Closed vs Open headphones - Better for gaming?

Nicholas_19

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Jan 27, 2016
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Hey guys,

I've always used open headphones, which are fine - I play (PC gamer) in a quiet room and have no need for isolation.

However, some say if you use closed headphones you can experience a more 'immersive' experience where you feel more engaged... which is exactly what I'm after.

Also, got any suggestions on what I should buy?

Budget: $500 - I have onboard ALC889 but I don't mind getting an amp/dac/soundcard...

I've read a lot of guides but everyone has their own opinion and I'm getting lost !

Thanks a lot guys ! Really appreciate the help.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
open headphone are generally suggested due to the larger soundstage (depth or distance to sound) and the airy quality to them along with the fact that they breath so are not hot to wear.

closed headphones can be used for gaming as well but generally only if isolation is required as soundstages are often much smaller and some can get hot to wear.

i've noted "immersive" on things like the m50 in a few of my posts but what i meant is more like you have a rock band playing right in your face as opposed to a rock band playing out in an open amphitheater. 360 positional audio isnt a problem on closed sets though most lack much depth (how far away sounds appear to be) and often appear to be originating from very close by. i like this about the m50 for music but it is not ideal for games (and some people like soundstage for music as well, its all opinion).

you might be interested in planar headphones like the he-400s which are 400 http://www.addictedtoaudio.com.au/product/hifiman-he-400s-planar-magnetic-headphones which are quite different sounding than normal headphones.

if you want that "fun factor" in a headphone, the dt990 might also be worth looking at as they are v-shaped with bright treble and good bass.
 

RazerZ

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Aug 18, 2013
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Closed headphones are often capable of having a greater bass quantity since the sound stays within the cups and that might help to add to immersion. As far as one being better than the other... really depends on your taste in audio and the specific headphones being compared. Having a wide soundstage (ability to percieve depth in audio) and good imaging (picking out where different sounds are located) helps for gaming. Comfort is also essential and open backs usually do a better job since air can easily move in and out of the cups.

What open back headphones do you currently have? Does your $500 budget include an amp/dac? Most people would agree that ~$300 is the sweet spot for headphones before diminishing returns start to kick in.

I would highly recommend to demo the headphones you are planning to buy if possible before purchasing them. Or buy from a place with a great return policy.


 

Nicholas_19

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Jan 27, 2016
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Thanks for the reply RazerZ.

Well, I had AD700s, they were very good, but after 5 years it was time to upgrade.

I currently am using ATH-PGD1 and I think they're garbage. I think I prefer proper headphones over gamer headsets.

$500 budget doesn't include amp/dac. I don't mind paying extra for quality. But, a lot of people tell me spending over $300 is a waste as they're just for gaming.

In my city in Australia quality headphones are a rare find... but, I did find an online Aussie store that offers a perfect return policy. If you're not happy with the headphones within 20 days, you can send them back and receive a store credit.

So... do you have any recommendations on what I should buy?

I really want to get that immersion factor. My brother has a cheap sades a60 headset. Sound quality isn't the best but the sound effects (ie. explosions) and surround-intense feel of the audio is really something.

I'm willing to sacrifice a bit to get that effect.

Thanks again for your help !




 

shotgunz

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"But, a lot of people tell me spending over $300 is a waste as they're just for gaming." It can be worth it if a headphone has certain qualities that you appreciate.

I'll be heading to my second head-fi meet on saturday and will bring back impressions. http://www.head-fi.org/t/788121/kicking-off-2016-with-a-toronto-gta-meet-on-saturday-january-30th

If you have skype, we can easily go back and forth on some options when I'm at the meet. I'm currently thinking of either the Hifiman 400i or Philips Fidelio X2 which are open back but have pretty good bass response.

There's also going to be a head-fi meet in Sydney on Feb 27 if you live close to there and are interested. http://www.head-fi.org/t/790810/can-con-6-0-sydney-australia-meet-27th-feburary-2016
 

RazerZ

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Should have mentioned your budget is in AUD. What is $300 USD here (HE-400i) is equivalent to $800 AUD over there. Perhaps look into buying used from ebay, head-fi, reddit avexchange, or a local classfield. The He-400i and X2 mentioned by shogunz are some good options.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
open headphone are generally suggested due to the larger soundstage (depth or distance to sound) and the airy quality to them along with the fact that they breath so are not hot to wear.

closed headphones can be used for gaming as well but generally only if isolation is required as soundstages are often much smaller and some can get hot to wear.

i've noted "immersive" on things like the m50 in a few of my posts but what i meant is more like you have a rock band playing right in your face as opposed to a rock band playing out in an open amphitheater. 360 positional audio isnt a problem on closed sets though most lack much depth (how far away sounds appear to be) and often appear to be originating from very close by. i like this about the m50 for music but it is not ideal for games (and some people like soundstage for music as well, its all opinion).

you might be interested in planar headphones like the he-400s which are 400 http://www.addictedtoaudio.com.au/product/hifiman-he-400s-planar-magnetic-headphones which are quite different sounding than normal headphones.

if you want that "fun factor" in a headphone, the dt990 might also be worth looking at as they are v-shaped with bright treble and good bass.
 

RazerZ

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The He-400S does not have the same low end or traits as other planars and actually sounds more similar to traditional dynamic headphones with a neutral response like the Sennheiser HD 600 or AKG K612.

Buy the HE400S because:

- it’s slightly cheaper than other headphones (K712, HD600, R70x) at this tier.
- it doesn’t really need an amp and should be immune to the output impedance of most equipment, saving you money there as well.
- it has a smooth, relaxing, balanced, all round tuning.

Don’t buy the HE400S because:

- it’s a planar. That’s a bad reason because it doesn’t really sound that much like other planars. The one thing it shares with other planars is that it’s heavy.
- you think it might be some kind of super bargain. It’s not. It is priced appropriately to compete with other open dynamics on this tier. It is also more sloppily built than its competitors.
From Lachlanlikesathing


Tyll at Innerfidelity seems to share the same perspective and warns they are not for bassheads. Not that they are bad headphones just probably not what the OP is looking for.

 

Nicholas_19

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Jan 27, 2016
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Thanks again for the thoughtful response RazerZ. My budget was $500US (now $300) - but, it's probably overkill as I only game... Do you agree? I don't mind spending up to $600 on headphones + amps/dacs/soundcard ... if it's worth it.


he He-400i and X2

$300 us is to $800au ? Ah... it's only $423 according to xe.com ... I admit hardware costs are a bit highe, but, quite they are comparable to newegg prices.
 

RazerZ

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Some headphones need an amp to sound good or even reach listenable volumes, others do not or would benefit from one. The conversion rate may be lower but when it comes to specialty goods like hifi headphones that are not as available as say computer parts the price will depend on the retailer. I am not too familar with popular online stores to buy from in Australia, but from a google search I found the following websites:

Addicted to Audio

Jaben Audio

Headphonic


Store DJ


Lowest price from those sites for the HE-400i is $799. More popular brands such as Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic seem to be fairly priced. The DT 990 PRO ssddx mentioned is another option if you want punchy bass for an open back headphone but it has a noticeably harsh treble and sucked out mids (V- shape sound signature) which may be a turn off for some. More than likely they will also need a headphone amplifier.

As I am writing this post I did come across one sites with decent prices

Minidisc

They have both the original Hifiman HE-400 and Phillips Fidelio X2 for $400 AUD. While the HE-400 are a more capable pair they need an amp like a Schiit Magni or JDS Objective 2. I found the Magni 2 for $200 at Addicted to Audio. The X2's on the other hand can be driven easily even from your phone and it will be plug and play. The HE-400 have a neutral sound (music heard as produced) while the X2 have a V-shape (emphasis on low and high frequencies, midrange slightly recessed).

To answer your question I believe the headphones are not overkill, even if you only game. Just as you could spend more money for a graphics card to play at higher graphic settings, you could do the same for your headphones for higher audio fidelity. Comfort and build wise good headphones will have an edge over most gaming headsets as well and that is often overlooked when it comes to gaming and everyday use. Rather than buying multiple cheap headsets and having them break due to their flimsy construction you could buy a pair of good quality headphones and have them last for years on end.






 

soundguruman

Distinguished


The best headphones cover the entire ear like a CUP.
Headphones with foam pads...that press against the ear lobe...can become VERY painful. (I warned you)

I recommend Sennheiser Headphones.
If you have lots of money...the best headphones are STAX.
Since most people cannot afford STAX, Sennheiser is the next best thing.
 
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