Critique my Audio Plans (Long post)

Valaire

Gawd
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Dec 16, 2005
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The last upgrade I made to my computer was to replace my Audigy 1 and Revo 7.1 with an X-Fi XtremeMusic that runs to my Klipsch Pro-media 5.1 Ultras.

Since then, due to both further research and discerning my own tastes, I have come to appreciate the benefits of a true stereo setup for music. I don't really watch movies on my computer anymore, or at least it's not a major priority, so I am pretty evenly split between music and gaming, but I usually try to avoid making sacrifices for one or the other (hence my previous setup with 2 soundcards).

I've been considering ditching my 5.1 setup for some time as I have done extensive research at HeadFi this summer and am considering replacing my 5.1 for gaming with some good headphones, specifically the HD-595's. I like to have the best competitive edge in FPS gaming, in particular, by having the best audio positioning available. It seems like headphones are better, if not equivalent to, my Klipsch 5.1, using the X-Fi and its supposedly vastly improved CMSS3D-Headphone.

I'm basically at a crossroads now because just a few days ago my Klipsch amp died (I am another casualty in a higher-than-average failure rate). This is after I already made Klipsch replace my old 5.1 THX's with Ultras because they failed also. Due to supplier issues, Klipsch cannot actually repair the amps right now and I've read that people have had their stuff at Klipsch's repair center for over 2 months. I think it costs around $100 to repair. I found a guy who is legit who will not only repair it but will upgrade the amp with cooling fans which might help prevent further failures for probably around $75 with shipping back and forth.

So now I have to decide if I want to repair the amp, and if I want to keep the repaired 5.1 system. Looking on Ebay, the profit margin would be non-existant for me to get the guy to repair it and send it back to me and have me sell it. Likewise, for me to sell it to him to have him sell. Although we did discuss selling things part by part.

I could replace 5.1's with:

Music: Swans M-200 2.0 Speakers
I heard these are just fantastic and I have been thinking of giving up on CMSS3d and other matrixing solutions for 5.1 music for a more kickass stereo setup. I've read that these speakers basically blow away anything in the powered multimedia market (and sound like HT speakers) and in particular are a big improvement over my Klipsch sats for music. I'd love to get rid of my subwoofer b/c I am not a basshead and live in an NYC apartment and usually have my bass at -6 on my control dial anyway. I'm sure it makes enough bass for me on the Swan's woofer. I also considered getting an amplifier and passive bookshelfs but decided I'd rather not go that route if I can avoid it with the Swans, and reserve that for a true HT setup, which this is not.

Gaming: Sennheiser HD-595 Headphones + LDM Headphone Amp
This is the headphone that seemed to be the best intro to good headphones without breaking the bank. I liked the HD-600 and HD-650 but eventually realized that it was just too much pressure to start spending money on amp, dac, cable upgrades -- which I'm not interested in. The 595 seems to be a solid headphone for gaming and a music backup for when the GF gets upset. The amp is about $60 bucks and I've heard it's both good and has decent synergy with my headphones.

Misc:
I need either a switch or a splitter to have the Swans and HD-595's connected at the same time. I've also read that it might be possible to use X-Fi's audio creation mode to remap one of my now-unused line-out's to another front left and right for headphones. I don't know what the drawbacks are to this (I use Kernal Streaming with Foobar2k anyway). For switches, I found the MK-2 switch which seems do do what I need. Anyone know if this will degrade the sound like some suggest a simple splitter might do? I have a splitter already so I can test it out.

I would use 2.0 speaker in speaker setup for music, either in Entertainment Mode or Audio Creation Mode (to enable bit-perfect playback, the benefits of which are dubious to me right now). I would use headphone setup for gaming, in X-Fi Gaming mode, with CMSS3D-Headphone enabled for better positioning.


So I guess this boils down to:

1. Is this a good plan to move on from 5.1? What would you do differently? Only thing that pained me was the new Auzentech card because I have to admit DDL and DTS seemed cool but my speakers aren't digital so that would require me to buy digital decoder for my speakers. I have been watching the debate to see if DDL/DTS makes up for the lack of EAX.

2. One of the problems justifying the expenditure, which is about $480, is not making any return on the 5.1's. I can either pursue selling them piece by piece on Ebay, or I can salvage them. If I get them repaired, is there an easy way to set them up, for say, a crappy TV I have, or for room-wide music listening? I would imagine they suck for anything but near-field listening but one can only hope.


Ouch, sorry for the long post... As you can see I am quite anal about this stuff.

-Chad
 

Treyshadow

[H]ard|Gawd
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Chad I had a similar crossroads. I had other issues forcing the change (new baby needs sleep) however, I cam to the conclusion that I preferred 2.1 channel sound for my pc gaming experience. I currently use Beyer Dynamic DT770-80 headphones with a gilmore lite amp connected back to my X-fi. I also use my Sennheiser HD-650s to listen to music, but I have completely given up on speakers at this time.

Oh, I have owned those swans. There are not many setups as easy to connect that are as good. However a T-Amp and a decent / good bookshelf are pretty equivelant.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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Dec 16, 2005
Messages
846
Thanks for the reply. Two comments:

1. I defintely think I would prefer some kind of surround sound for gaming. Now whether that comes from discreet surround sound speakers or headphones using virtual surround -- that is what I was talking about.

2. I am glad the Swans would be equivalent to a pair of bookshelfs and an amp. That means it's hopefully much better than the Klipsch but also does not require me to invest in more standalone equipment that I would rather reserve for a proper HT for my living room for when I have time and money.
 

Laxx

Limp Gawd
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i've been debating the same thing, though i haven't actually started looking at speakers yet.

i currently run z-680 (collecting dust) and hd595's with a y splitter out of my audigy 2 right now. i should be getting my meier audio corda aria in the mail tomorrow (connect through usb) and that should get rid of my y splitter problem, though i never found it a problem and never head any differences as compared to directly plugging into the back of my audigy 2.

i've been wanting to get rid of my z-680's, but i don't know what to get as a replacement. i'm subscribing here in hopes that other people will advise their solutions.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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Laxx said:
i've been debating the same thing, though i haven't actually started looking at speakers yet.

i currently run z-680 (collecting dust) and hd595's with a y splitter out of my audigy 2 right now. i should be getting my meier audio corda aria in the mail tomorrow (connect through usb) and that should get rid of my y splitter problem, though i never found it a problem and never head any differences as compared to directly plugging into the back of my audigy 2.

i've been wanting to get rid of my z-680's, but i don't know what to get as a replacement. i'm subscribing here in hopes that other people will advise their solutions.

If you are looking to get surround speakers, I'd have to say it's either Klipsch or Logitech. I was never a fan of boomy bass so I always never considered Logitech. They might be more attractive now, since they have better electronics than Klipsch, for a digital connection to Auzentech's line of cards--providing DD and DTS to Logitech's decoder. If you mean stereo speakers for music listening, all the research I've done points to the Swans as the best non-HT speakers for music.

As for the y-splitter, that is reassuring, I just don't know if I feel comfortable with the headphones being on all the time--unless the LDM has a on/off switch that would solve my problem? Otherwise I might pursue the switch if it also has no implication on sound quality.
 

skudmunky

[H]ard|Gawd
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I think you may want one of the Audio Technica Ax00 series for gaming, I've listened the the HD595 and I find it kind of boring. Also, it's an open headphone, and the closed Ax00 series would isolate a bit and also not disturb the people around you.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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To CookieFactory: Thanks, I guess that means I should be OK with my radioshack Y splitter.

To skudmunky:

Yeah, I have been thinking about it but I thought the HD595 would have more value for times when I wanted to listen to music and would not be "worse" for gaming than the AT headphones for positional audio but that the AT and Beyer might have more bass. That is not a huge concern for me.

As for open vs closed, I know that a lot of people regard open as being more versatile but that closed might be better for gaming. I am usually gaming when nobody else is in the room (my desk is in the living room) so it is not necessary for me to get a closed headphone, although you make a good point.

Thanks.
 

Laxx

Limp Gawd
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i bought a ysplitter from bestbuy and opted for the more expensive one, though i don't remember which one i got. i'm not a fan of radioshack's thin wires, but some people don't find a difference in sq (i never tried another besides the one i have).

and i'm not looking for surrournd right now. i'm switching off the computer audio into a more all around audio system with a receiver and all, so i'm not sure what i plan to get. i'm perfectly find having no speakers for now since all i do is listen to my 595's and hopefully 580's soon.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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Laxx said:
i bought a ysplitter from bestbuy and opted for the more expensive one, though i don't remember which one i got. i'm not a fan of radioshack's thin wires, but some people don't find a difference in sq (i never tried another besides the one i have).

and i'm not looking for surrournd right now. i'm switching off the computer audio into a more all around audio system with a receiver and all, so i'm not sure what i plan to get. i'm perfectly find having no speakers for now since all i do is listen to my 595's and hopefully 580's soon.

Sounds like a prudent plan. Home theatre is quite a large scary place to venture into when researching how to spend your money. Forums are nice for that. I'm hoping to invest in a nice HT in a couple years when my net worth is no longer in the negative hundreds of thousands of dollars. :p

Only thing I can say is that I've heard good things about the av123 x-ls system for a price/performance value. The designers are the same people who designed the Swans M-200, the speakers I am interested in.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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Just wanted to add that I ordered the Swans from Newegg and just this weekend they switched from 3 Day Shipping for $17 to free shipping, so it's a nice discount.
 

Chaoticon

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"Gaming: Sennheiser HD-595 Headphones + LDM Headphone Amp"

That combination is going to sound better for music then those Swan speakers. I would actually think about getting HD-580/650 instead, since you are using an amp. Technica Ax00 is not a bad choice either. Higher end headphones are always going to be cheaper and sound better then a speaker setup. To get the same effect/quality as a $300 headset, you're going to need an $8,000 + stereo setup.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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Chaoticon said:
"Gaming: Sennheiser HD-595 Headphones + LDM Headphone Amp"

That combination is going to sound better for music then those Swan speakers. I would actually think about getting HD-580/650 instead, since you are using an amp. Technica Ax00 is not a bad choice either. Higher end headphones are always going to be cheaper and sound better then a speaker setup. To get the same effect/quality as a $300 headset, you're going to need an $8,000 + stereo setup.

Yeah, I willl use the headphones for music when the GF needs to sleep. However, their primary function is gaming and I thought HD595 series might be better than the 580/600/650 for that, or at least be a better value.
 

Sycraft

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One thing to be wary of if you are planning for the headphones in night usage is that they leak sound like mad. The open back means NO attenuation. Now since it's headphones it's not all that loud, but someone in the same room as you can easily hear it. May not work for not disturbing the girlfriend, you may want to look at some closed back headphones.
 

Laxx

Limp Gawd
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agree 100% with sycraft. if you're in the same room as your girlfriend when she sleeps, the 595's will not work unless you listen to your music very low.

i'm sure you know already, but just wanted to squeeze that in incase you didn't.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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I'm sorry I should have specified. I live in a one bedroom apartment and my desk is in the living room. Her desk is in the bedroom, so most of the time we have a nice wall between us. The open headphones should not be a problem.

As for headphones, I was going to buy them from JRMusic since they have free shipping, but since I realized I live about 10 minutes on the subway from their store, I will check them out. Of course, I cannot addition the AT ones as I think you have to import them.

On HeadFi, HD595 seems to consistently poll the best as all-around gaming headphone despite Beyer and AT's high regard for bass.
 

alg7_munif

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How about buying a Z-5500 and HD-595? Use analogue for games and digital for music. I have my HD-595 connected to my Z-5400's receiver and it is not a bad setup at all.
 

Valaire

Gawd
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alg7_munif said:
How about buying a Z-5500 and HD-595? Use analogue for games and digital for music. I have my HD-595 connected to my Z-5400's receiver and it is not a bad setup at all.

Well, another 5.1 system is out of the question, as it would be much cheaper for me to actually repair my Klipsch Ultra's than to buy the Logitech's. Plus I much prefer the Klipsch to the Logitech speakers.

How does your HD595 sound for FPS gaming (counter-strike)?
 

alg7_munif

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Haven't played FPS yet but so far this HD-595 is unbelievable with music and NFS Carbon. Good audio positioning.
 

purple_haze

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Oct 14, 2004
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i was gonna go upscale to hd595 but i settled to hd555 which i freakin love, still need to get a replacement speakers for my z540 but first things first is a car, then upgrad computer then my stupid audiophile needs in that order. life forces you to sacrifice for things you need first before you can spend excess....
 

SpasticTeapot

Limp Gawd
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I just snagged:

-Sennheiser PMX-100's - backup/gym headphones. They're the iRiver variant, and I hope they sound okay. 25$ shipped to my door.
-iGrados. A.K.A SR60's with crappy earpads. Good quality, good value, and Grado's renowned fugliness. They'll be getting better earpads. $42 shipped to my door.

I'm working on some DIY PAWO horns and a matching subwoofer, all driven by a custom active crossover and 3x Gainclone amplifiers. I'm also looking at getting some Magnepans and restoring the tweeters. If this makes no sense to you, that's okay - it essentially translates to "If I can get it to work, my stereo will pwn your stereo".

If you want quality, DIY is the way to go. Take a look at John Krutke's stuff at zaphaudio.com.
(Sector nine, plural Z alpha.)
 
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