Looking for 5.1/7.1 Dolby Headphones

chris_shadez

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Oct 22, 2013
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I have done a lot of googling but there is simply too much out there and too many things to consider, not enough reviews etc to help me make my mind up. As well as not being experienced in the high quality audio section

Looking for True 5/7.1 Dolby TrueHD? Headphones, microphone not necessary, wired preferred.
Being an insomniac, I watch movies late night but the home theater system in living room or PC's 5.1 system obviously are not friendly to those sleeping 9pm-8am.

.... Headphones replace my 7.1 home theater is what I'm after.

I may be buying 2(hopefully 1), as I want one set which can plug into my home theater system amp which of course will not take usb And another that I can use with my PC BUT of course I'd prefer one with the ability to plug into both a PC and an amplifier.
If necessary, I would buy a dedicated PCI sound card for my pc to make one headset work with both amp and pc.

The amp I have is; Yamaha Natural Sound AV Receiver RX-V667
- There is a "Silent Cinema" 1/4" headphone jack on the front of the amp in addition to whatever all else is at the back, just stating.
Amp model/jack image; http://i63.tinypic.com/343hhqx.jpg


Budget would be max £300 GBP, but I don't really know what to expect so may pay more

Appreciate the assistance:) Thank you in advanced.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
i personally own an m50. all around the dt770 is the better deal given there isnt much difference in price. the dt770 has bigger better earcups, better comfort and a bit more sound quality with decent soundstaging for closed cans. the m50 only features a folding design which is easy to power in comparision. i like my pair but ymmv. the dt990 in comparision to the dt770 would have a bigger soundstage, a bit less bass but still v-shaped and not be isolating.

overall i'd certainly say the dt990 is a better headphone than the m50 though it also depends on preference too i suppose. i like mine because they fold up and are portable without requiring anything to drive them. sound quality is quite good but i'm aware that they arent the best thing since sliced bread nor do i expect them to be. they are much better than crap cans like bose and that is all that matters to me. soundstage might be very small but i sort of like the closed in intimate right next to your ears sound for music. wide soundstages can sometimes sound a bit airy to some people. i certainly dont regret my purchase.

perhaps you can make the call based on those descriptions.

some onboard might power high impedance headphones but generally even if they do you will not get the most out of them. they may sound anemic. no you dont need a soundcard AND amp generally. one or the other normally suffices. generally your options are as below:

soundcard only
-normally sufficient for anything but very hard to drive headphones. while it may lack the power of a dedicated headphone amp normally its fine. some benefits include having 5.1 for pc speakers, a better quality mic input as well as better virtual surround sound.

amp only
- you would be using your onboard dac in this case. if the quality level of your onboard is fine but you just want a bit of extra power this is the cheapest solution that works. some amps like the magni will drive any headphone so for the $100 pricetag its something you can keep for a good long time. cheaper amps are also useable but the a3 or similar really arent good for hard to drive cans so if you get into headphones they are merely a stepping stone. if your onboard has virtual surround support you can use it otherwise you would be stuck with stereo or using razer virtual.

dac+amp
- if your onboard quality is bad or if you just wanted an upgrade this is often suggested. while seperate units like the modi/magni stack are ideal there are combination units available. products like the a1, e10k normally handle most headphones but the amp lacks a little power compared to products like the magni (the price is also less than the magni/modi stack so its not like its a terrible deal for either of them). the o2/odac combo is also good (like the modi/magni stack) but is much more expensive so normally i suggest schiit products instead. just as before, a stronger pair will last you through many headphones while a pair with a weaker amp might not and may be replaced if you get into something hard to drive.

soundcard + amp
- normally this is not something you do given the cost. the only reasons why this generally gets implemented are if onboard doesnt have virtual but you want it and razer virtual is not acceptable, if you need aux 3.5mm/optical inputs or mic input or if you need 5.1 speaker support for pc speaker connections. generally one of those reasons in addition to needing a quality increase over onboard due to some problem as well as the headphones of choice being too hard to drive by just a soundcard. this is a nontypical setup but there are some people who use it for some benefits only available by this pairing.

given how you dont care about virtual it seems.. i'd say using a soundcard, dac+amp or just an amp are options you might want to think over. of course if you have headphones which arent picky you might need to do nothing in this regard. headphones like the hd598, m50 and others really dont need amplification unless you are using a source with very weak amplification or a line level signal.
 

wbattel4607

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Jan 28, 2014
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Responses to this question will be highly opinionated. That being said- I am in love with my new SteelSeries Siberia 650s. They have 7.1 virtual surround sound, and in my opinion they are damn good at it. Also take note of this thread that shows some other existing opinions for further insight about virtual vs true surround sound- they are more alike than you think.
 

chris_shadez

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Oct 22, 2013
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Yeah, I've browsed through a lot of bias, fanboys and cupids lol. I love this forum so decided to take a whirl and ask here, hope for some good suggestions, idea's to lean on etc.

I've used several virtual but didn't really feel the depth of it as i expected it to be. IMO for gaming, stereo/virtual is just fine but....
...For movies... Really want a premium experience to complement home theater viewing... I want to feel the true immersion on chunky headphones whilst forcing myself to feel belittled by the £4digit speaker setup in my living room.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
most audio responses will be opinionated as everyones taste in audio is different, everyone has different brand loyalties, models available for $x price ranges vary by country and the models people are familiar with may vary. to counter this it is normally best to compare A to B and give broader descriptions and more options to choices but that is not always possible.

first, a "true" surround sound "headphone" is not something normal. all headphones are generally "stereo" only with only one "driver" per ear. of course there may have been exceptions over the ears but this is generally the case. to get surround sound (virtual surround) on stereo headphones your pc or receiver would need to be capable of dolby headphone or its equivalent (virtual surround). while this is easy to do for pc, i'm not sure if most receivers support it or not. your receiver lists dsp options for headphone but on my pioneer those are equivalent to just eq changes and minor effects like reverb (for hall, etc) and do not emulate 3d. while this may certainly be different on your yamaha it is up to you to figure out if this is the case or not.

the only "true" (multi driver per ear) surround sound option that is not usb are analog 5.1 or 7.1 gaming headsets which feature 3 or 4 3.5mm plugs. this as you may have guessed is not directly compatible with your home theater system (as it lacks outputs for such a system) but is compatible with your pc. honestly though the smaller drivers offer less quality and there is not really much benefit over virtual as far as surround sound is concerned as its not seamless transitions. now, i'm not saying it is impossible to use with your tv or dvd player (you could use one of the multi channel amps meant for 5.1 gaming headsets.. which can be attached generally via 6ch analog outputs.. or if you lack analog outputs via analog outputs from a dac. if you are expecting a quality audio experience however i would recommend headphones.

now, your options really vary based on if you are going to pursue a headphone or headset as well as what your preferences are for how the headphones should sound or fit. i could list a few options but until you chew on the 5.1 dilema for a bit and make a decision i will hold off. i will say that i honestly enjoy movies perfectly fine on stereo with a decent set of headphones. while its certainly not 5.1, good headphones can be just as thrilling. YMMV though.
 

chris_shadez

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Oct 22, 2013
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Well thank you for that very well explained explanation. Didn't think of the quality impact of smaller drivers vs two large on virtual. Sounds like a good stereo/virtual set would be the better option now.
Please do state your options for a pc/usb, wired/wireless no preference.
I want them to be specifically for movies/sound quality so mic or no mic doesn't matter, I'm guessing price-performance ratio would be better on headphones.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
in uk? beyerdynamic is lower priced than sennheiser, audiotechnica and akg which makes them a good choice.

dt770 - closed, v-shaped,, capable of sub bass, decent soundstage for closed cans
dt880 - like a dt990 without as much of a v-shape and with less harsh edge on treble and less bass.
dt990 - open, v-shaped, decent soundstage, very crisp detailed highs, decent bass output for open cans

for pc use generally at least a decent soundcard (creative z for instance) or an amplifier is suggested (schiit magni is suggested but a fiio a3 would probably work)
 

chris_shadez

Honorable
Oct 22, 2013
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As you mentioned audiotechnica, heard that from a friend too. What do you think of Audio-Technica ATH-M50X in comparison to dt990?

For my tv, ofc I can plug straight into the receiver for great audio but for pc?
For pc, seems I'll get the creative z if built in sound card isn't enough for a better experience (mobo in signature), would it also require an amplifier to enhance their performance? Or best to Just use suggested amp? A DAC?
thanks
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
i personally own an m50. all around the dt770 is the better deal given there isnt much difference in price. the dt770 has bigger better earcups, better comfort and a bit more sound quality with decent soundstaging for closed cans. the m50 only features a folding design which is easy to power in comparision. i like my pair but ymmv. the dt990 in comparision to the dt770 would have a bigger soundstage, a bit less bass but still v-shaped and not be isolating.

overall i'd certainly say the dt990 is a better headphone than the m50 though it also depends on preference too i suppose. i like mine because they fold up and are portable without requiring anything to drive them. sound quality is quite good but i'm aware that they arent the best thing since sliced bread nor do i expect them to be. they are much better than crap cans like bose and that is all that matters to me. soundstage might be very small but i sort of like the closed in intimate right next to your ears sound for music. wide soundstages can sometimes sound a bit airy to some people. i certainly dont regret my purchase.

perhaps you can make the call based on those descriptions.

some onboard might power high impedance headphones but generally even if they do you will not get the most out of them. they may sound anemic. no you dont need a soundcard AND amp generally. one or the other normally suffices. generally your options are as below:

soundcard only
-normally sufficient for anything but very hard to drive headphones. while it may lack the power of a dedicated headphone amp normally its fine. some benefits include having 5.1 for pc speakers, a better quality mic input as well as better virtual surround sound.

amp only
- you would be using your onboard dac in this case. if the quality level of your onboard is fine but you just want a bit of extra power this is the cheapest solution that works. some amps like the magni will drive any headphone so for the $100 pricetag its something you can keep for a good long time. cheaper amps are also useable but the a3 or similar really arent good for hard to drive cans so if you get into headphones they are merely a stepping stone. if your onboard has virtual surround support you can use it otherwise you would be stuck with stereo or using razer virtual.

dac+amp
- if your onboard quality is bad or if you just wanted an upgrade this is often suggested. while seperate units like the modi/magni stack are ideal there are combination units available. products like the a1, e10k normally handle most headphones but the amp lacks a little power compared to products like the magni (the price is also less than the magni/modi stack so its not like its a terrible deal for either of them). the o2/odac combo is also good (like the modi/magni stack) but is much more expensive so normally i suggest schiit products instead. just as before, a stronger pair will last you through many headphones while a pair with a weaker amp might not and may be replaced if you get into something hard to drive.

soundcard + amp
- normally this is not something you do given the cost. the only reasons why this generally gets implemented are if onboard doesnt have virtual but you want it and razer virtual is not acceptable, if you need aux 3.5mm/optical inputs or mic input or if you need 5.1 speaker support for pc speaker connections. generally one of those reasons in addition to needing a quality increase over onboard due to some problem as well as the headphones of choice being too hard to drive by just a soundcard. this is a nontypical setup but there are some people who use it for some benefits only available by this pairing.

given how you dont care about virtual it seems.. i'd say using a soundcard, dac+amp or just an amp are options you might want to think over. of course if you have headphones which arent picky you might need to do nothing in this regard. headphones like the hd598, m50 and others really dont need amplification unless you are using a source with very weak amplification or a line level signal.
 

chris_shadez

Honorable
Oct 22, 2013
37
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10,610
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Well the d770 it is then, which model best to use with my yamaha receiver? Seems I'll be at the tv more than pc for movies now, especially with the 3m cable there.

I do actually still care about virtual on pc but i now see that's software side with a good stereo pair than a a pair with 5x tiny drivers per cup. Will deal with that after I put some time in with some nice new cans, plenty thanks to you.
Onboard card currently fine with my 5.1 speakers
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
32 is easiest to drive, but may not be as cheap and doesnt sound as nice. the 80 is the most bassy sounding. the 250 is the most quality sounding with a little less bass than the 80. honestly they arent hard to power although to get the most out of them (more depth and low end kick) good amplification is wanted.

i cant give you a definitive answer as far as what pairs best with an avr. some say high impedance, some say low impedance. all i can tell you is that i've personally used my m50 (38ohm impedance) with my avr with no issues at all. i'd test on a higher impedance set but i dont own one.

virtual vs actual headphone surround .. its a bit of a preference thing but as far as sound "quality" is concerned stereo is best.
 
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