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Need help choosing Headphones + Microphone + Speakers

Last response: in Home Audio
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May 1, 2014 10:11:31 AM

Hello everyone!

I'm going to buy new Headphones, a Microphone and new Speakers and I need help choosing what to buy.

I'm not an audiophile and I'm very ignorant when it comes to this, so I was hoping you could advise me well.

Also, I'm from Portugal and there's barely any stores here with this kind of stuff, so it's even harder for me.


Headphones:

Budget 150€ ~ 200€ max.

These are mainly going to be for gaming. I may listen to some music in them, but that's not the most important. I want the best performance when gaming.

Some models I've looked at are:

Sennheiser HD 558
Sennheiser HD 598
Audio Technica ATH-AD700X
AKG Q 701


Microphone:

Budget about 50€.

This is going to be paired with the Headphone so I can speak with other people via VoIP.
Will be used when gaming and other general stuff.

The Samson Go Mic could be a good option, but it seems so cluncky... I don't like it much :S

The Audio Technica options seem much better.


Speakers:

Budget 150€ ~ 200€ max.

These are going to be mainly for music and movies, series.

I only have space to put speakers in front of me, so I think a 2.1 set would be the optimal choice.

I currently own Logitech Z506 and I simply have no space to set up the speakers correctly.



I think that's all! Thank you in advance!
May 1, 2014 10:21:11 AM

i would go with the seinnhesier 598 as i have heard many great things about that particular models and although i dont know what it costs over their the audioengine a2 is a very very good choice for a compact set of speakers although their is no separate sub woffer but be aware if your a basehead the sennheiser is not for you as they are much more balanced
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May 1, 2014 12:46:43 PM

well... perhaps budgets can be shifted around a little bit as long as the totals add up? something to think about.

for thread reference... 150+150+50euro = about 485usd. not sure how much higher prices are in portugal though or what import costs are.

the prices below are in usd and from the cheapest retailers i know of. sorry but i'm more comfortable listing in this currency.

as for headphones suggestions depend on if you want closed headphones or open headphones. closed headphones are sound isolating so you dont hear as much of the world around you while the people around you dont hear what you are listening to. this is good for noisy areas or when you need your area to be quiet. open style headphones have a wider soundstage and generally sound more 3D in terms of sound playback. this is better for games but its not required.

closed headphones:
-audiotechnica ath-m50s $120. while perhaps not the widest soundstage you will find among headphones the sound quality and build quality are excellent for the price. in fact many compare them with headphones all the way into the $250-300 range. no amp is required. i personally own a pair.
-beyerdynamic dt770 pro $150. these come in 3 models (32, 80, 250ohm). the lowest doesnt need an amp while the others might depending on your hardware. these have a wider soundstage than the m50s but a slightly higher price. the 250s are the better sounding of the 3 models but need an amp.

open headphones:
-beyerdynamic dt880 $250. these are a semi open design and have excellent sound.
-beyerdynamic dt990 $350. these are a totally open design and also score good marks
as you listed... the ad700x, sennheisers and q701 are all decent headphones as well.


as for a microphone i would suggest:
-blue snowball mic $50. this one gets used on youtube alot and has decent quality for the price.
-blue yeti mic $100. this one is a good upgrade the snowball and gives you a more professional microphone.
-audiotechnica at2020+ usb $130. this mic is hands down the best of these 3 and the + version gives you a headphone jack out so you can listen to your voice as you record. its also a cardioid mic so helps to reduce background noise.

as for speakers what sort of quality and size were you looking for? you could go with a fairly nice 2.1 computer speaker set or you could branch out into a 2.0 hifi system.

pc speakers:
-logitech z623 $130. a step above the entry level sets by logitech. decent sound for decent price.
-hardon kardon soundsticks iii $150. regarded as one of the better 2.1 computer speaker systems.

hifi system:
since you are in the EU you likely have access to some different speaker options than we do. for countries near the UK a great brand of speakers is wharfdale. for about 100eu you can get a diamond 10.0 pair of speakers on amazon.co.uk which you could pair up with a decent stereo amp or stereo receiver based on what your needs/wants are. this would be a 2.0 set... but since they are bookshelf speakers you dont need a subwoofer.

----------------

ultimately what route you go depends on which is most important to you. if something isnt as important to you then you could move some of the budget elsewhere to get something better there.

please advise.
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May 1, 2014 1:17:09 PM

First of all, thank you for your time.

As for the budget, it doesn't work like that. At best 100€ would be equal to $100, but even that is not true. Things are even more expensive here.

I'll start with the speakers. The Logitech z623 was something I considered, but since all I read from everyone is that Logitech is garbage, I wanted to get properly informed. The z623 here are 160€.

As for the headphones, how do the audiotechnica ath-m50s perform compared to the models I listed?
What do you think about the ones I listed? Any pros and cons?

And the microphone, what about an Audio Technica ATR2500?
Do you have an opinion on the Samson Go Mic?

Thanks again!
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May 1, 2014 1:47:13 PM

@NCP

yes, i'm well aware things likely cost more where you live which is why i made a note of it. since i do not live in portugal the best i can do is guess based on currency conversion and providing a variety of different cost solutions.

thats odd. every single logitech speaker system i've heard has sounded quite decent for the cost. while i agree they arent the best sounding speakers that you could potentially get they are typically very good value. the soundsticks and DIY hifi system options are going to be better quality than the logitech. keep in mind that if speakers arent as important to you then you could always downgrade to the z523 or even to the baseline model z313 depending on what quality you expect.

the m50s are closed headphones so will have less of a soundstage than open designs. this can be good or bad depending on your preferences. they are more comparable with the dt770 than the headphones you listed. the ones you listed are open designs so will have a better soundstage (better 3d-ish sound for the lack of a better description) however you will be able to hear the world around you and others can hear what is played in your headphones. again, i'm not sure what your preferences are. if all you care about is "how they sound" then i would advise you to go to this link and to click first on the sample track and then click on the track as played through various headphones to get an idea of how they sound relative to another. keep in mind that its only a relative test and may sound different in person. you will find an open and closed section on the same page here. http://www.sonicsense.com/blog/category/open-back-headp...

i did a bit of reading on the atr2500 example here http://usbmicrophones.infospike.net/audio-technica-atr2... and it seems that its a cheaper but more full featured mic from audiotechnica. personally i'd probably still use a 2020+ usb but this one looks like it has all of the features which are required including the mic jack that the 2020+ has. it is still a cardioid mode monly mic so its great for picking up voices and tuning out some background noise. its main competitor is the blue yeti which offers more than 1 pickup pattern and a few other options. honestly either are good choices. sorry i dont know the go mic.
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May 1, 2014 8:46:37 PM

legokill101 said:
i would go with the seinnhesier 598 as i have heard many great things about that particular models and although i dont know what it costs over their the audioengine a2 is a very very good choice for a compact set of speakers although their is no separate sub woffer but be aware if your a basehead the sennheiser is not for you as they are much more balanced


+1, Sennheiser makes great quality headphones.

On a non-serious note, pick some Beats dude.
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May 1, 2014 8:59:06 PM

How the hell did someone else mark my thread as solved?
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May 2, 2014 4:59:07 AM

@NCP
forum members with over 5 best answers are able to select best answers in a thread. this is in place so that they can mark answers in old threads or in posts which the original starter is no longer involved with. basically this is to close out old threads so they show up on google for other people.

in this case though... the thread is ongoing and active so he was out of line and i'll be giving him a reminder about that fact. i have reset the status of the best answer to unselected. sorry about the inconvenience, it doesnt happen that often.
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May 2, 2014 7:10:10 AM

ssddx said:
@NCP
forum members with over 5 best answers are able to select best answers in a thread. this is in place so that they can mark answers in old threads or in posts which the original starter is no longer involved with. basically this is to close out old threads so they show up on google for other people.

in this case though... the thread is ongoing and active so he was out of line and i'll be giving him a reminder about that fact. i have reset the status of the best answer to unselected. sorry about the inconvenience, it doesnt happen that often.


Thanks!

I think I've an idea now of what I'm going to buy.

Corsair SP2500 Speaker System

Sennheiser HD 598

Samson C01U Microphone on MD5 Stand plus SP01 Shock mount w/ PS01 Pop Filter

What do you think?
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May 2, 2014 4:55:58 PM

i'm not familiar with the corsair speaker set so i looked it up and read a review. from what i see it doesnt look like a fairly decent speaker set and it is certainly one step above most other pc speakers such as the logitechs and other common sets. at the $230 price point however you could probably get into a 2.0 diamond 10.0 wharfdale speaker set with an amp or stereo receiver which would be one step above the corsair set in terms of quality. your call if you want a pre-assembled set or if you would like to price out a hifi system. the only negatives i see for the corsair are that the cables are short so placement options might be limited and the price looks a bit steep. if that is your final decision for product then it seems okay.

as for the sennheiser 598... they are good well respected headphones. they are crisp and have good soundstage. as far as negatives are concerned the sennheisers in general arent known for great bass. if you like heavy bass they might not be for you. however, if you arent a basshead then they probably have enough. another thing to note is that they have a 6.3mm end connector which requires the included 3.5mm adapter to work with your computer (unless you have a soundcard with the port or dac). its rather long which if bumped could have enough leverage to snap the plug off in your jack. you can see the photo here http://cdn.head-fi.org/e/ee/1000x500px-LL-eeb2c0ee_GUP_... a better design (in my opinion) is what audiotechnica does with their ends which you can see here http://wellers.ocnk.net/data/wellers/product/20130623_5... not only are they all metal (instead of molded rubber) but the 6.3mm end screws off to reveal the 3.5mm plug instead of adding extra length to the plug which means it doesnt put unneccessary stress on the jack. if you can get past the negatives i listed then they are a great pair of headphones. keep in mind that the whole plug issue is easily sidestepped by using a soundcard with a 1/4" (6.3mm) jack (some have this) or an external dac+amp unit (which are made for such headphones). your choice of course... just listing some of my opinions.

i've never heard of the samson c01u so i looked it up. in terms of audio quality it is very similar to the blue yeti. personally i prefer the yeti in some listening tests but that is my own preference. in terms of features i would suggest the blue yeti instead as it wins out. the first thing that i would like to note is that the samson lacks a 3.5mm jack for headphones. since it is usb what this means is that if you want to listen to your own voice for any reason (ie recording vocals...) you cannot do this directly and instead you will hear an audible lag between you speaking and your headphones playing your voice when you listen. usb microphones with a headphone jack however do not experience lag. keep in mind that i'm not sure what the output rating is on the headphone jacks units like the blue yeti use but they should work fine for most low ohm headphones. another thing i would like to mention is that the blue yeti has 3 different pickup patterns which allow for many different situations while the samson only has one (cardioid). while cardioid is good for voice pickup for just a bit more you could have more options. completely your call. as for the stand... it looks like your run of the mill semi-professional mic stand which would help isolate the mic a bit against outside influence. likely not needed for in-game chat but useful for recordings. the pop filter is also a good idea and is suggested.

just a few of my own thoughts. generally your choices do not look bad but i made note a few things you should think about before you decide.
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May 2, 2014 7:11:37 PM

ssddx said:
i'm not familiar with the corsair speaker set so i looked it up and read a review. from what i see it doesnt look like a fairly decent speaker set and it is certainly one step above most other pc speakers such as the logitechs and other common sets. at the $230 price point however you could probably get into a 2.0 diamond 10.0 wharfdale speaker set with an amp or stereo receiver which would be one step above the corsair set in terms of quality. your call if you want a pre-assembled set or if you would like to price out a hifi system. the only negatives i see for the corsair are that the cables are short so placement options might be limited and the price looks a bit steep. if that is your final decision for product then it seems okay.

as for the sennheiser 598... they are good well respected headphones. they are crisp and have good soundstage. as far as negatives are concerned the sennheisers in general arent known for great bass. if you like heavy bass they might not be for you. however, if you arent a basshead then they probably have enough. another thing to note is that they have a 6.3mm end connector which requires the included 3.5mm adapter to work with your computer (unless you have a soundcard with the port or dac). its rather long which if bumped could have enough leverage to snap the plug off in your jack. you can see the photo here http://cdn.head-fi.org/e/ee/1000x500px-LL-eeb2c0ee_GUP_... a better design (in my opinion) is what audiotechnica does with their ends which you can see here http://wellers.ocnk.net/data/wellers/product/20130623_5... not only are they all metal (instead of molded rubber) but the 6.3mm end screws off to reveal the 3.5mm plug instead of adding extra length to the plug which means it doesnt put unneccessary stress on the jack. if you can get past the negatives i listed then they are a great pair of headphones. keep in mind that the whole plug issue is easily sidestepped by using a soundcard with a 1/4" (6.3mm) jack (some have this) or an external dac+amp unit (which are made for such headphones). your choice of course... just listing some of my opinions.

i've never heard of the samson c01u so i looked it up. in terms of audio quality it is very similar to the blue yeti. personally i prefer the yeti in some listening tests but that is my own preference. in terms of features i would suggest the blue yeti instead as it wins out. the first thing that i would like to note is that the samson lacks a 3.5mm jack for headphones. since it is usb what this means is that if you want to listen to your own voice for any reason (ie recording vocals...) you cannot do this directly and instead you will hear an audible lag between you speaking and your headphones playing your voice when you listen. usb microphones with a headphone jack however do not experience lag. keep in mind that i'm not sure what the output rating is on the headphone jacks units like the blue yeti use but they should work fine for most low ohm headphones. another thing i would like to mention is that the blue yeti has 3 different pickup patterns which allow for many different situations while the samson only has one (cardioid). while cardioid is good for voice pickup for just a bit more you could have more options. completely your call. as for the stand... it looks like your run of the mill semi-professional mic stand which would help isolate the mic a bit against outside influence. likely not needed for in-game chat but useful for recordings. the pop filter is also a good idea and is suggested.

just a few of my own thoughts. generally your choices do not look bad but i made note a few things you should think about before you decide.


Wow, nice, great post!

The SP2500 are about +40€ than the Logitech Z623 which I believe are worse. As for the custom setup, I don't have a place to buy that kind of stuff here and I'm almost certain it would be MUCH more expensive than the SP2500 (Which I can get for ~200€). That stuff would easily cost me like over 300€ if not 400€ including all costs. Also, these speakers are like 70% for music, 25% for movies and 5% for gaming, and I'm not an audiophile at all. I've been using a logitech Z506 speaker system and I wouldn't complain about its sound quality. Unless there's some other con about the SP2500, I think it's my best choice all around.

The headphones, I'm not worried about the bass at all. After all, they will be 99% for gaming. The last headphones I used were a pair of Asus ROG Vulcan ANC which I'm fairly certain are much worse than any of these headphones we have been discussing. As for the plug, will having an adapter decrease my audio quality? Would I be better off buying a dedicated sound card? The motherboard I'm getting is an Asus Maximus VI Formula and I think its onboard soundcard is good (correct me if I'm wrong). What do you think?

As for the microphone, one thing you didn't consider is that the Blue Yeti costs twice as much as the Samson C01U. Actually, getting the C01U already is pretty insane, I never thought I would buy such an expensive microphone. I can't stretch it much more. As for the recording modes, cardioid is actually the mode I need, since this microphone is mainly for VoIP and similar. Also, there's the C03U which is basically a C01U but with the other recording modes. And the audio jack, I don't really need it. I don't think I would ever use it.
Another thing I would like to get instead is a metallic arm stand for the mic. One of those that hold the mic high in the air and I'm able to move around. The problem I that is have literally no idea what is good and what's not. Do you know anything about mic arm stands?


Thanks!
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May 2, 2014 7:43:09 PM

a note about the speakers and your own hifi system. it might not be as out of budget as you think.

http://www.hifihut.ie/wharfedale-diamond-10-0-bookshelf...
i found a pair of diamond 10.0 for 149eu which ships to portugal

http://www.amazon.co.uk/WHARFEDALE-DIAMOND-10-0-SPEAKER...
likewise this pair is 95gbp (115eur) and is from the uk. sorry i dont live in uk so cant say if shipping from the UK to you is acceptable.

with an amp or receiver i would say you could probably do something for 200-300eu which is why i suggested it as an idea. they would also be killer for music.

of course... its completely up to you if you were interested in that. if you werent then the corsair speaker set that you listed looks to be pretty decent and given what you said about your listening habits and preferences looks like it will be acceptable to your standards.

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will the adapter lower audio quality? no.

the only reason i mentioned the adapter is that it might stick out too far making it easy to bump. if it does get bumped since it sticks out far it could put too much pressure on the jack causing either the plug to snap off inside the jack or the jack to tear off the motherboard. you may laugh but i've seen photos of that happening.

the onboard sound for ROG motherboards is generally pretty decent. while not as good as some better quality soundcard solutions it is better than some low end cards and other onboard solutions.

normally i dont suggest a soundcard unless you're an audiophile or if you've had issues with your onboard sound. however in this case you could use one (or an external dac+amp unit) for your headphones so you didnt need to use the adapter which protrudes so far. sound quality will be better as well but thats not the reason i suggested it. however... there is likely a cheaper solution... see below.

as an alternative... you could probably use something like this http://cdn-tp1.mozu.com/2199-2317/cms/2317/files/SA-iRE... which is a 6.3mm (1/4") female to 3.5mm male cable. since the pc connection is short you wont bump it and since its flexible you dont have to worry about the issue i noted. there shouldnt be any real noticible loss of audio quality either.

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well... if you dont need anything but cardioid mode and dont need a headphone jack...

the c01u would probably work. on a youtube listen test vs the yeti it really didnt sound all that bad considering it was lower cost. i did prefer the yeti more but the difference was not night and day.

given what you have said... the blue snowball mic is another option. while it might not be on the same level as the blue yeti if its cheaper than the samson by a fair degree perhaps its worth thinking about. you can get shock mounts and other equipment for it and its used alot on youtube.

either of them would work.

a metallic arm for your mic is probably the best way to go since it allows complete freedom of movement however may be a bit pricey. sorry i do not know much about mic stands but what i do know is that most use a proprietary thread which means that they can charge whatever they want for things and the prices i've seen are a bit higher than what i would think some parts should be worth. for voip you can probably use a desk stand like you selected before. the advantage of an arm mount is that you can get it away from the keyboard so you can further get rid of any typing sounds or other noises.

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as i said before... what you pick is completely up to you. all i can do is offer my own opinion on the choices.
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May 2, 2014 9:58:41 PM

I'd personally get any decent Corsair speaker set.
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!