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PC Gaming Headset

Last response: in Video Games
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February 2, 2009 3:55:16 PM

I'm looking for a quality gaming headset (speakers & mic) for a PC running Windows Vista.

- Logitech Z5500 computer stereo system.

- currently using just the Realtek ALC889A (onboard audio). I do own a Creative Xtremegamer card, but left it out last system build because of the quality issues and other problems the latest Creative drivers have (if they've fixed these I'll probably reinstall the sound card).

I guess, bottom line, what I'm looking for is a high quality headset with maximum adjustability to fit a somewhat larger cranium (mine). Hard plastic microphone arms won't be considered. I'd like the set durable, comfortable, adjustable with high quality "true" 5.1 Surround Sound.

I currently use a set of Phillips headphones (with noise cancellation) and a Logitech desktop microphone (USB; it sits on my desk in front of me)). I get good voice quality, and decent (but not stellar) audio. So naturally any headset I buy has got to be superior to this setup.

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Requirements

Speakers
- prefer digital 5.1 Surround (true surround, not emulated). In other words, multiple high and mid range speakers in the headphones
- noise cancellation
- comfortable material covering ears and at the top of my head.

Microphone
- must be of the "boom" variety, adjustable in all dimensions! (this is a big issue for me)*
- detachable is a plus but not required
- good quality voice pickup for VoIP, internet gaming, ventrilo, etc.

*Problem with any headsets I've looked at locally, they all have a hard plastic arm, completely non-adjustable, and placed as if the manufacturers think my mouth is located inches below my left ear, on the side of my head. Hate 'em.

Doesn't anyone make headsets featuring a microphone with a "memory metal" boom arm? I want to be able to adjust the microphone for optimal voice pickup.

Connectivity
- USB or regular microphone input.
- SPDIF is possible as the Z550 has an optical output, but I'd have to disconnect my HDTV from my computer stereo.
- No Bluetooth
- Must be PC / Windows Vista compatable. Hopefully no issues with Vista (like the mic not working, surround crackling issues, etc)

Durability
- This is price dependent, but I'd pay more for a durable set, no cheap breakable thin plastic parts

Ergonomics
- Comfortable to wear over extended periods. Don't care so much about weight, heavy is fine, just the headphones need to have comfortable material on the interior and top.
- Adjustable headpiece/headphones. I've a big head, they gotta fit and be comfortable.

Price

Right now I'm just combing the field looking at headsets and prices. I'm willing to go fairly high, but anything over US $150.00 better not only be "ultimate headsets", but cook and walk my dog, too.

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Notes:

I've searched through the forums here, and the headset posts are scattered all over. Really need some seperate forums concerning headsets.

The last review Tom's did of headsets is ancient (2005). Tom, how about a new one? Gaming headsets preferred.

So far I've looked a few of the ones Turtle Beach is offering. I like the Tritton AX360's, but am unsure as to its connectivity requirements (only optical, and PC?). I haven't even covered the tip of the iceberg yet I've still looked at so many headset solutions that it's becoming confusing.

How to make a quality buy with the specifications I require? Post on Tom's forums.

Thanks for any suggestions, tips, links, etc.

More about : gaming headset

February 2, 2009 6:04:42 PM

Take a look at the upcoming Razer Megalodon.
Also look at the Astro A40.
The Astro's include a mix amp that processes dolby audio. If you like the sound of the mixer this can be bought seperately and linked to most gaming headphones.

I would look at maybe getting the Mix Amp from Astro and some Sennheiser pc350's to go with that. If your PC has an optical output, then that can interface directly with the Mix Amp.
I understand that the best surround experience with headphones is emulated rather than having multiple drivers, have one larger one which carries more fidelity.
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February 3, 2009 3:38:54 PM

Thanks for the replies. I looked over, researched, and read countless reviews featuring various headsets including those mentioned above. The "finalists" were:

Tritton Ax360 (with or without midamp)
Creative Fatal1ty
SteelSeries 5H v2 (w/wo USB)
Razer Pirranha & Megalodon (the latter not yet available)
Sennheiser PC350
Turtle Beach Hpa2

. . . . and the winner is: the Sennheiser PC350.

Every review I read praised them for audio and voice quality, as well as comfort.
I did have to break my requirement of not getting a flexible boom arm. The reviews praised the voice quality, maybe it's just my ignorance in believing the mic has to be positioned right in front of my mouth in order to work properly. I did read the arm is flexible, but it looks like one straight inflexible extension to me. The fact that it's not removable was the one point reviewers complained about, but I'll use 'em at home, not with an Ipod or MP3 player or whatever; they're for late-night gaming.

Also looked seriously at the A40 midamp. It's not the only one out there, though, and several other models I glommed over don't require a optical input, which is a plus for me. Correction from the first post : The optical jack on the Logitech Z5500's is an input, not output, so that means I'd need my CL Xtremegamer card. I'm still steamed over Creative labs deliberately crippling their Vista drivers and am avoiding reinstalling it. Also, while the Logitech Z5500 has a headphone output, it doesn't have a mic input for headsets, which made me go O_O? at it.

If the Sennheiser's are too quiet I'll look into getting an amp in the near future.

I agree about the Digital Surround, emulation versus drivers. From what I read the multiple driver headsets aren't "really soup yet", and don't perform better, in some models even worse, than using surround emulation. So I looked at headsets using either.

The Sennheiser's retailed at USD $156.00 and some change on Amazon.com.
February 3, 2009 5:56:05 PM

Just so you know, the Astro Mixamp has multiple inputs- SPDIF digital in, phono in, and optical in.

Good choice with the PC350's. Post back here with your first impressions!

I'm also currently in the market for a set. Just waiting for the Megalodons to come out (any day now) so that I can compare the two.
!