Help Finding a Good Gaming Headset Solution w/ $300 Budget

Rightstated

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Sep 8, 2014
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Hi everyone. I just recently built myself a new computer of which I plan to do a fair bit of gaming on but picking the right headphones is always the hardest part because as many reviews as you watch, sound quality in all dimensions is still widely subjective. I wanted to know what would be the best combination of DACs/Amps/Headphones/Mics that I could buy with $300.

I want to start off by saying that my motherboard is an ASUS Rampage V Extreme Edition with built in SupremeFX 2014. I don't know if that covers the need for an external DAC/Amp, but that would also be some helpful information.

I have been looking at multiple options in each category.
- For the headsets the Audio Technica ATH-AG1 looks like the most appealing option at this point. Ive also debated getting the Astro A40 headset/mixamp and the Razer Kraken 7.1. The latter two I get worried about because in gaming headsets they throw around virtual/actual 7.1 surround sound a lot but from all the reviews I have read it widely varies even though the Kraken 7.1 has 5 drivers per ear. Its hard cutting through the marketing fluff. (And I also wish alot of these gaming headsets wouldn't look so flashy but since no one is going to be looking at them since they will be on my head and I usually game in the comfort of my room, looks don't really matter)
- Ive also debated on just getting a standard pair of good headsets, purchasing one of those ModMics, and buying a Fiio E17 DAC/Amp, but then again, I dont even know if that would be a good idea considering my onboard sound solution or if it is even the right solution, The Fiio E17 could be built more for listening to music and not for giving me a wide soundstage with the ability to pinpoint where certain sounds are coming from like what gaming headsets try to offer with the virtual/actual 7.1 surround. My friend has the open backed Sennheiser 598s and uses a Fiio E17 for a DAC/Amp and they sound amazing with music (really crisp in the highs and mids, though a little lack luster in the lows which is odd because most headphones now a days just focus on ridiculous bass) but I don't think they would work well for gaming. So I am at a complete loss in this one too.

So if anybody could help me out that would be great. The audiophile and audio-gaming market have been two categories which have largely confounded me all of my life. I don't have a considerable amount of experience on the matter and any objective (and even further subjective) input would be greatly appreciated. The more comprehensive the answer the better, haha. Many thanks for any useful advice.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
to clarify things for you:

virtual surround = stereo headphones which fake surround sound like effects with software
true surround = headsets (no headphones are surround) with multiple drivers per ear.

generally better sound quality can be had from the larger better quality drivers of stereo headphones.

all virtual surround distorts sound a bit and is not 100% needed for gaming despite what many gamers may say. it is more of a preference since many games offer plenty of in game clues both auditory and visual to discern location.

actually.. there are quite a few headphones which are designed to almost lack bass completely nowdays. generally there are low bass models, decent bass models, bassy models and then those ridiculous bass cannons. low bass is typically sought after for competitive fps gaming since it gives an edge but also does not sound as "fun" which is the tradeoff.

--

the sennheiser hd598 are well known for good quality sound however are also not known for being very bassy. fair in that regard (Better on an amp) but still not enough for anyone who wants great bass response.

open headphones in general tend to NOT be bassy. this is typically the tradeoff for a wide soundstage and good clarity. closed headphones are typically bassy but lack the soundstage and are not as crisp.

the hd558 is a lower grade sennheiser which does not have quite the nice sound of the 598 but packs just a tad more bass into the mix with less soundstage.

--

a few choices...

if you want to keep the "open" nature of sound like the hd598's have but want bass.... i'd look into the beyerdynamic dt990pro 250. however, they are very hard to drive and you will want a pretty decent amp to drive them. you can get by on something like a fiio e17 though the schiit magni is a much much better choice if you want to get the most out of them. despite being open headphones they pack a fair bit of bass which is odd for most open cans. <--- i'm thinking the 990 will most suit your needs (if you want an open headphone and you liked the 598 except for the bass)

if you want BASSY and are willing to sacrifice soundstage and a little bit of clarity then the dt770 pro 80 ohm has some real bite and are a closed design. you will want to amp them but can make due on cheaper equipment. the fiio e11 or e10k can handle it although of course nicer amps are always welcome. <--- if instead you wanted closed up cans this would be my second pick. the 80 ohm is the bassiest one so if you want something a bit more subdued but still more than the 598's perhaps the 250ohm is worth looking into as well (which may warrant a more powerful amp like above)

the modmic is definitely a nice choice if you want a clip on boom style microphone and gets quite good reviews. there are other choices of course but modmic is likely the best without getting into some DIY or expensive products.

now, just an amp on its own isnt going to provide virtual surround so you'd either need to use onboard, a soundcard, free razer software or just go without (and enjoy non distorted sound). your choice there.

--

your motherboard does have a virtual surround option on it (not sure how good it is)

also not sure how much virtual surround matters to you.

--

what about the ath-ag1?

extremely overpriced. it is basically a $115 headphone with a mic and soundcard strapped on they are charging $250 for. its in the same boat as the high end headsets from beyerdynamic and sennheiser. nice, but twice the price they should be.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
to clarify things for you:

virtual surround = stereo headphones which fake surround sound like effects with software
true surround = headsets (no headphones are surround) with multiple drivers per ear.

generally better sound quality can be had from the larger better quality drivers of stereo headphones.

all virtual surround distorts sound a bit and is not 100% needed for gaming despite what many gamers may say. it is more of a preference since many games offer plenty of in game clues both auditory and visual to discern location.

actually.. there are quite a few headphones which are designed to almost lack bass completely nowdays. generally there are low bass models, decent bass models, bassy models and then those ridiculous bass cannons. low bass is typically sought after for competitive fps gaming since it gives an edge but also does not sound as "fun" which is the tradeoff.

--

the sennheiser hd598 are well known for good quality sound however are also not known for being very bassy. fair in that regard (Better on an amp) but still not enough for anyone who wants great bass response.

open headphones in general tend to NOT be bassy. this is typically the tradeoff for a wide soundstage and good clarity. closed headphones are typically bassy but lack the soundstage and are not as crisp.

the hd558 is a lower grade sennheiser which does not have quite the nice sound of the 598 but packs just a tad more bass into the mix with less soundstage.

--

a few choices...

if you want to keep the "open" nature of sound like the hd598's have but want bass.... i'd look into the beyerdynamic dt990pro 250. however, they are very hard to drive and you will want a pretty decent amp to drive them. you can get by on something like a fiio e17 though the schiit magni is a much much better choice if you want to get the most out of them. despite being open headphones they pack a fair bit of bass which is odd for most open cans. <--- i'm thinking the 990 will most suit your needs (if you want an open headphone and you liked the 598 except for the bass)

if you want BASSY and are willing to sacrifice soundstage and a little bit of clarity then the dt770 pro 80 ohm has some real bite and are a closed design. you will want to amp them but can make due on cheaper equipment. the fiio e11 or e10k can handle it although of course nicer amps are always welcome. <--- if instead you wanted closed up cans this would be my second pick. the 80 ohm is the bassiest one so if you want something a bit more subdued but still more than the 598's perhaps the 250ohm is worth looking into as well (which may warrant a more powerful amp like above)

the modmic is definitely a nice choice if you want a clip on boom style microphone and gets quite good reviews. there are other choices of course but modmic is likely the best without getting into some DIY or expensive products.

now, just an amp on its own isnt going to provide virtual surround so you'd either need to use onboard, a soundcard, free razer software or just go without (and enjoy non distorted sound). your choice there.

--

your motherboard does have a virtual surround option on it (not sure how good it is)

also not sure how much virtual surround matters to you.

--

what about the ath-ag1?

extremely overpriced. it is basically a $115 headphone with a mic and soundcard strapped on they are charging $250 for. its in the same boat as the high end headsets from beyerdynamic and sennheiser. nice, but twice the price they should be.
 
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