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SM Phoo

Gaming headset vs Headphones

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Been doing a bit of research today and I feel like I've fallen for the gimmicks in the past.

I've moved from an Xbox to a PC and have been using my A50s Gen 3, but I just feel like the sound I'm getting just isn't that good.

With dolby turned on, stuff just sounds tinny, and chat is awful. I've messed around with a few settings but nothing seems to get the sound right.

 

Now when I had an Xbox, built in mic and wireless was important to me, but since getting a PC, I now have a blue yeti and as I'll be sat at the PC, wireless isn't important.

 

So, firstly, True 7.1 headphones. Do they exist and are they even needed? I've watched a few youtube video's and the general opinion is true 7.1 headphones with seperate speakers within each cup just don't work very well. Beyond this, headphones like my Astro A50s are basically stereo headphones with software which gives a virtual surround.

Does this mean a high quality pair of headphones with some software to drive virtual surround would out perform the A50s due to the better quality build in the first place?

 

Now, when it comes to comes, I've actually just read that PUBG for example is only a 2.1 game, so that 'surround sound' feeling you get from gun fire etc, what is that, if it is only 2.1.

This got me thinking, are a lot of games just recorded in 2.1, and does that mean any surround sound that we hear is actually just trickery?

 

3 of the big twitch player at the moment are Ninja (Stereo), Shroud (Stereo) Doc (7.1), only doc has a headset that promotes 7.1 gaming, but whether he actually uses the 7.1 features I am not sure, but this tells me that even these people don't care for the 7.1. Again, if this is the case, how do they pinpoint where gun fire is coming from as soon as they get shot. I am not that up in audio, so maybe 2.1 is more than enough for what I am expecting, and 7.1 is some sales ploy that really doesn't exist within headphones. As I've read quite a bit in the last hour. 'We only have two ears' so for headphones, it's all a gimmick.

 

So you've just told me that a pair of headphones is the way to go, ok fine, so next, how important is a dac and amp to run a good pair of headphones? Or for gaming, is this just uneeded stuff? (Any headphones that I do get, will only be used for gaming really, I'll listen to some music, but 95% of their use will be in game)

 

Lastly. It seems open headphones are better, but give out some sound. I've never used a pair, so how bad is this considering I'll be using a Blue Yeti. I really don't want sound coming from everywhere, but if it won't be much of an issue, it seems open mic are better.

 

Sorry for the long post, but I want to try and cover everything.

(Jeez, after submitting, it's a lot longer than I realised)

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I was wondering this as well.

 

I looked into it for about 45 min yesterday.  The conclusion I came to was that 7.1 headphones etc.  don't exist.

 

So, being in a similar conundrum as you, and not caring at all about a microphone, I've decided 100% to got for a real set of headphones- the studio kind.  


I am not big on the big bulky extra plastic and bright colors, and I think most of it is marketing. Id rather go with something sleek and expensive looking with higher build quality, and a company that has years and years experience with headphones.

 

So, that was my determination and my reason why.  My Sony headphones ($100- studio monitors) lasted me at least 10 years.  So I figure, I've proven I can take reasonable care of them, and I am big on sound, I probably have headphones on 60% of the waking day.  Looking for recommendations.  Comfort, Durability, Quality, are crucial.  Looking cool is a bonus.  Not trying to go over $250, and prefer to be around $100.  But I can never settle when I buy anything...  So, I'm sure Ill hit the other end...

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Before using any virtual surround software its important to understand what games you should use it on and what it actually does.

Virtual surround software included with some gaming headphones takes a 7.1 channel source from the game and does some software processing to make a more 3D sound. It requires the game to be in 7.1 mode otherwise it sounds crap and you don't get the 3d experience, quite the opposite you get a worse experience.

 

Also you should turn virtual surround off when you exit a game. Listening to music, youtube or anything else that is stereo will not sound nice with the virtual surround software, one of the reasons that you might not want to use it atall. I think razer's and a few other ones turn the processing off if they get a stereo source, but im not 100% sure.

 

Some games support binaural audio, also called HRTF which basically does this at a game level providing much better 3d audio, with no guesswork. Instead of 7 channels it essentially has infinite channels to work with. It is important for these games to enable HRTF and disable any virtual surround.

 

Essentially virtual surround software is like a crappy version of HRTF, so you only need to use it for games that don't support HRTF. Quite a lot of people don't like using Virtual surround because it makes the sound tinny, unnatural, has a lower dynamic range, doesn't work nicely with some games, and does not provide a convincing 3d effect like HRTF. So I and some people just dont use it and settle for either HRTF or stereo sound.

 

It's worth noting that some virtual surround software is worse than others, I haven't tested many cheaper brands but quite a lot of people complain about the god awful implementations by a lot of the off brand ones.

 

It's also important to note that windows 10 has Sonic for Headphones. Which is a virtual surround software that isn't half bad, so if you get headphones that don't have virtual surround, or virtual surround that's crappy, then you can use sonic. Sonic will also turn itself off when you exit a game.

 

If you want more information then here are a few links to some videos you can check out.

Spoiler

 

 

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2 minutes ago, GizmoAT said:

 The conclusion I came to was that 7.1 headphones etc.  don't exist.

True 7.1 surround headphones with actually 7 speakers do exist, there is like 1 or two models, but they aren't popular because they aren't any better at doing 3d sound, sound tinny and crappy, have low dynamic range. So effectively they don't exist.

 

When a headphone advertises itself as 7.1 it is using software that basically takes a 7.1 input and applies a head related transfer function (HRTF) to the surround tracks asif they are speakers around the listener. It mixes this down to a 2.0 source and plays that through the headphones.

Some games support HRTF natively which instead of applying the function to virtual speakers, it applies it directly to the game objects. giving you a more accurate and granular positional audio, as well as vertical clarity.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Thanks @RandomGuy13

I think I should look into a pair of quality stereo headphones and maybe give Sonic a go, if not play in stereo.

You seem quite knowledgeable on the topic, so would one of these small amps help with the audio when gaming in your opinion?

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9 hours ago, SM Phoo said:

So, firstly, True 7.1 headphones. Do they exist and are they even needed

 

So you've just told me that a pair of headphones is the way to go, ok fine, so next, how important is a dac and amp to run a good pair of headphones? Or for gaming, is this just uneeded stuff? (Any headphones that I do get, will only be used for gaming really, I'll listen to some music, but 95% of their use will be in game)

 

Lastly. It seems open headphones are better, but give out some sound. I've never used a pair, so how bad is this considering I'll be using a Blue Yeti. I really don't want sound coming from everywhere, but if it won't be much of an issue, it seems open mic are better.

"True 7.1" headpohones are marketing BS.

Cramming garbage truck load of even cheaper and worser drivers doesn't improve sound any and can never simulate sound of proper surround speaker set. (in proper acoustics room)

 

With modern semiconductors converting digital signal to analog with enough accuracy for human hearing isn't big deal.

But for gaming with headphones sound cards have other features like algorithms which simulates in signal those direction dependant changes caused by head and outer ears.

(lots of headphones struggles with having accurate enough sound for those binaural cues to work)

 

Unless you stick microphone inside cup you're at serious hearing loss SPL far before sound leak to microphone becomes problem.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Thanks for the replies. I think I've settle on one of two headphones.

Philips Fidelio x2 - Open

Oppo PM3 - Closed

 

It's a tough choice. I really feel like having open headphones will be much better for gaming, but will it matter much?

Both get absolutely great reviews, and I am leaning towards the Oppo as I think it'll fit the purpose a lot more.

The open / close is whats making me hesitate.

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4 hours ago, SM Phoo said:

Both get absolutely great reviews, and I am leaning towards the Oppo as I think it'll fit the purpose a lot more.

The open / close is whats making me hesitate.

What reviewer say about stereo sound (besides all that "warm" sound etc biases) can't be applied at all to gaming capability with binaural sound.

Stereo sound simply forgives extremely lot without sounding bad, while binaural cues lose their immersion very fast if reproduction isn't accurate enough:

Basically signal which besides directionality gives also feel of distances with good for binaural sound headphones can sound like having "head in bucket under water".

Didn't even know there could be that bad sound until having chance to test one "reviewed" as good gaming trinket.

 

First minute of this is very good quick test for headphones with gun shots at different directions and distances.

Just disable all processing of that Astro... though suspect as gaming trinkets they don't do well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1_20T8x_OI

Here's 2.0/stereo mix for comparison:

https://youtu.be/d1_20T8x_OI?t=12m57s

 

 

That seriously rolled off treble of Oppo isn't very promising for binaural cues.

https://www.innerfidelity.com/images/OppoPM3.pdf

(did "reviews" say something about warm sound?)

 

Where do you live?

Different areas have quite big pricing diffecences between brands

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Posted · Original PosterOP

@EsaT

Thanks for your comment.

A lot of what you've sort of said goes way beyond my head as I'm totally new to this.

Are you saying if I bought the PM-3s they'd be a waste of money for what I am using them for. Ultimately it will be for gaming and nothing more.

 

Also, Maybe I am confused, but my A50s are basically stereo headphones, with virtual surround sound. So I'd assume the PM3s being a much better headphone will sound much better with similar virtual surround software driving it?

 

Or is 2.1 more than enough, and virtual surround just ruins the experience.

This is a lot more confusing than I first thought it would be.

 

Plenty of new words being thrown at me xD

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This explains well how hearing in 3D works:

http://berkeleybside.com/sound-dimensions-of-binaural-recording/

Shouldn't be hard to deduct that the better headphones reproduce hearable frequency range, the more accurate immersion they can give.

And that serious collapse starting after 2kHz in those Oppos likely hinders that immersion more than little.

(especially when closed design is further challenge)

Stereo music lacking those spatial cues doesn't care about even major deficiencies, but for immersion of binaural sound headphones make it or break it.

In cases of those A(s)stros it's more likely break it...

 

Don't know where you live, but possibly available for good amount cheaper Beyerdynamic DT990 has very similar sound to Fidelio X2 with good fun bass bunch.

That's one of the headphones I own and has really nicely balanced sound between good bass and details for gaming. 

Also genuine replacement ear pads are available for very good price, unlike AKG pads. (K712 another very similar)

Ear pads get dirty/wear so eventually you'll need to replace them, unless wanting to buy new headphones.

Unlike likely most others Beyerdynamic also sells pretty much every part as spare part to keep headphones going if something wears out.

 

 

Windows Sonic for Headphones is certainly better than some speaker stereo mix from game, but haven't found any gameplay recording in Youtube which would feel truly immersive.

And US Amazon price difference would fit in Sound Blaster Z with good algorithm for simulating binaural sound from 5.1 output of game.

(most games don't even have proper sound settings for selecting output device and hence could never produce binaural sound if sound renderer had HRTF support)

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP
11 minutes ago, EsaT said:

And that serious collapse starting after 2kHz in those Oppos likely hinders that immersion more than little.

(especially when closed design is further challenge)

Stereo music lacking those spatial cues doesn't care about even major deficiencies, but for immersion of binaural sound headphones make it or break it.

 

I'll sit down and look at that link in the morning, again thanks for the reply.

Just a point on what I've quoted. Is that your opinion on the headphone in general or for gaming purposes only as I've watched many video and reviews and they come back as nothing but great, but I'm obviously only reading these reviews from a music side of things.

 

As for where I am from, I'm from the UK.

I did actually look at the DT990s.

I was swayed by the Fidelo X2 and the PM3 due to their top reviews for open and closed headphones on techradar.

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I use my headphones for gaming, watching movies and then listening music on background.

(actual music like soundtracks from Hans Zimmer and such, not any fashion pop/rap etc garbage)

 

Earlier checked some reviews from Techradar.

But fast ended up feeling like reading some generic fashion magazine just trying to spam out content from anything.

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22 hours ago, SM Phoo said:

Thanks @RandomGuy13

I think I should look into a pair of quality stereo headphones and maybe give Sonic a go, if not play in stereo.

You seem quite knowledgeable on the topic, so would one of these small amps help with the audio when gaming in your opinion?

If you have a reasonable motherboard then the onboard audio will be good enough for most decent headphones. I use an external AMP and DAC for my headphones, and I can hear a noticeable increase in clarity over my onboard audio, but I realy have to try hard to listen for differences. The main reason I bought my external AMP was not actually for the line out quality, it was for the XLR interface, guitar amplification and ASIO support on the two input jacks.

 

My recommendation is not to get an AMP, you are better off spending a little more on the headphones. I would imagine that cheap amps might actually be worse than a decent onboard audio.

 

The kind of people who buy external AMP/DACs are those who already have very high end headphones and want the studio quality for creating their own music or doing sound work or just because they want the best of the best and have the money for it. For gaming it won't provide you any benefit over decent normal onboard audio.

 

For something like the DT990s you don't need an amp to drive them but it is something that you could look into in the future if you wanted to spend a little extra cash to get the best out of them.

 

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17 hours ago, Ricardo Perez said:

https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-506080-GAME-Gaming-Headset/dp/B00KK8ZLEC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529994345&sr=8-1&keywords=game+one 

 

Best headset for the money, sure you can get better audio quality with 598's but these sound really similar to the 598's. 

Yea If you need a microphone on the headphones then these I have head are pretty good. But if you don't need the microphone then there are plenty of other choices. I recommend if you can, going to a store and trying some headphones out before you buy, there is more to audio quality in headphones, comfort, sound colour and sound stage, as well as aesthetics are all factors you should consider.

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Posted · Original PosterOP
8 hours ago, RandomGuy13 said:

Yea If you need a microphone on the headphones then these I have head are pretty good. But if you don't need the microphone then there are plenty of other choices. I recommend if you can, going to a store and trying some headphones out before you buy, there is more to audio quality in headphones, comfort, sound colour and sound stage, as well as aesthetics are all factors you should consider.

My biggest problem is I really do not know what I am looking for.

 

I've sort of been put of the idea of the PM3s as quite a few people have said they are great for music but won't be good for gaming.

 

Just sort of confuses me somewhat because initially that made me think of getting a good pair of headphones was that gaming headsets apparently suck and I would want a quality stereo headset instead.

Thats what I went looking for, found the PM3s and now told they won't be good for gaming.

 

So if I went into a store, I'm not really sure what I am looking for.

I don't need a mic so I don't need a gaming headset. I just want a quality pair of headphones really. I've been suggested DT990s, Fiedlio X2, AD700x, Sennhesier 518s from various people

 

another option is the Sennheiser HD700. Not been recommend as such but I can get a pair of these at a good price if they are a worthy option

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1 hour ago, SM Phoo said:

MJust sort of confuses me somewhat because initially that made me think of getting a good pair of headphones was that gaming headsets apparently suck and I would want a quality stereo headset instead.

More expensive price doesn't automatically mean more accurate headphones.

Some of them are literally tuned to give certain type of sound instead of "whole signal" to sell for certain listeners.

And that's like CPU/GPU review not having single objective frames per second etc performance measurement.

Also AKG K712 is more expensive than K701/K702, while from sound accuracy perspective the latter are better with more neutral frequency response.

In stereo music and movies K712 gives more fun sound with "better" bass and same in general sound of games.

But with binaural sound side by side comparing it's step behind for picking foot steps, gunshots etc and their positioning.

 

As another example you might have read "audiophiles" saying how you need tube amplifier for good sound, which is total BS:

Instead of accurately reproducing signal tubes distort it and those people are listening that distortion instead of actual signal.
Welcome to world of audio...

 

7 hours ago, RandomGuy13 said:

I use an external AMP and DAC for my headphones, and I can hear a noticeable increase in clarity over my onboard audio, but I realy have to try hard to listen for differences.

And in scientificially valid blind testing with matched volumes also those might disappear, because of sighted listening being always biased.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

@EsaT

i think maybe I’m just being overly picking creating a problem I don’t even have by the sounds of things

 

I feel like I’ll end up buying a pair of headphones and gaining no gaming quality at all. 

 

It’s hard to find an actual review of a pair of headphones in relations to gaming. 

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18 minutes ago, SM Phoo said:

@EsaT

i think maybe I’m just being overly picking creating a problem I don’t even have by the sounds of things

 

I feel like I’ll end up buying a pair of headphones and gaining no gaming quality at all. 

 

It’s hard to find an actual review of a pair of headphones in relations to gaming. 

Any thing you will buy would be drastically better than any "gaming" headphones. If you are concerned about how optimal they are for games then I do recommend getting open backed due to the wider sound stage.

Without trying every headphone Its hard for me to recommend exact models but I can assure you that anything you buy will be an order of magnitude better than any Astro headsets.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

im just gonna but a decent pair of headphones used and see how they fair. I’ll probs go for

fidelio x2

dt990

hd700

 

see what I can pick up

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Everyone's experience will vary.  We all have different levels of hearing.

But I agree with getting the best sounding stereo headphones you can afford.

 

You only have 2 ears yet hear all around you.  If a game has good sound design, then it will be perceived as surround.

 

I'm using a sennheiser 598se, i absolutely love it.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

@EsaT - Hey buddy, I was able to get a pair of Sennheiser HD700s for a good price so I'm gonna give them a go.

 

The guy recommended getting a decent dac/amp combo to give them the power they deserve.

Do you have any recommendations? I don't want anything overly expensive right now and wouldn't mind something quite small.

 

Do I actually need a dac if I'm mostly gaming? or is it worth getting a combo?

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8 hours ago, SM Phoo said:

@EsaT - Hey buddy, I was able to get a pair of Sennheiser HD700s for a good price so I'm gonna give them a go.

 

The guy recommended getting a decent dac/amp combo to give them the power they deserve.

Do you have any recommendations? I don't want anything overly expensive right now and wouldn't mind something quite small.

 

Do I actually need a dac if I'm mostly gaming? or is it worth getting a combo?

Actual D/A conversion is easy for modern tech and most headphones don't need any high power. This comparison was done using HD800:

https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733-19.html

That ALC889 is at most at level of budget sound cards.

 

And gaming is precisely where dumb single purpose fashion "DACs" have nothing over sound cards.

Literal DAC wouldn't even have any microphone input...

With sorry state of game sounds far behind graphics, graphics and some more graphics etc in priorities even if game has decent sound renderer magnitude less of them have actual sound settings with headphones selectable there.

And if Windows playback is set to 2.0/stereo all those games produce is that stereo speaker mix, with lovely "inside left/right ear or in center of head" immersion with headphones.

Proper sound cards again can show themselves to game as 5.1/7.1 device and use mathematical algorithm to simulate direction dependant changes of signal received by ears from sound source.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ROujJ8Ae8

Vs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6ROujJ8Ae8&t=393s#

Or Battlefield 4 in stereo:

https://youtu.be/d1_20T8x_OI?t=12m57s

Vs binaural sound simulation:

https://youtu.be/d1_20T8x_OI?t=10s

 

PUBG itself can provide that surround channel output:

 

 

Compared to "audiophile" fashion sound cards don't even cost much for their hardware.

Sound BlasterX AE-5 has top level D/A converter chip and very good heatphone output enough for pretty much any headphone.

External Sound BlasterX G5 is pretty comparable.

Both are literally cheap compared to what we gamers have to pay for higher end graphics cards, and don't expire technically after few years.

And if wanting unprocessed sound for music you can easily disable processing by selecting "direct headphone" mode.

(unlike some signal distortion of tubes in fashion devices)

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On 6/25/2018 at 11:25 PM, Ricardo Perez said:

https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-506080-GAME-Gaming-Headset/dp/B00KK8ZLEC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529994345&sr=8-1&keywords=game+one 

 

Best headset for the money, sure you can get better audio quality with 598's but these sound really similar to the 598's. 

If you have a blue yeti and like surround sound get 598 sound stage is much better. Also shroud, Dr ect they get payed good damn money to wear those headphone. If my job was to wear what my boss told me to wear and I'll get payed better I'm gonna do it and I'll change my clothes after work. This exactly the mindset of streamers. 

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