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audiophiles : Quality headset or Sound card


damian
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Now that I have some spare cash to spend i was thinkin of upgrading my computers audio. Right now i am on some realtek on-boar, using this headset They're pretty good but are not loud enough and i suppose its just missing "something".

 

So i am thinking as to whether to upgrade my on-board or my headset. I heard some good things about the SENNHEISER HD 280PRO and they are pretty cheap on newegg ($99)...and i am open to suggestions for a different headset... but I have also had my eyes on the Asus Essence STX, the AuzenTech Auzen X-Fi Prelude, or the AuzenTech AZT-FORTE.

 

What do you think will be a better investment? Suggestions?

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A change of headphones will provide the most change in sound than upgrading anything else. But it is also good to have a decent source from which you are listening too.

 

If I had to choose between those three sound cards, I would probably get the Asus Essence STX. It's rated higher and has a built-in amp with changeable op amp chips. So you can change the sound even more.

 

A good place to do research on audio gear is: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/

I would also recommend looking through their for sale forums for some good deals. The older the headphones, the less burn-in time you need to be doing :D. But if you want new headphones that's fine too.

 

As for a headphone suggestion, I've only listened to Steelseries 5H V2 (loved sound / meh mic / built out of feathers / right channel stopped playing sound / wouldn't recommend) and Beyerdynamic DT 770Pro 80 ohm (loved sound / built like a tank / would recommend if you listen to music with a lot of bass) in the $100 and beyond range. So my experience with all the different models above $100 is out of my league.

Edited by Krazyxazn

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As for a headphone suggestion, I've only listened to Steelseries 5H V2 (loved sound / meh mic / built out of feathers / right channel stopped playing sound / wouldn't recommend) and Beyerdynamic DT 770Pro 80 ohm (loved sound / built like a tank / would recommend if you listen to music with a lot of bass) in the $100 and beyond range. So my experience with all the different models above $100 is out of my league.

 

:withstupid:

 

I use my DT770pro (80ohm)s with onboard and with an assortment of other interaces (ESI Julia, MOTO UltraLite, etc...) and the greatest difference is in the quality of the headphones... you have to have a really good ear to hear the difference between modern on-board and a proper soundcard when just listening to music (say a 320kbps mp3)

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Get headphones first, and if you want to drive them direct out a soundcard, get the Essence STX or ST later

 

Speakers and headphones make the biggest difference... source and amplification are pretty close (IMO) and then stuff like cable and connectors make the least difference

 

Short answer:

 

Buy new decent headphones = massive upgrade in sound quality

 

Buy new decent soundcard = hardly any discernable difference in sound quality

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Alright I'll go for the headphones. (what do you mean by amplified headphones?)Other then the sennheiser headset what do you guys suggest? My budget I'd about $130.

 

If it matters these will be used heavily for when I play quake live (competitively) which iirc uses OpenGL if that matters. And yes music too ;)

Edited by damian

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Alright I'll go for the headphones. (what do you mean by amplified headphones?)Other then the sennheiser headset what do you guys suggest? My budget I'd about $130.

 

If it matters these will be used heavily for when I play quake live (competitively) which iirc uses OpenGL if that matters. And yes music too ;)

 

Ask Hardnrg about that... but if you're not getting an amp, make sure they're a lowish impedance

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If you really want your audio to sound good, look into a DAC and headphone amplifier. It would be more expensive but it would give you the biggest difference is sound quality. If you get a better set of of headphones you will probably not be able to fully drive them straight out of your on board audio, which means you will still have volume issue. The amplified headphones would fix the issue though if you don't want to get a separate amp.

Edited by jlqrb

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I own These and they are freakin SCHWEEEET! On sale for $70 free shipping also ;)

 

They have amazing highs and lows along with anything in between. Even powered from an iPod nano the sound is just fantastic. They are also loud enough to the point it's painful after a couple minutes but that is also subjective. If Deathmineral sees this post he can also attest to how great they are, especially for $70!! Gaming is a blast too you can hear everything going on and the explosions are great.

Edited by XxHellxRaizerxX

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I own These and they are freakin SCHWEEEET! On sale for $70 free shipping also ;)

 

They have amazing highs and lows along with anything in between. Even powered from an iPod nano the sound is just fantastic. They are also loud enough to the point it's painful after a couple minutes but that is also subjective. If Deathmineral sees this post he can also attest to how great they are, especially for $70!! Gaming is a blast too you can hear everything going on and the explosions are great.

I tested this guys' headphones out earlier today and can confirm that they are amazing, made me want to get a pair but I don't have the money.

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Ask Hardnrg about that...

about what? OpenGL is for graphics, not audio... that's OpenAL, if that's what you meant Damian... the audio API of the game is inconsequential anyway

 

The only "amplified headphones" I've seen are consumer/multimedia quality, usually with some sort of amplified surround sound capability, be it discrete 5.1, or virtualised with Dolby Headphone to stereo headphones... having bought and experienced several designs, I would not buy them again (them, meaning some sort of headset+amp contraption, not separate headphones and headphone amp)

 

The HD280Pro isn't a bad choice, I used them when I used to play UT2k4 in European leagues... the bass rolloff is correctable by EQ, and the sound isolation is the highest I've experienced of any circumaural headphones

 

You'd be able to drive them from Realtek onboard, and the sound isolation means they appear louder from the signal-to-background-noise ratio... you could enable the Loudness Equalisation in the Realtek sound control panel to make them louder still

 

I'd recommend looking into the AKG K240 Mk2, they're only ~55 ohms, and are brighter than the HD280Pro, so the subtleties in gaming would be more easily heard... you might be able to find them on sale at the top end of your budget :)

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