PC Gaming Setup Headphone setup

eMotive11

Commendable
Oct 14, 2016
2
0
1,510
0
So I have been trying to optimize my PC sound experience and frankly have just confused myself pouring over post after post and review of different components/headphones/setups.

I was hoping some people could give me a little clarification and help.

I am looking to get the most out of my gaming with headphones and speakers (primarily headphones).

I currently have this mobo: Asus Maximum Hero VIII

These speakers: Logitech Z906

I have a blue yeti mic with a set of Astro A40s hooked up to it.

I am happy with my mic quality of the yeti, but the headphones are uncomfortable and don't sound great. Now after reading about it I realize I should not have had them plugged into the yeti.

My speakers are fine, and frankly don't get used much (don't want to piss of the lady to often) so I am mainly looking to get my headphone sound quality up, and if anything improved the speaker sound that's just an added bonus.

Should I get a DAC? AMP? (I have the mixamp that came with the astro somewhere, but I hear it isn't great for PC gaming). Are sound cards the better option? I am mostly interested in immersion and quality (think a Witcher 3 type game), as I don't play any competitive game at a high level. I don't really understand the different Dolby aspect for surround sound.

What headphones would you guys recommend? I play in my office with very little external sound in the room. Comfort is a big plus, I have a fairly large head. I've heard some Ars Technica ones and AKG's are impressive.

My budget is somewhere around $1,000 all in, but I am willing to go much higher (and obviously lower!) if need be. I really just want to be comfortable and as fully immersed as possible.

Thank you in advance for your suggestions and replies!
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
perhaps i need to clarify..
unless a usb mic has a jack on it (like you've been using) there isnt a way to live monitor your voice and you need to use "listen to this device" on the pc to do it if not using that jack. this can cause a delay in you hearing your voice (microstutter sometimes) but it seems like you dont need to hear yourself so its a non issue anyways.

well, there are certainly very nice $500-600 headphones on the market but given you're happy with the z906 and are just getting into hifi i would suggest starting moderately. if you buy a decent starter amp like the magni and dac like the modi or good soundcard you can carry that with you to better headphones if you ever felt the need to upgrade a bit. as far as best... its subjective. there are $1000+ headphones and what you/i consider better is subjective so really all i can say is "good for the budget" when making recommendations.

the fidelio x2 is a decent pair of headphones. i'm not too well versed in them but i can say that they have a bit more bass impact than the dt990 but have less clarity and do not have the crisp treble on the 990. not to say the 990 is not bassy, it has a decent bass edge for open cans with a decent amp.

if considering bass, the 770 is a good one if closed designs are not unappealing. soundstage is less due to being closed (but it has great soundstage for a closed can) and bass impact for the price is pretty decent (it can hit sub bass tones). keep in mind its not a bass cannon but bassy headphone so you get bass but its not to the extent that everything else suffers. i personally use the m50 which is similar in signature but overall inferior to the 770 and i've been more than happy with the bass levels with everything i've thrown at it, even dubstep.

i dont think you could go wrong with any of the three.. dt990, dt770 or x2 depending on your tastes.
the beyer cans are going to have more treble energy and have a v-shaped signature while the x2 is a bit more flatish with a bit of boost on the bass. i cant say if the x2 or 770 have more bass but any of the above should have enough bass if you arent a basshead though the 770 i know hits pretty decent (not sure just how much bass the x2 has but its in the more than neutral and somewhere in the bassy classification but not bass cannon or basshead level.

there are two types of surround. real and virtual. real involves multiple drivers per earcup on some headsets. its a gimmick and really sounds like multiple drivers firing which does not equal surround sound. some may like it while others complain its inaccurate. sound quality also suffers since smaller cheaper drivers are used. virtual is completely software/hardware based such as on soundcards. by changing pitch, delay and volume it emulates how your ears would hear a sound from different distances and angles. its not bad and does a decent job which is why many people like it however it *does* distort the audio stream and in most games which already have cues its not really required at all. on headphones with a decently wide soundstage and decently coded game audio you may even keep it off since its not needed and audio is full quality without distortion with it disabled. ultimately its one of those things you need to figure out on your own.

how do you know?
put your current headphones on. make sure they are in stereo 2.0 mode. watch some clips http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-3-18-2016-mrspeakers-ether-c-1-1-added for virtual surround sound comparisions. do you like what you hear or not? the three major types are razer virtual (considered the worst), cmss3d/sbx and dolby headphone.

my suggestions would either be the schiit modi+magni stack or xonar dx + magni depending on if stereo sound is okay or if you need virtual surround (and like dolby headphone as asus cards are DH). if using easier to drive headphones.. you could make do with the same or possibly a soundcard only. the o2+odac is a nice little combination as well but runs more cash than the schiit unit. there are some nice combination units like the audioengine d1 or fiio e10k though they lack just a bit on the power side compared with the o2 or magni so while i suggest them since they are decent (though inferior to previously mentioned items) normally its only for lower budgets and easier to drive cans.

honestly perhaps the best thing you could do is go to a local headphone shop like guitarcenter or similar and listen to headphones to see which you prefer the most (and buy them online as you save tons of cash).
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
can the mixamp be used? sure, there are many people who use it. generally i would not suggest it if you have other options available though.

onboard, onboard+amp, dac+amp, soundcard+amp or soundcard? that depends on A) which headphones you pick (some are hard to power and need a higher power solution) and B) if you require virtual surround sound as an option. onboard is fine if you arent picky about sound quality and have easy to drive headphones. adding an amp is fine if you have harder to power headphones but arent picky about quality. a dac+amp will result in the best quality but only stereo audio for any headphones. a soundcard+amp is good if you want virtual surround and quality increase over onboard but need greater power for some headphones. a soundcard alone is fine if you want virtual surround and use easier to power headphones.

another thing to factor in is if you need to live monitor your voice (hear yourself while you speak). not all solutions allow you to do this. with usb mics you are limited to the output jack on them which kills using soundcards or the like. a better solution if this is 100% needed would be something like a scarlett solo or 2i2 with an xlr microphone with a low power input being combined with a low power input from the dac or soundcard going to your amp. if live monitoring isnt important or if a slight delay (depends on your pc and many factors.. sometimes its just about zero) isnt a big deal ignore this.

$1000 is quite a budget and while good, you may not want to jump in that far right away. my suggestion would be to look into headphones in the $200-300 range and perhaps a $200 dac+amp solution or similar. products like the dt990-pro-250 ($200), schiit magni ($100) and schiit modi ($100) are a good pairing and represent good value.

of course what kind of sound signature you want is important as there are bass light headphones good for gaming advantage, v-shaped fun sounding headphones, flat response general use headphones and bassy models available. you may want to list what you are looking at.

get back to us with some more information on what you are thinking if you want an answer better tailored to you. also i suggest looking up my posts here on headphones.. i've described many in detail
 

eMotive11

Commendable
Oct 14, 2016
2
0
1,510
0


Thank you for your quick/detailed response!

In terms of the voice, I have no reason to need to hear myself, and don't notice a delay or if I do, I don't mind it, so my current USB setup with the yeti blue works fine for my purposes.

I'm happy to hear that you think coming in at well under $1,000 is a good idea! I certainly would prefer spending less, I guess the point I was aiming to make was money is not really a deciding factor here, I just want the best experience. I am always willing to pay more for something that will last rather than constant upgrades/replacements.

I suppose for sound signature... I enjoy bass, i know that! Like I said, I don't play competitive games much anymore, and am not trying to gain an advantage in a FPS online by hearing footsteps super clearly or anything. I prefer my RPGs and other, more story focuses games with rich immersive sounds. I'm not sure if that helps? i like hearing my explosions! :)

I heard good things about these? Philips X2 Fidelio For the clear bassy sound, but I'm not sure if anyone here has experience with them?

I'm not to sure about virtual surround sound vs stereo. I've heard conflicting things, obviously surround sounds nice, but does it work like that? How much different is the quality versus just stereo with a nice pair of headphones?

Do you generally recommend DAC+AMP combos? Or two separate devices, or just one? I guess I'm not exactly sure what each one does. I just want the best quality, but obviously am in over my head in terms of audio devices!
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
perhaps i need to clarify..
unless a usb mic has a jack on it (like you've been using) there isnt a way to live monitor your voice and you need to use "listen to this device" on the pc to do it if not using that jack. this can cause a delay in you hearing your voice (microstutter sometimes) but it seems like you dont need to hear yourself so its a non issue anyways.

well, there are certainly very nice $500-600 headphones on the market but given you're happy with the z906 and are just getting into hifi i would suggest starting moderately. if you buy a decent starter amp like the magni and dac like the modi or good soundcard you can carry that with you to better headphones if you ever felt the need to upgrade a bit. as far as best... its subjective. there are $1000+ headphones and what you/i consider better is subjective so really all i can say is "good for the budget" when making recommendations.

the fidelio x2 is a decent pair of headphones. i'm not too well versed in them but i can say that they have a bit more bass impact than the dt990 but have less clarity and do not have the crisp treble on the 990. not to say the 990 is not bassy, it has a decent bass edge for open cans with a decent amp.

if considering bass, the 770 is a good one if closed designs are not unappealing. soundstage is less due to being closed (but it has great soundstage for a closed can) and bass impact for the price is pretty decent (it can hit sub bass tones). keep in mind its not a bass cannon but bassy headphone so you get bass but its not to the extent that everything else suffers. i personally use the m50 which is similar in signature but overall inferior to the 770 and i've been more than happy with the bass levels with everything i've thrown at it, even dubstep.

i dont think you could go wrong with any of the three.. dt990, dt770 or x2 depending on your tastes.
the beyer cans are going to have more treble energy and have a v-shaped signature while the x2 is a bit more flatish with a bit of boost on the bass. i cant say if the x2 or 770 have more bass but any of the above should have enough bass if you arent a basshead though the 770 i know hits pretty decent (not sure just how much bass the x2 has but its in the more than neutral and somewhere in the bassy classification but not bass cannon or basshead level.

there are two types of surround. real and virtual. real involves multiple drivers per earcup on some headsets. its a gimmick and really sounds like multiple drivers firing which does not equal surround sound. some may like it while others complain its inaccurate. sound quality also suffers since smaller cheaper drivers are used. virtual is completely software/hardware based such as on soundcards. by changing pitch, delay and volume it emulates how your ears would hear a sound from different distances and angles. its not bad and does a decent job which is why many people like it however it *does* distort the audio stream and in most games which already have cues its not really required at all. on headphones with a decently wide soundstage and decently coded game audio you may even keep it off since its not needed and audio is full quality without distortion with it disabled. ultimately its one of those things you need to figure out on your own.

how do you know?
put your current headphones on. make sure they are in stereo 2.0 mode. watch some clips http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-3-18-2016-mrspeakers-ether-c-1-1-added for virtual surround sound comparisions. do you like what you hear or not? the three major types are razer virtual (considered the worst), cmss3d/sbx and dolby headphone.

my suggestions would either be the schiit modi+magni stack or xonar dx + magni depending on if stereo sound is okay or if you need virtual surround (and like dolby headphone as asus cards are DH). if using easier to drive headphones.. you could make do with the same or possibly a soundcard only. the o2+odac is a nice little combination as well but runs more cash than the schiit unit. there are some nice combination units like the audioengine d1 or fiio e10k though they lack just a bit on the power side compared with the o2 or magni so while i suggest them since they are decent (though inferior to previously mentioned items) normally its only for lower budgets and easier to drive cans.

honestly perhaps the best thing you could do is go to a local headphone shop like guitarcenter or similar and listen to headphones to see which you prefer the most (and buy them online as you save tons of cash).
 
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