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Gaming Headset + soundcard question (audio noob)

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Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 7:03:06 AM

Hi all, I know you must get this question alot and I have tried my best to research on the subject without asking but I get conflicting answers when searching so Ive decided to ask and get an answer specific to my problem.

I will start from the top, about 4-5 years ago I made the worst purchase of my 15+ Years of PC Gaming, I bought a (at the time) brand spanking new Creative X-Fi Fatal1ty FPS (or whatever) I cant say I got any good proper use out of the thing and it has been left mostly unused due to not being able to get drivers working a few years back.

Anyway, I started looking for a new headset for gaming as my current headset and mic just dont do well and my friends often tell me I need a new mic.

I was looking at the Sennheiser PC 360 gaming headset. I'm looking for an all in one headset for my gaming needs but I also want the best I can get for the money... so if this isnt it feel free to tell me. I hear the Mic is very good and the Audio is pretty good aswell but I'm sure you will give me the real story.

I am currently running onboard sound, I know its realtek (spelling?) but I cant seem to find it (my motherboard is the Asus P5KC if that helps).

really I want to know is, if I get this headset, how well can i expect it to perform (if at all) from the onboard sound. I have also played with the idea of sticking my X-Fi card back in and seeing how it does today, I've yet to try it with Windows 7 and I cant remember if I tried it with this Set up before ( I will probably try it tonight).

I have read online, and this is where the confusion comes into it, people suggesting the Asus Xonar DX as its great for gaming, then other people saying you need a dedicated headphone amp and recomending soundcards such as the Asus Xonar essence STX, Ive seen people Recommend the Xonar DS, I think I have found what I need then someone else says a different card and price range. I'm not looking to spend alot considering the price of the headset as I wont have the money this month so anything that would work well with the PC360 would need to be in the area of £50-60 MAX, if this wont do or wont allow me to get the best from my headset then I would just wait until I have enough to get a decent sound card aswell but I would rather not spend £100+ if I dont need to.

Now, if you recommend another headset then please also recomend anything I would require to get the most out of them.

I should say that although I use my PC mostly for gaming (maybe use the pc 70-80% of the time gaming), I do like my music and I do like my TV shows/movies.

I appologise for asking this fairly standard question, but I am not that great when it comes to sound cards and although I have been happy with onboard sound I would like to get good quality audio from my machine.

Thank you for readng, and I thank you again if you take the time to answer me.
July 21, 2010 8:53:27 AM

Welcome to the forums, newcomer!

Although it may sound standard , you have every need to ask this question...but you can also come across this answer in other forums as well.

Sennheisers are an excellent choice but you could also go for Sennheiser PC146 , Sennheiser 141 or the Logitech G330

The X-fi card now has better support since windows 7 has come into light, so finding drivers for the card aren't much of a hassle. It was only during vista and xp that you had conflicting/glitchy drivers.

To answer your 2nd question - The Xonar is an excellent Soundcard but getting that and leaving your X-fi is actually putting the latter soundacrd to waste. Xonars don't cost less than £100, in fact they're more. This Xonar D2x is actually cheaper

If your an audiophile, the way to go is Xonar Essence STX and that is 120+ on amazon.co.uk (i think). For gaming needs, the x-fi tatanium is good, but the xonar DTX is equally strong. If not, better.

on another note, you could look at this X-fi fatal1ty Titanium Professional Series card as well...they're getting really good responses here at the forums (w/ driver support in W7)
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 10:03:29 AM

Thank you for the quick reply, didnt expect to get a response until tomorrow or later. Im at work so I cant spend much time here at the moment but I will have a look at your headset suggestions tonight.

As for the Xonars , Ive seen a few for under £100:

Asus Xonar DS 7.1 PCI Soundcard

Asus Xonar D1 7.1Ch

Asus Xonar DX/XD

That is scan though, I think they are slightly cheaper on Amazon.co.uk, cant remember which way round it was, saw most things cheaper on Amazon and 1 or 2 things on Scan cheaper than amazon.

Money isnt the main factor though, if I need a £100 sound card to get the most out of the headset then I will pay it (I will just have to wait a bit longer), I will definately try my X-Fi out and see if I can get it working (I did pay over £100 back then for it), then I will see if the headset works with it, no point spending money if I dont need to.

I assume then, that my old X-Fi will be able to give the PC360 what it needs to perform well then, assuming I dont select one of your recomendations

Again, I will look at your recomendations tonight (or on my lunch if I get a chance), Thank you again.
Related resources
July 21, 2010 10:15:17 AM

well, lemme see you already own a gaming headset - the sennheiser PC360? if not, look into the recommendations, they're cheaper and are new in the market

The Xonar i linked is a PCIe card not a legacy PCI
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 10:15:51 AM

soorry, tried an edit, said I wasnt allowed, I actually had the Xonar D2x on my list of posibilities, I even read someone saying that the D2 was better than the D2x, mentioning something about the PCI-E having a worse off way of processing the sound (sound like an idiot here), Id link to the thread post but it was last night during my random searching.
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 10:16:59 AM

No I dont own the PC360 yet, I will look at you recomendations first maybe I can save some money thanks to you! :-D
July 21, 2010 10:22:04 AM

ok, sift through your browsing history and post the thread link back here. I know that the PCIe is a move forward, not backward :D 
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 11:16:49 AM

I believe I got my Xonars mixed up, this isnt the same forum post I looked at last night but it mentions the same thing I remember reading (less detail on this post though), check out Apocalypsee's post HERE.

If you dont want to click the link, I will copy the response (Sorry about their Lazyness comment lol):

Quote:
Why don't you read STX/ST thread for that? Its there. If you lazy, ST is better as it have better clock circuit than STX so it would sound better


It was the Xonar Essence ST (PCI) and STX (PCI-E) I must have been thinking about, sorry!

I had a look at the headsets you recomended, I have had a similar headset to those, I use to have trouble with the plastic rubbing the top of my ear and also against my head just behind the ear. Part of the reason why I like the look of the PC360 is because its got the band that goes over the top of your head instead of the ones round the back, thank you for taking the time to suggest them to me though, I guess I have an "unusual" head/set of ears or something LOL!
July 21, 2010 11:25:03 AM

lol, i tried the logitech's pair and i am as nagging and chhosy as you are. I hate it when something brushes up against my ears...the logitechs are really soft and comfortable. They are handy for gaming and also double as a good pair of music headphones.
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 11:34:31 AM

hmm, my main issue was with the plastic rubbing my ears to the point I had to take them off, most people say it takes a while to get use to but Id had that headset for a while and it still did it...

To the point that I am at now... I still use the headset, upsidedown and around my neck... as my microphone only. I have a standard set of headphones (big ear cups and over the head band) for my audio but the mic is seems to be going on the old headset so I figured id put up with 2 wires and 2 headsets to fight with for long enough and ive had the headphones since 2002 and felt like a change.

if the logitech is soft then that would make a large difference, now that I know that I'm considering them.

Thanks.
July 21, 2010 11:36:49 AM

welcome! what of the soundcard?
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 11:47:33 AM

I'm going to test my X-Fi out first and see if its going to work (that will be in just over 4hrs from now), if after trying everything I can and searching online (if I have problems) I cannot get it to work, I will get a Soundcard.

It wont be a Creative one after the driver issues I went through with my current X-Fi. Like I said before, I considered the Essence ST/STX but it was a little costly when I had the PC360 in mind but that isnt the case now that i am also considering the Logitech G330, I will also keep the Xonar D2x in mind, I heard good things about the Xonar's on my searches.
July 21, 2010 11:54:51 AM

Post back
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 11:59:13 AM

i will, thanks!
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 12:55:49 PM

I'll do a quick rundown on the Xonar line:

Xonar DS (PCI): Good low end card. Offers very good analog sound, but lacking in the features department (due to the odd decision to focus on DTS audio over dolby digitial when using the Optical Out port...)

Xonar D1(PCI)/DX(PCI-E): My Mid-end cards of choice. Basically the same, aside form a PCI->PCI-E bridge chip. Its biggest downside is the lack of DTS options when using the optical out, instead focusing on Dolby Digital.

Xonar D2(PCI)/D2X(PCI-E): A bit more expensive then the D1/DX, but offering a few more feautres, including support for most all Dolby/DTS techs (Excluding the 7.1 formats). Worth noting, both cards have seperate Line Input/Mic Input/Optical Input ports, which very few cards these days keep seperate.

Xonar ST(PCI)/STX(PCI-E): The king of the soundcard mountain, the powered amp really puts these cards over the top for audiophiles. The biggest downside out of the box is the analog ports on the card (when not paired with the daughter card at least) supports only 2.0 RCA audio outputs instead of the fammilar 3.5mm jacks. As for the daughter card with the 7.1 analog jacks, you should expect simmilar quality as the D2/D2X.

Xonar HDAV1.3 (PCI-E): ASUS HT champion, with encoding/decoding support for all Dolby/DTS audio formats. Meant for HT users above all else, but still offering great playback quality (again, simmilar to the D2/D2X line of cards).

I own a D2 personally, and love it. The D1/DX is very attractive as well though, considering the lack of users who really need DTS encoding over the optical port...
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 1:18:08 PM

Ah, my biggest worry before posting here was buying the PC360 headset (approx £135) and a soundcard like a D1/DX or D2/D2X and finding the headset wasnt working well with it. I assume from what you say that those cards would work well with the PC360.

Obviously I'm now considering the logitech G330 aswell as the PC360, id assume the G330 requires alot less than the PC360.

Thanks for your reply gamerk316.
July 21, 2010 1:27:36 PM

here a link to knock yourself out ! sorry f the link is in india...I aint from there btw :D 
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 5:09:47 PM

looks like I will need a soundcard then, X-Fi showing up as Media Audio Controller but nothing seems to happen when installing the drivers, tried solving this for 2 weeks when I had vista. Not doing it again I would rather pay money for something that works.

Creative wont see another penny off me, not that they have since I bought this overpriced poorly designed paperweight.
July 21, 2010 6:50:28 PM

ah so there is no support for the audio card. LOL, i last poured money on an Audigy 2ZS platinum, after i fried with a bad PSU i didn't look back there as creative were horrible at customer/hardware support, just creative with marketing Creative products.

Asus have made a name for themselves with their top of the line stuff like ROG boards :)  they also have a creative SupremeFX soundcard but they come exclusively with the mobo and they are awesome! reminds me of the audigy but is the Audigy's half brother. Heres another look @ its I/O

in case they didnt work, heres 1 - http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/articles/2008/08/1006141...

and the other link - http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/articles/2008/08/1006140...
a b 4 Gaming
July 21, 2010 8:01:07 PM

Either the D1/DX or D2/D2X should work really well with the headset. You might even want to give Dolby Headphone a try with it and see if you like the virtualized 5.1 effect in games.
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 22, 2010 7:03:56 AM

Thank you both for your help,

@ Lutfij - Those links dont appear to be working (for me anyway), comes up 404 not found.

@Gamerk316 - It's been a bit of a struggle to decide on what I plan on buying, I panned on getting a New mouse and headset, I currently own a Razer Copperhead and went through annoying driver issues with that in the beginning, currently deciding over a Logitech G9X or G500, Im more of a claw gripper so that suites the G9X (apparently) but the G500 is cheaper and im sure I used an old variant (maybe the G5) on a friends PC and thought it was quite good. I also need to upgrade my keyboard but this one still works so its a low priority.

With the X-Fi being utterly useless Ill go with your recomendations on the D1/DX or D2/D2X. With me spending money on a soundcard I want to make the most of it and I'm now wondering if the G330 headset will make the most of the audio I could get out of the soundcard or whether I should go for the PC360 which should (for that price) have better audio coming out of it.

Currently "leaning" towards:

G9X
PC360

The soundcard, I'm stuck on, I wouldnt mind saving the money and getting the D1/DX but if its worth it in the long run I would rather spend that extra and get the D2/D2X (I have 1 PCI-E still available and plenty PCI slots left so theres no issue there). I guess it comes down to whether or not I will need the additional features of the D2/D2X, I really just play games, listen to MP3s, some Youtube vids and TVshows and movies. I wouldnt label myself as an audiophile but I havent really had a working soundcard that could test that and see if I do notice improvements in audio Quality so I dont know if I will notice a difference between my onboard sound or not.

I suppose you could say im leaning towards the D1/DX, considering the money here, but I have the money available to get the D2/D2X if it came down to it.
a b 4 Gaming
July 22, 2010 11:56:25 AM

The D2(X) has a few extra's compared to the D1/DX:

1: Seperate Optical In/Line In/Mic In ports.
2: DTS technologies
3: Slightly better playback quality (in terms of SnR).

Its really hard to argue against the D1/DX if you don't need the extra DTS technologies that are avaliable, or the extra connectivity the D2(X) has.

I do recommend the D2 over the D2X, as the D2X needs a floppy power connector.
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 22, 2010 12:38:35 PM

This is where I am an "Audio Noob", I'm not quite sure what DTS is or what it would do for me, a quick search and I'm taken to a wikipedia page on DTS Here but im at work and can't read up on it at the moment.

I would like a card that will allow me to have speakers and my Headset plugged in without having to crawl under my desk to swap them around, if that is possible with the cards suggested, if not, I guess im crawling then or sticking with the headset plugged in.

As for what I want out of the audio, being able to hear sounds (through the headset) from the direction they are coming from onscreen is basically what I want (a given really), along with good quality audio for music etc.

If I can get a card that can do these things then I will be happy with it (assuming drivers work... but we arent looking at creative so that hurdle is overcome, haha).

My audio needs are simple and only go as far as the requirements of the headset (still leaning towards the PC360 at the moment) and my 5.1 speaker system. Headset is the priority as I would like to use it more than my speaker system for gaming atleast.

Thank you again for taking teh time to help me.
July 22, 2010 6:14:19 PM

Quote:
I would like a card that will allow me to have speakers and my Headset plugged in without having to crawl under my desk to swap them around, if that is possible with the cards suggested


all cards since 2005 have been outfitted with connectors that help connect your cases front panel audio connections. Even my supreme FX x-fi has it on its back. You can't ,however , have your speaker and headphone plugged in at the same time and expect both to work. When the headphones are connected it turns your speakers off/mute.

The xonar has no issues watsoever with drivers and support. SO choosing any one from the Xonar line is a good deal. If your an audiophile, get the Xonar Essence ST

I told a friend to buy the Essence and hook it up to a (music)console and its connected to a pair of Alessis Monitors. Nothing but STUDIO SOUND QUALITY BABY! :D 

If your an avid gamer, getting anything below it is good, a D2/D2x. But if your interested in giving your audiophilic taste a try...get the Essence. BTW all of the Xonars (except D1 lineup) come equipped to quench a 7.1 system i might be wrong about the X1

* we, here at the forums, take pride in helping people, provided they dont post jaw dropping questions - morality, we're here to help :) 
a b 4 Gaming
July 22, 2010 8:40:18 PM

Quote:
This is where I am an "Audio Noob", I'm not quite sure what DTS is or what it would do for me, a quick search and I'm taken to a wikipedia page on DTS Here but im at work and can't read up on it at the moment.


Dolby and DTS are both compressed audio formats, typically used in movies. While almost no soundcard can enable the playback (Decoding) of said codecs, most media players can, making the formats a non issue. The only reason a mention the formats themselves is in regards to the digital output, where the only way to get 5.1 is to convert audio to either of those formats. If you have no intention of using the digital output (or getting 5.1 over that output), Dolby/DTS have very little meaning to you.

However, its worth noting that both Dolby and DTS have some extra techs which you may find useful. For instance, both Dolby and DTS have technologies for upmixing 2.0 audio to a 5.1 format, or for virtualizing a 5.1 audio field to play on a set of 2.0 speakers/headset (basically, virtual surround).

Quote:

I would like a card that will allow me to have speakers and my Headset plugged in without having to crawl under my desk to swap them around, if that is possible with the cards suggested, if not, I guess im crawling then or sticking with the headset plugged in.


The problem is that most cards have only one audio output. You can kindof cheat this by plugging the headset into the front panel jack when you want to use it (this should override whatever is plugged into the back of the PC).

You can also compromise, and keep the drivers for your onboard chipset enabled, and plug either the speakers/headset into the onboard audio output, and the other into the xonar, and just switch the active output via Windows Control Panel. [You CAN do this; I did on my 790i Ultra, but this could potentially cause driver conflicts.]

The third option is to use the digital output port for one device, and switch the output via the Xonar control center. You need either a digital speaker/headset for this option to work though.

Quote:

As for what I want out of the audio, being able to hear sounds (through the headset) from the direction they are coming from onscreen is basically what I want (a given really), along with good quality audio for music etc.


Barring getting a 5.1 headset, the best way to do this is using Dolby/DTS Surround, which takes a 5.1 audio field and basically maps it to a 2.0 output, so a 2.0 headset/speaker can virtualize a 5.1 effect.

a b 4 Gaming
July 22, 2010 8:41:48 PM

And yes, dealing with multiple outputs is a pain in the arse. Short of using two seperate sound devices, theres really no easy way to do it short of swapping plugs around.
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 22, 2010 10:05:03 PM

When I got the X-Fi Fatality FPS, it came with a front panel and a remote etc, for the short period that I actually got to use it (with all the lovely features you expect from creative, such as popping and crackling), I loved having my speakers plugged in the back and when I wanted my headset for gaming, I would just slot it in the front which auto muted the speakers.

Its a shame that creative support is so poor otherwise I wouldnt have to look for a new card. I know that if there was a card that came with a front panel it would probably cost a bit more than I have available anyway.

Seems like I will just have to get use to crawling under my desk. I will take the D2 as it seems to suite my needs, I see it has LED's so its easy to spot the right sockets. I dont see myself crawling under my desk very often as I prefer wearing my headphones anyway. Its a shame I dont see any soundcards that come with a front panel (maybe im looking in the wrong places) and I dont fancy buying a Creative card just to "try" and make use of it.

You never know, maybe I can get the onboard sound to work for my Speakers and then just keep the headphones in the card and switch them around (as suggested), its worth trying atleast and cant be any more complicated or as frustrating as dealing with creative drivers.

I believe going by the Soundcard choice that, unless I change my mind before Friday 30th of July (my pay day) my final selection is:

G9X (because im a claw gripper, yes I know im weird lol)
Xonar D2
Sennheiser PC360 (to get the most out of the soundcard and because of my preference to the large ear cups and over the headband)


Thank you again for all your help, both of you.
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 22, 2010 10:33:41 PM

UNBELIEVBLE

I shut off my PC, preparing to head off to bed, decided I wanted to jump back on and check a few websites I have "neglected" after my windows drive failed and I had towait after buying a replacement drive.

as I log in... X-Fi was found, I stopped the windows auto driver install (as told to when I read up on installing the drivers earlier this week), Ive now installed the drivers successfully and the X-fi is showing under device manager properly. I am now in the process of auto updating using creatives software.

Back from the brink it may seem, whether its any good is a different story (and no I still hate creative, hehe) but at the very least it may save me from spending an extra £93 this month.
July 23, 2010 8:16:30 AM

I think your wallet just smiled back at YOU :D 

then how abt spend that cash on a BOSE headset :p  lol j/k...good to know miracles do happen
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
July 23, 2010 10:53:59 AM

heh I think it sensed its days were numbered, it had a one way ticket booked the the black bin bag next to me!

Its all working now and i have noticed a distinct improvement on my music, as ive said before I did have it running fine in XP before I upgraded to Vista all those years ago (and now im on Win 7 64bit) so I had some months using the card. Songs I played back then sound how I remember them (or more like, I remember now what I was missing) and the new music ive picked up since then sounds so much better than it did with onboard and very noticable when wearing my old pair of headphones.

I do seem to get the popping and crackling sometimes but once im ingame its not even noticable, Im sure at some point down the line ill change my soundcard but I now have the convenience of my front panel for my headphones and microphone again.

Looking forward to getting my new headset to see what I will get out of them!
July 23, 2010 3:12:47 PM

Quote:
Im sure at some point down the line ill change my soundcard


when that time comes, you'll know what to look for :) 

I posted this earlier :

Quote:
The X-fi card now has better support since windows 7 has come into light, so finding drivers for the card aren't much of a hassle. It was only during vista and xp that you had conflicting/glitchy drivers


Good luck with the PC360 purchase, come to think of it, sennheiser and asus got together to make a sound card...check this out

This time i checked if the links worked :D 
!