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Surround Sound Headphones

Last response: in Components
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 2:11:59 AM

I've been trying to find out if there are any true 5.1/7.1 surround sound headphones that exist, or if they're all just virtualized. I can't use my 5.1 setup because the only open port I have is a toslink, and my motherboard only has the standard 3.5mm 8 channel audio plugs.

Have you guys seen or heard of any (pun intended :D )?
April 26, 2011 4:21:59 AM

Turtle Beach Headphones are very good and probably one of the best out there for surround sound headphones, used mostly for gaming, most come with a built in Mic, some are wireless, some are wired. and they range from about 30$-300$ you get what you pay for but be assured anything you buy from turtle beach will be excellent. I love my pair. they have different models for different game systems (PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Wii etc) Here a link to their website I highly recommend them. Excellent sound quality.
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 12:02:07 PM

I used to have the old X1s for the 360/PC until I essentially killed them, but I figured there were better headsets out there on the market.
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a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 12:06:01 PM

*Most* headphones that connect via analog or optical offer true 5.1 [Tritton AX Pro, Astro A40, etc], but to my knowledge, no true 7.1 headphones exist, only virtualized ones. USB based headphones are almost always virtualized though...[Logitech G35, Razer Megoladon, etc]

Just remember, if you go the optical route, to make sure your soundcard is capable of Dolby/DTS encoding [most are these days...].
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 12:34:59 PM

Geez those are expensive. It looks like you get what you pay for though. Thanks for the info.
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 12:53:39 PM

I'm not quite sure why you'd want true 7.1 in a headset though. I've always been sceptical even with the 5.1 ones (true 5.1, mind you), and cheaper sets are available (like the Roccat Kave set). However, once I used the Kaves, I must say I changed my mind. 5.1 is awesome. But OK, back to the question.

True 5.1 exist (quite a lot of them, actually). Good ones (not extreme, but "budgeted" ones) include the Roccat Kave, Razer Megadolon and Razer Chimaera headsets. 7.1 is hard to master due to the amount of connectors you need and the amount of speakers you'd need to plant into the headset, but I know a lot of the cheaper sets can produce stunningly accurate 7.1 with software from Dobly, like the Logitech G35 and Razer Megadolon headsets. Both are really good, and I'd recommend anyone of these to to anyone.

For you though, I'd recommend the Roccat Kave set. It fits perfectly in that motherboard of yours (one of my friends has the set on an 8-channel mobo), and it truly performs like a beast. Turn it up loud and you simply cannot keep it on your head, you will pop an eardrum (it goes loud enough for you to place it in the desk, turn on some music and still hear it in the next room). Sound quality is great, and you can switch between profiles quickly and easily.
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 1:09:52 PM

Those look like they're getting stunning reviews, and look awesome. I never use a mic, so the detachable option is great.

Any idea where to get them in the USA? I found this distributor in the UK that might ship to the US, but for how much is the question...
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 1:17:37 PM

LOL I've got no idea, sorry. I'm in South Africa, so everything I get is at a pretty steep price anyways. I've found Amazon to be quite OK though. Whenever I want something that isn't sold here (be it from the UK or USA, doesn't matter) I import using their service. Usually the import price is included in the total price, but you'd better make sure.

You can try eBay as well, but I don't know how good they are (as it is more of an advertising website than a store). Try Amazon though, I've bought from them before (and currently waiting for a shipment from the USandA from them), so I'm not shy to tell you they're good.
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 1:21:05 PM

I've found a store in the UK that does ship to the US, and from what it looks like the shipping *might* not be terrible. Should total under $150 from what it looks like.

Some of the eBay ones were around $150 USD, but were shipping from China, and I just can't trust anything expensive from there. There's always a lot of counterfeiting, and if it weren't real, handling it would be essentially impossible.
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 1:35:47 PM

Hmm... Shipping from China might not be a bad idea. I dare you to take a look at your top-of-the-range gaming rig - somewhere on it you'll find a "made in China" sticker, proudly ******* up your perfect day. Not everything from China is bad. If you find a reputable retailer from there, by all means, go for it, but I'd agree that it feels more legit to import from a good retailer, who will probably throw in a nice warranty with your purchase, which is always welcome.
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 1:39:24 PM

I'm just skeptical of sellers on eBay, even with eBay's/Paypal's protections on both the buyer and seller.

I can also get a gently used pair for $130 on Unfortunately, won't ship a lot of items to the US.
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 1:47:18 PM

Gently used? I read: "sweaty from some random pornography-freak's masturbation sweat". No TY. I DON'T buy technological stuffs second-hand. You must also remember that you have no warranty once you purchase second-hand. I keep things as cheap as possible, whislt keeping with legit dealers and new products.

With regards to eBay, it's easy to see how reputable someone is by looking at their profile - someone with 10,000 ads and 20,000 sales will probably be quite trustworthy, and PayPal (I only today found out PayPal was designed by a guy born in South Africa FTW :) ) is probably the most secure way of online transacting ever. The only trouble I have with eBay is that very little sellers offer international shipping, and as such I'd not recommend it here. For you in the US though, go for it. What have you got to lose?

Anyhow, on my way home now. Tomorrow is a national holiday, so I'll come check up here the day after tomorrow. Peace man. :) 
a b V Motherboard
April 26, 2011 1:49:04 PM

I was just price comparing. $150 new > $130 used any day.

Enjoy the holiday!
a b V Motherboard
April 27, 2011 4:35:32 PM

So I ended up buying them from, which seemed a little iffy but the headphones shipped last night (morning in UK) and should be here tomorrow by 10:30am according to fedex :)  They were $2 cheaper than the other retailer I found (can't remember off the top of my head), but also the shipping was much faster.

What I'm confused about is what each of the 4 3.5mm jacks leads to. I'd just like to know because I'm planning on buying a better sound card in the near future.
a b V Motherboard
April 27, 2011 4:56:07 PM

I'm also looking at the HT Omega Striker as a sound card, if anyone has any "input" on it. I plan to use my headphones for gaming, but might use my computer for movies and will prefer the TOSLINK connection for my home theater (kind of need it actually). It also has the Dolby Digital Live encoding, which I'd need for a home theater setup too.

Good price, and it gets good reviews.
a b V Motherboard
April 27, 2011 7:31:05 PM

The Striker is a great all around card. Supports both Dolby and DTS encoding, and full support for Dolby/DTS's virtualization technologies. Not the highest tier card, but a very well rounded one.
a b V Motherboard
April 27, 2011 8:01:31 PM

Sweet. Guess I'll go with that then.
a b V Motherboard
April 28, 2011 6:34:44 AM

The 4.5mm jacks are usually configured as such:

Pink - Microphone
Green - Front two channels
Black - Rear two channels
Orange/Yellow - Subwoofer & Center speaker

Colours may differ, but this is almost always the configuration used.

Also, when buying a sound card, make sure you can plug the headphones directly into it (many of the top-range soundcards come with RCA connectors only). If you cannot, get a set of converters as well (get the gold plated ones to ensure good quality).

I'm not quite sure if you've considered it yet, but the Asus Xonar D2X is also a very good card. For headsets only I'd recommend the Asus Xonar Essence STX, it's a headphone-optimised soundcard with extreme quality. It uses a 24-bit Burr Brown DAC, which is more or less the best quality you can get. It does have only RCA outputs though, so that might be an issue - keep it in mind.
a b V Motherboard
April 28, 2011 11:55:14 AM

^^ I always found the D2/D2X overpriced in comparison to the Forte, and I'd recommend the Auzentech Meridian 2G over it now. If it sold for under $120, then I could consider it worth buying, but its still generally over that price.

Pink - Microphone
Green - Front two channels
Black - Rear two channels
Orange/Yellow - Subwoofer & Center speaker

Two minor notes:
1: Blue - Line Input [very rare to have this one these days...]
2: Orange is also the color used for Coaxial in. You typically see optical these days, but its worth noting. The plugs are typically color coded anyways, so its hard to plug in the wrong jacks :D 
a b V Motherboard
April 28, 2011 2:06:12 PM

I went ahead with the HT Omega Striker. I'd been recommended it in the past, but had never had the money to purchase it.

So I got my Kave's today (medusa really did ship it international express - 1 1/2 day transit time), and I must say that they are incredible. I am rebuilding my computer so I can't test the actual 5.1 yet (the primary components should be arriving tomorrow :D ), but even by listening to a single input on my Macbook I knew these were going to be good. Also, their build quality is phenomenal. I will definitely spend the extra buck to ship Roccat's products from overseas. Thanks for the stellar recommendation!
a b V Motherboard
May 3, 2011 8:01:36 AM

Good to be able to help. Comment on the quality back here when you're done :) 
a b V Motherboard
May 3, 2011 12:42:32 PM

They are phenomenal headphones. I ran some surround sound test videos so I could hear each individual speaker, and they are each very clear. They don't sound "awesome" through my onboard chipset, but they're comfortable and isolate the sound well enough that I would still keep them.

What I'm actually upset about is that I installed my Striker yesterday, and the sound quality is very hazy and the balance is messed up. In Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, people talked very loudly, sound effects were eardrum-popping, but the music was almost impossible to hear. I spent 45 minutes trying to balance the sound in the game and in the drivers and it was nearly impossible. I also couldn't understand how to set up the drivers, since it lacks any sort of explanation of the 3D visualization and stuff. I need to spend a lot more time in the driver. Any suggestions on how to set up the card are also appreciated.

What's also annoying is now the click wheel sends electronic feedback (that sounds like clicking) to the right earphone each time it clicks, so I can always hear it. There's a lot of static-y issues with the headphone in the card now. Is there a way to ground it or something to get rid of the interference? I've heard plastic screws work.
a b V Motherboard
May 3, 2011 4:41:20 PM

Odd...Using the latest drivers? I'd imagine the settings are basically hte same as my D2 [also C-Media based; practically the same card really]

Based on your description, it sounds like the processing is getting messed up, though its possible the card is defective.

For starters, disable all the extra sound enhancements within the driver, and make sure windows is set to use 5.1 output. For games, make sure the number of source channels is set to 6.
a b V Motherboard
May 3, 2011 4:57:38 PM

I downloaded the drivers from HT Omega's site yesterday (W7 32/64 bit version), and I'll attempt what you've suggested once I get the time (working on a really long paper/presentation). I uninstalled the drivers but will reinstall them to make sure it wasn't some sort of conflict with the previous drivers.
a b V Motherboard
May 14, 2011 5:48:11 AM

I finally got the drivers to recognize 6 channels and all 6 speakers. Everything seems to be working just fine, and my games and music sound incredible!
a b V Motherboard
May 20, 2011 6:51:28 AM

Man, now I'm jealous. I think I should get a better sound setup before I look at another graphics card... Xonar Essence STX here I come! :D 

But OT, glad you're happy. Those headphones do pack quite a punch, right? Hehe told you so... :) 
a b V Motherboard
May 20, 2011 10:12:58 AM

Yeah, they didn't work as well before I could get the sound driver working. Now the headphones try to bounce off my head thanks to the dedicated sub :D 

Definitely worth having them shipped from overseas (and they were still about the same price as comparable cans on this side of the pond).
a b V Motherboard
May 20, 2011 10:26:12 AM

Wicked. I still have to decide between the Kave and the Logitech G35 though. I don't like the Kave's looks all that much. The G35's on the other hand...

It has a 7.1 channel setup, so it's perfect for the Essence STX (which is basically a 7.1 headset soundcard). My entire setup is going to be cool, G500 mouse, G510 keyboard and G35 headset, all from Logitech. :D 
a b V Motherboard
May 20, 2011 2:26:18 PM

The G35 ignores your soundcard. All USB audio devices are seen as their own sound devices as far as Windows is concerned. If you pair a G35 with a Essence ST(X), then the ST(X) does nothing but gather dust as far as audio processing is concerned.

Also, the ST(X) is geared toward 6.3mm headsets, which are (typically) high quality Stereo outputs. You can simulate 7.1 by enabling Dolby Virtual Headphone and the 7.1 speaker shifter though [which is basically how the G35 works anyways...]

Right now, I'm using a ASUS Xonar Xense and Seinheisser PC350, and I'm not going back to the G35 again. Bass is a LOT better, and those minute details in the audio are picked up better with the Xense/350 then the G35.
a b V Motherboard
June 13, 2011 7:03:46 AM

I am so glad you noted this, as I didn't know it. Thanks, you've just made my choice much clearer!
June 14, 2011 9:29:26 PM

Just a question, how fast was shipping from medusausa? Ive been looking all over the place for these cans here in the US but no dice. Like you, I'm a little leary ordering from china. Would you recommend them?

a b V Motherboard
June 15, 2011 12:44:02 AM

^That never came up in my list of searches. I would price compare with MedusaUSA, because buying from them was actually relatively seamless.

Medusa is a pretty well known for their Medusa 5.1 headset (which is a piece of junk from what I hear), but they import the Kave's directly from Europe via Fedex International (Express, I think). I pay via Paypal so I can file a claim if there's an issue, but I shipped using their express method ($10, I think), and got them in 3 days.

I just looked up my payment and I paid $143.90 total, which was a pretty good deal.