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Audio for gaming, what should I go with??

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July 28, 2011 4:31:26 PM

I'm building a new rig specifically meant for gaming and when it comes to audio I'm having a hard time finding just exactly what I'm looking for. So I really like the reviews I'm seeing from the Logitech G35 Headset the only problem is that its connected via USB and that means that I can't plug it in to a sound card which is my first concern. So then what would be another good headset that supports 7.1 and uses 3.5mm jack within the $100 range? Is there any kind of adapter I can use to bypass this without losing too much performance?

My second concern is which sound card would be best for gaming, keeping in mind that this is will also be used mainly by headphones and not so much speakers?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

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a b 4 Gaming
July 28, 2011 7:38:47 PM

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So then what would be another good headset that supports 7.1 and uses 3.5mm jack within the $100 range?


None exist.

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Is there any kind of adapter I can use to bypass this without losing too much performance?


Nope. USB is digital, 3.5mm is analog. Nevermind they are totally different interfaces.

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My second concern is which sound card would be best for gaming, keeping in mind that this is will also be used mainly by headphones and not so much speakers?


Depending on the headphones in question, you may want to get a soundcard with a built in amp [ASUS Xonar ST/STX, ASUS Xonar Xense, Auzentech Forte, HT Omega Claro XT]. If not, then the HT Omega Striker, ASUS Xonar D1/DX, and Auzentech Meridian 2G are the best all around bets.

For my money, the Xense + PC350 deal is probably the best around if you still need a pair of headphones. You can simulate 7.1 by enabling Dolby Headphone.
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July 28, 2011 9:52:53 PM

by simulate 7.1 do you mean its just a good? Also, do most games support dolby headphone like they do 7.1?
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a b 4 Gaming
July 28, 2011 10:13:05 PM

I'm running an AuzenTech Bravura 7.1 and Sennheiser PC 350s and the sound is perfect. They're technically stereo but they emulate the surround sound perfectly.
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July 28, 2011 10:31:19 PM

I'm running an SB X-fi Xtreme Audio with SB Tactic3D Sigma headset, and I'm very happy. Maybe the SB Tactic3D Alpha headset would be within your budget. You could also go with a cheap BULK version of an XtremeGamer sound card with either Tactic3D Alpha headset or a Razer Charcharias headset.
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July 28, 2011 10:49:01 PM

Yeah I was looking heavily into the charcharias headset from Razer although the lack of 5.1/7.1 concerns me and also I've heard several reviews saying that sound easily escapes the ear muffs. With Xonar Essence STX sound card I plan on getting though maybe I don't have to worry about them technically being 5.1/7.1
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July 28, 2011 11:10:52 PM

To be honest I think the Razer Charcharias would be a waste with an Xonar Essence STX card. The Charcharias headset feels like plastic crap. I was very surprised how vulnerable they are when i first unpacked, but sound was okay and feels like you have nothing around your ears when you wear them which is good. The adjustable size works like crap, and with on-board sound it was all scratchy when I turned up the volume too high. However the mic is absolutely unbeatable. I still miss that mic your voice is crisp clear.

Also, reading reviews about the Xonar Essence STX it's mostly meant for music? Not meant for music, but for gaming the Titanium HD beats out the Essence STX, so that's worth thinking about now where you wanna build it primarily for gaming. I doubt other brand can match creative when it comes to the sound of gaming. At least that's what you can hear from reviews of people who've experienced it.

I only mention the Razer Charcharias because I've had that headset myself, and it's a decent one that'd go well for a low priced sound card like XtremeGamer or Xtreme Audio. However, with an Xonar Essence STX I would go with a different headset by far.
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July 28, 2011 11:41:38 PM

Well I do listen to a bunch of music as well but from what I've gathered the creative cards just don't match the quality of the STX and it has a setting specifically for gaming. You think I should go with one of the x-fi sound cards from creative though for gamin?
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July 29, 2011 1:26:40 AM

From what I've picked up it's a bit different. Here are some examples I've picked up from sound enthusiasts.

"I've owned the STX version of the Essence, and I was blown away by the card's musicality....
But this Titanium HD has me interested. I would really like a EAX capable card, without having to sacrifice sound quality."


"I own both cards and the Xonar Essense ST(STX) would be my choice if I had to own only one...of these budget cards.
The Titanium HD is surprisingly competent for a Creative product and deserves better press than what it gets from the disenchanted Creative owners of previous products.,"


"I have auditioned Titanium HD for about 2 weeks. It sounds pretty much similar to Beresford TC-7520, but the latter sounds richer and louder. I also listened Xonar Essence before, but Titanium HD gives better soundstage with better depth and pinpoint."

"I too own both cards, and tbh i prefere the Titan HD. But dont get me wronge BOTH are fantasic. I feel that the STX is more suited to music and the Titan for games and movies."

"Since you game first and music second, Then the X-FI HD for its gaming features. Other wise the STX if you dont care about EAX and yes it still used in openal. "

"Is surround important? If not, you could get the Titanium HD, the best overall experience for games, and handles music quite well on its own."

"So, is it better than the Xonar Essence? Honestly, we couldn’t detect a difference. Both cards are of such high quality that a purchasing decision will probably be determined by pricing, brand loyalty, or simple personal preference"

I've gone through all this myself because I'm currently considering to upgrade my Xtreme Audio. Generally I've picked up that the Asus Xonar Essence STX doesn't quite support all games, and users have experienced minor gaming sound problems - not being able to use the card to it's potential.

Whatever you choose you'll probably be very happy. Sounds like both cards are great. However, I think it's the Asus Xonar Essence ST, and not STX that actually supports 7.1. Not sure though haven't looked into it since I use a headset only. If you use 7.1 speakers a different card than TiHD would probably suit you better. That's what they say, but entirely for gaming on a headset I'd go with TiHD.
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a b 4 Gaming
July 29, 2011 11:58:09 AM

1: EAX doesn't matter anymore; its a dead spec.

2: I want to know where this "doesn't support all games" stuff keeps comming from. The only issue I've ever had with any ASUS card is if GX [Directsound emulation] is enabled, and to be fair, VERY few games need this in the first place. [Basically, anything that needs EAX 5 emulation]

3: Dolby Headphone simulates 7.1 on a 2.1 set of headphones by taking a 7.1 signal and virtualizing it onto a 2.1 soundspace. This is EXACTLY how the G35 and other 7.1 headsets work. From my experiance, this works very well for front/back audio, but left/right does tend to get muddled a little bit. Its done at the driver level, so unlike the aforementioned G35, you shouldn't have to worry about non-support in games.

Also FYI, the ExtremeAudio is CRAP. Its basically an Audigy 2 rebranded. Even among Creative's other offerings, its really bad.
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July 29, 2011 12:29:41 PM

gamerk316 said:

3: Dolby Headphone simulates 7.1 on a 2.1 set of headphones by taking a 7.1 signal and virtualizing it onto a 2.1 soundspace. This is EXACTLY how the G35 and other 7.1 headsets work.


So is it better to have a sound card that can emulate 7.1 along with a pair of headset that can emulate 7.1 too? Or maybe it doesn't matter as long as one of the them can emulate? I would guess you'd get better quality by picking up a card that can emulate it?

I read a review somewhere that the Asus Xonar Essence could be a tad troublesome at the settings for gaming. If you didn't know about the right setup you'd go a bit lost, as opposed to the TiHD that was easier. Dunno if this is true.
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a b 4 Gaming
July 29, 2011 2:16:38 PM

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So is it better to have a sound card that can emulate 7.1 along with a pair of headset that can emulate 7.1 too? Or maybe it doesn't matter as long as one of the them can emulate? I would guess you'd get better quality by picking up a card that can emulate it?


Correct.

Emulated 7.1 works on a 2.1 speaker set. Those "7.1" headsets only have two speakers. The only thing done is the side/rear audio signals are mapped back into a stereo output, but offset somewhat to make it appear they are comming from the sides/back. Using Dolby Headphone alongside a headset that also does dolby headphone accomplishes nothing, as both are doing the same thing. Just get a good pair of 2.1 speakers, then use the soundcards dolby headphone functionallity.

Quote:
I read a review somewhere that the Asus Xonar Essence could be a tad troublesome at the settings for gaming. If you didn't know about the right setup you'd go a bit lost, as opposed to the TiHD that was easier. Dunno if this is true.


Its not, but then again, most soundcard reviews are done by people who don't have a clue. [A recent review of the STX didn't even know what GX mode did, or how to enable ASUS' EAX 5 support.] Guru3d does good soundcard reviews, and when I run into a question I can't answer, I often point people to Robscix over at the guru3d forums.

Only major option to be aware of is the GX [Directsound emulation] option. You need it to get surround/EAX effects on Directsound games [pre-2006], but it tends to break some games if enabled [Mass Effect comes to mind].
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July 29, 2011 2:28:45 PM

So then if I'm wanting a surround sound effect with my headphones I should go with the Xonar Essence STX over the Titanium because of the dolby headphone feature?
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July 29, 2011 3:01:15 PM

Entoxicated said:
So then if I'm wanting a surround sound effect with my headphones I should go with the Xonar Essence STX over the Titanium because of the dolby headphone feature?


No he's just talking about how it works. You'll get surround sound effect with a Titanium HD as well. Both cards emulate it, but I think it's called THX TruStudio PC Surround on the TiHD, and Dolby Headphone on the Xonar Essence. On my Xtreme Audio card it's called X-Fi CMSS 3D. When I tick that option it turns into surround on my headset.

What I mean is that if you're using a 7.1 speaker system (not headphones) you're probably better off with the Xonar Essence since the TiHD has horrible cable settings, as far as I know. Something about using optical cables only.
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a b 4 Gaming
July 29, 2011 3:15:12 PM

I'm telling you right now, save $100 on the soundcard and get the AuzenTech Bravura 7.1 instead of the STX. It has everything you need. DTS, DTS Neo:p C, EAX 4, and has a high quality headphone amp for up to 600ohm headsets, plus all OpAmps are replaceable (as well as other features like CMSS 3D, Crystalizer, Alchemy, EQ, Bass Management, and multiple outputs). Most games use DirectSound 3D anyway so most of those features on most cards aren't going to matter much. Without tweaking a thing I get perfect 7.1 emulation on my stereo headset, to the point that I can track a sound movement orbiting around me, above, below... it's perfect.

Also, FYI, there's actual "surround" headsets that have 2 or 3 speakers per ear cup for "real" surround. I've never tried it but I've heard the quality of sound isn't as good as bigger stereo speakers. As for the emulating of 7.1, as far as I know, you can not emulate it on the headset if it uses analog inputs. Any headset that uses USB input has a built in "sound card" and completely bypasses any sound cards you may have installed. For example the Logitech G35.

So, yeah, save $100 on the sound card and invest it into a good $200 headset.
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July 29, 2011 3:46:45 PM

wolfram23 said:
I'm telling you right now, save $100 on the soundcard and get the AuzenTech Bravura 7.1 instead of the STX.


I agree. That's what I'd recommend too. For just gaming, or music for that matter a cheaper sound card would do just fine, and you'd save a lot of money and still get blown away.

wolfram23 said:
As for the emulating of 7.1, as far as I know, you can not emulate it on the headset if it uses analog inputs. Any headset that uses USB input has a built in "sound card" and completely bypasses any sound cards you may have installed. For example the Logitech G35.


However I don't think this is true. Any true sound enthusiast would prefer analog over USB because of the digital conversion, which as far as I know will reduce sound quality. I don't believe a USB headset will emulate 7.1 surround better than a sound card. gamerk316 just said that. Doesn't matter what aspect you'd point at a dedicated sound card bypass USB headset by far.



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July 29, 2011 3:50:09 PM

Or you can wait till I get the Titanium HD Tuesday next week, and I can tell you if there's a difference for an ordinary guy like me.
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July 29, 2011 4:01:25 PM

Yeah I'll be waiting for a while I just take a long time to decide what I want on these things lol. Let me know man!

Thanks for your help guys!
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July 29, 2011 4:19:52 PM

wolfram23 said:
I'm telling you right now, save $100 on the soundcard and get the AuzenTech Bravura 7.1 instead of the STX. It has everything you need. DTS, DTS Neo:p C, EAX 4, and has a high quality headphone amp for up to 600ohm headsets, plus all OpAmps are replaceable (as well as other features like CMSS 3D, Crystalizer, Alchemy, EQ, Bass Management, and multiple outputs). Most games use DirectSound 3D anyway so most of those features on most cards aren't going to matter much. Without tweaking a thing I get perfect 7.1 emulation on my stereo headset, to the point that I can track a sound movement orbiting around me, above, below... it's perfect.

Also, FYI, there's actual "surround" headsets that have 2 or 3 speakers per ear cup for "real" surround. I've never tried it but I've heard the quality of sound isn't as good as bigger stereo speakers. As for the emulating of 7.1, as far as I know, you can not emulate it on the headset if it uses analog inputs. Any headset that uses USB input has a built in "sound card" and completely bypasses any sound cards you may have installed. For example the Logitech G35.

So, yeah, save $100 on the sound card and invest it into a good $200 headset.


I'm just curious but what headset do you use? Right now i'm deciding between the Razer Charcharias or the Sennheiser pc350. If I go the Bravura route I'll definately go pc350 since I'll be saving so much money
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a b 4 Gaming
July 29, 2011 4:37:43 PM

Well, if you go the PC 350 route, the BEST option, BY FAR, is the ASUS Xonar Xense + PC350 package, since you get both a top tier soundcard and the headset for just over $250-$300. The Charcharias wouldn't benifit from a HQ amp anyways...

http://www.amazon.com/Asus-Xonar-Xense-Acoustics-Sennhe...
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July 29, 2011 5:17:16 PM

Wow thats awesome. I'm very glad you knew about that deal cause I think I'm sold now!
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a b 4 Gaming
July 29, 2011 6:22:46 PM

Releak said:
However I don't think this is true. Any true sound enthusiast would prefer analog over USB because of the digital conversion, which as far as I know will reduce sound quality. I don't believe a USB headset will emulate 7.1 surround better than a sound card. gamerk316 just said that. Doesn't matter what aspect you'd point at a dedicated sound card bypass USB headset by far.


Misunderstanding my friend :)  I'm not saying USB is better at emulating it, but someone previously had asked whether having a 7.1 card AND a headset that can emulate the 7.1 is better or worse. I'm just trying to say that it's impossible to have both. I totally agree that analog with a good sound card is better.
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a b 4 Gaming
July 29, 2011 6:25:11 PM

Entoxicated said:
I'm just curious but what headset do you use? Right now i'm deciding between the Razer Charcharias or the Sennheiser pc350. If I go the Bravura route I'll definately go pc350 since I'll be saving so much money


I'm using the Bravura and PC 350s. They are amazing! I haven't used those Charcharias though, no idea if they're any good.

That Xonar + PC350 package looks pretty good, good price too. I paid $100 for my Bravura but I got a sick deal on the PC 350s, NCIX.com had them on sale and my local store price matched them so they were only like $160 or something :D 
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July 29, 2011 6:37:06 PM

wolfram23 said:
Misunderstanding my friend :)  I'm not saying USB is better at emulating it, but someone previously had asked whether having a 7.1 card AND a headset that can emulate the 7.1 is better or worse. I'm just trying to say that it's impossible to have both. I totally agree that analog with a good sound card is better.


Yeah true that was actually me lol :D 

Sounds like you should go with that deal it looks excellent. I read a couple of reviews of the Xonar Xense, and

It benchmarks better in Rightmark's Audio Analyzer than Creative's ostensibly superior X-Fi Titanium HD, and is great for gaming, with easily located positional effects, and the clarity to hear voice chatter above background explosions.


Just awesome! However, same review also says;

"As with any sound card review it's very easy to point out that similar quality which is almost indistinguishable to the casual gamer is available for less elsewhere, and there's a small stack of perfectly serviceable options ranging from the £40-odd Xonar D1 or Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer."

Taken from techradar.com btw. Xtreme Gamer and Xtreme Audio etc. might stink in eyes to sound enthusiasts, but all along they're at least better than on-board and a good choice just for gaming.

From bit-tech

In the heat of the battle, there was little to distinguish this setup from the already excellent positional audio provided by cheaper cards in the Xonar range.
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July 29, 2011 8:42:11 PM

Interesting... Well whatever I end up going with you guys have definitely gave me more than enough info to allow me to make a good decision. Thanks again!
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July 30, 2011 5:37:00 AM

Quote:

Its not, but then again, most soundcard reviews are done by people who don't have a clue.


Please, let me re-stress to everyone how important this is. Most reviews...like 99% of reviews on soundcards, speakers and in general audio equipment are done by people who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. Not just soundcards but everything. Most reviews on soundcards/and A/V equipment is like making a review on how an apple tastes while eating an orange.

So never-ever take reviews done on retailers websites by buyers as anything beyond a laugh at the clueless-ness.

Gamerk316 is absolutely correct :) 
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a b 4 Gaming
August 4, 2011 11:56:57 AM

Quote:
Taken from techradar.com btw. Xtreme Gamer and Xtreme Audio etc. might stink in eyes to sound enthusiasts, but all along they're at least better than on-board and a good choice just for gaming.


I'd argue this point all day long; the ExtremeAudio in particular is worse then onboard; its basically an audigy 2 rabranded as an X-fi.

Quote:
Most reviews on soundcards/and A/V equipment is like making a review on how an apple tastes while eating an orange.


Agreed. Very few good soundcard reviews out there. Guru3d [Robscix] is one of the better ones though, and highly recommend looking at their reviews.
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August 4, 2011 2:49:49 PM

Releak said:
So, what did you end up going with Entoxicated?

A small review as promised on the TiHD here http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/310232-10-creative-...



Thanks for the review! I'm pretty set on going with the Sennheiser/Xense package. I can't imagine having to go through all that driver crap you did lol.
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August 4, 2011 5:53:56 PM

Yeah that looks like a sweet deal man! I regret my choice. I should have gone with the Asus Xonar Essence, no doubt. I'm happy it works now though, but damn.

Good luck :D 
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August 4, 2011 6:14:27 PM

Yeah well now that you have it up and running good I'm sure you wouldn't really be able to tell that much of a difference between it and the essence.

Thanks man
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August 4, 2011 6:24:43 PM

Actually, there's a very nice feature on the TiHD that wasn't on the Xtreme Audio. You know when you take your cans on it can be hard to hear your own voice. It sounds like you're mumbling cause you huge cans on, and there's a feature that'll make you able to hear your own voice. In the beginning I thought why can I hear my own voice that's annoying, but it's actually a feature so you can hear you own voice despite wearing big cans. It's actually pretty neat, and there's no delay at all. You can put the volume on yourself up and down.

gamerk316 do you know if there's a feature like that on the Asus Xonar Essence? I'm curious.
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a b 4 Gaming
August 4, 2011 7:46:43 PM

Quote:
gamerk316 do you know if there's a feature like that on the Asus Xonar Essence? I'm curious.


Actually, that features built right into windows now. You can enable "monitoring" on most any sound input device from the Windows control panel, which will play the input signal back over the output device.
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August 15, 2011 2:36:35 PM

Best answer selected by Entoxicated.
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a b 4 Gaming
August 15, 2011 5:25:18 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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