Hi-Res Audiophile Gaming Headphones: It Exists
Audeze, a well respected headphone manufacturer, have made the first audiophile level gaming headset with virtual reality audio capabilities. They collaborated with a company called Waves Audio to achieve all the proper 5.1/7.1 Decoding/DSP, virtualisation, and virtual reality head tracking.
The headphones are using the existing planar magnetic drivers from their EL8 model. They can be run and powered through an analog audio cable or connected wirelessly via Bluetooth (SBC, AAC, LDAC / no aptX). It comes with a removable / flexible boom microphone. Internally, they were able to pack a Hi-Res audio DAC that's capable of noise cancellation for the microphone and advanced digital signal processing (DSP) for surround sound. All the electronic features can be turned off and so that the headphones can be used just as an analog high fidelity pair of cans.
By far the most advanced feature of the headphones is its advanced surround sound, virtualisation, and virtual reality head tracking. The headset is packed with a decoder for various surround sound solutions with support for both 5.1 and 7.1 360° surround. This helps with sound location and imaging. Sound virtualisation isn't new. It's basically a way to simulate the way sound would behave in an environment like a medium sized room, theatre, or open air. Audeze Mobius will let you choose from a number of environments to virtualise via software. This let's you control your preference for sound stage. But, its most advanced feature involves virtual reality head tracking. This is kind of hard to explain with words.
With regular headphones, the sounds move and track with your head. If you turn your head to the left, sound that is panned left will stay panned left. Virtual reality audio grounds the sounds so that they stay in a fixed position. With VR turned on, a sound that's been panned left will stay in that position until you turn your head. In which case, if you turn your head to the left, anything sound coming from the left side will then be panned to centre front. This is crucial when it comes to competitive gaming to have a fixed point of reference where sound cues are generated.
I wish they didn't look so... gamer-ey. On their website they claim these headphones under "Mobius Series." So, it's safe to assume they will have a higher tier later on that will probably be more elegant and mature. It's PC compatible and comes with both USB-B and USB-C connectors. No word on console compatibility.
Anyway, just wanted to give the audiophile gamers out there a heads up. This is the first of its kind in many respects.