Best headPHONES for pc gaming(~300$)

Newt Pussable

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Aug 5, 2014
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Hello, I am planning to buy headphones and a mic. I was originally planning on buying a "gaming headset" until some quick research taught me that they are complete rubish. Therefore I`m going to buy high-end headphones and the Modmic as an attachable microphone.
What are some headphones that are well suited for gaming in the price range of ca- 300 usd? I want them to not require amp.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
i agree with double, the hd558 (slightly worse sound and soundstage but more bass) or the hd598 (better sound, better soundstage, lower bass) are good cans to look at which do not need an amplifier. the modmic would also work great on them.

the ad700x and ad900x are another pair of gaming headphones to look into, but only if you like having almost no bass response and are one of the ultra-competitive fps players (no bass response and wide soundstage gives them an edge since they can hear footsteps).

bose is overpriced and generally only competes with headphones 1/3 to 1/2 their price. i'd stay away in most cases.

akg has some good cans but they tend to be sibilant (treble high) and with low bass response. good if you're into that sort of thing.

yes, some headphones do need an external amp to sound their best. for someone to claim that this is not true then they have not done a whole lot of headphone research. certain cans such as the dt990 pro 250 are notoriously hard to drive and while true that you can power them on basic soundcards, you're not going to get the best performance out of them. also of note is distortion which occurs when you push an amplifier too hard which is another reason you'd want a decent amp for some headphones.

(the reason i did not mention the dt990 despite it being an excellent choice is that it needs an amp to power it well. this is why i suggested the hd558/598 over it)
 

doubletake

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HD558/598 are great for that purpose, very comfortable, produce excellent positional audio, don't require an amp, and the modmic bases fit perfectly on them (I have the 4.0), either on the mesh or the part of the earcup just below that.
 

mrmez

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Recently got a pair of Bose QC 25.
But in mic should be fine for gaming. Trust me, nobody is THAT interested in what you have to say ;)

The noise cancelling (if you need it) is truly amazing.
Sound is good. Nowhere near as good as my Shure SE 525, but I hate wearing in ear phones for more than ~45min, so the Bose are great for flights/travelling.

AKG also make excellent well priced headphones.

No headphones NEED an amp unless you really want to blast the $h!t out of your ears.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
i agree with double, the hd558 (slightly worse sound and soundstage but more bass) or the hd598 (better sound, better soundstage, lower bass) are good cans to look at which do not need an amplifier. the modmic would also work great on them.

the ad700x and ad900x are another pair of gaming headphones to look into, but only if you like having almost no bass response and are one of the ultra-competitive fps players (no bass response and wide soundstage gives them an edge since they can hear footsteps).

bose is overpriced and generally only competes with headphones 1/3 to 1/2 their price. i'd stay away in most cases.

akg has some good cans but they tend to be sibilant (treble high) and with low bass response. good if you're into that sort of thing.

yes, some headphones do need an external amp to sound their best. for someone to claim that this is not true then they have not done a whole lot of headphone research. certain cans such as the dt990 pro 250 are notoriously hard to drive and while true that you can power them on basic soundcards, you're not going to get the best performance out of them. also of note is distortion which occurs when you push an amplifier too hard which is another reason you'd want a decent amp for some headphones.

(the reason i did not mention the dt990 despite it being an excellent choice is that it needs an amp to power it well. this is why i suggested the hd558/598 over it)
 

Newt Pussable

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I see. So I suppose the hd558 is what I should go for(I`d still like an opinon whether or not the bass is worth the "slight worse sound and soundstage"). Still, the Sennheiser only cost 142 usd in my country. Including the modmic I still have 123 usd to use on headphones. I thought Headphones would be more expensive, but looking at these prices I might afford a Headphone+amplifier combination.
Any suggestions?
There is a 32ohm version of dt990
Props and thanks for in-depth answer.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
the hd598 certainly are a bit better than the hd558 overall. the reason i mentioned the 558 is because some individuals find the 598 too bass light and since the 558 has just a bit more bass those individuals may be interested in taking a slight hit to get the extra bass. keep in mind that you can coax a little (not alot) more bass out of the 598 by using an amplifier as they respond well to one. they still will not be "bassy" headphones but will have a bit more bite than they do without an amp.

the hd598 + modmic combined with an amplifier like the fiio e10k, e11, e11k, e12 or e17 may be the solution you're looking for if you just wanted a slight boost to the bass levels and are not willing to take a hit on sound quality.

the hd558 is not all that much worse in terms of quality than the 598. noticible if you compare the two yes but overall rather similar.

if you wanted fairly bassy AND wanted to keep open style headphones the dt990-pro-250 combined with a good quality amp (schiit magni) are rather good but i think in total it will blow away your budget as well (which is why i didnt suggest it).

honestly what works best for you depends on your preferences. generally you need to pick one or the other: bass response + noise isolation OR large soundstage + slightly better detail. the dt990 comes close to doing both (detail, soundstage, bass... but no isolation since its open cans) but also needs an amp to sound their best and will most certainly fall a bit over budget for everything total.
 

Newt Pussable

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Aug 5, 2014
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I found an used e17 amp for a mere 143 usd.
I have 2 years of experience with the Turtle Beach EF Z Seven (yes, I got winded up in the whole "gaming headset" market)
Are you able to compare the difference in audio quality from the hd598+e17 and z seven based on z seven's specs?

  • Speakers: 50mm diameter speakers with neodymium magnets
    Condenser Microphone Frequency Response: 50Hz - 15kHz
    Weight: 12.2oz/346g
    Speaker Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
    Speaker Impedance: 32 ohms
    Microphone Design: Removable Uni-Directional
    Earcup Design: Around-Ear (Closed)
Either way, thanks a lot for the help.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
the trouble with comparing spec vs spec is that it only gives you an "on paper" winner. when actually listening it can be a whole different animal.

i can say that generally gaming headsets are rather poor in the sound quality department and that going with something like the hd598 (or honestly almost ANY decent headphone) is going to be quite a bit better.

keep in mind the e17 is a dac+amp. if you intend to use virtual surround you would likely want to just get a regular amplifier and use either your onboard sound to do virtual surround or a cheap soundcard to do virtual surround if your onboard doesnt have it (the xonar dg is the cheapest pci card which does this).

if you DONT care about virtual surround (virtual distorts sound a bit anyways) then ignore the statement above as an external dac may be of benefit over onboard sound (though if you have a decent soundcard already i'd just stick with a straight amp only)

(on a side note the e17 retails in usa brand new for $150ish so 143 used is a bit pricey)
 

Newt Pussable

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Brand new is 222 in Norway. Perhaps I should look into a way of importing it...
Either way thanks for the help. I think I know enough to proceed on to purchasing now.
 

Newt Pussable

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Turns out my dad had an old Sansui AU-X201 in his basement. He bought it in ca 1989. Do you think it will be able to power the dt990-pro-250?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
you may want to read http://www.head-fi.org/t/649107/speaker-amps-for-headphones which is about that subject.

technically speaker amps can power headphones (people have certainly done it) though i'd be worried about impedence matching (or it wont sound good) and overpowering your headphones (damaging them possibly) most of all.

i'm not comfortable giving you a solid answer on that one. i'd suggest you do some more research if you choose to go that path.
 
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