Looking for some headphones as a Christmas present for myself anyone got any suggestions? budget between them about £150-£200.
Mainly used for music and gaming, but a mic isn't essential as I have a separate one. just looking for accurate clean sound sound, preferably surround/virtual surround, and strong bass is a pro, but not required.
leaning towards this sound card due to budget restrictions;
if you're looking for clean accurate sound with just the right amount of bass then its hard to beat a good pair of stereo studio headphones. you can still estimate 3d space based on L/R and intensity once you get used to it.
check out a pair of audiotechnica ath-m50's. they are within the price range and sound great. they typically get high ratings and a few even say they are one of the best under $300.
as far as soundcards go...unless you need the features a high priced card offers you can get away with a budget soundblaster or card of your choice. i've heard the xonar brand name mentioned a few times on here but i've never used that one myself.
DO avoid such things as the sony extra bass headphones and beats by dr dre. they are junk.
if your motherboard has a good brand of integrated card with software you like it shouldnt be a problem to keep it. i'm not sure how sound gets processed on my machine (as i output from the video cards dvi connection) but i just use my integrated when i have a $1300 sound system hooked up to it.
on my older pc i had a cheap $30 soundblaster hooked up to a $100 5.1 logitech set and it worked fine as well.
the only noticible difference would be if you had an amp or if one soundcard had alot of internal noise compared with another. sound-effects and other such nonsense are gimmicks.
if you want bragging rights and you want to cheap out i'd just get a sub $50 card with great reviews, the headphones i mentioned, and one of those portable mini amps (optional). sure its stereo sound but if you're fine with that you have one nice headset. the nice thing about the ath-m50s is that they have a low impedence which means they dont "require" and amp like some other high end studio headphones do. i can run mine off my phone and ipod perfectly fine.
my mobo is the Asus Sabretooth p67, got the integrated realtek ALC892 if thats any help?
I do have an amp, but not connected yet, can't remember the model but it cost about £400, and I'm not ready to use surround sound because of the wires, I'm waiting till i redo the floor to relay the cable underneath. Are sound bars a viable alternative?
what about the dolby audio? any difference?
i don't mind spending money, its just gotta be worth it as it won't be replaced for about 5 years. i've already spent a fair amount on my computer this year, just looking to complete it really.
do you have a pair of the m50's yourself? if so, whats the volume like? if i used them with my phone, how portable are they, is there a carry case etc?
yes, i have a pair of ath-m50's. i bought them at a guitar center so i paid more than i would have if i bought online but i wanted them NOW. you know how it goes.
the headphones themselves are the size of typical over the ear sets. for travel the headphones fold up inside the head spring arc to take up half the space. they come with a bag but some people go out and buy a hardcase. the cable is very thick and a little on the long side but its not an issue as normally.
i dont think i've ever pushed my phone to max volume... at around 75-80% it starts to get way too loud for my ears. i typically have volume between 30-60%. they do make portable amps if this was an issue though (but i very highly doubt it will be).
as far as amps are concered i've heard people use portable battery powered amps such as these for driving higher end headphones. some require and amp but the ones i have do not (but might sound a little better with one, not that they sound bad in the least).
i have an asus rampage iii, not sure what is integrated onto it.
i thought you wanted headphones not a speaker set?
soundbars are stereo with a few providing audio which attempts to mimic surround sound. i'd go for a regular surround sound set before going with a soundbar. the only nice thing about them is that they look very clean-cut and take up little space.
If you're headphone for listening...highly recommend Asus STX soundcard. It has dedicated headphone output. Got one myself and it's great for music/gaming. Just remember to download the latest driver from the Asus' website, so you won't have any problem with the sound driver.
its no problem to ask questions. if you're thinking about the future and getting a home theater or soundbar setup then you might as well ask questions now to start familiarizing yourself. the more you know, the easier it is to make a decision.
i bought them in july of this year. actually i havent noticed any problems myself but now that you mentioned it i looked and it appears that the pads are getting a little stiffer and show very minor signs of drying out. i'm sure in another 5-6 months there will be some minor cracking. keep in mind they get used for at least 30-40 hours each week. it doesnt change my opinion on them in the least. its unfortunate but wear is to be expected. i did a search and replacement pads are only $10 or less. i'll probably pick up a set as a just-in-case.
as far as size is concerned: its an over the ear type of headphone which means yes it is larger but not any more so than other over the ear headphones available. if size is an issue you shouldnt be looking at over the ear types. i like them though because of the sound isolation they provide. keep in mind that this set folds up for travel like i said before. keep in mind people always find a reason to complain. products typically arent perfect, dont last forever and its impossible to please everyone all the time.
i just took a very quick look at the Asus Xonar STX ($180) which is similar to the Creative X-FI Titanium HD ($130) in that both are cards primarily meant for either high impedence (professional) headphones as they have a built in amplifier or 2.0/2.1 setups. i believe they feature optical out as well but you might want to check on this.
if you want to connect a standard 5.1/7.1 computer speaker set, i would advise against going with these cards. if you plan on getting a dedicated receiver its also a waste in going with these cards as most receivers feature a headphone plug.
you really dont need an amp if you want the ath-m50s as its only a 35ohm set. and if you did you could use a cheap $30-40 fiio unit until you got a real sound system in the future. you could also take it with you as its battery powered and portable.
personally i'd just settle for a sub $100 card unless you're an extreme audiophile who demands the absolute best and most expensive products on the market. especially considering you are thinking about upgrading in the future to a home theater set.
but again its your money, your choice. just make sure you get the features you want now, and make sure it has the features you want for the future as well.
If you're competetive, or just play games alot you could look into sound cards with Dolby Headphone/ CMSS-3D. It helps alot with positioning, it's pretty much virtual surround. A good choice IMO would be an ASUS Xonar DG if you want a cheap card for $30. You can always wait and buy a sound card later if you're not satisfied with the onboard.