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  1. #1
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    Default Real surround vs Virtual surround vs Stereo Headphones

    Hi
    I recently changed my audio setup on my computer (and it's still gonna change in a few days), and now from trying different headphones in the past 2 yrs, I came to finally make my mind on which setup was better : Surround (real or virtual) headphones or Stereo Headphones

    it depends on what you have inside your pc, if you have an amp or mixer of some sort and things like that. And also on the quality of the headphones you're using.

    I wont be focussing on the quality of the headphones tho, has you could spend $1K for headphones, it would be stupid to compare it to a $100 5.1 gaming headset.

    First, gaming products, on a few exceptions, are mostly all about marketing. Go on their site, it's so hard to find real numbers, numbers that any audiophile who knows what he's looking for would find important. Good sound is good sound, surround is surround, and it has nothing to do with gaming, even if it IS practical while playing games.

    For an exemple, the Psyko Gaming 5.1 headset.
    Spoiler: show
    At first I was really interested in the product when Chris told me about it, so I went o their site, looking for NUMBERS. How much db?, impedance output of the mixamp, impedance of the headphones, frequency response, etc. Nothing.
    SO I went to look for professional reviews : Only one review to date, quite a good score, still no numbers tho, and far from being convincing.
    Besides that, I got hands-on from CES 2009 (in a crowded place FTL), and a 14 lines long marketing speech in the Boston Globes.


    Even when I bought the Astro Mixamp, there was no way to know on their site how much ohm it could output, because they dont want people to use another better stereo headset on their mixamp, so they make it complicated.

    From all the reviews I've read, the best headsets for PC gaming (if you dont consider the price) are the E.D.G.E. Acoustics GX400 and the Astro A40 system.
    E.D.G.E. Acoustics GX400 are really good quality, sound isolating STEREO earbuds.
    Astro A40 system is the combo of a Mixamp that does Dolby Headphone and a pair of good (like in everage good) STEREO headphones

    even if I look at good headsets at lower prices :
    SteelSeries 5H v2 = STEREO

    another very good headset : Plantronics GameCom 777, they are stereo. They take Dolby Surround 5.1 from the USB, and play it through it's 2 speakers.
    okay so that's virtual surround.
    Like the Megalodon, hefty price, and they are stereo heaphones with virtual surround created by the Maestro engine located inside the Mixamp. Which sucks compared to X-Fi

    - What is responsible of the surround effect? The headset, or the digital sound processing system (mixamp, X-Fi soundcard, the things that create virtual Surround sound)???
    Answer : the digital sound processing systems
    - Why did Razer went from a real 5.1 headset, the Barracudas, to a Stereo Headset with a mixamp, the Megalodons?
    Answer : Your mother.
    - Why dont big renowed companies like Sennheiser, Grado, AKG, Dennon, Stax, Beyerdynamic, Audio Technica, Ultrasone make 5.1 headphones?
    Answer : There's a lot of money to make out of it. But the audio quality is sacrificed for more speakers, and quality is what they're all about.

    I had the Barracudas hooked to my Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1 , I got them before the card in fact. Having a dedicated amp for the headphone jack, X-Fi and all, I can admit that I was afraid to compare my good old cheap Stereo headset to the Cudas on that card... So I never did it, I didnt want to know IF the 30$ stereo headphones would give me a better sound than the Cudas I paid 70$US(but are "worth" more).
    Remember when I was getting banned for "wallhacking" ? well I was using my old Stereo headset, they had a good Soundstage, even if they didng have the best sound quality.

    But now, with my brand new stereo Headphones hooked to the card, I can tell that :

    Stereo with digitally processed Surround (X-Fi) >>> 5.1 headsets > Stereo headphones alone

    > means "is better than..."

    and that's for gaming, 5.1 headsets will come last on my list for music.

    And remember, the Digital Processing Technology does the job, not the headset, so I think you're better off with a good Stereo headset, no need to pay $200, and it's always gonna be better than let's say, an A40 stereo Headset without the mixamp.

    + the 2 best Surround processiong technologies for gaming with headphones to date are X-Fi and Dolby Headphones.
    with that and a good stereo headset/headphones, it's the best.

    Long ass post huh? I hope you found my take on the subject informative.

    I might post again after I try my old stereo headset on the Forte, and also when I'll try the setup : Forte -(optical)--> Astro Mixamp ---> DT770PRO 250ohm
    The forte has as great amp to power the 250ohm headphones, so I hope the Astro can do it too, it's supposed to...

    Edit : I just received the Astro Mixamp, I'll be testing it tonight! ... well I had to go to the counter to pick it up, but I fell asleep, so tomorrow it will be!
    Last edited by PnisRong; 01-30-2010 at 04:50 AM. Reason: Im french
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  2. #2
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    Im getting the Psyko Audio or another Medusa Headset. I think they are the best and cleanest sound from a headset out there. I heard that the Psyko headset live up to their name.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hicks View Post
    Im getting the Psyko Audio or another Medusa Headset. I think they are the best and cleanest sound from a headset out there. I heard that the Psyko headset live up to their name.
    sooo they are psyko headsets, what is it like to have a headset that is psykotic? let me know when you get them

    As long as you have a good sound card, yeah MAYBE it's gonna sound "good", dont expect anything close to a simple pair of sennheiser hooked directly to an X-Fi Forte.
    I just went from 5.1 to stereo, from Barracudas to TD770Pro, and it's fucking night and day.
    I guess my first post is too long for anyone to go trough it, there's nothing more to say. If you really read.

    Like I said
    "the Digital Processing Technology [X-Fi, Dolby Headphone] does the job, not the headset"
    then you get the headset for audio quality, and it is proven that (and I quote myself again)
    the audio quality is sacrificed for more speakers
    read! >_<
    In math, Speedy can support me on that, > means "bigger/better than" and < "smaller/less/more crappy than"

    I try to explain something, and then it's like all I wrote wasnt there. I wasted a lot of time getting infos, and experiencing about audio, I try to resume it to save you the time, efforts and money, and it's all for nothing. Must be because Im french, you racist!
    Last edited by PnisRong; 01-30-2010 at 01:32 AM.
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    For Audiophile Stereo Headphones, here's a link where you can compare them
    http://www.headphone.com/learning-ce...ld-a-graph.php
    you can compare up to 4 products in a graph, really useful
    In my Opinion, the BEST bang for the buck is a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50, awesome cans, I would say they're equal or just a lil' under some that are worth 300$ and you can have them around 110$
    I may have bought them instead of the DT770Pro if would've known -_- so much headphones out there

    Hook that up to an X-Fi soundcard or the Astro Mixamp, or even better, to both of them at the same time, and you dont need anything else

    microphone? get a Zalman ZM-MIC1 5$, it's attached to your headphones cable, and it works and sounds perfect.
    Last edited by PnisRong; 02-05-2010 at 09:35 AM.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by hicks View Post
    Im getting the Psyko Audio or another Medusa Headset. I think they are the best and cleanest sound from a headset out there. I heard that the Psyko headset live up to their name.
    When?

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    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com...es-?sku=270553


    Best headphones you can buy for the money.

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    i think to what your trying to say, to make things simple:


    expensive headphones are a load of shit if the source providing the sound is shit. You can have the best headphones known to man yet they still will not live up until the source is a quality source.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by [TsM] fps_ted View Post
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com...es-?sku=270553

    Best headphones you can buy for the money.
    Indeed, in that price range they're among the best headphones! Grado SR 60, some of the HD offering from Sennheiser.
    but its cool if you have the chance to try some before making a decision, at that price range especially, the sound can varry, and it depends on personal preferences too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dyno View Post
    i think to what your trying to say, to make things simple:


    expensive headphones are a load of shit if the source providing the sound is shit. You can have the best headphones known to man yet they still will not live up until the source is a quality source.
    lol I'll resume it here :

    the audio quality is sacrificed for more speakers

    Stereo with digitally processed Surround (X-Fi) >>> 5.1 headsets > Stereo headphones alone

    + the 2 best Surround processiong technologies for gaming with headphones to date are X-Fi and Dolby Headphones.
    with that and a good stereo headset/headphones, it's the best.

    but yeah Jason, you got it right, people shouldn't jump on expensive headphones before having the best source possible (something that can process X-Fi and Dolby Headphones).
    and after that, the best bang for the buck in term of hi-fi headphones is a pair of Audio Technica ATH-M50. Getting 5.1 headphones for X-Fi or Dolby Headphones destroys the purpose of using those technoplogies, they're not made for 5.1 and work better than 5.1

    I installed the Astro Mixamp yesterday, man I was about to Q_Q when I heard the shitty sound I was getting by using the Forte -optical out-> Mixamp --> stereo headphones. A lot of noise and distortion.
    when I plugged the mixamp to my ps3 the sound was wonderful.
    I figured the problem was with the soundcard, I will save you the details that made me find the solution. But the solution was :
    Spoiler: show
    to plug the Astro USB and Optical to the pc, it will recognize the mixamp, but the Auzentech control pannel will tell you the device is not supported, well all you have to do is keep everything plugged in and, uninstal-reinstall the Forte drivers, the PC will recognize the mixamp, but the auzentech cp wont, so it wont give you that "unsupported device" crap anymore.


    Then I spent a LONG time playing with the equalizer, trying all the settings in both CSS and the auzen control pannel, 5.1, 7.1, headphones, X-Fi on/off, Dolby HP on/off, etc.

    after finding the best settings, the sound is now great.
    the mixer is made to take surround sound and mix it for headphones, so set everything like you have the best Surround speakers around.

    My settings :
    on CSS it's 7.1
    Auzen Control Pannel : 7.1, CMSS 3D : on - Surround Stereo, X-Fi Crystalizer On, Dolby Digital Activated, 96hz
    Astro Mixamp : Dolby Headphone On

    I got the opportunity to compare X-fi and Surround Headphone.
    For Gaming : X-Fi
    For Movies : Dolby HP
    Music : X-Fi

    Sharper Sound for X-fi, airy sound in Dolby HP, but the Dolby HP is more immersive.

    They both complete each others in some way, So using both of them togeter gives the best result.
    The bad thing I have to say about the setup is that I have a 150ms lag in sound when using Optical out to the Mixamp with the Forte, it's the Forte's fault. I can notice it in game when someone is running, the steps sound are not synchronized with the movement, but when I fire my gun, you can hardly tell the difference. I dont even think it's gonna make a big difference when scrimming, but maybe.

    so Overall, for gamers : X-fi is the best, if you have that, you dont need anything more than good stereo headphones : Audio Technica ATH-M50 or anything Sennheiser is good too, like HD555, HD595, but its expensive. and the ATH-M50 are better all around.
    I would go with the Forte for the soundcard, because of the dedicated Heaphone Amp and the upgradable OpAmp
    Last edited by PnisRong; 01-31-2010 at 10:14 AM.
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