Good quality gaming headset

Yeldur

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Jan 28, 2017
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Currently I'm an owner of the Plantronics Gamecom 788, and before that I owned a GameCom 780. You get the idea, I've stuck with Plantronics for a long while, unfortunately, this headset is no longer being made, they make headsets with Dolby Atmos now, unfortunately that isn't useful to me as I'm not going to spend my money just so I can make use of that aspect (You're forced to buy some stupid app in order to use Dolby Atmos on PC) - So it looks like this is the last headset from Plantronics I'll own, which sucks.

One thing to clarify: I would prefer not to use a Wireless Headset.

Essentially, this headset has had the best mic quality and the best sound quality of a headset I've bought. It's Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound


Here are the specs of my old headset:
Surround Software for Dolby Headphone Technologies
7.1 channels
On-Ear Controls Dolby Surround switch
Volume wheel
Mic mute
Drivers 40mm
Freq. Response 20Hz - 20kHz
Mic. Freq. Response 100Hz - 8kHz
Cable Length 6.5ft/2m
Interface USB


I'm looking for something with as close a spec as possible, I've loved this headset but it's slowly dying on me which is sad, and obviously worse that I can't buy another one. Looking for something with great quality for music and gaming, price is not an issue as I have a nice new job so can really afford almost anything (That being said I'm not going to spend £50,000 just for the sake of getting pretty colours)

I would be looking at a 7.1 headset but I've heard Music quality and general audio quality deteriorates from it so I would prefer something like I currently have, where I can switch from Stereo to Virtual Surround (If that's even a thing)

All help appreciated!
 

anort3

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There are still GOOD headphones that don't need amps. My current absolute favorite is a 25ohm Fostex and it runs just fine off a tiny little Fiio M3 MP3 player. ( My good amps do improve the sound though )

A couple of amazing headphones that don't need an amp.

The Philips Fidelio X2. Open back Sennheiser HD 600/HD 650 competitor. Soundstage and imaging are supposedly amazing and it's comfortable enough to wear for hours. It's also cheaper on your side of the pond.

Sony MDR1A. Closed back alternative. Warm and bassy but still good enough for gaming.

Either of those would be a great choice for entry level audiophile cans and both are great for gaming as well. A cheaper alternative is the HD 598s. Much easier to drive then the 6xx series Sennheisers but still quite capable for both music and gaming. As I said above I still use mine for gaming despite it being the lowest end pair I currently own.
 

doolittle

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I also have had many headsets that have had problems over time which caused me to discard them. My current setup is a Samson SR850, a lapel mic with a Sound Blaster Play! 3 and I am completely happy with it - IMHO it is a sub $70 solution that sounds better than most headsets under $150.

Some more info, that headphone has a semi-open back which gives it a much wider sound stage and improves virtual surround overall (in my opinion). The lapel mic clips just below the cord input on the left ear and to me, sounds just as good as any boom mic if not better (most headsets have the lowest cost option for a boom mic at this price range). The SB Play 3 really is optional but gives you much better control of the vsurround via SBX studio and is much improved over on-board sound and just about any other integrated usb sound in headsets (and not to mention when on the go I can plug into a laptop and have the exact same sound signature as on my desktop).

More on v-surround - there are many options - some games have it built-in using the "headphone" sound option, Windows 10 (1703 and later) have "windows sonic for headphones" spatial sound enhancement, and most on-board Realtek have a "virtual sound" checkbox in the realtek sound manager. They are all very similar, I prefer SBX since it allows you to control the level of depth to your exact liking.

The best part about it is the flexibility, if you have a problem with the headphone, mic or sound card much easier and cost effective to replace as needed rather than trash the entire product. You want closed back headphones? No problem go with the Edifier H840. Better mic? No problem go with either the Samson Go Mic Connect or the Meteorite.
 

Yeldur

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Jan 28, 2017
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Thanks for the suggestion, appreciated, me personally I prefer to just have an all in one setup as opposed to a headset, then a mic, I find it easier to just be able to tuck the mic away when I don't need it and drop it back down when I do. I definitely know that if I get some form of a headset where I use the 3.5mm jack I'll likely end up upgrading my soundcard due to the obvious benefits of doing so, but as I'm running on USB at the moment there's no sense in doing it as it makes no difference.
 

anort3

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"Gaming" headsets usually have a pronounced V shaped EQ with boosted highs and lows which makes them good for gaming and not so good for music. The headsets that are good at both almost all need a headphone amp and aren't USB. Look at the better Sennheiser models like the Game One or even the PC373D. The PC373D is available cheaper through Massdrop as the PC37X.

https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-sennheiser-pc37x-gaming-headset

You'll still get better music performance out of a pair of headphones. You can always add a modmic or similar. I still game with my HD 598s despite having better headphones. They're comfortable and light and they have exceptional soundstage. They sound really good with almost any music as well. The 598SR is the same headphone with a revised headband for extra comfort. Same drivers. You don't need an amp but they're good enough they will benefit from one.

https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD-598-SR-Open-Back/dp/B06WRMZZ45/ref=dp_ob_title_ce
 

Yeldur

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These are both interesting, the former being the most. I'm going to look further into the PC37X some more for a load of reviews etc etc. - I know Sennheiser produce good quality headsets, so I definitely think that this could be my next one. I love the design, love that the mic is good quality and enjoy that it works well for gaming and for music.

The only bit I am a bit sort of put off about is the lack of V7.1 - However, the key for me at the end of the day is good quality sound, and if it means I have to get used to going back to stereo based usage as opposed to surround sound (Even if it is virtual, it sounds better imo) then I'm willing to take the jump. Will have to read some more reviews and watch some material on it, this may be the headset I'm looking for though. Thanks for the heads up!

Also, for someone who doesn't know much about headsets and how they work, what do you mean by: "a pronounced V shaped EQ with boosted highs and lows which makes them good for gaming and not so good for music. The headsets that are good at both almost all need a headphone amp and aren't USB."
Would you be able to elaborate as to what these mean for me :p

 

anort3

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Sure. A neutral EQ means the same weight is given to the bass, mids and treble. A V shaped EQ gives a boost to the high and lows and leaves out the mids. The mids are where the vocals are so if you're a fan of vocals you don't want that. Some ( not all ) headphones with a pronounced V shaped EQ can also be quite sibilant as well meaning the treble boost can be painful with some recordings. The most notorious of these are the Beyerdynamic line and the DT 990s in particular.

Most ( again not all ) good headphones need more power than can be delivered by a typical motherboard or a portable device. So they need a headphone amplifier. Higher end soundcards and even some motherboards have built in amps these days. Even the Game One really needs an amp. An underpowered headphone or headset will not get very loud. That's not even getting into higher end gear where a good amp can really make a pair of headphones come alive. Just like with higher end speakers, good headphones need a good amp to get the most out of them.

Probably the most famous scaling headphone is the Sennheiser HD 650 ( Massdrop X Sennheiser HD 6XX is the same thing ). With a basic amp they get plenty loud and are a good headphone. With a GOOD, higher power amp they become amazing. Something worthy of a 2769 page thread on HeadFi.

https://www.head-fi.org/threads/sennheiser-hd650-massdrop-hd6xx-impressions-thread.197776/page-2769

Edit: The higher the ohm rating of a headphone the more power that is needed to drive them. In general a basic motherboard with no amp can handle most 50 ohm and under headphones and maybe some in the 80 ohm range. Anything over that is going to need an amp.
 

Yeldur

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Very interesting, thank you for the explanation. I can see why getting a pair of headphones that do music well but also do gaming well is almost impossible. It's trying to make a negative and a negative stick together. Hrm. The search for a good headset is going to be a difficult one.

After looking at it the PC37X is only available through an American based site, unfortunately I am British, which means that I'll be paying a massive shipping charge on top. That really sucks. Oh well, back to the drawing board I guess t_t

Edit: But in essence what I'm looking for here is a quality pair of headphones AND an amp so that they can be boosted up to a point that they'll do what they're supposed to.
 

anort3

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There are still GOOD headphones that don't need amps. My current absolute favorite is a 25ohm Fostex and it runs just fine off a tiny little Fiio M3 MP3 player. ( My good amps do improve the sound though )

A couple of amazing headphones that don't need an amp.

The Philips Fidelio X2. Open back Sennheiser HD 600/HD 650 competitor. Soundstage and imaging are supposedly amazing and it's comfortable enough to wear for hours. It's also cheaper on your side of the pond.

Sony MDR1A. Closed back alternative. Warm and bassy but still good enough for gaming.

Either of those would be a great choice for entry level audiophile cans and both are great for gaming as well. A cheaper alternative is the HD 598s. Much easier to drive then the 6xx series Sennheisers but still quite capable for both music and gaming. As I said above I still use mine for gaming despite it being the lowest end pair I currently own.
 

Yeldur

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Jan 28, 2017
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Oh wow thank you for this, from looking at a review of the ModMic 5.0 the quality of the microphone is actually very nice, insanely so. I'm very impressed. From the sounds of it my request to have a mic built into the headset is just being silly at this stage when I can buy a high quality headset great for gaming and then just get the ModMic 5.0 and use that instead. Thank you so much for your help.

For clarification, would something like this be a good setup, after looking at the Philips Fidelio X2, I've never seen such high quality reviews on a headset before, and every single one sings it's praises at the top of their lungs, not much research needs to be done if there's only good things to be said about it.

Here's the setup I'm thinking of:

https://www.scan.co.uk/products/antlion-modmic-50-gdl-0500-boom-mic-switchable-4x-options-noise-cancelling-sensitive-uni-omni-direct
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Philips-X2-Headphones-Over-Ear-Cushions-Black/dp/B00MRUPSHQ?psc=1&SubscriptionId=AKIAILMN4KCSLXDLYLTA&tag=hawk-whf-21&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B00MRUPSHQ&retsolclick=5b624a7b57d2210a00805147
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Creative-Sound-Blaster-Resolution-External/dp/B073KTPNDR

Would something like this be a good thing to look for? It comes out to around £250 which is roughly $330
 

anort3

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Ditch the USB sound card thingy. It's likely no better than what's on your motherboard. It's cheap though. Might be worth comparing.

Tyell just retired a few months ago but this man is almost single handedly responsible for the state of audiophile headphones today. He was the first and possibly the best of the reviewers of the internet age.

[video="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_RJ3M_v8is"][/video]

https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/boss-philips-fidelio-x2

The X2s may very well be my next pair. I have a short list and they're near or at the top. I just need infinite money. :lol:
 

Yeldur

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My sound card is an ONBOARD 6 CHANNEL (5.1) HIGH DEF AUDIO (AS STANDARD) - I believe it's Realtek.

I understand that with 3.5mm jack type headsets, upgrading your soundcard is a good idea, would that be a potential option as well instead of buying the amp thingy?


 

anort3

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Yep. A soundcard with an amp / DAC is probably a better choice. That would also give you virtual surround modes for gaming which can be turned off for music.

I'm a fan of Asus cards. I have an original Xonar Essence STX. I wouldn't take a Creative card if you gave it to me. Too many problems with them over the years.

Even a cheaper card like the Xonar DG has an amp and decent DAC.

https://www.asus.com/us/Sound-Cards/Xonar_DG/

You can go all the way up to a Xonar Essence STX II which costs as much as those Fidelio X2s and it still wouldn't be too much card for them. In fact those headphones are good enough that you can add pretty much any source equipment in the future if you choose.

Here's a good place to start if you want to research audiophile stuff. Zeos isn't a pro like Tyell at Innerfidelity he's more of a regular guy who likes cool stuff so his opinions aren't as technical but he's reviewed everything from $20 Monoprice headphones to $5000 Stax. His video reviews are NSFW and quite colorful.

https://old.reddit.com/r/Zeos/
 

Yeldur

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So would something like the Xonar DG's perform better than the standard onboard card you get in the motherboard? Would it be a fairly noticeable difference or is it better to perhaps invest in something a tad more expensive? £300 would probably be my max for now, but I'm not ruling out the chance that I'd buy a good quality sound card if it would make a large difference.

For clarification my motherboard is an ASUS® ROG STRIX Z370-H GAMING: ATX, LGA1151, USB 3.0, SATA 6GBs
 

anort3

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Oh you're good with that board. For low impedance cans like the X2s that board is more than fine.

ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A
- Dual Headphone Amplifiers
- Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
- High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input
- Supports up to 32-Bit/192kHz playback *3
Audio Feature :
- SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- Sonic Radar III
- Sonic Studio III

Plug them into the board directly for the best sound. You never know how good the quality of front case connectors are.

Edit: Now would they benefit from a dedicated amp in the future? Yes. But it doesn't need to be a priority.

I try not to recommend anything that needs amping to someone like you who's coming from a headset. That's more advanced stuff that you may or may not choose to get into.
 

Yeldur

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Got it, so best option for now is to leave the sound card and get the headphones and the mic, correct? Would buying a good quality sound card later down the line like the Xonar Essence STX II be worth it, or is there no point due to the good quality on board card already?
 

Yeldur

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Ah gotcha, fantastic. Thank you so much for all your help, you have completely solved my problem 100%. Something that I did not expect. Brilliant!
 

Toxic_Cobra

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Or get the very nice audio Technica m50x's and a mod mic, they're very good for music and gaming yet don't need a amp or dac to run them. I loved mine untill I got a a amp/dac combo and went with something that has more impedence. The sound card on your device is fine and I wouldn't upgrade unless you're getting headphones that are harder to drive.
 

anort3

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No problem at all, always glad to help upgrade sound lol. If you love them feel free to come back and post in my wildy popular ( not :p ) headphone and home audio thread. Link is in my sig.

Enjoy! :)
 
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