What do gamers look for in headsets?

Hooy

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I won't claim to be an expert on audio, but I feel my tastes are perhaps a little more mature than what most gamers seem to be satisfied with these days.

I've collected and listened to a lot of headphones over the years but can't seem to grasp what gamers want. I've compared my friend's Logitech G930's to several headphones of my own, like Beyerdynamic DT880, AKG Q701, Sennheiser HD598/800, etc, and they just don't stack up. Not even close, even against headsets priced under or around them.

Why is it that spending $3000 on a top of the line graphics monster with that slick 1440p IPS monitor justifiable when decent audio isn't? Why aren't sound cards a must-have yet?

Just looking for some insight!
 

German Muscle

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good sound stage, good highs and lows, multi direction sound accuracy. They dont use USB type headsets that have their own sound card or processor. They pair them with a good sound card.

Most Pro gamers use Senn PC360s or Audio Technica A700s/AD700s. Most pros use the BenQ 120hz XL2410/2420 monitors.
 

FnordMan

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two things:
1: fits
2: sounds decent.

given i've rather got a tin ear (I can't hear a difference between 128k and 320k mp3) 1 is the important bit.

though having said all of that I still run a sound card because onboard is just that bad that even tin eared me can tell the difference. (onboard has a nasty habit of picking up on interference from the motherboard)
 

dremic

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I won't claim to be an expert on audio, but I feel my tastes are perhaps a little more mature than what most gamers seem to be satisfied with these days.

I've collected and listened to a lot of headphones over the years but can't seem to grasp what gamers want. I've compared my friend's Logitech G930's to several headphones of my own, like Beyerdynamic DT880, AKG Q701, Sennheiser HD598/800, etc, and they just don't stack up. Not even close, even against headsets priced under or around them.

Why is it that spending $3000 on a top of the line graphics monster with that slick 1440p IPS monitor justifiable when decent audio isn't? Why aren't sound cards a must-have yet?

Just looking for some insight!

3000$ for a 1440p monitor and top of the line graphics?! more like 1000$ :p

i just cant bring myself to put any money into sound, i was actually just talking about this with a friend. what i would like is some nice bookshelf speakers and a nice video card. but thats a lot of expense for something I would hardly use. most of the time when i game its with friends and i am using a headset.. which doesnt need a sound card its usb. when i do use my speakers its mostly for movies, music, single player games. but to be honest my 50$ speakers and onboard sound are okay as long as my game plays on ultra at 60fps

i have those logitech g930s and i love them. theyre wireless, the sound is decent and it has a mic which is its main function.
 

Hooy

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good sound stage, good highs and lows, multi direction sound accuracy. They dont use USB type headsets that have their own sound card or processor. They pair them with a good sound card.

Most Pro gamers use Senn PC360s or Audio Technica A700s/AD700s. Most pros use the BenQ 120hz XL2410/2420 monitors.
Great points. My headphones have amazing sound stages, but I don't know about directional accuracy. I wonder if there is a difference between audiophile headphones and gaming sets in this aspect.

two things:
1: fits
2: sounds decent.

given i've rather got a tin ear (I can't hear a difference between 128k and 320k mp3) 1 is the important bit.

though having said all of that I still run a sound card because onboard is just that bad that even tin eared me can tell the difference. (onboard has a nasty habit of picking up on interference from the motherboard)

Exactly! This is why I wonder why people completely neglect sound on SO MANY high end builds. I understand that the current Maximus boards have "good" onboard audio, but it's still on board... $30 for a sound card is a small price to pay! Actually, a $100 sound card is nothing when you're paying $350 for motherboards lol.

3000$ for a 1440p monitor and top of the line graphics?! more like 1000$ :p

i just cant bring myself to put any money into sound, i was actually just talking about this with a friend. what i would like is some nice bookshelf speakers and a nice video card. but thats a lot of expense for something I would hardly use. most of the time when i game its with friends and i am using a headset.. which doesnt need a sound card its usb. when i do use my speakers its mostly for movies, music, single player games. but to be honest my 50$ speakers and onboard sound are okay as long as my game plays on ultra at 60fps

i have those logitech g930s and i love them. theyre wireless, the sound is decent and it has a mic which is its main function.

Well a 1440p IPS is $550 for a Dell instead a potluck korean monitor! Heh and I meant the entire build :)

I get your point. I was the same way when I was a teenager, but as soon as I got my firs Audigy sound card, I never went back to onboard. To me, it just makes that big of a difference. FnordMan can't tell the difference between 128k and 320kbps songs, but can definitely tell the difference between onboard and a dedicated card. For $30, the cards are pretty good these days if I'm not mistaken?
 

German Muscle

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Great points. My headphones have amazing sound stages, but I don't know about directional accuracy. I wonder if there is a difference between audiophile headphones and gaming sets in this aspect.

Most of the pros know that all Gaming grade audio is junk with gaming slapped on it. They use audiophile grade because its exponentially better. This is the information i found when researching for myself. I talked to many pros about it as well. I ended up with A700 cans because i prefer closed deck and the Asus Xonar STX and called it a day. I had a set of Senn PC350s before but after a year the mic stopped working and the volume control had dead spots in it.
 

Hooy

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Most of the pros know that all Gaming grade audio is junk with gaming slapped on it. They use audiophile grade because its exponentially better. This is the information i found when researching for myself. I talked to many pros about it as well. I ended up with A700 cans because i prefer closed deck and the Asus Xonar STX and called it a day. I had a set of Senn PC350s before but after a year the mic stopped working and the volume control had dead spots in it.

I'm glad there are some like minded people. I feel alone amongst my friends who just don't give a rat's ass about audio. I tried posting all my audiophile headphones for sale in local sale groups, and got no love. But then a set of Beats pops up for more than what I'm asking for studio grade equipment and those threads erupt in comments and offers. I DON'T GET IT! Well, I do get it, but I don't want to accept that ignorance is so rampant!

now here I am with like 8 headphones that I can't unload because Beats are just too popular. That or they're not gaming-specific with bad sound quality, a wireless stick, and a mic.

p.s. I <3 German muscle.
 

spaceman

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I'm glad there are some like minded people. I feel alone amongst my friends who just don't give a rat's ass about audio. I tried posting all my audiophile headphones for sale in local sale groups, and got no love. But then a set of Beats pops up for more than what I'm asking for studio grade equipment and those threads erupt in comments and offers. I DON'T GET IT! Well, I do get it, but I don't want to accept that ignorance is so rampant!

now here I am with like 8 headphones that I can't unload because Beats are just too popular. That or they're not gaming-specific with bad sound quality, a wireless stick, and a mic.

p.s. I <3 German muscle.

Try HeadFi
 

Hooy

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Try HeadFi

Don't have the post count or rep or whatever it is they need. Meh, I'll work on it.

I convinced a friend to pick up a Sound Blaster ZX today and tested with AKG Q701 vs his G930's.

The end result was that the G930's were disappointing. One converted, 4 billion to go. Spread the knowledge!
 

sphinx99

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Why is it that spending $3000 on a top of the line graphics monster with that slick 1440p IPS monitor justifiable when decent audio isn't? Why aren't sound cards a must-have yet?

Just looking for some insight!

I'm surprised you haven't discovered this simple fact yet, but, some people appreciate and/or salivate over the visual more than the auditory. It's the same reason people connect $25K sound systems to the first uncalibrated $1,200 TV the Best Buy salesperson recommended.
 

NickJames

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I won't claim to be an expert on audio, but I feel my tastes are perhaps a little more mature than what most gamers seem to be satisfied with these days.

I've collected and listened to a lot of headphones over the years but can't seem to grasp what gamers want. I've compared my friend's Logitech G930's to several headphones of my own, like Beyerdynamic DT880, AKG Q701, Sennheiser HD598/800, etc, and they just don't stack up. Not even close, even against headsets priced under or around them.

Why is it that spending $3000 on a top of the line graphics monster with that slick 1440p IPS monitor justifiable when decent audio isn't? Why aren't sound cards a must-have yet?

Just looking for some insight!

Most pro gamers don't actually bother spending $3000 on a rig, hell most spend around 500-800$ on a PC and just play with all the settings on low. They just care more about getting kills and playing well than actually enjoying the quality of a game.
 

German Muscle

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Most pro gamers don't actually bother spending $3000 on a rig, hell most spend around 500-800$ on a PC and just play with all the settings on low. They just care more about getting kills and playing well than actually enjoying the quality of a game.

Most of them run core i5 sandy bridges with 8GB of ram and a GTX600 series. They arent looking to run games on ultra. Its more of a balance between decent looks with huge FPS so its smooth. They put their money into items that matter like quality mouses, mousepads, keyboards that have high pooling rates, least amount of input lag, good tracking, no prediction. They also have 120hz monitors with 1ms or less response time as well as a good sound card with a good set of cans. They get a different enjoyment out of the competition side of it.

Most FPS games out there are where sound is most important. Games like Counter Strike sound is 80% of the game and ive witnessed and experienced that first hand.
 

jbltecnicspro

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Most of the pros know that all Gaming grade audio is junk with gaming slapped on it. They use audiophile grade because its exponentially better. This is the information i found when researching for myself. I talked to many pros about it as well. I ended up with A700 cans because i prefer closed deck and the Asus Xonar STX and called it a day. I had a set of Senn PC350s before but after a year the mic stopped working and the volume control had dead spots in it.

Totally agree with this. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD-650s that I got exclusively for music. I use them during gaming, and their ability to pinpoint the source of a sound is amazing. OP - I would recommend a pair of Sennheiser HD-380pros. They're the upgraded 280pros. I've used the 280's before, and they were legendary for their price $100. And - the seal was good too.
 

Hooy

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I'm surprised you haven't discovered this simple fact yet, but, some people appreciate and/or salivate over the visual more than the auditory. It's the same reason people connect $25K sound systems to the first uncalibrated $1,200 TV the Best Buy salesperson recommended.
yeah, it makes me sad :(

An awesome desktop audio setup costs as little as $300 for a Soundblaster Z and a pair of decent headphones. That's such a tiny investment considering people will spend $2000 on SLI Titans, or $350 motherboards.

Most pro gamers don't actually bother spending $3000 on a rig, hell most spend around 500-800$ on a PC and just play with all the settings on low. They just care more about getting kills and playing well than actually enjoying the quality of a game.
This is true, but as someone said above, sound quality is important too. One could even argue that sound quality and accuracy (directional, spacial) is more important than graphical settings in a competitive environment.

Totally agree with this. I have a pair of Sennheiser HD-650s that I got exclusively for music. I use them during gaming, and their ability to pinpoint the source of a sound is amazing. OP - I would recommend a pair of Sennheiser HD-380pros. They're the upgraded 280pros. I've used the 280's before, and they were legendary for their price $100. And - the seal was good too.
How do you like your 650's, and what're you pairing them with? I have been really wanting to try those out, but after buying the 800's I couldn't justify buying another high high end Sennheiser. I have the 598's and love them.

I don't think I'll be dipping into anything mobile or marketed for "gaming" but ty for the suggestion
def make sure headsets are comfortable for long session and sound quality!

Beyerdynamic and Sennheiser make the most comfy stuff :)

AKG is up there too!
 

gibsx

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good sound stage, good highs and lows, multi direction sound accuracy. They dont use USB type headsets that have their own sound card or processor. They pair them with a good sound card.

Most Pro gamers use Senn PC360s or Audio Technica A700s/AD700s. Most pros use the BenQ 120hz XL2410/2420 monitors.

This +1
 

jbltecnicspro

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How do you like your 650's, and what're you pairing them with? I have been really wanting to try those out, but after buying the 800's I couldn't justify buying another high high end Sennheiser. I have the 598's and love them.

The 650's are really nice. I have them paired up to a Headroom Micro amp, which is fed by a SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS. The bass is a little on the heavier side, and it tends to color the sound a little, and people have docked it for this. I think they're great, but I'm interested in trying the more flat response of the HD-600. You have the HD-800's? :eek: Wow. I can't bring myself to spend that much on a headphone. Also, the 800's really need a good amp and cable setup to make them sing and get rid of any extra sibilance up top, or so I've read. If I was on the market for a new headphone, I'd probably try the 598's or the 595's.

Honestly, if I had a set of 800's and a good headphone cable and amp setup, I'd never look back, unless I needed noise cancellation.
 
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Hooy

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The 650's are really nice. I have them paired up to a Headroom Micro amp, which is fed by a SoundBlaster Audigy 2 ZS. The bass is a little on the heavier side, and it tends to color the sound a little, and people have docked it for this. I think they're great, but I'm interested in trying the more flat response of the HD-600. You have the HD-800's? :eek: Wow. I can't bring myself to spend that much on a headphone. Also, the 800's really need a good amp and cable setup to make them sing and get rid of any extra sibilance up top, or so I've read. If I was on the market for a new headphone, I'd probably try the 598's or the 595's.

Honestly, if I had a set of 800's and a good headphone cable and amp setup, I'd never look back, unless I needed noise cancellation.

I really want to try 650's! But yeah, the 800's are to die for. Unfortunately they can be TOO analytical sometimes and can stress me out rather than letting me just enjoy certain music (like dubstep or other hooligan genres), especially when the sources aren't perfect.
They just require sooooooooooooo much serious business to enjoy 100% of the time.

I love the 598's. They are, to me, amazing for casual use with a really fun signature. They aren't reference quality, but definitely get me excited to listen to just about anything.
 

jbltecnicspro

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Yeah, the 650's aren't really that serious. I think that they'd be good for Dubstep too. Essentially, they're the 600's warmer, more "involved" brother. Whereas the 600's are analytical.

See, you gotta stop telling me how awesome the 598's are, especially about their fun signature and getting you excited to listen to anything; because I'm gonna want to buy them even more! :D You just described my Grados to me.
 

Godmachine

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Try HeadFi

HeadFi has a giant and wonderful thread about the latest impressions virtually every kind of can for big gamers.

Just do not buy into this crap where you need marketing , crappy gaming headphones. Complete garbage nearly 99 percent of that stuff.
 

Hooy

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Yeah, the 650's aren't really that serious. I think that they'd be good for Dubstep too. Essentially, they're the 600's warmer, more "involved" brother. Whereas the 600's are analytical.

See, you gotta stop telling me how awesome the 598's are, especially about their fun signature and getting you excited to listen to anything; because I'm gonna want to buy them even more! :D You just described my Grados to me.

:D:D:D:D:D:D
I had 2 Grados in the past, but Im pretty sure they were designed specifically to cause me physical pain and then disintegrate. Those damn foam pads are crap!

I do really love my 598's, but I really don't expect your 650's to be any worse. My opinion is to own 3 types of headphones: Analytical for hearing things you've never heard, a "fun" set that's good across the board and easy going for a wide selection of music genres, and a bass set for blowing your head off to dubstep or the equivalent. The last being the least needed.
 

Jimi_Shuffler

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god I cannot wait to upgrade from this siberia v2 headset. gonna grab dat a900x. anyone have any experiece with gaming on a900x?
 

buttons

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Most gamers have no clue on the sound they are missing out on. I use to have a pair of turtlebeach headphones with inline USB amp true (5.1) the surround effect was pretty cool, but i actually thought they sounded really good overall. that was until i got a set of denon AH-D600's and then my now favorite DT990 pro 250ohms.

The denon's were 25 ohm and didnt seem to benefit with an amp/soundcard. The DT990 i love paired with fiio E10 with bass boost set to on.

The sound stage on the DT990 is massive and detail/clarity superb, ill never go back to a "gaming headset" ... unless beyerdynamic makes it :)
 

VulcaN

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How does the DT990 compare to the DT770? The DT990 Pro 250ohm (which is way cheaper than the higher end DT990 premium) is the same price on amazon as the DT770 250ohm.

I like that the DT770 is reported to have more bass because it will make games and movies more fun for me, but is it worse from a positional audio perspective enough to leave me at a disadvantage when hearing where sounds are coming from in FPS gaming?
 

spaceman

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How does the DT990 compare to the DT770? The DT990 Pro 250ohm (which is way cheaper than the higher end DT990 premium) is the same price on amazon as the DT770 250ohm.

I like that the DT770 is reported to have more bass because it will make games and movies more fun for me, but is it worse from a positional audio perspective enough to leave me at a disadvantage when hearing where sounds are coming from in FPS gaming?

The best gaming headphone that does fps sound great and has good bass is the Sennheiser 558 or 598. I have tried every other popular headphone under $300 and several over that price range. If you are in the $300 and under, it is Sennheiser. Audiotechnica, Beyer, AKG are all excellent too but if what you want is directional sound WITH bass, Senn is the best. AKG 701 has perhaps the best positional audio but not much bass. AT is somewhere bw the two.
 

King Icewind

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I started thread similar to this, which I was given suggestions on headsets. I've decided to get with my original plan of getting a pair of Grado SR80i's and pairing them with a modmic. My main pair of headphones is the Grado RS2i's so I'm partial to the Grado sound. I'll let you know how it goes.
 

Activate: AMD

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Most pro gamers don't actually bother spending $3000 on a rig, hell most spend around 500-800$ on a PC and just play with all the settings on low. They just care more about getting kills and playing well than actually enjoying the quality of a game.
Your comment doesn't exactly describe me (because I strive for higher end visuals and settings) but this comment has me completely scratching my head... Are you saying that people playing the game without focusing on the "quality" are wrong? As if somehow focusing on perfecting the ability to succeed at the very core of the game was somehow an inferior goal than being terrible but having super rich sounds and gorgeous visuals? Real life equivalent to that might be "I don't understand why someone would play golf with terrible clubs and just care about making putts and getting good and miss out on all this green grass and these beautiful trees" I mean, wow... thats a new one to me completely. Of course, if somethings going whoosh here, ignore me..


anyways, I'm one of those gamers who doesn't really pay much attention to sound. I've got a set of Sennheiser HD 555's and onboard sound. I like the 555's because they're comfortable and open air. Ditched my audigy 2 ZS when the drivers drove me nuts for the last time.. went to onboard and really haven't looked back. the Audigy was better, but not $100+ better. That and the hassle of having another PCI-e card to play tetris with in my motherboard to make sure my $500 GPU isn't getting starved for air is not missed.
 

VulcaN

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The best gaming headphone that does fps sound great and has good bass is the Sennheiser 558 or 598. I have tried every other popular headphone under $300 and several over that price range. If you are in the $300 and under, it is Sennheiser. Audiotechnica, Beyer, AKG are all excellent too but if what you want is directional sound WITH bass, Senn is the best. AKG 701 has perhaps the best positional audio but not much bass. AT is somewhere bw the two.

Really the 598? I was considering that one but after reading a lot of posts on head-fi it seemed like people said they sounded a bit tinny for gaming compared to the Beyer.

I'm starting to think I need to get both :\
 

reaper12

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Really the 598? I was considering that one but after reading a lot of posts on head-fi it seemed like people said they sounded a bit tinny for gaming compared to the Beyer.

I'm starting to think I need to get both :\

I would get the Beyer DT990 if I wanted an all round headphone.
 

RushiMP

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You may be interested in the Beyerdynamics MX300 headset.

Nice headphones, meet my friend nice microphone.
 

Devastadus

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I've tried the Beyer DT990 600ohm, AKG Q701, Audiotechnica 900X and Grados 325i. They are all good, but to me the Beyer DT990 are the best in my eyes. Great bass and Great sound stage and confortable. Some of the others do have a good soundstage but not so great bass, or good bass and a small sound stage. I want to like the AKG Q701 but the head strap is so uncomfortable i can't stand it after 30 minutes
 

spaceman

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Really the 598? I was considering that one but after reading a lot of posts on head-fi it seemed like people said they sounded a bit tinny for gaming compared to the Beyer.

I'm starting to think I need to get both :\

The 990 is way bright compared to Sennheiser. They are known for their high end sparkle and loads of bass. Which means the midrange suffers. The midrange is where you will find directional sound. So that you want neutral headphones. Akg is the most neutral, then Senn, then Beyer and AT.

I don't get the tinny bit unless they are either using it straight from a bad source or it sounds bright when you first use it. To me, these are entry level audiophile sound.

I have tried every offering from Beyer, AKG, AT, Grado, Sennheiser, Koss, Samson, Sony, etc.. We are talking over 60 models. The Sennheiser 558s or 598s are the only ones I enjoy for both gaming and music that are under $300.

I prefer Stax but they are too much $$ for me atm. Used to LOVE the Stax Lambda Normal bias that I had. As well as the AKG K1000.
 

rudy

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Microphone, there I said it that is the one and only thing that makes a gaming headset. There is a market out there for any company to just make all their headsets modular so you can plug in a mic and suddenly they would sell a bunch to gamers, as well as mics. If you want a decent sounding gaming headset what are your options? All the ones from decent companies IE sennheisser or beyer are like $300 MSRP and the comparable headset alone is at least $100 cheaper sometimes more. That's right companies have decided to charge use at least $100 for a microphone. The PC350 from sennhiesser ( I own 3 of them) is maybe IMO a $100 head phone with $100 - 200 in markup for a decent mic. That's the main high end contender after that you just have a few random ones like the beyer mx300 which is currently $400 on amazon. Most gamers are presented with so few choices they just end up saying screw it I will grab the $50 - 100 pair from corsair, Logitech etc...

The problem isn't exactly that gamers cannot appreciate sound it is that they have very few if any options for decent sound. If you are picky about sound quality and you try to combine that with a microphone you will quickly find nothing suits you. I guess its sorta like modular head phone plugs, to save 50 cents they solder them all in on most headphones and it just doesn't make any sense.
 

LuMiZoiD

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I guess I am considered one of those competitive gamers since I do CEVO/ESEA and competitive matchmaking for CS:GO quite heavily per week with my clan. From my experience, I don't really care much about the quality of the game or pretty shiny graphics. As far as headsets are concerned, I believe soundstage and audio quality are the primary focus when looking for a good headset for my gaming needs. The sound has to be clear but not overpowering enough that I can't hear my surrounding environment. I've had headsets where the bass was just too much for me to hear other things in game. The soundstage has to be pretty good enough for me to pinpoint the positioning of whatever I hear in the game as well, especially the enemy. Lastly, the mic should be good enough that my clan mates can hear me clearly on TS or whatever voip client we're using.

For competitive gaming I'm currently using a Mixamp Pro with a Sennheiser PC360 headset. For everything else, I simply use my Logitech G930.
 

VulcaN

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I have tried every offering from Beyer, AKG, AT, Grado, Sennheiser, Koss, Samson, Sony, etc.. We are talking over 60 models. The Sennheiser 558s or 598s are the only ones I enjoy for both gaming and music that are under $300.

How about the AKG Q 701? Its $245 on amazon now and seems to have good positional audio for FPS from reviews, and also not too bad bass for everything else?
 

spaceman

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How about the AKG Q 701? Its $245 on amazon now and seems to have good positional audio for FPS from reviews, and also not too bad bass for everything else?

There is bass sound but not as much impact. Kind of hard to describe until you hear it. It might really bug you so if you try it, make sure it is from a place with a good return policy. This issue is why I rec the 558 or 598. They are slightly smaller sounding and not quite as clear but have good bass.

I will say that the 701s are the best I have heard for directional sound and size of the sound stage under $300.
 
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BroHamBone

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I guess I am considered one of those competitive gamers since I do CEVO/ESEA and competitive matchmaking for CS:GO quite heavily per week with my clan. From my experience, I don't really care much about the quality of the game or pretty shiny graphics. As far as headsets are concerned, I believe soundstage and audio quality are the primary focus when looking for a good headset for my gaming needs. The sound has to be clear but not overpowering enough that I can't hear my surrounding environment. I've had headsets where the bass was just too much for me to hear other things in game. The soundstage has to be pretty good enough for me to pinpoint the positioning of whatever I hear in the game as well, especially the enemy. Lastly, the mic should be good enough that my clan mates can hear me clearly on TS or whatever voip client we're using.

For competitive gaming I'm currently using a Mixamp Pro with a Sennheiser PC360 headset. For everything else, I simply use my Logitech G930.


LUMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I been wanting to get a new set of cans. My G35's are still working, but am itching for something with better positional sound. The A900x caught my eye, but would need a mic (cut my zalman mic wire with my desk chair wheel! can i splice it back together?) and sound card.

Btw, I'm new to enthusiast sound.
 
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spaceman

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Jan 7, 2005
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If you get the Creative Z, it comes with a mic that just sits on top of your monitor. You really can't go wrong with the A900x if you want closed gaming headphones. However, the Sennheiser and AKGs will do better bc they are open and have a larger, more realistic sound stage.
 
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