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Decent stereo headphones + emulated 5.1?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I currently have a motherboard (ASUS Z270 TUF Mark 1) with all the separate analogue 3.5mm audio jacks for 5.1 surround sound, which when paired with my analogue Roccat Kave headset (which also has the separate 3.5mm jacks for each channel) provides a brilliant spacial awareness when gaming, in a blind test I can always tell exactly where sound is coming from, which is awesome!

BUT...

My Roccat's front left and right speakers have developed a crackle, so I ordered a newer version analogue Roccat Kave but that crackled right away out of the box (so I sent it back, the build quality has gone right downhill since I bought my original set a few years ago, the new one seemed very light and plasticy), I ruled out it actually being my system that's crackling by clearing up any issues shown by the LatencyMon software and also testing a set of stereo Sennheiser in ear headphones.

So I've been looking high and low for a 5.1 (not 7.1) analogue gaming headset that features 3.5mm jacks for each channel and thus separate drivers in each ear cup for each channel, but I can't find one?!!!! There are plenty of 'USB 7.1 Gaming headsets out there, but that's not at all what I want.

So now I'm thinking I should get a decent pair of stereo headphones, a separate mic and a soundcard (or software) that emulates 5.1.




So I have a couple of questions:

1 - Firstly, does anyone know of a decent quality 5.1 headset with separate 3.5mm jacks for each channel and individual drivers in each ear cup?

2 - Does anyone know of a decent pair of analogue stereo headphones? Should they be open or closed? I guess I want as wide a soundstage as possible for pinpointing enemy? But I also like bass...

3 - I'm guessing the ModMic is my best choice for a separate mic to attach to a pair of headphones?

4 - I'm pretty sure my onboard sound software cannot emulate 5.1 in to a set of stereo headphones so what soundcard (or software) should I be looking at? I briefly tried the free Razer software with a pair of stereo headphones but wasn't at all impressed by it, even listening to their online demo sound clips I had nowhere near the spacial awareness that I do with my current setup.

5 - Those of you gaming with a stereo headset and emulated 5.1, can you really genuinely tell when something is say, to your rear left etc?







And just some info for clarification and hopefully avoid some of the usual generic forum responses to this type of post:

I know many people say 5.1 headsets and separate drivers in each ear are simply snake oil but I personally can pinpoint someone's footsteps in game just by audio in a blind test every single time with my current setup which works fantastically.

I just tried gaming with stereo headphones (not emulated 5.1) and OK I could tell left from right perfectly but if I was facing a sound source dead on front facing and then spin exactly 180° the sound was exactly the same, so there was absolutely no definition between front and back, this is obviously expected with stereo headphones but it does make me sceptical about emulated 5.1.

Also I am very aware that cramming multiple drivers in to each ear cup is a trade off, and that with a pair of stereo headphones the sound will be much better and have a larger frequency response. So ideally I'd love a decent set of stereo headphones but only as long as they could provide very good spacial awareness, there is nothing worse than being shot at in game and just spinning around like an idiot because you have no idea what direction it came from.

Why 5.1 and not 7.1? Simply because the main game I play (Squad) currently only supports 5.1. Ideally I'd end up with a pair of stereo headphones with some kind of software that would let me switch between stereo, 5.1 & 7.1.
post #2 of 25
Looks like your motherboard comes with DTS HeadphoneX.
https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/TUF-Z270-MARK-1/specifications/

Maybe try stereo headphones with the DTS HeadphoneX first, before buying a sound card.

Do you have a budget?

Check out the website Head-Fi.
Edited by Tacoboy - 5/1/17 at 9:06am
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post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
I can only seem to enable DTS if I have 5.1 speakers connected and selected in RealTek HD Audio Manager. It doesn't work if I have stereo headphones connected, the on button is greyed out.

Actually, all I can see is DTS, not DTS Headphone X, let me have a proper look around and get back to you.
Edited by RipGroove - 4/30/17 at 10:59pm
post #4 of 25
1. Good stereo headphones with virtual surround will outperform any multichannel gaming headset, speaking from experience.

2. You can get open with good bass, to say the least.

4. Razer surround. It will sound better on good stereo headphones. Otherwise you can get a lower end sound card, like the ASUS Xonar DG/DGX.

5. Yes.

The AKG K7xx is currently on Massdrop. Open back stereo headphone, incredible detail presentation for the price, huge sound stage for the price, the best I've found in that price range for gaming. Hefty bass too with great quality for the price, an all around good deal although you'd want one of those sound cards for it.

I cannot answer #3 due to lack of experience.
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post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I'll try to get this DTS Headphone X working first then and hopefully that'll impress me enough to order some stereo headphones!
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
OK I think I have Headphone X working with a set of stereo headphones, this is how it's configured:

Windows Audio Devices\Configuration = Stereo

ASUS RealTek Audio Manager\Speaker Configuration = Stereo

DTS Headphone X = Over Ear Headphones
Content Mode = Wide (I would have thought there would be a 3D or 5.1 option here no?)
Stereo Pref = Wide

Anyway, with these settings, in game I'm getting a very good spacial awareness, so much so that I think I'll be ordering some stereo headphones and a separate mic!

I guess £150 (GBP) would be about what I'd want to spend on the headphones, the problem is I have literally no idea what I'm looking for, all I know is i want a wide soundstage, deep bass and a large frequency range! biggrin.gif
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
DTS Headphone X has built in presets for the following headphones, so maybe i should go with one of those?

Sennheiser HD598

Audio Technica ATH-M50x
Grado SR80e

Or some other brand? I'd like to stick with my onboard sound if possible rather than a dedicated sound card.

Maybe these:

Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro Leaning towards these maybe
Edited by RipGroove - 5/1/17 at 12:02am
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by RipGroove View Post

OK I think I have Headphone X working with a set of stereo headphones, this is how it's configured:

Windows Audio Devices\Configuration = Stereo

ASUS RealTek Audio Manager\Speaker Configuration = Stereo

DTS Headphone X = Over Ear Headphones
Content Mode = Wide (I would have thought there would be a 3D or 5.1 option here no?)
Stereo Pref = Wide

Anyway, with these settings, in game I'm getting a very good spacial awareness, so much so that I think I'll be ordering some stereo headphones and a separate mic!

I guess £150 (GBP) would be about what I'd want to spend on the headphones, the problem is I have literally no idea what I'm looking for, all I know is i want a wide soundstage, deep bass and a large frequency range! biggrin.gif

Have you tried setting Windows Audio Devices\Configuration= 5.1 or surround?
And played audio from a 5.1 source (movie or game)?

Just realized my new Asus Z270-AR MB comes with the same DTS & ALC1220 audio.
Guess I'll have to try DTS HeadphoneX myself.
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post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacoboy View Post

Have you tried setting Windows Audio Devices\Configuration= 5.1 or surround?
And played audio from a 5.1 source (movie or game)?

Just realized my new Asus Z270-AR MB comes with the same DTS & ALC1220 audio.
Guess I'll have to try DTS HeadphoneX myself.

If I set Windows Audio Devices\Configuration to anything but Stereo the little Windows test sounds do not play properly, I hear nothing when the centre/rear/sub channels are played. It seems I have to have Windows set to Stereo in order to switch on HeadphoneX.

If I just lie to Windows and say I have 5.1 headphones connected then DTS Audio shows this which explains that DTS Audio has been bypassed. None of the buttons now work at all.



With Windows Audio Devices\Configuration set to Stereo I see this in DTS Audio:



Now the buttons work and under the Content mode button I have the following choices: Entertainment\Games\Sports and under the Sound Pref button I have: Wide\In Front\Traditional (I do find it odd that there is no 3D\Emulated 5.1 option here as 'Wide' doen;t really imply that you are setup to hear an emulated surround sound source) and under the Headphones button I can choose between a few different headphones.

After a gaming for a little while with settings mentioned in my previous post if a sound source is directly in front of me or directly behind me I'm finding it had to tell which it is, BUT this may be because as I don't have a set of Stereo headphones I've just unplugged all the other channels from my Roccat Kaves and essentially turned them in to a pair of Stereo headphones by only leaving the Front Left and Front Right Channels connected, and due to where these two drivers are positioned in the ear cups (as they are positioned as Front's) I may be hearing rear sounds as front sounds. I need to find a proper pair of stereo headphones with just one driver in each ear cup in order to test fully.
Edited by RipGroove - 5/1/17 at 8:31am
post #10 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by RipGroove View Post

DTS Headphone X has built in presets for the following headphones, so maybe i should go with one of those?

Sennheiser HD598

Audio Technica ATH-M50x
Grado SR80e

Or some other brand? I'd like to stick with my onboard sound if possible rather than a dedicated sound card.

Maybe these:

Audio-Technica ATH-AD500X
Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro
Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro Leaning towards these maybe

I have the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs, the closed back version, and it is very good. I suppose you can look at the HD 558, HD 559, HD 598. The HD 598 and HD 558 use the same drivers so are almost the same headphone. Not sure how different the HD 559 is.
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