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noob headphone concerns

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, this is my first post and I'm about to impress you with my lack of any sort of knowledge of headphones.

I'll try not to ramble, but first off I want to say that I have looked over several forums and searched a bit, but haven't found much in the way of basic info about headphone types and accessory options/requirements as it seems most others either know enough to know what they want or know nothing and think they know what they want.

The situation:

I'm building a new PC primarily for gaming because I'm tired of gaming on consoles. I have a set of Altec Lansing ADA305's I bought in 2000 and they work fine for casual music and video enjoyment, but I want something I can get a good surround experience with for gaming. I live in an apartment, so a surround speaker system isn't really an option because I don't want to blow my neighbors through the walls and I don't really have the money for that. And when I say gaming, I'm not looking for something that simply gives me great positional awareness of gunfire for a multiplayer FPS, but a full and wonderful sound image of everything in the environment.

So, I'll be needing a headset that allows for good surround sound whether it be actual 5.1 or 7.1 with multiple drivers or a stereo headphone that allows for simulated surround. I also want something that sounds good for listening to simple stereo music, but I'm not one of those people who is obsessed with merely getting as much bass as possible and compromising the rest. The entire range of sound is important and I want to hear it all. I can tell the difference between good audio and bad, but I'm no audiophile, so I'm not intending or willing to spend tons of money on sound cards/amps/whatever else it is that people use to get the absolute edge on their audio experience.

I want a set probably without a mic because it seems you can get a set of good headphones for the same price as a headset which compromises audio quality for convenience of an attached mic (As with everything else, I could be wrong about this.) I also feel that a closed circumaural ear cup would be better because I would like the option of using these in public as well, and this type would help with noise cancellation and prevent sound leaking. I am, however, willing to sacrifice the ability to use them away from my PC if it's the only way I'll get exactly what I'm looking for in a surround sound experience.

If I get stereo headphones, will any model allow for simulated surround or do I need to get something that specifically states it's compatible with simulated surround? It looks like most headphones don't mention anything about surround sound, which leads me to believe it's all in the software.
Do I need special software to enable whatever surround is offered with the game/movie or is it automatically processed and delivered when the surround option is selected in the game/movie?
Do I need a specific type of soundcard to allow for this type of surround or will on board audio from the motherboard be sufficient? The motherboard will likely be an ASUS M5A99X Evo.
Are there any types of headphones to specifically avoid when looking for something that can do surround audio? I have read that anything that connects via USB alone is not good because it's not processed properly by the soundcard/onboard audio.
Is it best to look for something that has multiple 3.5mm plugs that can connect to all the output channels? I'm guessing if it's simulated, this would not be necessary.

Would I be better off getting something with multiple drivers like the Turtlebeach Z6a's? They also allow for an adapter for 3.5mm connection to an ipod or whatever. My concern with these is that they seem like a gimmick. Also, the drivers are smaller than a good stereo set, and in my experience, the larger the driver, the better the quality.

Thanks to anyone with the patience to read all of this and respond. I simply want to make an informed decision. I don't like buying something only to find out that it's not compatible with my applications.

I forgot to add that my maximum budget for this is about $100. I'm not looking to break the bank.
Edited by Niliti - 10/7/11 at 7:36pm
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post #2 of 10
I'll try not to ramble.....

Lol... so much text over headphones!

Try
    
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post #3 of 10
You just plug the black, green, orange, jacks into your sound card as an educated guess.

That board will do.
    
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post #4 of 10
asus xonar dg + audio technica ath-ad700's + zalman zm-mic1

thats a sound card, headphones and a mic. if you shopa roudn enough you should be able to get it for a little over $100
post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Honestly, I'm looking more for information than recommendations so I can make an informed decision on my own. Also, again, those multi-driver headsets just seem so gimmicky. The way they advertise them just seems like they're trying to sell something sub-par quality to the uninformed user.
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post #6 of 10
tl;dr most

You're not going to get real surround without multi-driver headphones. You can always make your own. Get a good size pair of cans and hot-glue the drivers from small buds on the inside of them for the surrounds.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/898159...eadphone_hack/
APU what?
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APU what?
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post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niliti View Post
Honestly, I'm looking more for information than recommendations so I can make an informed decision on my own. Also, again, those multi-driver headsets just seem so gimmicky. The way they advertise them just seems like they're trying to sell something sub-par quality to the uninformed user.
Yeah, they're selling snake oil, pretty much. Just stick with stereo headphones. You can get simulated surround sound through stereo headphones by using Dolby Headphone, although to be honest, it really isn't necessary to get good positional audio.

Since you want to do your own research, which I can definitely respect, I'll just give you some info to point you in the right direction. For gaming, and good positional cues specifically, you'll want headphones with what's called a wide soundstage. This will allow you to hear sound in all directions and pinpoint exactly where something you heard is coming from. As far as your other concerns go, you'll probably want a set of headphones that represent the lows, mids and highs equally well. Thus, you should look into studio monitor headphones (although don't focus strictly on these types of headphones). Hope this helps.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by decimate View Post
You can get simulated surround sound through stereo headphones by using Dolby Headphone, although to be honest, it really isn't necessary to get good positional audio.

For gaming, and good positional cues specifically, you'll want headphones with what's called a wide soundstage.
This is exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. Thanks.

I'm not really sure how to identify headphones with a wide soundstage though. What exactly is it about the design I need to be aware of? Just a large driver?

What you're saying about Dolby Headphon.. With a good quality set with a wide soundstage, would I not need to even worry about using any surround simulation?

Thanks again.
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post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Niliti View Post
This is exactly the kind of info I'm looking for. Thanks.

I'm not really sure how to identify headphones with a wide soundstage though. What exactly is it about the design I need to be aware of? Just a large driver?
It's not something that is listed in the specs. You'll have to read reviews to find out which headphones have wide soundstages. Generally, open-backed headphones are the ones with wide soundstages, but there are certain closed-back cans that can project directional sound well, too. Size of the driver doesn't really matter too much.

I'll give you some models to get you started. For a budget of $100, here's what I would begin looking at:

-Audio Technica ATH-AD700 (known to be light on bass)
-Sennheiser HD555 (although the AD700 is better in terms of soundstage)
-Superlux HD668B
-JVC HA-RX700/RX900 (the 700 is closed and the 900 is semi-open)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Niliti View Post
What you're saying about Dolby Headphon.. With a good quality set with a wide soundstage, would I not need to even worry about using any surround simulation?

Thanks again.
Yes, that is correct. With a nice set of headphones, Dolby Headphone isn't even needed.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey, just wanted to say I ended up getting a Beyerdynamic DT770 pro. It sounds beyond fantastic with music and combined with Dolby Headphone, it's really amazing with movies and games. I know I'm far happier with them all around than I would have been with any gaming headphone. Thanks for the help.
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