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USB headsets and internal sound card dilemma

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January 16, 2012 1:42:52 PM

I grabbed a sound card through an offer while I had some family in America, unless I'm mistaken it's the top end of the now last gen Xfi-titanium line.
I'm not interested in being told to send it back/that creative have driver issues, besides this fact the card is now in the UK.

I'm in the market for a good headset, but there's a fatal flaw in the models I like; they're USB headsets.

From what research I've done USB is separate from the sound card, which renders my purchase defunct as I use headsets more than my speaker system due to neighbours and online gaming. I may be wrong, but this is the belief that lead to this thread.
I'd expect the audio quality using an analog headset with the card to be better than the USB sound cards most headphones have now, however nearly every analog headset looks quite bland. All black and padded is very 90s to me.

So my questions are as follows:

1. If I get a device/connector to change USB to an analog sound jack, would I be able to make use of my sound card for sound reproduction and processing?

2. If not, would tampering with the cable (my close friend is an electrician) i.e swapping the USB end for an audio jack or swapping the cable from above the audio control do the job? Please specify which if yes.

3. If there's an alternate solution I've not considered, could you please inform me?

Truthfully I don't recall there being a USB sound card on most of the models I'm interested in, but I don't really know if there are other impediments, I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject.

The headset I'm most interested in is the Diablo 3 branded Steelseries. I'm aware it's a reskinned Siberia v2 and that Siberias come in an analog version, but I like the design. I'd like answers to my questions tailored to this headset, though as I'll detail I'm happy to consider alternatives. I've checked out corsair, logitech, sennheister and razer headsets, and while this isn't the best audio quality headset as I said I like the design.
If you'd like to suggest an alternative please keep in mind I'm not a fan of plain or blocky designs, the G930 is an example of what I mean by blocky.

As a last note, while I care about sound quality I'm not looking to spend out £200+/$305+ on my headset, so please don't suggest a no-limits recording studio grade product.

Thanks for your time!
January 16, 2012 2:19:19 PM

Quote:
1. If I get a device/connector to change USB to an analog sound jack, would I be able to make use of my sound card for sound reproduction and processing?


No. All you would be doing is changing the connection method; you'd still be going through the USB audio layer.

Quote:
2. If not, would tampering with the cable (my close friend is an electrician) i.e swapping the USB end for an audio jack or swapping the cable from above the audio control do the job? Please specify which if yes.


No. Same reason as above.
January 16, 2012 4:19:43 PM

So the only option is to buy an analog headset? That sucks; why don't analogue headsets get prettied up too?

Seeing as you didn't answer #3 I'm guessing those digital to analog converters aren't any use either?

I can afford to own both a usb and analog headset I guess, and use the usb when someone wants access to my speaker system. It'd feel an excessive and inefficient move though, and I still haven't seen any analog sets that don't look unappealing to me.
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January 16, 2012 5:33:05 PM

Hi :) 

Assuming you are running windows 7 use a Bluetooth headset as I do ...the only problem I have with it , is that some very old games wont work with it, but all modern games do plus audio and films...

All the best Brett :) 
January 16, 2012 9:38:47 PM

I guess I'll go down the avenue of proper analog headphones and use a usb headset (for the noise cancelling mic) for LAN etc. Will be continuing my quest in a separate thread.

Thanks for the responses.
January 16, 2012 9:47:45 PM

Antha said:
I guess I'll go down the avenue of proper analog headphones and use a usb headset (for the noise cancelling mic) for LAN etc. Will be continuing my quest in a separate thread.

Thanks for the responses.


Hi Antha :) 

My BLUETOOTH headphones have a mike in them as well..plus no wires.... these ones (no affiliation) >>>>>>>>> http://www.bazoo.eu/sound/?we_objectID=111

Site is German but you can get them in UK or US...

All the best Brett :) 
January 16, 2012 9:50:50 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi Antha :) 

My BLUETOOTH headphones have a mike in them as well..plus no wires.... these ones (no affiliation) >>>>>>>>> http://www.bazoo.eu/sound/?we_objectID=111

Site is German but you can get them in UK or US...

All the best Brett :) 


It doesn't connect to my sound card though, which is the whole reason I'm not going usb anymore.
January 16, 2012 9:55:47 PM

Antha said:
It doesn't connect to my sound card though, which is the whole reason I'm not going usb anymore.


Hi :) 

Assuming you are running Windows 7 ? The usb bit (in bluetooths case that means the bluetooth dongle) does no matter, Windows 7 will handle transfering the sound from your sound card to the bluetooth headset.... you just choose it as default in "devices and printers" and it works ... :) 

All the best Brett :) 
January 16, 2012 10:03:05 PM

Brett928S2 said:
Hi :) 

Assuming you are running Windows 7 ? The usb bit (in bluetooths case that means the bluetooth dongle) does no matter, Windows 7 will handle transfering the sound from your sound card to the bluetooth headset.... you just choose it as default in "devices and printers" and it works ... :) 

All the best Brett :) 


Wait, what? Then why have I been reading that USB headsets completely bypass sound cards due to them being a different output/audio layer?
Could you give me a reference to this please? No offence!

If this is indeed the case is there any disadvantage to it such as my CPU handling the audio too? Not that my CPU is incapable, that'd just make me sad panda for my sound card's benefits.
January 16, 2012 11:21:59 PM

Hi :) 

I had a XFi sound card and it worked well with the BT headset... then I changed my motherboard and removed the card and didnt bother putting it back in as my new MOBO had reasonable sound and I needed the space for a HUGE graphics card...

So now my Bazoo BT headset works with the following...

1, AMD high definition audio device (graphics card sound)
2, HD webcam 270 Logitech
3, Via high definition audio

The only problems I get is with some very early FPS games that dont know about Bluetooth headsets...(like Half life)

All I can suggest is ask Bazoo if you have any queries or Creative.... all I can say is it worked for me...

All the best Brett :) 
January 17, 2012 3:08:58 PM

I can't test it for the moment, as I've delayed my full rig until ivy bridge comes out (so I haven't bought win7 yet). But if this is correct I have officially internet embarrassed myself with my "I'LL SOLDER IT, PLEAASE WORK" antics.

Heck, I recall comments related to this workaround now.
January 17, 2012 6:07:09 PM

Brett, you obviously have no understanding on how soundcards actually work. Anything plugged in via USB goes through the USB audio layer, and has no access to any other audio devices driver layer, let alone physical output.

Secondly, soundcards primary feature is increased signal quality, through their Digital to Analog converter. If you don't go through the analog output directly from the soundcard, you lose the most important feature the soundcard offers.
June 5, 2012 6:22:30 PM

I can't believe this kid is shopping for headphones based on the looks....just get a set of sennheiser's and a seperate mic and you won't regret it. Lets not forget that USB uses cpu and southbridge too....so you may take a 3+fps hit on your game, introduce mouse lag, and then of course add to that the fact that you will suffer quality loss in general over a sound card.
You cant just swap the ends because the usb device itself is its own sound card...you could however bypass the entire soundcard portion and wire the output from the circuit leading directly to the headphone speakers to an analogue plug...very important to bypass the built in sound chip if you can find it. Ussually they are sealed pretty good. In order to do this though, you will need to make sure that the usb headset isnt actively amplifying the output to the speakers (impedance of the speaker will tell you....but even if so then you can grab a simple headphone amp from radio shack and insert it into the line between the speaker and the analogue connector.gotigers2012[at]zoho.com
June 6, 2012 12:21:58 PM

mattmcfaul_92 said:
I can't believe this kid is shopping for headphones based on the looks....just get a set of sennheiser's and a seperate mic and you won't regret it. Lets not forget that USB uses cpu and southbridge too....so you may take a 3+fps hit on your game, introduce mouse lag, and then of course add to that the fact that you will suffer quality loss in general over a sound card.
You cant just swap the ends because the usb device itself is its own sound card...you could however bypass the entire soundcard portion and wire the output from the circuit leading directly to the headphone speakers to an analogue plug...very important to bypass the built in sound chip if you can find it. Ussually they are sealed pretty good. In order to do this though, you will need to make sure that the usb headset isnt actively amplifying the output to the speakers (impedance of the speaker will tell you....but even if so then you can grab a simple headphone amp from radio shack and insert it into the line between the speaker and the analogue connector.gotigers2012[at]zoho.com


This is an old thread and I've since gone with a pair of HD25-1 II's, sorted an 80% refund with amazon and obtained a titanium HD. This said, I find the tone at the beginning of your post insulting, especially presuming my age because of my interests.

I appreciate the rest of the reply, however I have changed my mind since the time of writing the OP so there's no real chance of me cracking headsets open.
June 6, 2012 12:37:28 PM

well, you have to admit...your posts were amusing.
June 6, 2012 3:41:10 PM

It seemed like the main reason for the post is that the decent looking gaming headsets are moving to USB, but you sacrifice the surround sound audio that you can get with regular analog headsets (that support surround sound, obviously). It wasn't focused on the looks alone, but something you use every day should look good to you.

Sennheiser, while they make some great products, doesn't have top quality headphones across the line, and some aren't meant for gaming.

@OP, had you been looking now, I would have recommended the Roccat Kave, Cooler Master Storm Sirrus, Psyko 5.1, or Razer 7.1 (Tiamat, I believe) headsets. I have the Kaves and they were a great buy, and run about $100 right now.
June 6, 2012 3:49:54 PM

Personally, the "best" solution is probably a soundcard with Dolby Virtual Headphone paired with the best quality 2.0 headset you can afford. At this point, I'd argue Virtualized surround is superior to normal surround, simply because of how many design sacrifices are made to make a 5.1 headset in the first place.
June 6, 2012 4:01:32 PM

The Tiamat is definitely the victim of the miniaturization of headphone drivers, but most of the true 5.1 headsets use larger drivers since there are fewer of them. In terms of clarity, my Kaves are among the best I've heard (out of some good Sennheisers, the good Bose, and Grados). I think the larger drivers are why the headset is so fricking huge ;) 
June 6, 2012 6:16:22 PM

boiler1990 said:
It seemed like the main reason for the post is that the decent looking gaming headsets are moving to USB, but you sacrifice the surround sound audio that you can get with regular analog headsets (that support surround sound, obviously). It wasn't focused on the looks alone, but something you use every day should look good to you.

Sennheiser, while they make some great products, doesn't have top quality headphones across the line, and some aren't meant for gaming.

@OP, had you been looking now, I would have recommended the Roccat Kave, Cooler Master Storm Sirrus, Psyko 5.1, or Razer 7.1 (Tiamat, I believe) headsets. I have the Kaves and they were a great buy, and run about $100 right now.



not meant for gaming? They are meant for audio....gaming happens to include audio. Now if you want to argue that you prefer a 5.1 headset then that's your preference. I went down that road too, you simply have to test them side by side to believe the additional sounds you will hear if you use a higher end set of sennies and a headphone amp. You can hear breathing and footsteps in game that those cheesy gaming headsets can't reproduce without being cranked to the point of ear damage.
I use the Musical Fidelity XcanV3 with a tried and true set of HD580. A basic radio shack headphone will suffice, though the dynamics that a tube adds to the game is just incredible. :o  This isn't coming from a noob either, been using TH since windows ME (ACK)....sorry, just vomited in my mouth. Just hadn't used my account in a few years.
Open dynamic are perfect for gaming...especially first person shooters. I use the ever so ancient klipsch promedia 5.1 thx when I absolutely have to have surround (tournaments and clan gaming)...but even still I noticed the impedance of the hd580's combine with the power to push them results in subtle sounds that you just can't hear from a loose cone or one of the micro cones in these 5.1 headsets. All of those brands made me :pt1cable: 
June 6, 2012 6:40:22 PM

Quote:
not meant for gaming? They are meant for audio....gaming happens to include audio. Now if you want to argue that you prefer a 5.1 headset then that's your preference


What I'm talking about has to do with the audio ranges. Some headphones are better in the highs, mids, and/or lows, and that will affect the perceived sound. So headphones that are great for rock or classical music may not be good for gaming because you'll be lacking strong bass regions that make explosions sound more full.

I would love to set up a true 5.1/7.1 system but I live in an apartment and have to resort to headsets to keep the noise down. I know the quality of brands like Klipsch - we have some of their older, better speakers in our home theater.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to wants/needs and budget, and there are different ways to achieve them but only the user can really decide what will best suit theirs.
June 6, 2012 7:09:48 PM

to some extent I do agree there, you wouldn't believe the sound I've installed throughout Pebble Beach....everyone has to draw the line somewhere. The reproduction of sound specifically to genre is true at some level as well, though I think you are thinking more along the lines of what's popular....I mean, you obviously don't want Dr.Dre headphones if you are listening to a flac copy of the Eagles (wouldn't want them for anything really but just an example to further your point).
I just thought the OP was a bit out there since I came here from search results while looking to find charts for cpu cycles used by various usb headsets. Then I see a dude that wants to have the bennies of using a good sound card, and he complains that quality doesn't look good :-) I know that is just a matter of opinion but it can't hurt to steer him in the direction that will reward him something that actually works well and looks good. I tested EVERY pair of 5.1 analogue plug in headsets available for the pc market as of 2010, and tested 2 of the USB 5.1. They all drop sound, they all are incapable of reproducing the bass of a frag (unlike open dynamic), and overall a generally loose sound.
In testing I used Graw 1 and cranked up the voices (x-fi fatality platinum). What I found is that once those microtweeters start puffin air then there is a fair amount of cancellation in things like footsteps, pivoting players, crouch to standing noises etc. The worst being the zalman 5.1 and second worse the Razor....abosolutely horrible when they worked.
Made for gaming doesn't mean good for gaming, it just means that some company has targeted them for the gaming market...which lets face it, we spend money on a grand scale to better our game and feel like we're in it. It's all marketing like bose...all highs no lows must be bose. They know that we are dying for some real 5.1 that won't tick off the neighbors, so they continue to pump stuff out...unfortunately they keep selling us $5 worth of product for $100+ US ( i just noticed I'm in the wrong country forums, though I wish i were in Ireland).
So my point to the op was to look beyond the flashy paintjob and go with what replicates the environment that you are in.
June 6, 2012 8:07:48 PM

boiler1990 said:
Quote:
not meant for gaming? They are meant for audio....gaming happens to include audio. Now if you want to argue that you prefer a 5.1 headset then that's your preference


What I'm talking about has to do with the audio ranges. Some headphones are better in the highs, mids, and/or lows, and that will affect the perceived sound. So headphones that are great for rock or classical music may not be good for gaming because you'll be lacking strong bass regions that make explosions sound more full.


Speaking specifically on Bass, most people these days are used to headsets that drive the Bass well above the actual output. Sennheiser is notable for being one of the few brands that doesn't do this...

Same thing applies to soundcards though; some are tuned differently then others, making comparisions to different audio setups hard to do.
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