hand) or the Creative Titanium HD soundcard. The Asus would be my choice for you as it has an excellent onboard amp - eliminating the need to buy a separate amp unless you want to spend a lot of money. There's no point in getting a better headset until you have a good soundcard in my opinion.

Then when you're ready to buy a pair of headphones this is what I recommend: http://www.head-fi.org/products/sennheiser-hd-598

They are amazing at their price point.

But if you must have closed headphones (for noise/sound isolation) then these are an alternative: http://www.head-fi.org/products/audio-technica-ath-m50s

All in all the Asus soundcard + HD598 should cost you something like $200-250 if you shop around for good deals. This will give you a really high fidelity setup on the cheap, you can easily pay $1000 and get less sound if you don't know what you're doing.


I would really like you to show me where I could get that Asus card + an HD 598 set for $200-$250 total...
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sat Oct 06, 2012 1:22 am

I've seen the card go for as low as $50: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid= ... &_from=R40

And as-new HD598's usually sell for below $200 here: http://www.head-fi.org/f/6550/headphones-for-sale-trade (but they go VERY quickly!!)

Amazon also had a "super headphone month" right now in September. 25% off and I think the HD598 was one of them - in which case you just missed it.

So - there are deals to be made if you look around. You can always ask at head-fi where to get something, usually some dealer has some deal going and people will know about it.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sat Oct 06, 2012 3:39 pm

Thank you for all the replies.

I put Grado SR60 in the list for consideration but all the other suggestions are simply way above my price range. There's no refurbished HD 555's in Amazon, only used ones, and I don't really like the idea of going through the possibility of the used headphones having problems and ending up having to deal with endless shipping. Same with DAC/AMP (I don't even know what this is) and soundcards. I'd rather be safe buying new headphones with some kind of warranty from a trustworthy source and being satisfied with the quality I paid for.

I tried going to the Sennheiser website to see what they have to offer ~$150, but their website was wayyyyy too unorganized. To make it a bit easier, does anyone know the best headphone Sennheiser has to offer for ~$150?
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sat Oct 06, 2012 4:16 pm

Don't look for the HD555's- they've been replaced with the HD558's. The current range is HD518 -> HD558 -> HD598. Also, a soundcard is at least a DAC (digital to analog converter) and an amplifier, though most sound cards are mediocre at both when it comes to true audio fidelity and ability to properly drive a real set of headphones. An external DAC/AMP is just a USB sound card with a dedicated headphone amplifier circuit, and will eclipse sound cards at the same price for the purpose of using headphones with a computer.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:39 pm

I just bought Sennheiser HD 558 on ebay for $130. I don't really trust ebay but everywhere else it's at least $180+ so I decided to give it a go. I guess it's because it's refurbished. Kinda goes against everything I was hoping for.. -_-;;

Thanks for the advice though. Do you have a more affordable DAC/AMP device I could check out? I'll see if I can find a deal on the one you suggested earlier when I have time.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 12:08 am

Airmantharp wrote:Don't look for the HD555's- they've been replaced with the HD558's. The current range is HD518 -> HD558 -> HD598. Also, a soundcard is at least a DAC (digital to analog converter) and an amplifier, though most sound cards are mediocre at both when it comes to true audio fidelity and ability to properly drive a real set of headphones. An external DAC/AMP is just a USB sound card with a dedicated headphone amplifier circuit, and will eclipse sound cards at the same price for the purpose of using headphones with a computer.


My experience is the exact opposite, internal soundcards are an amazing value since you don't have to pay for case or psu and the boards are mass produced.

The titanium HD and Essence STX are better than any external DAC/AMP solution I know of below $350.

Especially the Essence STX and a pair of HD650s is possibly the single most bang-for-the-buck audio setup I know of.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:51 pm

What if I just plugged the Sennheiser HD 558 onto my onboard sound? I didn't know sound cards would cost equally or greater than the headphones...
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 1:57 pm

TwoEars wrote:My experience is the exact opposite, internal soundcards are an amazing value since you don't have to pay for case or psu and the boards are mass produced.

The titanium HD and Essence STX are better than any external DAC/AMP solution I know of below $350.

Especially the Essence STX and a pair of HD650s is possibly the single most bang-for-the-buck audio setup I know of.


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O2+ODAC Combo - $285
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 2:00 pm

Turiel wrote:What if I just plugged the Sennheiser HD 558 onto my onboard sound? I didn't know sound cards would cost equally or greater than the headphones...


It will work just fine. Sound is very subjective. See if you like it. See if you can hear the detail you want. No need to spend extra money on something that you yourself can't discern if there really is a difference.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 6:34 pm

DancinJack wrote:
Turiel wrote:What if I just plugged the Sennheiser HD 558 onto my onboard sound? I didn't know sound cards would cost equally or greater than the headphones...


It will work just fine. Sound is very subjective. See if you like it. See if you can hear the detail you want. No need to spend extra money on something that you yourself can't discern if there really is a difference.

Yeap. Don't let the "placebo effect" take over you :wink:
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 6:42 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
TwoEars wrote:My experience is the exact opposite, internal soundcards are an amazing value since you don't have to pay for case or psu and the boards are mass produced.

The titanium HD and Essence STX are better than any external DAC/AMP solution I know of below $350.

Especially the Essence STX and a pair of HD650s is possibly the single most bang-for-the-buck audio setup I know of.


O2 Headphone Amp
ODAC Released


O2+ODAC Combo - $285


THIS.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:25 pm

I scored a Xonar Xense for $170 awhile back on some kind of weird newegg sale, turned out great.

I was surprised by how good the headset part of it is, especially compared to everyone with bargain crap that sounds like claws on chalkboard in vent/mumble/whatever.

Although going by a quick price search, doesn't really fall into your range at the moment.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:39 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
TwoEars wrote:My experience is the exact opposite, internal soundcards are an amazing value since you don't have to pay for case or psu and the boards are mass produced.

The titanium HD and Essence STX are better than any external DAC/AMP solution I know of below $350.

Especially the Essence STX and a pair of HD650s is possibly the single most bang-for-the-buck audio setup I know of.


O2 Headphone Amp
ODAC Released


O2+ODAC Combo - $285


The only disappointment with the O2+ODAC is the lack of 6.5mm input. I mean, why force people to put an adapter in the loop for nice cans? I know that it was a design limitation, but seriously... it was worth designing around that.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:43 pm

JohnC wrote:
DancinJack wrote:
Turiel wrote:What if I just plugged the Sennheiser HD 558 onto my onboard sound? I didn't know sound cards would cost equally or greater than the headphones...


It will work just fine. Sound is very subjective. See if you like it. See if you can hear the detail you want. No need to spend extra money on something that you yourself can't discern if there really is a difference.

Yeap. Don't let the "placebo effect" take over you :wink:


I will say this- I have a Plantronics headset that I used before my HD555's. Couldn't tell the difference between my onboard Realtek and my X-Fi (which I bought for DTS encoding more than anything). The HD555's, however, came alive when plugged into the X-Fi, and it's not even considered to be a quality source nor a decent amp.

The Xonar STX would be at the top of my list for sound cards, but since I have no need for surround capabilities in a sound card, I'd rather have a dedicated, external USB DAC/Amp.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:56 pm

What are the benefits of a "dedicated external USB" DAC/AMP over a sound card?
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 10:17 pm

Turiel wrote:What are the benefits of a "dedicated external USB" DAC/AMP over a sound card?


Mostly that they're designed with a single purpose in mind, instead of many purposes.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:11 pm

Ryu Connor wrote:
TwoEars wrote:My experience is the exact opposite, internal soundcards are an amazing value since you don't have to pay for case or psu and the boards are mass produced.

The titanium HD and Essence STX are better than any external DAC/AMP solution I know of below $350.

Especially the Essence STX and a pair of HD650s is possibly the single most bang-for-the-buck audio setup I know of.


O2 Headphone Amp
ODAC Released


O2+ODAC Combo - $285


Looks interesting! Another good product I can recommend is this one: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=yulong+d100+ii

Very solid and good sounding for the money. And stay away from NuForce - they're crap, better things out there.

Airmantharp wrote:
Turiel wrote:What are the benefits of a "dedicated external USB" DAC/AMP over a sound card?


Mostly that they're designed with a single purpose in mind, instead of many purposes.


You have a weird way of looking at things my friend. I'm pretty sure that a soundcard is single minded in it's construction in order to deliver maximum sound for the least amount of money.

There are however benefits to an external solution I will give you that - mostly dedicated hopefully clean power and noise isolation. (the Ti-HD is shielded for magnetic interference and if you have a good PSU in you computer this starts to matter less though). When going for a more expensive solution +$500 you definitely want an external solution.

I still think that in the sub $200 category soundcards definitely is the way to go - you don't pay for case, PSU and the boards are mass produced. Both Asus and creative know what they're doing. The cards DO sound good.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Sun Oct 07, 2012 11:48 pm

Spend $100-$150 on a decent pair of headphones (if you can swing it, maybe a pair of Sennheiser HD 558s which you should be able to find for around $150) and an antlion modmic. Best of both worlds. You get a headset that's at least as good as the Sennhieser PC/350/360 and you can easily detach the mike and have a great pair of stand-alone headphones. (unfortunately, the modmic seems to be out of stock for now)
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Mon Oct 08, 2012 9:31 pm

What do you guys think of the Audinst HUD-Mini?

Whether or not it is a good DAC/AMP or even a good value, it has the right connections and form factor for this kind of work. I'm looking for something like this.
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Re: $150-$200 Headset?

Postposted on Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:20 pm

Don't know about that brand - but it doesn't have a mic input. I thought the OP was interested in a headset?

As far as portable (or desktop) DACs go, I like the Audio-gd stuff personally. They start at just over $200, but from experience with some of their products, quality for the money is unsurpassed.
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