Ok so I am looking for a quality headset to be used for pc gaming. I searched the forums and learned some things but I think my question still warrents a posting. I only play Battlefield 2 right now, my OS is windows 7 64bit and I will be using a laptop that has no discrete sound card. My only consideration for others games is BFBC2, and BF3 if that is ever made.
I thought picking a headset would be kind of easy, it seems I was wrong though. My largest concern is getting good positional audio. I recently bought Tritton AX Pro headset that is supposed to be 5.1. I learned that the set uses DirectSound to operate in 5.1. I could be wrong about that last bit but I think that's true. Anyone familiar with this set knows that each channel can be independently controlled in terms of volume. My experience thus far is that only the front and sub channels can be altered, or work for that matter. For example, when playing BF2, watching a movie, or say a video on youtube if I drop the front and sub channels to zero volume I can't hear anything, as in the center and back channels aren't outputting. I know the set isn't faulty, at least on a hardware level because in the Windows sound manager (or whatever its called) and in the utility that was installed with the set's driver will both output audio in the center and rear channels during a test. This leads me to believe the set simply isn't compatible with Windows 7 (since there is no directsound support) or BF2 (since it's EAX dependent or something).
Some further comments about BF2 and the Trittons...It seems that with EAX enabled the simulated surround sound operates in the front channel just as it would in any regular headset. With EAX disabled it simply runs in stereo. Very curiously though, the in game VoIP of BF2 outputs only through the center channel, if the center channel is off I can't hear anyone talking.
With the Trittons not working how I expected, I am dissapointed with their performance. In their current operation it seems like the bass channel is just the front channel passing through an active low pass filter. It does a poor job of amplifying the bass, it hisses when turned past notch 4(of 10 notches total).
Ok, enough about the Trittons(feel free to inform me if you know how to fix them). I am looking for a set that will provide the best positional audio available out of a laptop with no sound card. I am not sure if I am capable of discerning the quality of sound produced by sets. I've used two Logitech sets ($25-$50), cheap in ear buds, $50 plantronics(sp?), and the trittons($90). Maybe they've all been the same quality but I can't really tell a difference in the sound they produce, with the exception of the hissing from the Trittions. In short, I'm not an audiophile but if the set can provide noticeable quality improvement I would love that. Good sound ( a broad spectrum of output) is desireable. I like bass, but a lot of it gives me a headache.
Some other considerations:
From my understanding BF2 relies entirely on EAX for surround sound effects, a feature that is optimized by sound cards. This makes me think that the Sound Blaster Arena would be a good set for my situation since its advertised to do something special with EAX, but in all honesty I have no idea. What makes me think that set would be bad is that from my understanding BFBC2 ditches hardware rendering or something and Dice reccommends not to use EAX or other post processing features for that game. I think this might be a growing trend in new games.
I think BF2 and BFBC2 are somewhat opposite in functionality in terms of audio but I need a set that will perform well in both.
So here are the stipulations:
laptop is a new dv6z (has n930 processor and I don't know what the onboard audio is capable of)
laptop has microphone, i think? (so having one on the set might not be neccessary)
system is windows 7 64bit
can connect via 3.5mm or usb
Here is what I want:
good positional audio in BF2 and BFBC2 (can be real surroud like the trittons are supposed to be or simulated via sound card in the set or the game...whatever is going to work really)
full range (deep bass, strong mids, high treble with no hissing at moderate volume levels)
comfortable for atleast 3 hours (i understand this is kind of a personal preference thing)
I prefer sets that entirely enclose the ears (cans?) ie. not buds or the kind that rest on the surface of the ear
The set shouldn't break easily (don't want to replace if dropped from desk height)
I would prefer something in the range of $90 but will go up to $120, maybe $150 or $200 if they are truely worth it.
Thanks for any suggestions. Feel free to ask if I was unclear about anything.
Hey reconspartan, I dunno if you have looked into the the Logitech G35 headset yet, but I'd definately recommend it. It retails for 129.99 so it's a bit pricey, but no worries, you can get it on Ebay for much less.. You can actually pick them up for $84.99 right now if you choose buy-it-now, but can possibly get them for as cheap as $75 if you message the seller with a lower offer or just bid and wait. These are the real deal, brand new, not refurbished.. only minus the retail packaging.. who knew some fancy Logitech packaging would cost $50? lol...
I'm a bit of a gaming audiophile myself so I've tried a few pairs of headphones myself.. I play a lot of online FPS games, mostly L4D2 right now, but also L4D, CoD4 and MW2 fairly regularly.. Believe it or not, I haven't played BFBC2, but I imagine they will peform fairly well for this game, especially since Logitech highlights their gaming products for BFBC2 on their website. As I'm sure you know, one of the benefits of using USB gaming headsets is that you don't need a fancy sound card, the drivers are usually built into the device.
The directional audio is excellent, being powered by Dolby 7.1. They are suprisingly comfortable for being as bulky as they look, and I wear these for hours on end without fatigue. Not to start a debate here, but most reviews favor the G35 over other surround sound gaming headsets.