Apr 21, 2017

Help me with my first steps in better audio for gaming and mostly music.

Hey guys,
I'm a tech and gaming enthusiast that has been lurking on Massdrop and the audiophile community for a little over a year. I'm looking to upgrade my audio setup at home but I do have a few questions and would love some feedback and recommendations. I currently have my PC and console running thorough my Astro A40s and Mix Amp. I have been eyeing the Fostex TX-00s now for the longest time and I am leaning towards those as my headphone upgrade (still open to opinions around $400 and below). I am, however, a lot less certain about my DAC upgrade. I enjoy the connectivity options of my current DAC/AMP its just really limited as far as audio quality goes. I do like having Dolby Digital decoding for surround sound and, if possible, I'd like to keep that capability when playing FPS. Are there any mid range DACs that can provide this or do you guys know of a solution? I have looked into Creative Sounds X7 but haven't been too impressed with some of the reviews. Should I just forget about 5.1 and become accustomed to stereo when gaming? I know there are a lot of knowledgeable people in the audiophile community and any help or opinions are welcomed.
Thanks and with anticipation,
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This question gets asked a lot.

Let's start with DACs since these are easier to talk about objectively.

If perceptive 3D audio imaging is a must-have:
Sennheiser GSX 1200 or any one of the SoundBlasterX(-Fi) external DACs will do. They vary in price, but perform pretty much in the same way. Main differences are some go to much higher sample rates, and have a ton of available channels if you have multiple apps all producing sound or if you're mixing audio. You can do the research.

Tip:
1. Always get external DAC just to avoid the hassle of potentially introducing electrical noise when compared to internal DAC/audio cards.
2. DAC surround sound DSP usually gets overridden when a game has built in surround sound or bypassed entirely. It becomes essentially a waste of money since the game will output 2-channel stereo with the sounds already "baked" into 3D space with appropriate processing. Most games do this when you set the output to "headphone" and it usually sounds better than what the DAC's DSP will process since it's the developer's software controlling the signal processing and who knows better than the fools who made the game, right? (subjective)
3. That said, if you watch movies the DAC's 5.1 or 7.1 DSP will still be viable.

I personally prefer gaming with a plain 2-channel stereo DAC and just use in-game surround options when available. I have all my digital audio running through a set of Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies. This is overkill so it's hard to recommend, so maybe start with a NuForce DAC5. It's stereo, has high sample rate, portable, and has a great clock which is important for digital audio without getting into technical yada yada.

Headphones:
This is more subject to personal preference and isn't as clear cut as DACs. I recommend the one I use for gaming - Philips Fidelio X2.

These have amazing/wide sound stage with great stereo separation. I've found it perfect for immersive and competitive gaming. It has the ability to really place sounds correctly in 3-D space. It's also great for music listening. I can't say enough good things about these headphones. One caveat is they don't have a microphone. It's easily remedied by pairing it with V-moda Boom Mic which I also use. The mic is clear and noise free.

That's all.

If you want 2 headphones, I would go with hd650(music) and X2(gaming). both can be obtain for around $200 used from headfi.com. They will cover all your needs.
One headphone, I would check out the thx00 for music and gaming. the sound stage is not as wide as the X2, but the fidelity level is greater.
I own all of them. prefer the hd650 for music as well as thX00, x2 for gaming.
I've read a lot of stuff about the Astro's mixamp for simulated 7.1 for console, they seem like the best option. There aren't too many options for that unfortunately. There is also a huge console headphone review on Head-fi by the name of a guy "Madlustenvy". Its not letting me post the link, but if you google their headphone review it talks a lot about headphones for simulated 7.1 on console, and links to a thread talking about PC stuff too.
If anything i think you could keep the Mixamp for console (PS4 or xbox?) and get a seperate setup for pc.
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I've personally never had any issue with stereo and FPS games, granted I don't have the time to invest in them like I used to. Good headphones greatly outdo software based emulation in creating a realistic point source for audio. I've always found the faux 5.1/7.1 emulation devices to do more harm than good with a lot of games. It all lags behind a true 7.1 speaker setup for positional audio queues but that's a significantly greater investment cost than a headphone rig. I mirror the X2 comments for the gaming front. If you go THX00 I would probably recommend some Dekoni TH900 pads as they greatly enhance the size of the soundstage over stock pads. I like the X2's because of the removable 3.5mm cable, I use the VModa Boompro for gaming. If you only get one pair the X2's are solid all-rounders but they aren't the "best" at any one particular thing.
ElectronicVices
Thanks for your feed back. I'm becoming more and more convinced that I'll be just fine with stereo sound.
I suggest checking this guy out. He talks about what your should look for in a gaming headphone. He also have sound demos of some of the headphones and all of it in his patreon, so it helps too. https://youtu.be/BGH5w4YZfck

also I talked to him about other headphones within my budget and he replied right away in discord. I am personally very happy with his suggestion of Philips shp9500 which was in my price budget but not in his videos.

If 3D audio location is crucial for your gaming get the Fidelio X2/27. They're great for gaming. They don't have a mic though so I pair mine with V-Moda Mic Boom attachment. The only thing is, I can only tolerate wearing them for a couple of hours. Next best option is B&O H6. They're more compact and lighter. They have just about the same amount of bass response as the X2 so they're fun to listen to. The sound stage is wider and more accurate in X2 though.
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The comment defeats the purpose if that's not what the OP is looking for. If anything, you could advise for him to save for a little longer to move towards higher end equipment, instead of glorifying your setup which isn't very helpful.
MXRC
not what I intended to do don't feel like arguing Just giving my advice dont care if u like it or not and it's up to him if he will at least keep it in mind or not cya
just get AKG K7xx
Hi there

When I first started in this hobby I myself I had an astro a50 and wasn't fully satisfied. I bought the fidelio x2 for gaming and it is brilliant and with the right dac and amp really does sound much better than the astro. Maybe try a pair of headphones from the mixamp if it's good then stick with it can always upgrade later.

After some research and personal listening I found that if you set the game to headphones in the options games can pretty much have a surround sound without any periferals.
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Hey there for listening to multiple inputs the only way I see it happening is via rca with some kind of mixer usually on dac and amps you can only use 1 input at a time. If you went for say a schiit stack you could use a mixer to send 2 signals to rca but it's a lot of effort I no of no way to mix digital signals though.
Sometimes you can run into feedback issues but rca splitter can help with that
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