Gaming headset/ headphones+mic advice wanted

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#1 Posted by jackyblacky (4 posts) -

You guys seem to know your stuff, so I'm asking for some advice about getting a new headset/headphones particularly for gaming.

First off I want to say that I'm by no means an audiophile and would most likely not recognise the difference between good quality/mediocre quality. That being said, the main thing I'm looking for in a headset would be the ability to hear particular sounds clearly. Take a game like DayZ as an example. I want to hear the footsteps and gunshots clearly and be able to pinpoint them quite easily. I'm currently using the Logitech G35, and as the FAQ stated, it's more of a rip-off than anything useful. The virtual surround sound works in only a few games and manages to mess up the sound in most of the games I play.

I do not use a soundcard, because as I said I guess it's a waste of money since it just gets better quality which is quite indifferent for me. My price range is max 100$, I wouldn't mind switching to headphones and a mic, as long as it gives me the 'quality' (read: being able to hear where sounds are coming from in games) I'm looking for.

I hope I can get some decent advice. Thanks.

EDIT: They should also be around ear headphones.

#2 Posted by Bozanimal (2483 posts) -

My knee-jerk reaction is the Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (NOT the ATH-A700, that's different). This headphone has clearly defined vocals and an excellent sound stage at your price point. There are lots of other great options, but really it's everything you're looking for. Just remember to budget a mic when you buy it.

If you plan to use it for console gaming you will need an adaptor as well.

Happy gaming,

Boz

*Edit* Stupid bbcode link: You work now!

#3 Posted by Kinthalis (5317 posts) -

I'll second those.

Also see if you cna get a deal on some Sennheisers from eBay or maybe used/open box from your local Best Buy/Microcenter.

Make sure you have the latest drivers for your onboard sound and enable their surround sound tech as well. If your onboard doesn't have surround sound tech for headphones, a cheap soudn card might be required.

#4 Posted by jackyblacky (4 posts) -

Thanks for the tips, sadly I live in europe and am pretty sure amazon.com doesn't ship here. When looking for national shops I can only find the said headphones at 170 euros, which is around 200 -210$. So any other recommendations?

What are the advantages of having normal headphones with a standalone mic?

#5 Posted by GTR12 (9545 posts) -

Thanks for the tips, sadly I live in europe and am pretty sure amazon.com doesn't ship here. When looking for national shops I can only find the said headphones at 170 euros, which is around 200 -210$. So any other recommendations?

What are the advantages of having normal headphones with a standalone mic?

jackyblacky

Amazon UK has international delivery.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Audio-Technica-ATH-AD700-Headphones-ear-cup/dp/B000CMS0XU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342148602&sr=8-1

#6 Posted by jackyblacky (4 posts) -

Yet it'll still cost me 140 euros, with shipping costs I bet it costs around the same as a local shop. It's too much money I'm affraid. What about gaming headsets like the Turtle Beach Z6A or the Steelseries Siberia? Are they just overpriced for what they offer?

#7 Posted by Bozanimal (2483 posts) -
Where are you, exactly? Maybe there's a local shop or another user has experience with a web retailer catering to your region. Gaming headsets are almost unilaterally closed-backed, which is not necessarily bad, but you're looking for is accurate, clear midrange and a detailed soundstage. An open-back headphone is going to be ideal. The Grado SR80i or SR60i (its little brother) might be a good option if you can find one at a decent price, but they're on-ear, not over-ear. Still, the sound quality is exactly what you're look for, so you might consider it. There are a few gaming headsets in the FAQ, but only the Sennheiser PC166 (I believe replaced by the PC161) is open-back. I do not have direct experience with the product, but it is supposed to be a very good gaming headphone at about $120 USD. Happy gaming, Boz
#8 Posted by NamelessPlayer (7729 posts) -
"I do not use a soundcard, because as I said I guess it's a waste of money since it just gets better quality which is quite indifferent for me." Normally, I'd mention the likes of CMSS-3D Headphone and Dolby Headphone as major advantages sound cards have over integrated audio in most cases, but the Logitech G35 uses Dolby Headphone, and you hated it. (It might sound significantly better with a proper headphone like the AD700 or K701/K702/Q701 to bring out the positional cues, though.)
#9 Posted by NVIDIATI (7689 posts) -

It might sound significantly better with a proper headphone like the AD700 or K701/K702/Q701 to bring out the positional cues, though.NamelessPlayer
Dolby Headphone sounds horrible with my K702 headphones. It ruins the SQ and manages to reduce the K702's massive soundstage.

#10 Posted by NVIDIATI (7689 posts) -

The Grado SR80i or SR60i (its little brother) might be a good option if you can find one at a decent price, but they're on-ear, not over-ear. Bozanimal

The Alessandro by Grado (Music Series One 2009 or MS1i) is only $109USD and is equivalent in SQ to the Grado SR125i.

http://www.alessandro-products.com/main.php?p=headphones

Grado stock is on ear, but it can be over-ear with a simple change in padding.

#11 Posted by NamelessPlayer (7729 posts) -
Dolby Headphone sounds horrible with my K702 headphones. It ruins the SQ and manages to reduce the K702's massive soundstage.NVIDIATI
Just goes to show how subjective things are. From this Head-Fi thread on gaming headphones:

K701 (K702) Remember how I felt the AD700 did something to me? How it completely change my view on headphones and Dolby Headphone? Well, I got that same feeling again with the K701. In fact, I felt like god had given me the secret to just out right smite my enemies with the hammer of justice. The K701 to me, is pure, unadulterated, SMACKDOWN inducing OWNAGE. The very first time I used them (Modern Warfare 2), I went 2 straight 25-0 games in Free For All. I mean, holy smokes. The K701 was like wearing x-ray vision goggles for my ears. Depth, width, imaging, complete detail retrieval... it had it all. These to me, are the very vision of the perfect gaming headphone (with Dolby Headphone). I'd still place the overall positioning behind the DT770 Pro 80, and AD700, but it's on par with the HD598. We're talking about them being maybe a 9.9 instead of a 10 (which is what the 770s and AD700s are to me). Those two have NOTHING on the clarity and detail-whoring the K701 has. The bass is light, but present enough for it not to be anywhere near a complaint for me. It just works. You want my top pick for a purely godlike hardcore gaming headphone? The K70x is it. Now if only they were easy to drive. Believe it or not, the Mixamp does a SPECTACULAR job driving the K70x, as long as you don't mix in voice chat whatsoever. Talking about leaving the game/voice balance completely on the game side. Once you nudge the balance away from game, the volume takes a steep dive, and you will note how badly the things need an amp. Now I already know how volume =/= driving force, but for gaming with dolby headphone, you WON'T think about that or notice. Trust me, the Mixamp is enough for the K701 if again, you don't add voice chat. If you do, you WILL need to attach an amp to the Mixamp's headphone out, just to juice the K70x and voice chat audio. Comfort-wise, quite polarizing. A lot of people have issue with the headband's bumps. I won't lie, they take getting used to. However, once you've beared with it enough, your head will get desensitized by that particular sensation. The bumps no longer affect me in the least. I find them extremely comfortable. My only complaint now is that I wish the headband extended just a little more. I have to fully extend them to fit me properly, and it's quite noticeably felt, though it's not a real discomfort. Fun: 6/10 Competitve: 10/10 Comfort: 8/10

Of course, there's still the matter of generic HRTF-based binaural mixing technologies being used when everyone has a unique HRTF. The effect won't work ideally for everyone, and there's usually a hit to sound quality. Only the Smyth Realiser seems to get around this, but at $3,000+ for the DSP itself, let alone the theater speaker system you need to make a recording in...sorry about your wallet.
#12 Posted by Mozelleple112 (6665 posts) -
[QUOTE="NVIDIATI"]Dolby Headphone sounds horrible with my K702 headphones. It ruins the SQ and manages to reduce the K702's massive soundstage.NamelessPlayer
Just goes to show how subjective things are. From this Head-Fi thread on gaming headphones:

K701 (K702) Remember how I felt the AD700 did something to me? How it completely change my view on headphones and Dolby Headphone? Well, I got that same feeling again with the K701. In fact, I felt like god had given me the secret to just out right smite my enemies with the hammer of justice. The K701 to me, is pure, unadulterated, SMACKDOWN inducing OWNAGE. The very first time I used them (Modern Warfare 2), I went 2 straight 25-0 games in Free For All. I mean, holy smokes. The K701 was like wearing x-ray vision goggles for my ears. Depth, width, imaging, complete detail retrieval... it had it all. These to me, are the very vision of the perfect gaming headphone (with Dolby Headphone). I'd still place the overall positioning behind the DT770 Pro 80, and AD700, but it's on par with the HD598. We're talking about them being maybe a 9.9 instead of a 10 (which is what the 770s and AD700s are to me). Those two have NOTHING on the clarity and detail-whoring the K701 has. The bass is light, but present enough for it not to be anywhere near a complaint for me. It just works. You want my top pick for a purely godlike hardcore gaming headphone? The K70x is it. Now if only they were easy to drive. Believe it or not, the Mixamp does a SPECTACULAR job driving the K70x, as long as you don't mix in voice chat whatsoever. Talking about leaving the game/voice balance completely on the game side. Once you nudge the balance away from game, the volume takes a steep dive, and you will note how badly the things need an amp. Now I already know how volume =/= driving force, but for gaming with dolby headphone, you WON'T think about that or notice. Trust me, the Mixamp is enough for the K701 if again, you don't add voice chat. If you do, you WILL need to attach an amp to the Mixamp's headphone out, just to juice the K70x and voice chat audio. Comfort-wise, quite polarizing. A lot of people have issue with the headband's bumps. I won't lie, they take getting used to. However, once you've beared with it enough, your head will get desensitized by that particular sensation. The bumps no longer affect me in the least. I find them extremely comfortable. My only complaint now is that I wish the headband extended just a little more. I have to fully extend them to fit me properly, and it's quite noticeably felt, though it's not a real discomfort. Fun: 6/10 Competitve: 10/10 Comfort: 8/10

Of course, there's still the matter of generic HRTF-based binaural mixing technologies being used when everyone has a unique HRTF. The effect won't work ideally for everyone, and there's usually a hit to sound quality. Only the Smyth Realiser seems to get around this, but at $3,000+ for the DSP itself, let alone the theater speaker system you need to make a recording in...sorry about your wallet.

I found that guys post to not be THAT reliable, nothing other than a decent opinion. @ TC, many great headphones under $100, for instance the AKG K240, Denon AH-D1001, Audio Technica M30, Shure SH440, Grado SR60i, Gradio SR80i, the afore mentioned Alessandro Grados posted, Sennheiser HD 449 (though personaly I thought these suck)
#13 Posted by jackyblacky (4 posts) -
Normally, I'd mention the likes of CMSS-3D Headphone and Dolby Headphone as major advantages sound cards have over integrated audio in most cases, but the Logitech G35 uses Dolby Headphone, and you hated it. (It might sound significantly better with a proper headphone like the AD700 or K701/K702/Q701 to bring out the positional cues, though.)NamelessPlayer
I'm a bit confused here, you can still use the Dolby Headphone software with other headphones? I've been talking to a clanmate who has been working with computers for quite some time, and he's recommending me to buy a soundcard over headphones. He says that if I get a decent one like the Creative SoundBlaster Recon3D PCI-E I will be able to - IIRC - hear more channels, hear better quality and positioning. In general have more of a clue of what's happening around me sound-wise. I think I might pick a card with on-board positioning (or however I should call it) instead of software-wise after the weekend. I'm still curious what you guys think about getting a better soundcard instead of headphones? I will probably still get new headphones within a few months tho.
#17 Posted by Bozanimal (2483 posts) -
Dolby Headphone is native to the sound card or audio chipset, not the headphone, meaning it will work with any headphone. The surround effect works better with open-back headphones than closed-back headphones, but it will work regardless. Note that Creative uses a proprietary surround format known as CMSS-3D. It is very, very similar to Dolby Headphone. The Asus Xonar DG is a relatively inexpensive, quality sound card that will give you both a decent headphone amplifier and Dolby Headphone. If you want the Dolby Headphone effect for console gaming you will need to get an external processor like the Astro Mixamp. It's more expensive, but is compatible with both consoles and your PC via USB. As for whether you should get a sound card rather than replace the G35, I would replace the G35 first, and add a card later. Considering what you want and your budget, you might be able to get everything you want by going for the Grado SR60i and the Asus Xonar DG, which together is about $100 USD. The only thing you don't get is over-ear, but as NVIDIATI mentioned, you can modify the headphones if they're not comfy for you. Happy gaming, Boz
#18 Posted by jackyblacky (4 posts) -

Thanks for the reply, can you elaborate a bit on this: "The surround effect works better with open-back headphones than closed-back headphones"?

And for modifying that 60i, how does that go to work? I assume you have to buy parts for it?

#19 Posted by Bozanimal (2483 posts) -

Thanks for the reply, can you elaborate a bit on this: "The surround effect works better with open-back headphones than closed-back headphones"?

And for modifying that 60i, how does that go to work? I assume you have to buy parts for it?

jackyblacky
Dolby Headphone is a simulated surround effect. It is trying to recreate a virtual space for your ears in real time. Open-back headphones have a naturally "wider" soundstage, much like listening to music at a live performance in a concert hall or outdoor venue. Closed-back headphones have a "narrower" soundstage, much like listening to music in a recording studio or other sound-deadened space. In a recording studio the natural echoes of everyday noises are muffled by all the acoustic foam and other insulating products they use to cut unwanted sound from recordings. This is great for capturing individual sounds, but not great for listening to a composition. It sounds unnatural. Now there are still lots of great closed-back headphones, and the effect will work with closed-back headphones, but it is a more pronounced effect when combined with open-backed headphones due to the larger sense of space. As for modifying the SR60i, there are replacements cushions available on Amazon that are pretty inexpensive, but I'd suggest you ignore the mod and cross that bridge only if and when you come to it. I found the Grados to be quite comfy without any modifications. Good luck, Boz
#20 Posted by NVIDIATI (7689 posts) -

Once again I would strongly recommend the Alessandro by Grado MS1i over the SR60i or SR80i. For $110 USD with free shipping they're a great option for anyone looking for the Grado sound at a low price.

#21 Posted by NVIDIATI (7689 posts) -

[QUOTE="NVIDIATI"]Dolby Headphone sounds horrible with my K702 headphones. It ruins the SQ and manages to reduce the K702's massive soundstage.NamelessPlayer
Just goes to show how subjective things are.

It does create a decent surround sound effect, but there is that loss in SQ and natural sound stage which I'm not too crazy about.

Despite my preferences, what the Head-fier said may still remain true, the K702 could be one of the better headphones to use with DH.

#22 Posted by Bozanimal (2483 posts) -

Once again I would strongly recommend the Alessandro by Grado MS1i over the SR60i or SR80i. For $110 USD with free shipping they're a great option for anyone looking for the Grado sound at a low price.

NVIDIATI
The reason I drift back to the SR60i is because it is still a great headphone that comes in under budget, allowing him/her funds to buy a mic and pay shipping. Otherwise I'd prefer the SR80i; I haven't used the Alessandro personally, but if it's based on the SR80i with slightly more neutral characteristics, I'd just buy whichever one is less expensive. Happy gaming, Boz
#23 Posted by Wolfetan (7522 posts) -

My knee-jerk reaction is the Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (NOT the ATH-A700, that's different). This headphone has clearly defined vocals and an excellent sound stage at your price point. There are lots of other great options, but really it's everything you're looking for. Just remember to budget a mic when you buy it.

If you plan to use it for console gaming you will need an adaptor as well.

Happy gaming,

Boz

*Edit* Stupid bbcode link: You work now!

Bozanimal
This. Best gaming headphone for ~100$ then a zalman mic for $9.
#24 Posted by Wolfetan (7522 posts) -
[QUOTE="NVIDIATI"]

Once again I would strongly recommend the Alessandro by Grado MS1i over the SR60i or SR80i. For $110 USD with free shipping they're a great option for anyone looking for the Grado sound at a low price.

Bozanimal
The reason I drift back to the SR60i is because it is still a great headphone that comes in under budget, allowing him/her funds to buy a mic and pay shipping. Otherwise I'd prefer the SR80i; I haven't used the Alessandro personally, but if it's based on the SR80i with slightly more neutral characteristics, I'd just buy whichever one is less expensive. Happy gaming, Boz

Ms1i is supposed to be better. Havent tried it out personally but people on Head-Fi say it is better.
#25 Posted by NamelessPlayer (7729 posts) -
[QUOTE="NamelessPlayer"][QUOTE="NVIDIATI"]Dolby Headphone sounds horrible with my K702 headphones. It ruins the SQ and manages to reduce the K702's massive soundstage.NVIDIATI
Just goes to show how subjective things are.

It does create a decent surround sound effect, but there is that loss in SQ and natural sound stage which I'm not too crazy about. Despite my preferences, what the Head-fier said may still remain true, the K702 could be one of the better headphones to use with DH.

Yeah, such technologies do have a hit to the sound quality, partially due to the use of generic HRTFs when everyone has a unique head, and thus HRTF. I don't necessarily like compromises like that, but when I'm gaming, I'm less concerned about the fidelity of footstep and gunshot sound effects and far more concerned about where they're coming from. Typical stereo mixing in games doesn't provide much of that, only one-dimensional left/right panning. Of course, it goes off whenever I decide to listen to music instead. Ultimately, that's why such effects are options you can turn on or off to taste.
#26 Posted by Bozanimal (2483 posts) -
Ms1i is supposed to be better. Havent tried it out personally but people on Head-Fi say it is better.Wolfetan
The Ms1i is based on the SR80i, which is naturally going to be better than the SR60i, but it's not within the OP's budget. You might as well say, "Oh, get a pair of Sennheiser HD 800's: They'll sound great!" The man said $100 max, not "about" $100, or "around" $100, max. We have a tendency to add ten or twenty percent to the budget of the posters in this forum. It's a good intention, but ultimately we're all limited by our financial resources. Happy gaming, Boz
#27 Posted by Heirren (17070 posts) -

Once again I would strongly recommend the Alessandro by Grado MS1i over the SR60i or SR80i. For $110 USD with free shipping they're a great option for anyone looking for the Grado sound at a low price.

NVIDIATI
I have the 80s. Good sound for the price, but I think one could be disappointed with the bass response, especially if being used for games.
#28 Posted by Mozelleple112 (6665 posts) -
[QUOTE="NVIDIATI"]

Once again I would strongly recommend the Alessandro by Grado MS1i over the SR60i or SR80i. For $110 USD with free shipping they're a great option for anyone looking for the Grado sound at a low price.

Heirren
I have the 80s. Good sound for the price, but I think one could be disappointed with the bass response, especially if being used for games.

Bass is almost irrelevant in games. Its electronic music --- and more so movies that require bass. Then again, every movie has a dedicated sound track for the sub woofer, something headphones can't replay anyways.
#29 Posted by Heirren (17070 posts) -
[QUOTE="Heirren"][QUOTE="NVIDIATI"]

Once again I would strongly recommend the Alessandro by Grado MS1i over the SR60i or SR80i. For $110 USD with free shipping they're a great option for anyone looking for the Grado sound at a low price.

Mozelleple112
I have the 80s. Good sound for the price, but I think one could be disappointed with the bass response, especially if being used for games.

Bass is almost irrelevant in games. Its electronic music --- and more so movies that require bass. Then again, every movie has a dedicated sound track for the sub woofer, something headphones can't replay anyways.

I completely disagree. A lot of people go the headphone route because it is cheaper to acquire good bass this way. Irrelevant in games? Since when? With all the theatrics in games today it is almost essential to fully appreciate the musical scores and audio effects. Your points of bringing up electronic music and movies to bring purpose to having bass makes me think you don't understand what bass is. "thump" sound is NOT bass. It can include lower frequencies, but generally that sound comes from an engineer boosting a given frequency to give the illusion of bass. Pc "subwoofers" tend to do this. They'll even claim a frequency response from 30hz to 20khz, but what they don't tell you is that the sound begins to rolloff at 60hz. Real bass is expensive. On a stereo you can feel it. Headphones can give proper bass response, since they output at much lower volumes and don't have to move as much air to achieve a listenable lower frequency.