It's 2020, are there any good surround sound headsets on the market yet?

tybert7

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Ossic X fizzled, Audeze and the hyper x orbit that uses the same tech is here, but I've heard conflicting reports on mic quality and software issues. Is that it? Are there any good headsets that do a good job at positional audio, have great general sound quality, and could let me use a usb connection to the pc with software to simulate surround sound for movies?

Ossic X was supposed to be that dream, but I'm not sure if anyone else has done it and done it well.
 

shaolin95

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If you have the budget, get a blaster x3 and a fidelio x2 (unless you cannot have sound leaks) and it will be far better than any headset. For mic, get the vmoda mic for it.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Headset mics are headset mics. They're small and cheap; Sennheiser makes the best if you must have one built into a set of cans.

Otherwise get something external. V-Moda, Modmic, a desk mic, and so on, up until you get actual recording mics and real audio interfaces (the kind of which Creative is only starting to address).
 

spaceman

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Naw. Look. I have tried a billion different setups. For the money? You will not get a better surround effect than the Sennheiser gsx1000(which I believe you can get the software for and use with other amps) and a pair of AKG 7 series. I use 702pros that I got for $100 on amazon. Used of course. The damn things sound stage goes beyond the headphones. I had to check and see if my speakers where somehow on too.
 

Archaea

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https://smyth-research.com/

I heard this at a trade show. If you have $4k to blow this thing is the real deal. They had a yamaha 7.1.4 setup in the room with Yamaha studio monitors to compare it to.

They took inner ear measurements with their Realizer microphone system so it tailored the measurement for the Smyth machine to your ears. (The process was quick) and they let you listen to it Dolby Atmos demo disk. They had the headphones hooked up to some sort of Gyro system so when you put the headphones on it muted the surround speakers. You could switch back and forth between real Dolby Atmos and the Smyth machine with a pair of Sennheiser 800 headphones. You could switch as often as you liked. The systems were level matched

The result was absolutely jaw dropping.
I thought it was so good it was mind blowing. The headphones sounded EXACTLY like a 7.1.4 system.

Truly amazing.

I hoped the Creative Super X-FI would be like a mini-me against the Smyth Realizer. No, it’s garbage. Sounds like 5.1 with HTIB speakers in a tile bathroom. Nothing like the Smyth.
 

tybert7

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https://smyth-research.com/

I heard this at a trade show. If you have $4k to blow this thing is the real deal. They had a yamaha 7.1.4 setup in the room with Yamaha studio monitors to compare it to.

They took inner ear measurements with their Realizer microphone system so it tailored the measurement for the Smyth machine to your ears. (The process was quick) and they let you listen to it Dolby Atmos demo disk. They had the headphones hooked up to some sort of Gyro system so when you put the headphones on it muted the surround speakers. You could switch back and forth between real Dolby Atmos and the Smyth machine with a pair of Sennheiser 800 headphones. You could switch as often as you liked. The systems were level matched

The result was absolutely jaw dropping.
I thought it was so good it was mind blowing. The headphones sounded EXACTLY like a 7.1.4 system.

Truly amazing.

I hoped the Creative Super X-FI would be like a mini-me against the Smyth Realizer. No, it’s garbage. Sounds like 5.1 with HTIB speakers in a tile bathroom. Nothing like the Smyth.
That is what I was looking for. So now I have the current target to get what I want. 4k on headphones, or a better room setup to get some speakers.
 

Sycraft

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Ossic X fizzled, Audeze and the hyper x orbit that uses the same tech is here, but I've heard conflicting reports on mic quality and software issues. Is that it? Are there any good headsets that do a good job at positional audio, have great general sound quality, and could let me use a usb connection to the pc with software to simulate surround sound for movies?

Ossic X was supposed to be that dream, but I'm not sure if anyone else has done it and done it well.
Yes, the Audeze Mobius is quite good. Not as good as the Smyth Realizer, but then it is only $400. It really does do virtual, head tracked, surround and does it all onboard the headphones themselves. Results are very good. Not good enough that I'm getting rid of my surround sound setup, but a very good alternative to it if I couldn't have it. My only real complaint is that the amps they use aren't as quiet as they should be, so you can hear a very soft hiss when the phones are totally silent. Not a big deal, but I wish they had used better amps with a lower noise floor.

You can also get the same kind of tech with any headphones by getting a Waves Nx Head Tracker and associated software. However the results aren't quite as good. Part of it is because the headtracker is less precise on tracking, only doing 60 updates a second as opposed to the Mobius' 1000 and also because it can't do as accurate a convolution because it doesn't know the response of your headphones, whereas the convolution in the Mobius is tuned for their response. Also the Mobius phones only need the software to set them up, to do things like customize them to your head size. Once done, it runs on internal DSP you don't need the software anymore. The Nx utility has to run on your computer all the time to work for the seperate headtracker.

At any rate the Nx tech Waves has is the real deal, Waves is a big name in audio processing, they've been at it for decades. Worth your while to check out unless you have the money to drop on the A16 and headphones (remember not just the $4k for the unit, they want that you should use $1500 headphones with it). You can always get them from Amazon and send them back if they don't work for you.
 

sethk

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https://smyth-research.com/

I heard this at a trade show. If you have $4k to blow this thing is the real deal. They had a yamaha 7.1.4 setup in the room with Yamaha studio monitors to compare it to.

They took inner ear measurements with their Realizer microphone system so it tailored the measurement for the Smyth machine to your ears. (The process was quick) and they let you listen to it Dolby Atmos demo disk. They had the headphones hooked up to some sort of Gyro system so when you put the headphones on it muted the surround speakers. You could switch back and forth between real Dolby Atmos and the Smyth machine with a pair of Sennheiser 800 headphones. You could switch as often as you liked. The systems were level matched

The result was absolutely jaw dropping.
I thought it was so good it was mind blowing. The headphones sounded EXACTLY like a 7.1.4 system.

Truly amazing.

I hoped the Creative Super X-FI would be like a mini-me against the Smyth Realizer. No, it’s garbage. Sounds like 5.1 with HTIB speakers in a tile bathroom. Nothing like the Smyth.
I heard the Smyth at a Canjam and it was great, but be warned, they have a very long waiting list and there are questions about financial viability. There’s a long thread at head-fi.org that you can take a look at.
It did prove to me that you can do a lot better than generic 3d effects and fake “7.2” in headphones with a real HTRF measurement and processing. Cerny covered some HRTF challenges and details in the PS5 technical deep dive which is a very good intro to the subject that I recommend watching.
 

Archaea

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I heard the Smyth at a Canjam and it was great, but be warned, they have a very long waiting list and there are questions about financial viability. There’s a long thread at head-fi.org that you can take a look at.
It did prove to me that you can do a lot better than generic 3d effects and fake “7.2” in headphones with a real HTRF measurement and processing. Cerny covered some HRTF challenges and details in the PS5 technical deep dive which is a very good intro to the subject that I recommend watching.
Price has over doubled from the original community kickstarter.
At the current pricepoint, one could assemble a decent physical 7.1.4 system with something like a Denon x3700h AVR for $1,200 and 11, $200 Yamaha nearfield monitors, and a $800 HSU or SVS subwoofer. (Ironically the same kind of system they were comparing the A16 Smyth Realiser to at the 2017 Axpona tradeshow where I first heard the comparison)

This is kind of a problem right? I mean, I personally would rather have a physical Dolby Atmos speaker system rather than a headphone based system - EVEN if they sound identical (which they did) -- BUT with the Smyth machine, you'd only get two listeners (in headphones), and not a couple couches worth of seats for friends and family movie or game nights.

It's truly amazing tech!!!, but I personally already have it in physical form in my home theater for cinema and gaming use, and I don't have the necessity to have it replicated in headphone form. Most consumers don't -- and when/if the two options cost the same -- I think the buying audience shrinks dramatically - at least the American buying audience with traditionally bigger houses and more space to do the physical system.

I wouldn't believe this video if I hadn't experienced it myself, and also watched about 30 minutes of the same types of reactions in real life, over and over from all who experienced it right before and right after my own demo. My own experience was the same reaction as these folk - it was simply unbelievable. But I didn't buy it, while it was incredible, it was unnecessary to me. I can only assume that's the only reason why it's potentially on rocky financial ground...
 
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Sycraft

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It's truly amazing tech!!!, but I personally already have it in physical form in my home theater for cinema and gaming use, and I don't have the necessity to have it replicated in headphone form. Most consumers don't -- and when/if the two options cost the same -- I think the buying audience shrinks dramatically - at least the American buying audience with traditionally bigger houses and more space to do the physical system.

I wouldn't believe this video if I hadn't experienced it myself, and also watched about 30 minutes of the same types of reactions in real life, over and over from all who experienced it right before and right after my own demo. My own experience was the same reaction as these folk - it was simply unbelievable. But I didn't buy it, while it was incredible, it was unnecessary to me. I can only assume that's the only reason why it's potentially on rocky financial ground...
It does have a limited market for sure. Basically it is targeted at people who have enough money to afford a good surround sound system BUT who can't have one because of their living arrangements. Now that does exist, I'm not saying it doesn't, but it is a limited market.

I'm also like you. I really want one, I'd like to have amazing surround sound when I'm listening on headphones, which I do from time to time like when I travel, or if I'm gaming super late at night or whatever. However other than that? My 7.1 system is fired up. It cost about as much as one of these plus good phones, maybe even a bit more, when you add everything in but I wouldn't trade it if offered.

Now if I could get one for, say, $1000 all inclusive (meaning device + headphones)? Hell ya, I'd have it for when I wanted headphones. But the tech is just too much right now, even for most crazy people like me :)
 

IdiotInCharge

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Now if I could get one for, say, $1000 all inclusive (meaning device + headphones)? Hell ya, I'd have it for when I wanted headphones. But the tech is just too much right now, even for most crazy people like me :)
It's surprising that they used an HD800 for the example, but haven't been able to secure a headphone company to partner to pimp their stuff, i.e. someone to help bring unit costs down and shipments up. Granted Audeze is working with Waves, Creative has their own solution, so maybe partner with Beyerdynamic and EVGA...?

I don't know. What I do know is that the prices they're charging aren't going to get them many bites, or even real interest. There are a lot of pie-in-the-sky technologies that most enthusiasts have no interest in because of niche pricing!
 

tungt88

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It's surprising that they used an HD800 for the example, but haven't been able to secure a headphone company to partner to pimp their stuff, i.e. someone to help bring unit costs down and shipments up. Granted Audeze is working with Waves, Creative has their own solution, so maybe partner with Beyerdynamic and EVGA...?

I don't know. What I do know is that the prices they're charging aren't going to get them many bites, or even real interest. There are a lot of pie-in-the-sky technologies that most enthusiasts have no interest in because of niche pricing!
Yeah, $4K USD for just the base Smyth system (w/o HD 800/800s) is a LOT to ask for, even for most audio enthusiasts who can pay for mid/end-fi gear -- and you'll probably get less out of it compared to just a good headphone +DAC/AMP setup, as using the Smyth is only viable in a number of situations.
 

sethk

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I have a pretty great head-if setup that costs a lot more than the average or even good HT system but the point is for personal listening at any time.
When it comes to ambiance and spatial cues a real good multi channel system is superior when practical. Detail retrieval outside of that though can be better on good head-fi.
I won’t go into the whole Smyth thing because it is too bad that they are having financial difficulties and I wish them the best.
However when it comes to “worth it” and what sounds better - I think of the Smyth as a proof of concept that can undoubtedly be done cheaper. It does require some impractical and potentially expensive tech like actual measurements though that I hope someone addresses in a good way. Skipping that aspect of it means you are back to incomplete and fake sounding 3d which is already where we are now.
 
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jincuteguy

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Yes, the Audeze Mobius is quite good. Not as good as the Smyth Realizer, but then it is only $400. It really does do virtual, head tracked, surround and does it all onboard the headphones themselves. Results are very good. Not good enough that I'm getting rid of my surround sound setup, but a very good alternative to it if I couldn't have it. My only real complaint is that the amps they use aren't as quiet as they should be, so you can hear a very soft hiss when the phones are totally silent. Not a big deal, but I wish they had used better amps with a lower noise floor.

You can also get the same kind of tech with any headphones by getting a Waves Nx Head Tracker and associated software. However the results aren't quite as good. Part of it is because the headtracker is less precise on tracking, only doing 60 updates a second as opposed to the Mobius' 1000 and also because it can't do as accurate a convolution because it doesn't know the response of your headphones, whereas the convolution in the Mobius is tuned for their response. Also the Mobius phones only need the software to set them up, to do things like customize them to your head size. Once done, it runs on internal DSP you don't need the software anymore. The Nx utility has to run on your computer all the time to work for the seperate headtracker.

At any rate the Nx tech Waves has is the real deal, Waves is a big name in audio processing, they've been at it for decades. Worth your while to check out unless you have the money to drop on the A16 and headphones (remember not just the $4k for the unit, they want that you should use $1500 headphones with it). You can always get them from Amazon and send them back if they don't work for you.
I tried out their WAVE NX (the one that costs $10) on their website. I downloaded and installed the software, then all the voices in games turned into a chipmonk effect. I wonder of I buy the MObius, it would be a lot better.
Sennheiser GSX 1000/1200 vs Mobius? which one is better for surround sound gaming? There has to be someone in here that has both.
 

jincuteguy

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Naw. Look. I have tried a billion different setups. For the money? You will not get a better surround effect than the Sennheiser gsx1000(which I believe you can get the software for and use with other amps) and a pair of AKG 7 series. I use 702pros that I got for $100 on amazon. Used of course. The damn things sound stage goes beyond the headphones. I had to check and see if my speakers where somehow on too.
So did you try out the Sound Blaster X3? How is it compare to the GSX 1000? And where can I just get the software of the GSX 1000 only? So I can use it with my other headphones?
 

Sycraft

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I tried out their WAVE NX (the one that costs $10) on their website. I downloaded and installed the software, then all the voices in games turned into a chipmonk effect. I wonder of I buy the MObius, it would be a lot better.
Sennheiser GSX 1000/1200 vs Mobius? which one is better for surround sound gaming? There has to be someone in here that has both.
I would think the Mobius would be much better. The problem that the GSX has, as do most solutions, in no head tracking. That just will never sound right, since our brain relies on small cues as we move our head to localize sound. Headtracking is crucial to proper HRTF. That is also the problem with trying out the Waves Nx app is that you don't get the tracking, you have to buy separate hardware for that. It is much better with the headtracker hardware. However, I found it to be much better than that in the Mobius. I have the head tracker and use it with my Denon D2000s and it works pretty good, but still has issues of sound falling inside the head and the room reverberations not sounding right. It sounded significantly more natural and correct with the Mobius. Part of it may be the tracking speed, but most of it is probably the the algorithm is tuned to the response of the headphones, whereas the app doesn't do any tuning it assumes a flat response, which nothing but the very best headphones have.

I was surprised how much like speakers the Mobius sounded like. Not enough to get my to dump my surround system, but it did a good job of emulating the experience to the point sometimes I'd look at a speaker and it felt like the sound was coming out of it.

That is something else to remember: For head tracking virtualization solutions you want the opinion of people who listen on speakers, not headphone gamers. A lot of reviewers hate on the stuff because they are comparing it to what they are used to in headphones, which it is emphatically not. It is supposed to recreate the virtual space of a room and speakers. So you want to compare it to a surround sound system, and have a person that listens on that.

So as I said: Not perfect, not like what I've heard the SVS Realizer described as where it literally sound the precise same in headphones and speakers, but a pretty good approximation of surround sound.
 

shaolin95

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Sound Blaster X3 vs Sennheiser GSX 1000 / 1200?
I had the x3, gsx1000 and Mobius all at the same time.
For my money the clear winner was the X3 with my fidelio x2.
The Mobius was disappointing as I expected much better sound from the planar drivers. The head tracking I honestly didn't like it much. I could see it working great when used for vr headsets but for normal gaming when you are looking at the screen, I just didn't enjoy it at all.
The 3d sounds overall was nothing out of this world either. I found the options in the X3 better for surround gaming.
The GSX, was ok but I just find it to be inferior in features and sound to the X3 while costing more money.
The 3d surround was good but again, I get better from the X3 with a lot more option to fine tune to my liking.
 

delita

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Mobius is the shit. And I've tried a litany of $500-$1000 dollar headphones with nice DAC/AMP setups. For the money, truth be told you can't beat it. I dunno what this guy is talking about with an X3 or X2 being better, that's horseshit in my opinion. You need the Mobius to be plugged in. Never use wireless. Flat is the only preset worth using, the rest are dumb, Audeze sounds great out of the box.
 

sethk

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I have a different 48.5” but very close in size - what are the seating distances or range of distances that people using the CX 48 on their desks have settled on ? (screen to eyeball distance)
 

shaolin95

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Mobius is the shit. And I've tried a litany of $500-$1000 dollar headphones with nice DAC/AMP setups. For the money, truth be told you can't beat it. I dunno what this guy is talking about with an X3 or X2 being better, that's horseshit in my opinion. You need the Mobius to be plugged in. Never use wireless. Flat is the only preset worth using, the rest are dumb, Audeze sounds great out of the box.
Mobius is SHIT not THE shit and the only horseshit here is what you are spreading, making a fool of yourself exposing your serious lack of knowledge. I had it wired, I don't like wireless headphones but that has ZERO to do with how shitty the sound is and plenty of reviews mention the subpar sound, only ignorant people that have nothing else to compare to, will accept that as a good sounding headphone. The Fidelio with an X3 is so much better that is not even funny to compare them. I do understand that it must be "Bhurting" to pay so much an inferior product and wanting to convince yourself that you chose wisely...but the sad part is, no matter how much you lie to yourself and spread nonsense, it is still crap. LOL
Because of people like YOU that spread nonsense based on what you bought and have a strong bias to justify your purchase, is the reason I had to buy all 3 to test them myself and keep the best one.
Time to block you.
 
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