Headphones mainly for gaming and watching movies

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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Hello,
I've read a lot about headphones from this community yet I couldn't reach a solution.
Lets assume that my budget is around 400$ or a little bit more; depends on the the solution difference.

I want to game using PS3/PS4 and mainly using PC, though I'll also be watching a lot of series/ movies using them. I'm not a fan of songs/ music.

If it's better I can also refer to the modmic/ external mic solution for gaming.
I've read about Sennheiser g4me zero/one, though some people disagreed and suggested using different headphones for better audio like Audio Technicha 700x or different audiophile headphones.

So my question is what are the best headphones I can get right now?
I've searched for long hours and I keep thinking of just picking the Sennheiser g4me zero as a solution.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
sennheiser headsets are based on cheaper headphone designs from their own company but jacked way up in price. for the same cash or less you can typically get superior products.

the ad500x/700x/900x lineup is quite good for gaming since it has an absolutely huge soundstage generally unmatched by any other cans in the price range. positional audio is also great. good clarity and detail as well as comfort. however, the caveat is that they are a treble/mids focused headphone with limited bass support (some people say they are bassless but thats not exactly true as they do have just a bit of mid-bass which is punchy but not deep).

great for gaming since it gives you an advantage (can hear footsteps easier than other cans) but may not be as "engaging" as other more bassy sets for things like movies. much depends on what your preferences are and what you expect out of the headphones.

ps4 and pc support is easy, ps3 will require an adapter.

you'll likely want to use a headphone amp as well.

there are other good headphones out there depending on what kind of sound profile you like.

hd518/558/598 lineup is good if you want a more neutral sound.
dt990 is good if you want a v-shaped treble/bass sound and pretty decent bass output while still retaining an open design for soundstage.
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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Thank you, I've seen very helpful replies from you to others as well.
From what you've said, I feel the headphones you strongly suggest are the 900x ones, as they're in the top in their line up and they're the first ones you mentioned? The downside of the 900x is that they have low bass but without the bass will I still get a premium feel of the movie audio using it, will my friends go wow when they hear the audio?

And for the mix of gaming and watching series what should I go for, an open or closed back?
And I'm using ASUS x99 DELUXE Motherboard, should I buy a sound card along with the amp?

Also if I won't get a premium feel of the movie audio because of the low bass which might be essential will hd598 be the better solution since it provides neutral sound or will it be the dt990?

Is the 900x the better all-round solution in your expertized point of view?
Or is there a product that can provide an all-round solution, if price isn't an issue?

Thanks again ^ ^
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
open vs closed:

open will generally have bigger soundstage and better positional audio however as a drawback leaks sound and generally has less bass.

closed will generally have a smaller soundstage with somewhat less positional audio however is noise isolating and generally has more bass.

bigger soundstage and good positional audio is best for gaming. now some closed cans (like the dt770 if you liked lots of bass) have decent soundstages despite being closed, but generally open is suggested.

--

as for which suites your needs... depends on your listening preferences.

the AD series will give you a slight advantage in fps gaming, but wont sound quite as good for movies due to low bass. its considered one of the better gaming headphones.

the HD598 will be neutral so is typically a good choice for most people if they arent sure what they want. its not going to be the best in any one thing but a jack of all trades. bass output is not great, but its better than the ad series.

the DT990 is a good choice if you want both crisp detailed highs and pretty deep bass (yet its an open design). mids are recessed a bit. generally for the money it is considered an outstanding headphone. the dt880 is a more neutral version (with pretty much flat response across the board) without as much bass. if you're looking at the hd598 the dt880 is also worth looking at.

--

the dt990/880 most certainly need a strong amp ($100 schiit magni would be ideal though you might be able to work with the $80 fiio e10k)

i'd recommend a soundcard IF you notice that your onboard sound introduces crackling, buzzing or distortion. otherwise its likely fine. also, if your onboard doesnt include virtual surround (if you care about this) a soundcard would add this. the xonar DX would be perfect if you wanted to use an external amp since it does not include a strong amp of its own (so sound out from it will not be as distorted from doubleamping)

--

if you want some more tidbits... forum search for "ssddx headphone headset" or google search for "tomshardware ssddx headphone headset" and read some of my other posts.

then, if you have questions, or questions on what i posted above respond back with your preferences.

--

as i said before pc and ps4 are easy. ps4 will require an adapter and being hooked up to your ps4 controller though (unless you use an adapter similar to ps3)

ps3 likely will need a usb adapter for mic and likely an optical adapter to rca (or3.5mm) for using the headphones

usb headsets are more convenient (*if* they have ps3/ps4/pc support) but you'll get a greater amount of choices and some of the better headphones as options by going with seperates.
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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After reading your response carefully many times I think I understand now, so I'll narrow now and I hope you'll be able to correct me if I'm wrong.

Sound card if I don't have virtual sound.
An amp for the headphones so they operate fully.

AD series will be best for FPS gaming but low bass so won't sound good in movies.

HD598 won't be the best in gaming but it will sound average to good at everything but for movies the bass is still not that good perhaps averages which makes it "good for gaming and average for movies". (might get this)
DT880 is similar to HD598 (if I might get HD598 I should compare it to the DT880 then decide?)

DT990 has a deep bass so it will be great for movies, and it's an open design so it will have a big soundstage and a good positional audio which makes it also good for gaming.(means I should most probably get this? or it will excel in games and not both games & movies like the HD598 or the DT880?)

Now I feel real close to knowing what I should get I feel one more response from you and I will be able to make the decision.
Also, thanks for the tips regarding the soundcard and the amp.I'll most probably purchase the ones from your suggestion.

 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
basically what you need to do is figure out what kind of sound signature you want. worry more about this than what anyone else has to say about what they are best for.

treble/mid focused with very little bass -- ad500/700/900
completely neutral - hd598 or dt880
you want to keep open headphones yet like decent bass response - dt990

any of them can be used for gaming and all of them are very popular for that. the ad series has a slight edge due to very little bass response (bass makes footsteps just a little harder to hear) but having some bass also means all sounds (including games) will be a bit more realistic and vibrant.

movies will sound a bit better on cans with at least some bass. all but the ad series would be fine for this.

a neutral sound is best for people who want the most lifelike sound possible, however at the same time as being transparent, they can also be perceived as being dull by some. the v-shaped curve is generally regarded as being more engaging and fun though people who prefer neutral sound consider them tobe lacking some mids. both are good, depending on preferences.

the 598's are more smooth while the dt990/880 are more detailed. the other way of saying this is to say the 598's lack the detail of the 990/880 and that the 990 might be fatiguing for some due to being able to hear all the small details while the somewhat less detail on the 598 makes them a bit more easy listening. treble is also brighter on the 990s while a bit more subdued on the 598's. the 990 has significantly more bass than the 598. depending on preferences these could be great features or potential things you dont like.

as for the dt880 vs 598... much of the above is true, although instead of neutral vs v-shaped its neutral vs neutral. much of the rest is similar besides the statement about bass.

the best way to put it would be: a positive attribute is also a negative attribute at the same time, depending on the specific preferences of the listener. this is why matching up preferences is a good idea instead of looking at things in black and white.

the dt990/880 would require a more expensive amp than the hd598 (the 598 you could make do with a $30 fiio e6 while i'd pair the 880/990 with nothing less than an e10k for $80 or even better the magni for $100ish). this is not to say the 598 is better, it just is easier to drive but it should be noted that total costs would be less.

i'm thinking the hd598, dt880 or dt990 are likely good for you. i dont think the ad series (despite being excellent headphones) would really fit in your need for a set which is great for movies.





 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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THANK you, really thank you. Now I know what to purchase and I know why I should purchase them. This was a valuable lesson in audio provided by you.

Just few things
for the soundcard I'll purchase ASUS xonar DX

for the amp I'll purchase Magni 2 or Magni 2 Uber, what do you suggest?
A beginner question: I heard that we should always use DAC for better audio, is DAC different from the amp and if it is then does Magni 2 come with a DAC or should I purchase a seperate DAC and if I should purchase a seperate DAC which do you suggest?

for the headphones I believe that I'll go for what's more engaging and fun in comparison to the neutral which means the DT 990; however, there are three types of DT-990 in amazon and I don't know what's better.
Will you help me understand the differences?

The first: Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium 250 OHM for 299$
The second: Beyerdynamic DT 990 Premium 32 OHM for 291$
The third: Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 OHM for 170$

I believe what makes them different is the difference in OHM and being pro and premium, so what does the OHM exactly do and what differentiates the pro from the premium making it almost double the price?

Thanks again ^,^
PS: Sorry for the late response I've slept.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
dt990pro-250
the premium is almost the exact same same thing yet about $100 more. the only differences are a different shell, less clamp force and slightly more airy sound with less bass. the ONLY premium worth going for is the 600ohm but i dont think you need that.

magni 2
the magni 2 would be sufficient, however, the uber edition has a bit extra power and some unamped pre-out outputs along with a nicer look. if you had the extra money to spend and needed the features then perhaps its worthwhile but its not required to go for the upgrade.

i'd say dt990pro-250 + xonar dx + magni 2 + modmic
that would total about $406 which is about your budget.

if you live in the usa, check if you have a local store such as guitarcenter where you can test out the headphones.

dont forget that to use such a setup with the ps3 and ps4 you would likely require an adapter to convert from pc headset to a form compatible with the consoles.
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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Thanks @ssddx moderator.
I believe that everything is clear now, and I will purchase the things you've guided me toward.
However, i have one remaining question that might lead the price to exceed my budget.

I heard that we should always use DAC for better audio, is DAC different from the amp and if it is then does Magni 2 come with a DAC or should I purchase a seperate DAC and if I should purchase a seperate DAC which do you suggest?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
a soundcard is basically a DAC combined with an amplifier. the dx just doesnt have a powerful amplifier which means its better suited (as in more like just a dac by itself though with a weak amp added) than one of the more powerful soundcard options like the stx, z or dg.

now they do make external DACs such as the schiit modi (people like using the magni/modi stack) but you would lose out on virtual surround support by going that route (using a soundcard as your DAC means you have virtual surround support). now you CAN use razers free software combined with the external DAC but its not as nice as some of the other versions.



if you went with an external dac, you would NOT need the xonar dx.
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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After your clarification I made a small research to know which is better and you gave the edge to externals in a reply to a different person in tomsguide; here's the quote
external soundcards have a slight edge since they can completely avoid the electrical noise inside the pc case.

other than that... high end internal soundcards are pretty much equal to high end externals.
And I researched a little bit and if I will give the edge to an external DAC then that means it is because of a minor or unnoticeable difference in comparison to the xonar dx which also provides 7.1 surround sound and I believe that 7.1 surround is a feature I want to experience in its glory which means avoiding razer solution so the xonar dx seems better than an external DAC for me.

Thank you again for all those clarifications and if you think there's still an advice/ a tip you have for me then please do, as it is more than welcomed and I hope that other people could benefit from this conversation we had; perhaps you can guide a person to this thread to decrease your load when a person has the same needs as me. I think I'll use tomsguide more now whenever I have a question regarding tech. This was my first time participating in the forum and I am glad that I did thanks to you.
Thanks again!
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
since external dacs (by nature of being external or outside the pc case) can avoid electrical noise they *can* be better in that facility. however, you should *not* have any issues with electrical noise from a soundcard. this is to say that by design, its technically superior but in practice its not a big deal.

given that you want virtual surround as an option (even if you want to leave it off) i'd say the xonar dx is what you want.

i think it would also be a good time to note: you will get 5.1/7.1 virtual surround from the pc only. on ps3/ps4 you will get stereo only. <--- do read this

however its also worth noting, that with a wide soundstage/good positional audio pair of cans you really do not need virtual surround in order to get a good experience.
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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So the DT 990 will provide soundstage/good positional so the surround won't be necessary for console gaming, so I won't need PlayStation Gold Wireless headset as the dt990 is better in maybe all other aspects.

Also, now another main point is that the best value wise solution for me is the magni 2 amp plus the xonar dx and it will cost me hardly 200$. Though, if I am willing to pay slightly more as I don't like how the magni 2 looks and it doesn't match my black setup; will the Objective 2 amp for 30$ more/ or a different black amp you'll suggest, be able to power the DT 990 and perform at least equally to the Magni 2 or perform slightly worse or slightly better?

However, as a different approach/ a solution; if I pay double the price will ASUS Essence STX II 7.1 be the best choice and blow the last approach out of the water; is this choice worth investing in to get a way better audio in comparison to the soundcard and an amp? Or do you think for the value it isn't worth it and I should just stick to ASUS Xonar dx and magni 2/ objective 2 amp because in comparison to ASUS Essence STX II 7.1 they will at least provide a similar quality?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
here is something which throws a wrench into the gearbox per se..

perhaps partly my fault for not listing these with "external dacs" above but my mind was thinking along the lines of hifi-audio solutions (which are stereo sound only without virtual surround capability). technically the below are external dacs as well but are marketed towards gamers so it slipped my mind for a few.

bear with me here as this will take a little explaining...

okay so i DID find some products which might work with the ps3 and maybe the ps4 and give it virtual surround capabilities similar to the pc soundcard. many of them are also compatible with pc as well and you've probably heard of them before. the best way of thinking of the products is that they are like external soundcards (so like the dx) but cross platform compatible between consoles and pc.

earforce dss http://www.turtlebeach.com/product-detail/accessories-legacy/ear-force-dss/239
recon3d http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sound-Blaster-Recon3D-3D-THX-USB-External-Audio-Enhancer-SB1300-PC-PS3-XBOX-Mac-/251724393186?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3a9bf16ae2
mixamp http://www.amazon.com/ASTRO-Gaming-MixAmp-Pro-playstation-2/dp/B00NY5ZNZA/ref=sr_1_1?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1432475813&sr=1-1&keywords=astro+mixamp

i'd ignore the recon3d due to it being completely overpriced.

i believe the astro mixamp is compatible with all of your devices (please check for yourself though) and will offer you the virtual surround you want. generally something similar to this http://cdn.head-fi.org/4/42/500x1000px-LL-4212849e_750524.jpeg when hooked up to devices.

the dss listed compatibility for all systems right on its page however turtlebeach really isnt known for super high end audio (its famous for generic sounding gaming headsets). it says its compatible with any analog headset.

now the kicker....

if you used such a product it would be a waste to have a xonar dx as your soundcard as the external device would be doing the processing instead of your soundcard (when youre using it with the pc that is). now i mean you could use the device with your consoles only but its quite a bit of cash to invest for just a console specific device and use the dx for pc. possible, but that would be $200 spent on dacs alone.

such a device would take the place of any sort of usb adapter you'd need for consoles with a 3.5mm headset so it does have merit in that regard as well.

the mixamp is rather popular though i'm want to say the dx is a much better card. its known that the stx blows the mixamp out of the water and the dx uses the same dac as the stx (Just doesnt have the amp). so i think for a pc solution the dx is better. however the dx is pc only while the mixamp is a cross platform solution.

the three options:
-use one of the above (say the mixamp) with all devices. no soundcard on pc. (virtual on all devices, cross platform)
-use one of the above with consoles only, use soundcard on pc. (best audio quality on pc, all devices have virtual support)
-use just a soundcard on pc, just an adapter for consoles for the headset. (limits you to stereo sound on consoles)

honestly is virtual needed? its a personal thing. i've had many people here i've set up with a soundcard which gave virtual as an option and bought wide soundstage headphones come around and say they dont use virtual since the soundstage is wide enough on its own. then i have some say they love virtual. its not a clear cut decision and you need to listen for yourself. generally i'd say its not absolutely required though.

since you will be getting an amp, you dont need the stx over the dx. they use the same dac and the stx just includes a better amp which you dont need.

--

with all the above i'm thinking you'd likely need a post back for clarification since i gave you a few more options to think about.
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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Honestly, I stopped gaming for years and recently I decided I'll be back to it and I never even experienced surround or thought about enjoying audio. Years ago I played with any headphones, or normal speakers and never thought about audio benefits. So now that I want to get back to gaming after many years I want to experience it in its full glory. Movies, series and anime are the main source of enjoyment for me right now but I'll see if gaming will be able to compete fun-wise.

I can't say thank you enough as you keep teaching me more about audio.

I understand now that the stx and the dx are the same if I buy an amp. Also, if I use an external DAC compatible with consoles for the pc it won't be as good as the dx. What I will do is purchase the dx with an external amp as most of my time will be spent on the PC.
I might purchase the mixamp in the future if I loved the surround 7.1 so much after experiencing it with the dx.

So now it's decided for me the dx soundcard and the headphones. However for the amp can you explain to me how I can tell if it has enough juice to power my headphones; I want to know because you gave me the best value wise solution the magni 2 amp plus the xonar dx and it will cost me hardly 200$. Though, if I am willing to pay slightly more as I don't like how the magni 2 looks and it doesn't match my black setup; will the Objective 2 amp for 30$ more/ or a different black amp you'll suggest or explain to me how I can tell, if it will support my headphones, be able to power the DT 990 and perform at least equally to the Magni 2 or perform slightly better?

Magni 2 is a perfect purchase but I'm wishing for a black amp that's at least equal to the Magni 2 in terms of performance or slightly better. Though, if I didn't find I will definitely purchase Magni 2.

Okay now let me just mention it again, right now there are two definite purchases for me; DT 990 and xonar dx. As a future upgrade for consoles it might be the mixamp. Just for the amp I'm hopping to find what I mentioned above.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
the o2 amp would work. it might actually be a little better for you anyways.

the o2 is a bit warmer so it will tone down the bright nature of the dt990 just a bit and push sound a little more towards the bassy side (this is what warm means) but not by a huge degree.

if ordered direct from the site they also allow customized versions (can relocate power jack to rear, use 1/4 instead of 3.5mm plug, can use 2xrca [rear] instead of 3.5mm [front] input, can select what kind of gain you want) though honestly not really worth the extra cash i'd say and you wont score any sales or deals. if it was me i'd just buy the standard black one.

(on a side note, i sort of like the look of the modi/magni stack myself but i dont use headphones for gaming much. i prefer speakers)

the only reason i typically list the magni is because it has quite a bit of power for the money and most people have rather tight budgets and are rather inflexible. i'm amazed that you've been so flexible and open minded. the o2 is a solid alternative.

Movies, series and anime are the main source of enjoyment
that is generally what i do besides helping out here and playing a few games here and there.
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

Estimable
May 22, 2015
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Yeah,
Magni looks really nice if I had a different setup and now that I'm done from headphones. I believe that I'll open a new thread to get help in choosing a set of speakers with the features I have in mind; It will be a different thread because the title of this thread is about headphones. Also, I hope that you will be there to provide guidance as I trust your knowledge and expertise.

Finally, after the long informative talk we had I was able to choose the devices which I believe are the best for me.

Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT-990-Pro-250 + Modmic + Soundcard: ASUS Xonar DX + Amplifier: Objective 2 Headphone Amplifier.

Thank you so much once again for helping/ guiding me. Truly, thanks!
If it's recommended to close the thread after we reached a solution then you can go ahead and do it!
Thanks once again and I hope I'll be able to hear your thoughts once I open the thread about speakers.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
pm me the link to the speaker thread so i dont miss it. also, i'd keep your "purchase list" for headphone equipment on hold until you finish speaker picking just in case theres some other options we havent looked at yet which might work for both though i think what you have now would be fine for headphones as i did not factor them into the equation (you never mentioned them)
 

Eisa AlAwadhi

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May 22, 2015
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Count my purchase list on hold until we figure everything out; I'm really not rushing it at all since in those 1-3 months I'm extremely busy so even if I purchased everything now I won't have enough time to enjoy.
Once I open the thread I'll make sure to pm you!
And I haven't given much thoughts about speakers either, though I believe while we were having this conversation my appeal to audio have increased or I just didn't think much of speakers and somehow speakers entered the equation of a complete audio setup for me.

Really sorry for my late responses!
 
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