Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

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Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:11 pm

Hey all,

So, I have a set of older Tritton Audio Xtreme 360 headphones I got in 2005 for about $100, but they have crapped out on me. The sound balance between left and right is now weighted too heavily on the right and can't seem to figure out how to fix that. I've dug through the options and can't seem to find an option that lets me balance between left and right audio. If anyone knows how to do that, you may save me a hundred dollars.

Assuming I can't fix the issue, I'm thinking about getting a new set of surround sound headphones and need some advice. My motherboard is the Asrock Z77 Extreme 4 which has an optical out. I would want the headphones to work with both my PC and Xbox 360. Budget is $150 max. If I absolutely need a sound card to make these sound decent, then I can go up to $160 total.

I was thinking about these options:

CM Storm Sirius for $100 at Amazon.

Tritton Pro+ for $120-$170 on Amazon.

Zalman ZM-RS6F 5.1 for about $43 on Amazon.

or

Tritton AX Pro for $80ish on Amazon.

I'm leaning towards the AX Pro since it can be had for cheaper (just have to give it a thorough cleaning).

For sound cards I'd probably consider a Creative Xi-Fi for $50 for the extra volume controls or an Asus Xonar DG for $30.

Any recommendations?

Thanks!

SoCo
Last edited by southrncomfortjm on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:15 pm

Have you verified that the left/right balance issue is a problem with the headphones, and not a problem with your soundcard or with the left/right balance setting in Windows' audio control panel?
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:17 pm

Can I talk you out of buying "surround" headphones?

They don't really do much about the whole back/front issue that surround imaging doesn't, and you get to pay more for much inferior audio quality.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:21 pm

I would recommend that you don't buy 'surround' headphones
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:28 pm

just brew it! wrote:Have you verified that the left/right balance issue is a problem with the headphones, and not a problem with your soundcard or with the left/right balance setting in Windows' audio control panel?


I don't think its a problem with that, but I think finding that option may help. I have gone back into it since I switched from Windows 8 to 7, so maybe I can find the option now (I couldn't find anything in Windows 8).

morphine wrote:Can I talk you out of buying "surround" headphones?

They don't really do much about the whole back/front issue that surround imaging doesn't, and you get to pay more for much inferior audio quality.


Firestarter wrote:I would recommend that you don't buy 'surround' headphones


I liked my old surround sound headset. First game I used it with was Splinter Cell: Double Agent and they made it all too easy to play as a merc since I could pretty easily pinpoint where the spies were in the rafters. I'm also constrained in that I can't just attached a surround sound system since I need to keep the volume down for others in the house. Do you all just recommend stereo headphones?

As a random aside, Firestarter by Prodigy came on while I was drafting this reply. Nice timing.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 1:35 pm

Just about anything by Sennheiser will give a decent balance of quality for the price.

If you want actual good stuff, start looking at Grado SR-1s. I think they're still the hotness.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 3:51 pm

Forge wrote:Just about anything by Sennheiser will give a decent balance of quality for the price.

If you want actual good stuff, start looking at Grado SR-1s. I think they're still the hotness.

I feel insulted. Sennheiser is equally Good Stuff and has the bonus of not looking like your great-grandfather's headphones at that. :P
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:36 pm

morphine wrote:
Forge wrote:Just about anything by Sennheiser will give a decent balance of quality for the price.

If you want actual good stuff, start looking at Grado SR-1s. I think they're still the hotness.

I feel insulted. Sennheiser is equally Good Stuff and has the bonus of not looking like your great-grandfather's headphones at that. :P


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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:02 pm

Forge wrote:Just about anything by Sennheiser will give a decent balance of quality for the price.

If you want actual good stuff, start looking at Grado SR-1s. I think they're still the hotness.

Pfft... RS-1 are junk compared to Sennheiser HD800 :P
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:15 pm

southrncomfortjm wrote:I liked my old surround sound headset. First game I used it with was Splinter Cell: Double Agent and they made it all too easy to play as a merc since I could pretty easily pinpoint where the spies were in the rafters. I'm also constrained in that I can't just attached a surround sound system since I need to keep the volume down for others in the house. Do you all just recommend stereo headphones?

Basically, you only have two ears, and audio positioning is obtained when your brain compares the two signals received including volume differences and phase shifts, plus or minus any additional information received from visual cues.

"Surround" headphones aren't actually adding any information that can't also be obtained with modern digital signal processing, but they definitely are compromised by the need to place multiple smaller drivers into the cup of the headphone, as opposed to just using one larger and really good one.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:08 pm

ludi wrote:Basically, you only have two ears...
This.

So-called "surround" headphones are a gimmick. At best they add nothing. At worst, they create a bizarrely distorted sound stage with messed-up delay times. Get a good pair of stereo headphones and set your game to use stereo headphones. It should manage all of the signal processing in the PC to create positional audio.

I use a Sennheiser PC151 headset for gaming with Ventrillo. For music or non-team gaming, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD580 headphones if I don't need a microphone.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:22 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:
ludi wrote:Basically, you only have two ears...
This.

So-called "surround" headphones are a gimmick. At best they add nothing. At worst, they create a bizarrely distorted sound stage with messed-up delay times. Get a good pair of stereo headphones and set your game to use stereo headphones. It should manage all of the signal processing in the PC to create positional audio.

I use a Sennheiser PC151 headset for gaming with Ventrillo. For music or non-team gaming, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD580 headphones if I don't need a microphone.


The HD 580 is no longer available unfortunately. How about a HD 439, HD 449 or HD 518? Since I will probably be skipping the surround sound headsets, I'd also want whichever headset I buy to be good for flights since I travel a couple of times a month. Active noise cancelling headsets from Bose or others are a bit steep. Will these headsets help drown out some of the ambient airplane noise? More or less than in ear buds? Seems like the HD 518s would be less ideal for airtravel because they are open.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:08 am

southrncomfortjm wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:
ludi wrote:Basically, you only have two ears...
This.

So-called "surround" headphones are a gimmick. At best they add nothing. At worst, they create a bizarrely distorted sound stage with messed-up delay times. Get a good pair of stereo headphones and set your game to use stereo headphones. It should manage all of the signal processing in the PC to create positional audio.

I use a Sennheiser PC151 headset for gaming with Ventrillo. For music or non-team gaming, I have a pair of Sennheiser HD580 headphones if I don't need a microphone.


The HD 580 is no longer available unfortunately. How about a HD 439, HD 449 or HD 518? Since I will probably be skipping the surround sound headsets, I'd also want whichever headset I buy to be good for flights since I travel a couple of times a month. Active noise cancelling headsets from Bose or others are a bit steep. Will these headsets help drown out some of the ambient airplane noise? More or less than in ear buds? Seems like the HD 518s would be less ideal for airtravel because they are open.


For ambient noise reduction you don't need active noise cancellation - all you need is a "closed circumaural" design. I used to travel with my inexpensive HD280 Pro model - they had excellent passive noise reduction when using in planes.

If you are looking for more travel-oriented models, I suggest trying out the HD380 Pro model - it's an improved HD280, with more comfort and better sound quality and with same awesome passive noise isolation and foldable design.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:18 am

http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-AT ... ds=athm50s

They'll be a little big, but they have great sound and will provide the noise isolation you want.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:45 am

DancinJack wrote:http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-M50S-Professional-Monitor-Headphones/dp/B004ZG9TMA/ref=sr_1_1?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1364476656&sr=1-1&keywords=athm50s

They'll be a little big, but they have great sound and will provide the noise isolation you want.



What about the M30s or M40FS? They seem similar, have really good reviews and are less than $30 and $51 respectively. I'm all about quality, but if I can get the majority of the quality at less than half the price, I'd call that a good deal. The 11 foot cables are a concern for flights, though I guess I can just use a rubber band or something to keep them under control. Will be nice that I can have some space from the computer without worrying about a cable problem.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:09 am

Just try them out. Essentially it's up to YOU to decide which "quality" is "good enough" (and especially if they are comfortable enough). So just buy several of them, try them out, return the ones you think are not good :wink:
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:32 am

southrncomfortjm wrote:Will these headsets help drown out some of the ambient airplane noise? More or less than in ear buds? Seems like the HD 518s would be less ideal for airtravel because they are open.


I think you've got closed/open flipped. Closed designs make a seal around the ears that can be less comfortable, but dampens ambient noise and somewhat prevents noise from the headphones leaking out.

Open designs aren't sealed, so you can hear ambient noise and to an extent, the world around you can hear your music.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:36 am

However, some people prefer the intrinsic sound of open headphones, because the construction + psychoacoustics reportedly give them a better soundstage.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 9:41 am

Man you all beat me to the punch. I am happy to see so many others talking people out of surround sound headphones.

To the OP: I have two sets of audiophile headphones and use them for certain situations:

The First set I have are Grado SR125's. These are open ear headphones where they sit on the ear and let in ambient sounds. I use these when I need to hear if my wife or kid is calling me.

The second set are my Sennheiser 580 which are around the ear headphones and block out almost all ambient sounds. I use these late at night.

Also if you are going to use them for gaming and need a mic get the Zalman MC1. They are cheap but are worth a lot more. I have used it with ventrillo, Teamspeak and mumble and people are constently telling me that I sound like I am in the same room as them.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:21 am

The main reason I like active noise-cancellation 'phones for flights is that although the cancellation circuit does reduce repetitive sounds such as engine drone and air rush, it has the inadvertent effect of amplifying non-repetitive sounds such as the attendant asking me what I want to drink, or random announcements from the cockpit.

If you can only afford one set and plan to use them mostly at home, closed-back cirumaural is what I would get. But I don't like the idea of carrying bulky $100+ headphones on a flight, and you can get a basic pair of noise-cancellers for about $22, so...
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:40 am

Thanks for the tips guys.

I think I'll go with that Zalman clip. Easy to use and saves me from having to store and protect another set of headphones while keeping the great sound quality of whatever headset I do choose.

Going back and forth between the M30, M40FS and one of the HD 4XX models. I'm not an audiophile and I don't think I've ever owned a set of headphones or speakers that anyone would consider outstanding. I just want good quality sound that is a step or two up from what you get packaged with MP3 players and cell phones. If I get that with the cheaper models (and it seems like I do), then I'm all in. I'm perfectly willing to spend $60 more if the extra quality is something amazing, but then again that $60 can buy me two quality games.

Actually leaning towards the Sennheiser HD 429.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:44 am

Sounds like you're in the same range as me. I would like to hear greatness, but every time someone has tried to demonstrate, it isn't exceptional. Probably just lead ears.

I have a set of Sennheiser HD457s on at work right now, they're comfy, sound good, and I've had them almost a decade without issue, despite constant abuse and neglect. Whatever's current in Sennheiser's 50-75$ range will probably suit your purposes just fine.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:50 am

Forge wrote:Sounds like you're in the same range as me. I would like to hear greatness, but every time someone has tried to demonstrate, it isn't exceptional. Probably just lead ears.

I have a set of Sennheiser HD457s on at work right now, they're comfy, sound good, and I've had them almost a decade without issue, despite constant abuse and neglect. Whatever's current in Sennheiser's 50-75$ range will probably suit your purposes just fine.


Sounds about right. 429s then. Going to the gym and then making my purchase. Thanks!
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 12:07 pm

Get a good set of Stereo headphones and an X-Fi or a Xonar.

I have an X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional series and Sennheiser HD-555 stereo headphones and they have been providing me with great sound in my games since 2008.

FEAR or COD4 with CMSS-3D (their "surround" mode for stereo headphones) is a very good surround simulation on stereo headphones. I can hear people's exact location at a distance and it helps a lot.

BFBC2 or BF3 with CMSS-3D off and Headphone mode selected in the in-game audio settings is great too. Since they have their own headphone virtualization in-game, CMSS-3D just makes it sound muddy.

I would recommend getting a sound card that has a built in headphone amp though, like the Auzentech X-Fi Forte, Xonar DX / DGX / DSX depending on your budget.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:17 pm

Today only sale, but it's an awesome price.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6826106636

I got two pair shipped 3day for a bit over 25$. They'll be here tomorrow.

One day only sale.

HD201S is pretty close to the bottom of Senn's line, but at under 15$ a pair, you can leave them on the plane and not be upset.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:53 pm

Prestige Worldwide wrote:Get a good set of Stereo headphones and an X-Fi or a Xonar.

I have an X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional series and Sennheiser HD-555 stereo headphones and they have been providing me with great sound in my games since 2008.

FEAR or COD4 with CMSS-3D (their "surround" mode for stereo headphones) is a very good surround simulation on stereo headphones. I can hear people's exact location at a distance and it helps a lot.

BFBC2 or BF3 with CMSS-3D off and Headphone mode selected in the in-game audio settings is great too. Since they have their own headphone virtualization in-game, CMSS-3D just makes it sound muddy.

I would recommend getting a sound card that has a built in headphone amp though, like the Auzentech X-Fi Forte, Xonar DX / DGX / DSX depending on your budget.


There's no reason at all for getting an outdated junk like X-Fi series. It was replaced by Soundblaster Z series of cards, which have better driver support for modern Windows OSes, better features (the new simulated surround sound mode, SBX Surround, works much better than CMSS-3D with all games) and still have hardware acceleration for relevant features. Even the "base" model already comes with headphone amplifier.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:18 pm

JohnC wrote:There's no reason at all for getting an outdated junk like X-Fi series.

It's not like PC sound card tech has progressed much in the past decade (give or take). For the vast majority of users, the current crop of cards isn't going to sound appreciably better than the "outdated junk" like X-Fi.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:26 pm

I'd go even farther. Current mid to high end integrated audio outclasses all but the best discrete cards. Setting aside X-Fi and Z audio, and setting aside Asus's audio products, there really isn't much on the market that outperforms or outdelivers decent motherboard audio.

That said, it's deplorable that things are so. The top end of the PC audio market is a ghost town, with "sorta OK" "slightly better" and "utterly ridiculous" being the only available quality levels.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 3:26 pm

I own the steelseries 7H USB version and currently I don't even use the USB sound card they came with! They sound waaaaay better hooked straight into the onboard sound without any "surround" processing. If I were to do it all again I would have just purchased a nice set of headphones without the "7.1" gimmick and maybe a headphone amp or better sound card.

In gaming I found little to no difference whether they were run through the USB sound card or run through the analog headphone jack on my mobo. In game setting made the biggest difference In the sound.
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Re: Gaming- Which surround sound headphones?

Postposted on Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:14 pm

just brew it! wrote:
JohnC wrote:There's no reason at all for getting an outdated junk like X-Fi series.

It's not like PC sound card tech has progressed much in the past decade (give or take). For the vast majority of users, the current crop of cards isn't going to sound appreciably better than the "outdated junk" like X-Fi.


It's not even about sound quality - take a look at the frequency of an official driver releases for X-Fi cards. The latest is from January 3rd of this year (the previous one was released in 2010), and most likely it will be the last for any OS. The card is not being manufactured anymore, only chance of getting them is from a leftover stock at few retail stores with a heavily inflated price or a used one from someone else with an unknown lifetime left and no warranty... Whereas anyone can get SoundBlaster Z for about $100, new, with proper warranty and most likely better future driver support.
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