Sound Card/DAC & Headphones recommendations?

chenw

Estimable
Oct 25, 2014
25
0
4,590
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Hey all,

I am currently using a pair of Hyper X Cloud headphones with Xonar DG for my own uses, and while both still work, the Cloud physically have started to show its age (the leather-y skin peeling off, the plastic on the cups now feeling sticky, broken mic, etc. etc.) and I am currently looking into a replacement for them.

Right now I am setting my budget for the Headphones and DAC/Sound Card for $500, but it doesn't really have to go that high.

My main needs are:

1. Games. Not competitive. I am mainly looking for headphones that gives me good directional awareness in fps and decent music output. Basically, I need to hear everything I am supposed to hear (footsteps for example, I don't want Hulk sneaking up on me) and not hear anything I am not supposed to (like hearing the sound of a monster coming from behind me when it is in front of me, etc.)

2. Music, which ties into games as I tend to enjoy game music a fair bit.

3. Movies and shows.

Mic is not required, strictly speaking (it'll be nice to have it, but I can easily live without it), and neither is wireless, though it is a plus.

Right now I have Beyerdynamics DT 770 80 ohms on radar, as that seemed to suit my sound needs, while Logitech G930 is there for the wireless aspects.

Any audiophiles would like to chip in your opinions, that would be great.

Thanks!
 

anort3

Distinguished
Moderator
I didn't mean to link the 7.1 version.

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

I went with the high end card because it has both a DAC and headphone amp integrated and it doesn't take up extra desktop space. I've had it a little over 4 years now and it easily drives both my HD 600s and HD 650s.

I guess if it was easy to pick a single pair of headphones I wouldn't keep buying new ones! :lol: Just keep reading and watching reviews until you find some you like. Head Fi and Super Best Audio Friends are great resources.

https://www.head-fi.org/

http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php
 

anort3

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Moderator
So many options :p

I have an original Asus Xonar Essence STX which has been replaced with the STX II. These will drive pretty much any headphones and the sound quality is amazing. You'd probably want something better for true HiFi ( $1000+ headphones ) but I'd be comfortable recommending pretty much any MidFi with them. There is a comparable Creative card called the Soundblaster ZxR.

https://www.asus.com/Sound-Cards/Essence_STX_II_71/

https://us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-zxr

I have no experience with the ZxR but the cards have similar specs on paper.

Headphones:

I started with Sennheiser HD 598s but those turned out to be a gateway to better stuff for me. Pleasing sound is just so subjective. It's going to max your budget ( with a sound card ) but I'd look at Sennheiser HD 600s. I have both the 600s and the 650s and I personally like the 600s better. There are literally dozens of reviews of them online. The 598s may be better from a purely gaming perspective though. And the 598s still sound very good with music.

I tend to agree with this guy's reviews just based on my own experiences. True 'trained' audiophiles may disagree.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Zeos/comments/66x9c0/guide_headphones_gaming/

https://www.reddit.com/r/Zeos/comments/66wz27/guide_headphones_general_usemusic/

His youtube reviews are quite 'colorful' with NSFW language so be aware of that before you watch them.

I game quite a bit but I care about music sound quality way more than games as I generally only play single player stuff.

 

chenw

Estimable
Oct 25, 2014
25
0
4,590
4
Thanks for the input, though I have checked the price on the Essence STX II 7.1 and it's actually going to eat up over half of that $500 budget LOL, it's closer to $300 over here on this side of the pacific. The normal STX II will save a few dollars, I am still not too sure if buying a sound card that costs the same as the headphones is a wise choice.

I did take a look at the Zeos's article, and one that caught my eye was Hifiman Edition S for some reason (maybe because I can use it as both open and closed). But I will need to do a bit of shopping first, since a lot of those headphones is not going to be accessible to me in a store, so I can't really try them.
 

anort3

Distinguished
Moderator
I didn't mean to link the 7.1 version.

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

I went with the high end card because it has both a DAC and headphone amp integrated and it doesn't take up extra desktop space. I've had it a little over 4 years now and it easily drives both my HD 600s and HD 650s.

I guess if it was easy to pick a single pair of headphones I wouldn't keep buying new ones! :lol: Just keep reading and watching reviews until you find some you like. Head Fi and Super Best Audio Friends are great resources.

https://www.head-fi.org/

http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php
 
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