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Best quality to my ears for $150?

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  • Sound Cards
  • Components
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June 30, 2011 4:20:39 AM

So I currently have a extremely budgeted pair of 25$ Sony MDR-V150 headphones paired to the on-board sound of my MSI 785GM-P45.
I plan on upgrading my motherboard to a more current 900 chip for SLI purposes. But I also plan on upgrading my sound setup.
Games and Music are tied for first in my priorities and 2nd place goes to movies. I thought about getting a pair of Klipsch audio promedia 2.1 speakers but I decided to get a headset since I play most games and music at night so I use my headphones more anyways, and I will be going to college soon.
I want to spend less than 150 bucks on my setup. Should i got for a USB headset like Razer's Megaladon or Logitech's G35. Or get a sound card like the Asus Xonar DX and a Harman AKG GHS 1 headset to pair with the card.
I want something that has very crisp audio for music(I listen to a wide variety but to give an idea I enjoy forms of electronic music that bring a very good sound quality to the table) and is good for movies and sound positioning for games.

So should I go the USB headset or sound card route?
And what is my best option in each route?

More about : quality ears 150

June 30, 2011 4:32:23 AM

I listen to The Glitch Mob, Skrillex, Porter Robinson, Nero, Pretty Lights, Justice, and the rest is rock, alternative, metal, hip-hop, and classical.
Bass is important as I know a lot of headphones can perform well in the Highs and Mids but tend to lack in the Lower levels.
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July 1, 2011 6:57:44 AM

If i go with a soundcard i plan on spending 150 on soundcard and headset combined. Not just the soundcard.
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July 1, 2011 10:05:39 AM

if i were you id sped all that 150 dollars on a quality stereo headset. you will need to spend way mroe then 100 to even "appreciate" the different sound you will hear with a soundcard.#

does artists you mentioned use tons and tons of compression in their song, until the wave form just becomes a straightline by the peaks, it will be very diffuicult to hear a difference when listening to music like dubstep and similars..

you could try and save for a earbud, try teh sennheiser IE7, it has very very deep bass, but does not drown out anyof teh other frequencies.
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July 1, 2011 12:13:00 PM

I had a set of Shure headphones and they sounded awesome. You will need to spend 100 plus on them, but it will last and not disappoint if you grab a good set. M-audio makes some nice stuff as well.
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July 1, 2011 2:51:14 PM

If you are going to spend $150 total, your options are limited. I'd recommend the Xonar D1/DX or HT Omega striker, but if you are really that pinched for cash, you could go with the cheaper ASUS Xonar DS instead.

Alternativly, you could go all out on a headset, and go with the ASUS Xonar DG for the powered amp.
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July 1, 2011 2:56:27 PM

sportsfanboy said:
I had a set of Shure headphones and they sounded awesome. You will need to spend 100 plus on them, but it will last and not disappoint if you grab a good set. M-audio makes some nice stuff as well.


Good advice. And may I add Audio Technica to it! Game audio is not well balanced and concentrates more on bass and occasional positional stuff. You can get headphones/headsets with virtual surround audio but they get strangled easily when it comes to real music. Same is not true for so called stereo headphones and if you select the proper stuff, you will get good experience even with games also. My recommendation for a quality headphone under 150$ would be these -

www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682640201...

www.iheadphones.co.uk/sennheiser-hd-515-gaming.html
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July 1, 2011 5:08:09 PM

So you're saying I shouldn't worry about Virtual 7.1? I play all the battlefield games and they are known for having very realistic sound. And I figured as all-out Crysis 2 is, that it would have just as realistic sound and would sound fantastic with virtual surround.

If that is so, then could you guys maybe post some links to headsets that you would suggest. I liked the Audio-Technicas that Emperus posted i definitely will keep those in mind and might even be able to squeeze in a soundcard with the extra dough.
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Best solution

July 3, 2011 1:24:32 AM

I just wish so badly that you had an extra $70.

For $230, you can get yourself a pair of Audio Technica M50's (the absolute best headphones you can get IMO for ~$150), and an Asus Xonar D1 (DX if you'd rather have PCIe instead of PCI) for $80. The sound quality would blow you away.

If you absolutely can't save up the extra $70 for that setup, then getting a Xonar DG would save you about $40 on the soundcard cost, bringing the total price down to $190.

In all honesty, I can't even recommend anything below that. I guess once you get below the ATH-M50's, the best thing you can go by is reviews on Amazon, or if you really want to get something that will suit your needs, go over to Head-Fi.com and ask around. I just have no experience myself with much below that price range because I honestly think that it's absolutely worth waiting to save up the money for that, if your budget is around $100-150. It's just so much of a leap forward in overall quality...

Speaking from what I've seen in my searching, the price range goes something like this:
$20
$80
$200
$500
$1000+
Once you get out of the cheap $20 junk, you're left with all of the decent 80 to 100 dollar headphones that sound pretty good, but just aren't good enough to justify buying any sort of a sound card for them. Once you get up into the better 120-150 range of headphones, you almost have to get a card to be able to appreciate how good they really sound. Sure, you could put a pair of $80 cans on an Asus Xonar DG or something similar which would put you up in your budget range, but it wouldn't sound anywhere even close to the $150 Audio Technica M50s just running off of onboard audio. They wouldn't justify having a sound card - you'd be stuck with a pair of lower quality headphones and a cheap sound card, which will absolutely suck when it comes time to upgrade.
You'll have to trust me on that. Some people will disagree. All I can say is that I was in the same boat for a while until I saved up a few paychecks to get out of that hole.

I hope that was understandable... :??: 

I guess what I'm trying to get at is a recommendation for the Audio Technica M50's. Get a pair of them, no matter what. Then, if you have the budget, or when you get it, go ahead and buy yourself a sound card to run them off of. That would give you the most bang for your buck.

Just my $0.02.
And you'll come to see that my $0.02 tend to be a little bit extreme at times. :sarcastic: 
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July 3, 2011 4:54:55 AM

Good advice Matt, if nobody else responds with something I like more. The best answer will be yours. :) 
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July 3, 2011 5:24:06 AM

asandwhich said:
So you're saying I shouldn't worry about Virtual 7.1? I play all the battlefield games and they are known for having very realistic sound. And I figured as all-out Crysis 2 is, that it would have just as realistic sound and would sound fantastic with virtual surround.

If that is so, then could you guys maybe post some links to headsets that you would suggest. I liked the Audio-Technicas that Emperus posted i definitely will keep those in mind and might even be able to squeeze in a soundcard with the extra dough.


As you have quoted yourself, its virtual audio. Software driven sound positioning works in some scenarios only. The overall sound output quality of such headphones is not impressive. You will in fact find them below par the moment you get hold of some real sound cans. The AT M50 as mentioned by someguyname is absolutely awesome. And if you can get hold of one, it will be an investment worth for lifetime.

So it is for you to decide. If sound positioning and blown out bass is your preferred criteria for a headphone then surely go for a Logitech G35, Razer Carcharias etc. They do come with a microphone for VOIP functions also. If you just need good and accurate music, we have already given you our recommendations.
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July 3, 2011 6:14:52 PM

So the ATH M50's are hands-down the best I can get for my money? They are only like 120 bucks on amazon.
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July 3, 2011 6:33:54 PM

For the sub-$200 range, I'd say yes. The only competition they have would be the Beyer DT-770 PRO's, which have a very similar sound, but slightly better overall quality. They're also $190, so I'd have to say that the ATH M50s are still your best bet.

Before you jump on that $120 deal, I'd be EXTREMELY careful buying a pair that are so cheap. I mean, it would be really nice, but the M50s have been subject to a lot of typical chinese imitation/counterfeiting, and the fact that it's listed as "Item Under Review" is a bit alarming.

Oh, one more thing to look at - the standard M50 has a coiled cord. The M50S has a straight cord. It's just a matter of personal preference, but both are available.
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July 6, 2011 5:46:17 AM

Best answer selected by Asandwhich.
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