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4 Headsets Comparison Review - Part 1 of 5: Music Quality


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#1 El_Capitan

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 02:57 PM

You can read my comparison review here:
http://computerhardw...-part-1-of.html

Let me know what you think.

#2 VaporX

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 03:41 PM

The comparison is interesting but does not make sense, there are two very different items represented. The two Sennheiser sets are head phones, meaning no microphones and are designed from the start for pure listening quality. The Plantronics and Steelseries are both headsets and meant for communication, thus part of the cost and design goes into the microphone.

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#3 El_Capitan

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 03:45 PM

The comparison is interesting but does not make sense, there are two very different items represented. The two Sennheiser sets are head phones, meaning no microphones and are designed from the start for pure listening quality. The Plantronics and Steelseries are both headsets and meant for communication, thus part of the cost and design goes into the microphone.

Yes, but headsets are headsets. I'll get to the other stuff later in the other parts. When someone is buying a headset, it's usually the sound quality they care about most. For any headsets I review after these, I can directly compare them to what I review now. Each offer something different, but I spent a long time listening to music for just part 1, lol.

#4 paulktreg

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 04:18 PM

If I buy an headset, microphone included or not it doesn't matter, then it's because I want stuff to sound good, so it's nice to know what's out there. Microphones cost nothing, you're not going to sing a rendition of your favourite song and want the highest quality possible, so low bandwidth that supports normal talking audio frequencies is fine and all that's needed. What I don't want to do is buy two sets of headphones for different uses.

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#5 Waco

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Posted 11 November 2012 - 07:29 PM

...thus part of the cost and design goes into the microphone.

That tends to be a pretty small cost compared to the rest of the headset. Microphone quality is something that is rarely an issue even on the least expensive of gaming headsets.

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#6 Fogel

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 10:49 AM

Let me know what you think.

Well I like how you broke up the section into various categories. While I too like Time After Time, I certainly wouldn't call that alternative. It's a pop song. Speaking of pop songs the section you actually labeled as pop songs what you heard is what many audiophiles refer to as the "Sennheiser veil". Sennheisers have this way of glossing the music over. Some like it, some don't. I don't as it feels fake, like how someone airbrushed a photo in Photoshop.

Good review though if I may offer one criticism. Since you broke it into music categories you missed one of the most important categories - Electronica. Not only is it gaining in popularity but many of the people into that music are also really concerned with music quality. As you found, its really not hard satisfying Pop or Rock music, but it is very hard satisfying Classical. While it may sound silly at first to compare Classical to Electronica the reason many people love Electronica is due to all subtle beats going on while the primary beats are going on just like Classical lovers love listening to the pureness of the instruments. I'll give you a for instance.


This is my favorite song to test headphones on. It sounds much better from the CD, then FLAC/Lossless compared YouTube quality but I can only share YouTube. This edit has a 2min intro that my cut doesn't have but its the only one I could find on YouTube offering HD quality.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAFFEfP9fEU

At about 4:20 with my Beyer DT 990s I hear a wave of sound coming from the left, one from the right and one in the center all converging in the center (4:43) as her voice fades away. On lesser quality headphones it sounds like the beats disappear at this point, but as her voice is fading away a more subtle beat is starting up and takes awhile to build up. Then her voice comes back like its a wave washing everything away and I can hear her breath hit the microphone. At quite a few points can I hear voice roll over the microphone and at somepoints (in other songs) I can hear the grittyness of the turn table.

Though in order to get that fidelity I have to play around with the gain on my amp as well as the volume on my PMP. But like I said, Electronica offers a lot more than just THUMP, THUMP, THUMP people associate with it. Not to mention, just like Rock music, it ranges from the easy listening (EDM calls it Minimal and Chill) to the harder thumps like Dubstep (which I personally don't like - just like I'm not crazy about Black Metal) with Progresive, House and Traditioinal Trance in the middle. The genre really rewards people with higher quality sound setups so there is a huge market looking for better gear.

#7 El_Capitan

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:17 AM

@ Fogel - cool, I'll add in Electronica music. The Time after Time song was just labeled as such, so... :dunno:

#8 hornybluecow

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:32 AM

did you break in the headphones before listing to it?

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#9 El_Capitan

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 11:37 AM

did you break in the headphones before listing to it?

Yes, I break them in while also breaking in the new op-amps. Usually the newest headset I break in the longest. I should mention that.

#10 Stonerboy779

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:17 PM

Breaking is more you getting used to the new sound signiture of your new headphone than anything actually happening to your headphones.

Also I get that you rate the 280s as 10 often but that's really subjective and having used them in the past I rate them under my current Q701s not saying they're bad but I don't like trying to pin numbers to audio quality its too hard and everyone hears differently which is why I always suggest trying as much as possible before buying. I will suggest and give reasons for suggestions though.

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#11 VaporX

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:25 PM

Yes, but headsets are headsets.


True but headphones are not headsets and that is my point. A headphone has all of it's tech and design put into pure sound quality. A headset has a lot put into sound quality but some level of that is sacrificed to put design work into microphone design. Someone that purely wants to listen, such as music, TV or just solo gaming would buy a headphone, or at least should if they have no intentions of using a mic. Headphones typically have better sound quality at the same price point as a headset. On the other hand if you are gaming with friends or want to use this for communications software then a headset makes more sense because it provides the headphones as well as a microphone for the input.

A comparison of this type is like comparing dry wine to sweet wine. While yes both are wines, they have very different base characteristics. As such a direct comparison would yield results but the results would not be fair to either side in the review and would be biased toward which experience the reviewer is more in tuned with. This was why when we did our review of the Dracco Headphones from Thermaltake we never compared them to headsets, the comparison is not fair.



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#12 El_Capitan

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 12:40 PM

True but headphones are not headsets and that is my point. A headphone has all of it's tech and design put into pure sound quality. A headset has a lot put into sound quality but some level of that is sacrificed to put design work into microphone design. Someone that purely wants to listen, such as music, TV or just solo gaming would buy a headphone, or at least should if they have no intentions of using a mic. Headphones typically have better sound quality at the same price point as a headset. On the other hand if you are gaming with friends or want to use this for communications software then a headset makes more sense because it provides the headphones as well as a microphone for the input.

A comparison of this type is like comparing dry wine to sweet wine. While yes both are wines, they have very different base characteristics. As such a direct comparison would yield results but the results would not be fair to either side in the review and would be biased toward which experience the reviewer is more in tuned with. This was why when we did our review of the Dracco Headphones from Thermaltake we never compared them to headsets, the comparison is not fair.

I understand your point, but again, this was a part 1 of 5 part review, and this was just about music quality. In my opinion, when basing off of subjective testing and not measured by any real scientific methods and devices, a comparison between what you hear from the different headsets is much better than listening to just a single headset and giving off a review just from how you think it is from a listening point of view. If I just reviewed say, just the Plantronics GameCom 780, I might have thought it was perfect. However, after listening to it compared to the other headsets, I can pick out the differences, and notice which one sounds better or worse, and why. The RS 180 has an advantage that it's wireless, and both Sennheisers have a disadvantage that both don't have built-in mics. The built-in mics on the others have their own issues, and the preferred method of voice communication with me is with a Logitech HD Pro 910 (even over the Logitech HD Pro 920). Each headset has their own comfort level, and that will have it's own review part.

I'm judging by the categories I'm doing the review on. Right now, it's just music quality. I'm not judging anything else right now. Just because you think a comparison isn't fair doesn't mean the testing isn't. Your analogy is of wines. When wine tasting, you judge the taste of a wine with the initial taste, the consistency, and then the aftermath. It doesn't matter if you're judging a $10 wine or $200 wine, you're going to judge it the same way, thus the judging is still fair, even when doing a comparison. What makes it unfair is if you're judging by price, taste, presentation, bottle presentation, and smell between the varying price of the wines being reviewed, and I understand that. However, if all I care about is the taste, price or any other factors don't need to be considered.

If you complained at my final conclusion in Part 5, I can understand how it may not be fair, but right now, it's listening to just the music quality out-of-the-box (aside from breaking the headsets in) with no tweaks aside from audio level. It's at the fairest playing field right now.

Edited by El_Capitan, 12 November 2012 - 12:43 PM.