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Breaker of Video Cards
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all!

So something I have been wanting to do is I want to use my headset more than my speakers. Right now I have "Sennheiser PC 360 Headset for Pro Gaming" - http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-360-Headset-Pro-Gaming/dp/B003DA4D2U/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419987577&sr=8-1&keywords=sennheiser+pc+360

And honestly sound quality wise they sound amazing. I have a 2.1 Logitech Speaker setup as well and it's getting a few years old and was like 50$ so I'm not sure if I'm getting the best out of it. As for a sound card I am using the Creative Sound Blaster Z series and it is setup as follows:

SBX Pro Studio
Surround - 91%
Crystalizer - 65%
Bass - 50%
Crossover Freq - 80Hz

Everything does sound good but I feel like I can get it to sound better. So I have a few questions!

- I am not the biggest Audiophile but would an Amp be good for anything dealing with my headset or speakers? I really don't know how amps work or what they affect.
- Is there any specific sound blaster control panel settings anyone (or even windows settings for audio) would recommend using?

And finally as a last resort I have a 100$ in a best buy gift card and was curious if there was any recommended speakers I could pick up just to replace my logitech 2.1 system.

Thanks for any help!
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You do have an amp in the Soundblaster Z. It's a punchy little thing with enough to push 600 ohm headphones, although when we get to that level I would recommend something else. If you want to do a quick check to see the difference, pull the your mic & phone plugs out of the back input and plug them into your front audio jacks.

As for taking the next step, that depends upon what's your intended use. I think the Sennheiser's are great for gaming. They are forgiving and have excellent positioning. But if you are using them for a lot of music duty, they may come off a little on the dull end. Common and well used dual purpose headphones are Beyerdynamic 770-880-990, AKG K701, 702, Q701, Audio Technica M50 are all popular options. I would normally recommend you look at the Sennheiser HD558/598 as well, but they will be awfully close to your PC360's in sound and negligible improvement in gaming.

Besides the usual subjects of style and comfort, each of these headphones offers a different sound profile. Some are better at details, but can also reveal harshness. Some are very smooth and forgiving, but lack a little excitement. You'll need to think about what you're interested in.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by c-attack View Post

You do have an amp in the Soundblaster Z. It's a punchy little thing with enough to push 600 ohm headphones, although when we get to that level I would recommend something else. If you want to do a quick check to see the difference, pull the your mic & phone plugs out of the back input and plug them into your front audio jacks.

As for taking the next step, that depends upon what's your intended use. I think the Sennheiser's are great for gaming. They are forgiving and have excellent positioning. But if you are using them for a lot of music duty, they may come off a little on the dull end. Common and well used dual purpose headphones are Beyerdynamic 770-880-990, AKG K701, 702, Q701, Audio Technica M50 are all popular options. I would normally recommend you look at the Sennheiser HD558/598 as well, but they will be awfully close to your PC360's in sound and negligible improvement in gaming.

Besides the usual subjects of style and comfort, each of these headphones offers a different sound profile. Some are better at details, but can also reveal harshness. Some are very smooth and forgiving, but lack a little excitement. You'll need to think about what you're interested in.
Agreed except for the ATH-M50 - it has like no sound stage and is therefore terrible for gaming. The ATH-AD700X and AD900X are the more popular dual purpose headphones, or even the closed versions if you need the isolation.

I think the Sound Blaster Z has ASIO: this is great for music listening. To get the best sound quality for music, you should install Foobar2000 with the ASIO plugin, or something similar, enable ASIO playback in the sound card's software and in Foobar2000, and disable all of the sound card's software features like SBX Surround, Crystalizer, Bass Boost unless you find that you really prefer it, and everything else.

Like c-attack said your sound card has an amp, getting a better one won't give you noticeable improvements. The headphone would have to be your next upgrade if you want serious improvement.
 

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Agreed, I'm not an AT fan at all. No argument on other points either, but I am not sure the OP is ready to dive in that deep yet, and we still don't know if this is primary gaming or music.
 

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I have no real headphone experience. I only know as much as the reviews I've seen. I ended up buying the Audio Technica m40x. They're good, but not amazing. Tek Syndicate on you tube has tons of info on headsets for gaming. I wish he made those videos before I bought mine. Definitely worth a look. The videos are fairly new, so you don't even have to dig to find them. Give them a look and good luck.
 

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Breaker of Video Cards
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh wow thank you all for the information.

I primarily game, honestly not much music listening (unless im raiding in World of Warcraft and its background noise).

So it seems like I do no need an Amp since the soundcard has one built in which is awesome! I guess I am mainly curious if there is anything I can do to my setup that doesn't directly involve buying a new headset(headphones) just because I really feel like the quality of these ones in particular are good..I think..

I've tried gaming and playing some music fully turning SBX Pro Studio off and everything just feels so flat that I had to have it on at those settings I have listed above. At the moment the only thing really confusing me is the whole Speakers setup I have it set to 5.1 surround (its really 2.1) but I have center/subwoofer/rear pair disable so it sends a 5.1 signal? I think that's what I read in the official Z series thread.

I also tried messing around with Alchemy but I am not 100% sure what it exactly does, I think it's for older games that do no have hardware enabled? I think I enabled it for World of Warcraft since that was the only game on the installed list.
 

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When you hit the switch to headphone (or just plug them in), none of the 5.1/7.1 stuff matters. The Sound Blaster Control panel is now in headphone 2 channel mode. The simulated surround level you have already found. You can adjust it to taste or turn it off completely. That is a matter of user preference or sometimes games with poor sound schemes will force you to turn it off. As are all the other sound devices. Essentially, they are equalizer presets for people who don't wish to make their own. Your Sennheiser's are very forgiving on the ear in terms of sound harshness, so small equalizer changes are likely to go unnoticed. Just make sure your plugged into the back of the card.

I don't see any reason for you to move forward on an amp or DAC at this point. The next logical step would be a higher level of headphone. A lot of people entering this segment of the market, opt for a detail orientated headphone like the AKG or Beyerdynamics above. It would be a contrasting headphone sound from what you have now. Livelier, Clear. More delicate. Also more fatiguing. I chose the Beyer 990DT Pro at your juncture. They are exceptionally comfortable and it opened up a whole new area of sound I had not heard before in games. But they can also make your ears bleed and I felt like I needed an EQ setting for every game I played. Not everyone likes that level of management. I actually enjoyed it. My home HiFi gear was so neutral and pristine, I had never had to tweak at all. It was a learning experience. You may not be interested in that kind of experience at this time, or perhaps not ever. A lot of people prefer a warm forgiving sound, in which case the next step up would a headphone in $300+ category along with a cleaner power source. Obviously, that's a large step up financially from where you're at now. Another alternative would be the Philips Fidelio X1. It is warm and forgiving and has a decent soundstage. There are some caveats to using it, but they are well documented in any review. You should be able to find those for $200 and falling, now that the X2 replacement is out.

I can't thing of a single current game of the top of my head that uses alchemy. I am not sure your missing much. If you are, so are the rest of us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Awesome thank you for the recommendations on headphones.

I would probably wait at least till next spring to buy new headphones (because I don't start work till then). I usually use my headset a lot when I am playing World of Warcraft and need to use VoIP (mumble). I actually purchased a Blue Snowball mic because I was on a podcast and it sounds good, but it doesn't work so well when I am gaming because I have to lean directly into the mic for it sound good.

I guess I am hesitant to buy headphones because lack of mic and the negative experience I have with my Snowball and having to lean really close into it.

I also would love to use even my Sennheiser more for gaming but I have a bit of a big head and they squeeze around my ears a little bit too much for comfort for me.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crabby654 View Post

Awesome thank you for the recommendations on headphones.

I would probably wait at least till next spring to buy new headphones (because I don't start work till then). I usually use my headset a lot when I am playing World of Warcraft and need to use VoIP (mumble). I actually purchased a Blue Snowball mic because I was on a podcast and it sounds good, but it doesn't work so well when I am gaming because I have to lean directly into the mic for it sound good.

I guess I am hesitant to buy headphones because lack of mic and the negative experience I have with my Snowball and having to lean really close into it.

I also would love to use even my Sennheiser more for gaming but I have a bit of a big head and they squeeze around my ears a little bit too much for comfort for me.
On Tek Syndicate, they used the mod mic, which just attaches to your headphones. They said it sound better that just about any gaming headset mic.

Another option would be a boom for your current mic. I think you can find inexpensive ones. They cover all of these topics in the videos.
 

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I think he's saying he's left his PC360's on the shelf because of comfort and is playing with speakers and a push to talk desk mic.

The mod mic (www.modmic.com) and V-moda boom mic are the most popular choices for an add on. That's too bad about your PC360's, since they do have a decent set up. It also means you'll need to be selective when picking your next headphones in terms of fit. Most of the headphones at the next level are of high sound quality, but have entered this lower price range because of other weaknesses --- like comfort.
 
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