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Gaming surround headphones - please advise

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August 15, 2011 9:08:20 AM

I have read a lot of the forum threads and haven't found a proper answer for my question, so now I'm asking you guys. here is the deal: I want to buy a decent surround headset for gaming up to $200.

currently I use the realtek mobo sound card, a Sennheiser HD555 (stereo only!) headset and a separate mic. I don't want to buy a separate sound card and stick with the stereo solution, I want something with real surround sound. I will use the new headphones only on PC and only for gaming.

however I really do love the rich and audiophile sound of the Sennheiser HD555 and I using them for years now. so you might understand that I don't want to end up with good looking fancy-design surround headphones with cheap-crappy sound. unfortunately I live in Hungary and did not found any shops here where I could actually try out some of the headphones.

I have looked up the following items: the G35 from Logitech, the PC333D from Sennheiser, the Kave from Roccat and something from Turtle Beach - not sure which product is good for PC use.

if you have any thoughts, experience or opinion with these candidates please give me a shout. thank you in advance!
August 15, 2011 10:06:46 AM

There are 2 approaches to this and I see not much difference between any.

1. Surround headset (few of them will allow you to hear up and down that is rare but most games don't support it and it is often unnecessary)
+
Quality soundcard coz mobo's soundcard is almost always no no.

2. Quality headphones (stereo) there is skim chance to diffrenate up and down I was never able to but from my gaming experience it doesn't matter.
+ Quality soundcard.

now 1st option and 2nd option cost about this same (fuckin' lots for just sound) but I as fellow audiophile (AKG 530) would never go for the first one 99% of surround headsets are inferior to midrange stereo headphones.

Both offer 3D sound and great positioning you don't need surround headset for this.
3D sound in headphones is always emulated for real directional one you need 7.1 speaker setup.

Since you have awesome headphones you are halfway into 2nd option.

Now the soundcard it's the core of 3d sound emulation and we talk about gaming so for sake of compatibility I'd advise X-Fi even 10+ year old games work flawless with eax 1 or 2.0. Notable mention here SB Audigy (it's pci only tho)
any X-Fi would work good here besides cheapest version called audio (half the price of others with half the hardware on chip...)

There is also Asus Xonar series which ofc support eax too. They are often said to be superior sounding cards. They are quite superior in pricing that's sure.

Thing to remember here is to not forget setup sound in game ^_^ turning eax or openAL on ;]
a b 4 Gaming
August 15, 2011 12:11:33 PM

Keep in mind, almost all surround headsets use some form of Dolby Virtual Headphone, which is VIRTUALIZED surround, and not hte real thing. For the most part, only ananlog based headphones and a few optical based ones allow for true 5.1. [Feel free to argue the merits of real versus virtualized surround]. If you go the virtaulized route, your probably better off getting a soundcard with built in Dolby Virtual Headphone functionallity as opposed to a headset that does the same exact thing built in.

Persoanally, I've used both approached, and prefer the Virtualized surround. The main problem with "real" surround headphones is the speaker placement is never quite right, and the quality is often lower.

Quote:
Now the soundcard it's the core of 3d sound emulation and we talk about gaming so for sake of compatibility I'd advise X-Fi even 10+ year old games work flawless with eax 1 or 2.0. Notable mention here SB Audigy (it's pci only tho)
any X-Fi would work good here besides cheapest version called audio (half the price of others with half the hardware on chip...)


1: Even onboard supports EAX 1 and 2, because EAX was an open spec then.
2: EAX is dead
3: The Audgiy line isn't even supported in Win7, and the Audigy 2 isn't much better then onboard [if at all]
4: The ExtremeAudio is a re-branded Audigy 2, and has significant driver problems [moreso then the other Xfi cards]
5: The ASUS Xonar D1/DX and HT Omega Striker are far better quality wise then any of Creatives low cost offerings, thus I find it impossible to recommend them over those two cards.
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August 15, 2011 2:21:49 PM

thank you for the quick reply guys, but you are failing to answer my question. :pfff: 

your approach from the sound card point of view is very interesting too, but I was curious which surround headset I should go for.

I mainly play Battlefield Bad Company 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and I desperately need surround sound. I don't mind if its virtual or real, I just need it. I can not use any kind of speaker system based on the room my PC is, so please don't go in this direction either.

any kind of answer related to headsets is more than welcome. :) 
August 15, 2011 2:30:11 PM

Well to be precise I was thinking of Audigy 2 zs and I didn't put the words right in there. It was in context to old games and half of I what I wanted to write down there isn't there (don't watch tv while writing) doesn't matter Audigy series are now thing of the past.

For my low price recommendation It would be X-Fi XtremeGamer i don't think you need anything more for gaming.
Asus and HT are obviously better choices quality wise I didn't check pricing for a bit they are good price wise option now :) 

As me and gamerk316 say you don't actually need Surround Headset (they are mostly marketing...) because soundcards offer same virtualization.
a b 4 Gaming
August 15, 2011 3:22:34 PM

Quote:
For my low price recommendation It would be X-Fi XtremeGamer i don't think you need anything more for gaming.


PErsoanlly, I'd rather go the Xonar DS route, as the DS is a better card.

And yes, my entire point was that "surround headsets" are two seperate categories: Real and Virtaulized. Until I knew for sure if you prefered either one, I couldn't give an exact recommendation.

How much are you willing to spend? Depending on the amount, it might make more sense to get a soundcard [ASUS Xonar D1/DX, HT Omega Striker, or Auzentech Meridian 2G] and use Dolby Headphone and your HD555's.
August 16, 2011 8:23:53 AM

guys,

thank you for the quick help, I just have ordered my new sound card, the Asus Xonar DX. :D 

I'm really can't wait and curious about the new sound... thanks again, the surround headsets can wait!
August 16, 2011 6:15:51 PM

Good choice! it will knock your boots off 3D sound in games is almost like cheating often gets me banned for "wall-hacking" ;]
September 28, 2011 11:07:13 AM

googled this and its great cause its exactly what I have:
xonar dx with hd555s

I feel like i've been wasting the potential of this combo for like two years by having crappy settings in the xonar dx audio center. Is there any config that is necessary/influential in games?

(sorry for reviving and derailing thread but if he did buy it hes gonna want this info too!)
October 1, 2011 8:42:56 PM

I have the Roccat Kave and they're great as they're one of the few real 5.1 surround headsets. They're heavy but comfortable. Planning to get a Xonar DX too because on-board audio seems to be reaching it's limit with these. I also hear strange interference sounds from the Sub-woofer output but that's because of the sound card and not the headphones. I must admit that I don't know much about sound cards but thought of sharing my personal experience with the Kave headphones
!