First off, thanks for taking the time to swing by this thread!
I've been looking at many forums and websites in an effort to find the best solution to my needs. I will be starting livestreaming of gaming content in the next couple weeks once the semester is finished and I've determined my current headset (some Microsoft $30 set I bought at Best Buy years ago) isn't cutting it. The microphone picks up everything I don't want it to and if when I set the sound to be played back, it sounds awful! I bought a Logitech G930 after having a friend recommend it. After setting the equalizer up to my liking, music I played through it was awesome and bass rich, but the microphone was less than stellar in my opinion, and the virtual surround sound drove me nuts. It sounded way to tinny and fake. I was also looking at the Astro A40's, but judging from the reviews, the headset is excellent for gaming and sound positioning, but horrible for audio\movies. I can't justify spending almost $300 on something like that!
With so many options out there, I'm looking for a set of excellent headphones that have a pretty good bass response (as I listen to dubstep\electronic\metalcore extensively) and a high quality noise filtering microphone, or a headset that would fulfill those needs as well. My aim while streaming is to have my voice broadcast very clear while being able to game in surround for FPS' and whatnot, but be able to listen to music or watch movies with them as well and have an overall excellent sound to them.
I might be asking to much of a headset\headphone combo to provide these kind of results, and if that's the case I know I will need to limit my criteria. I plan on using my on-board realtek sound, which Asus' website claims is 5.1 (P8P67 LE, has optical port on the back), but will purchase a separate sound card if it will help. I should also include that I plan on spending less than $300 on the whole package.
surround sound or stereo?
all-in-one or seperate mic and headphones?
true surround sound headphones while better than a software surround sound effect are absolutely no match for the real thing. personally i've always felt that a high quality stereo set is more than adequate across the board.
most headsets in general are inferior to seperate units. personally i would recommend getting seperate units unless an all-in-one unit is what you specifically want.
i have a home theater system hooked up to my home system for music and games but when i travel with the laptop i've always relied on my studio headphones (audio technica ath-m50) which sound great. they can easily handle everything from movies to dubstep to games. while not surround sound it is still possible to locate direction in games. you might want to look at sennheiser as well.
as far as microphones go.. i dont use one much (i have a cheap unit) so i'm not much help there.
Thanks for the quick reply! Personally, I would be okay with whatever solution allows me to hear various directional cues while gaming and sound awesome for music and movies. From your post, it sounds like studio headphones are the way to go, and I'm okay with that.
One last thing: Will I need to purchase a separate sound card to get the most out of that audio technica model you mentioned?
QUICK EDIT: I've been looking at lots of video reviews of the Sennheiser PC 360, and the mic sounds exceptionally awesome. Anyone know how they would compare sound quality-wise to something like the AT-M50S?
one key thing to remember with a stereo headset (and this applies to studio headphones which are stereo also): you only have stereo sound so there are no 3d or surround audio effects.
with this in mind... remember that video games seem to automatically dim sounds to the rear so there is a perceived difference between front and back. left and right aren't an issue. so even though the sounds are coming from the same speakers you can still tell in a way where the sound is coming from. not ideal perhaps but i'm more than willing to bet the quality of drivers you get is going to be quite a bit better than gaming headsets.
personally i dont have a problem with this. other visual clues also help such as if you're hit in a fps game often the screen flashes along a face of the screen to indicate location. or if you hear a sound and you dont see anything in front you know it is behind.
as far as for watching movies and for music stereo is more than fine. in fact for music anything except stereo is a complete waste.
sennheiser is a very much recommended brand. i see people recommend audiotechnica as well and i personally always mention the headphones from this company since i own them myself so i know what they sound like. granted that mileage may vary and we all prefer what we prefer but one thing about studio headphones in general is how flat they sound across the board.
by flat i mean that the headphones are capable of reproducing most sounds accurately. the headphones arent tweaked lets say for bass in which case often muddles high and mid tones to the point of sounding distorted. likewise studio headphones arent focused entirely on high and mid tones where bass is almost nonexistant. everything is neutral so you hear the sounds as they were meant to be heard.
on the ath-m50 model i can say that i've found the highs and mids to be crisp while keeping enough bass to make even a dubstepper happy. i've used this set for movies and games as well as various types of music including rock, rap, hip-hop, dubstep, other electronica and vocals. so far i havent been disappointed in the least.
do you need to purchase a seperate soundcard? remember that studio headphones often require more power to drive than your normal found-in-walmart style of headphones. depending on the resistance in ohms of the particular models you may require an amp to drive them in order to hear anything other than a whisper.
if i remember correctly the ath-m50 style of headphones is around 35ohm and has worked perfect for me from the integrated soundcard on my laptop, my mobile phone as well as my ipod without any additional amp. i have used my receiver as an amplifier before and audio quality might have improved a little as an amp definitely helps with studio headphones but i would not consider it a requirement for this resistance of headphone.
so the answer is no you will not need a new soundcard with the model i use but you might need an amp if you purchase something with more resistance than the model i use.
as far as which is better audiotechnica or sennheiser... i couldnt tell you. i've heard good things about both but i've only ever had an audiotechnica studio headphone. all the other headphones i've had in the past were junk. even the $200 bose headphones i got one year as a gift were junk (bose is junk in general and i know that now!)
i've seen prices for the ath-m50 range quite a bit. i remember reading about someone paying as low as $80-90 and others like myself who bought them at full retail price which was around $170 or so. you should be able to pick them up online for $130-140 if you look around i'm sure.