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Surround sound headphones, <£100?

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by bobboberts, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. bobboberts

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003

    Posts: 216

    Disclaimer: I've never tried surround sound headphones, so this is more that I quite like the idea of them - so if there is a better option them I'm all ears (excusing the pun).

    Simply put, I just want some decent headphones that will help immerse me in my gaming (hence the perhaps misguided notion that surround sound is the way to go). Good for music too.

    Up until this point I've just used some cheap £15 JVC headphones (which actually sound decent to my poor ears), so I don't need high-end enthusiast stuff, just something that offers a good price/performance combo.

    What should I be looking at?
     
  2. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,376

    For surround sound, you'd either get headphones and something to provide surround sound cues, such as a sound card; or get a USB headset.

    A USB headset is certainly the easiest option, but generally headphones offer better quality. Many headsets are not really that good when it comes to music listening. HyperX Cloud is one of the better headsets below £100, as they are based on proper headphones.

    Ideally, headphones and a sound card would be the best choice, but you could easily spend £100 on the headphones alone. You could just use headphones with your motherboard, but you'd get no surround sound; other than when playing some games that have it built in.

    If you'd rather not bother with a sound card (some people don't), then HyperX Cloud II for around £70 would probably be the best all round solution.
     
  3. EsaT

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 4,632

    Location: Finland

    First minute of this is excellent quick test for gaming capability of headphones:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1_20T8x_OI
    Besides directionality good headphones give also feel of distance.
    While with bad headphones that feels like having head in bucket under water.
    Unlike music failing to give damn about accuracy of reproduction binaural cues are very sensitive.

    If you have quiet environment and don't need noise isolation open headphones are in better position for being accurate enough for binaural sound.

    Superlux certainly has some extremely good bang for buck headphones in sound quality for shoestring budget.
     
  4. roderz88

    Gangster

    Joined: Oct 7, 2010

    Posts: 228

    I find that a good pair of stereo headphones will give a surround sensation. I was playing Battlefield 1 a few months ago and I remember hearing an enermy sneaking up behind me, as well as the sensation of gunfire happening around me. This was all in stereo, no virtual surround sound or anything. The reason being that good headphones have a decent soundstage and decent imaging. Also, this was with closed back headphones, so I can only imagine how open back would sound.

    I have experience with virtual surround sound with a turtle beach headset that uses DTS Headphone X. Whilst the effect of things happening around/behind was a tad more pronounced, I found that the overall audio was extremely muffled.

    If you don't really care about the quality of sound, and just want that surround effect, then by all means go for a surround sound headset. I hear people say good things about the Cloud 2s. But bare in mind that a good stereo headset (or headphones) will give you a good sense of spacial awareness.
     
  5. bobboberts

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003

    Posts: 216

    What would be a good set of headphones for around £50-70 that you could recommend?
     
  6. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,376

    Not by themselves they can't. I've seen people say this before, so just assumed it was the case that some headphones could give positional sounds without the need for anything else; but as Esat pointed out to me not long ago; the game being played must have some surround sound placement built into it's engine. After thinking about it, it makes sense.

    Headphones can't do anymore than just plain side to side stereo unless they receive a signal which has cues enabling the listener to place sounds. Headphones with a good sound stage is not enough by itself.

    Someone could point out that when listening to music with headphones that have a good sound stage, they can place different instruments in different locations; but what must be remembered is that when recording, band members with different instruments will be in different positions in relation to the microphone/s. If the listener can place a person playing a guitar further to the left than someone playing a keyboard, it's because they were in those positions when the music was recorded.

    If you listened to the same band playing the same music using the same headphones, but this time the microphone recorded it coming from stereo speakers (rather than a live band), you wouldn't be able to place the different instruments (other than just left or right), as all sounds are coming from two fixed locations; the speakers.

    It's no different when playing a game with nothing more than basic stereo, because all sounds are generated on the fly and there are only the two fixed locations; left and right. Just as it would be if a microphone recorded music from stereo speakers, rather than a live band. Unless there is something than can give specific cues as to where that sound is coming from; it's just basic left and right.

    Just a quick search brings up people talking about the positional sound in Battlefield 1, which is what you are hearing; not the ability of the headphones to place sounds by themselves.
     
  7. Marsman

    Capodecina

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    Posts: 10,376

    If you want surround sound without the hassle of having to get a sound card as well, then best choice for about £70 is HyperX Cloud II.

    If you get just a pair of headphones to use with your motherboard audio, then it will solely be down to the games played, whether there will be any surround sound effect.
     
  8. EsaT

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 4,632

    Location: Finland

    Kingston HyperX Cloud should be decent for that.
    It's made by honestly trying Takstar instead of usual random trinket junk factory.

    Not much of headphones from audio makers to that price category.
    Though if you have quiet environment Superlux has some (semi-)open models.
    Myself have HD-330 bought just as experiment and for its price it puts up darn good performance with binaural sound.
    Such shame its earpads aren't that good.
     
  9. roderz88

    Gangster

    Joined: Oct 7, 2010

    Posts: 228

    Fair point. I'm not an audio expert by any stretch, so your reply was interesting. My point to TC was really the experience I've had using headphones/headsets. However, by reading your comment, I'm thinking to myself that quite a lot of games may have audio cues to give a sense of surround, as I tend to find it in quite a few games that I've played when using stereo headphones without any surround sound processing. I also wanted to warn TC about (at least in my experience) that virtual surround sound can cause the overall sound to become muffled, or unnatural sounding. I'm not saying all surround sound headsets sound like this, but it has with the ones I've tried.

     
  10. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 59,101

    Back in the day I went through a churn of "surround" headphones - tried all the hyped stuff like the Speedlink Medusas, etc. but actually the Gainward SoundXplosion 5.1 headphones combined with CMSS-3D in 4.1 mode actually gave quite a convincing surround reproduction albeit they sucked for sound quality.

    These days I tend to use higher quality stereo headphones and the surround on the AE-5 if I want positional audio.
     
  11. EsaT

    Mobster

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    Location: Finland

    Of course sound quality sucks more than vacuum, if you use some game branded trash worth less than its advertising material.
    Despite/regardless of being older name than gaming brands of last 10-15 years, Turd Beach sells same crap as others.
    Once got chance to try one of their models and sound quality was at "head in bucket under water" level.
     
  12. bobboberts

    Gangster

    Joined: Sep 21, 2003

    Posts: 216

    To be clear then, we are saying that I'm best getting decent headphones and then if a game has positional sound built-in, I'm going to benefit anyway?

    I have a pretty quiet environment (so I guess semi-open headphones are an option, though if I happen to travel with them perhaps not?) but within that £50-70 budget what should I be looking at for just normal headphones?
     
  13. roderz88

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    Joined: Oct 7, 2010

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    Yep, it was a Turtle Beach headset that I had this experience with. It uses DTS Headphone X which, since listening to it, I did some research and found that a lot of people have complained about how it sounded. I've found myself using that headset a lot less lately and opting to use my Sony 700ns which I originally bought for listening to music. I am considering trying out the HyperX usb soundcard (the model that comes with the cloud 2s) just to see how that sounds.
     
  14. Zefan

    Don

    Joined: Jan 15, 2006

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    Location: Tosche Station

    Get HyperX Cloud 2 or maybe Alpha if they're available for a similar price and you have a sound card/good motherboard audio. They're likely more expensive mind.
     
  15. bobboberts

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    Joined: Sep 21, 2003

    Posts: 216

    Okay, so not to labour the point too much (because if the answer is 'Yes' then I'll pull the trigger and order them) are you saying that the HyperX Cloud 2 would be a good choice for both music and gaming at that price point over normal headphones (where I'd have to spend £100+ for a top pair)?

    Thanks
     
  16. Zefan

    Don

    Joined: Jan 15, 2006

    Posts: 28,758

    Location: Tosche Station

    Go on YouTube and look at reviews. You'll find they're generally regarded as the best headset under £100. They're built on Takstar headphones but come with a mic and a USB sound card if you really need it. If you can find something more suitable for you at that price point, then go for that.

    Consider the Alpha too, they're regarded as an upgrade to the Cloud 2 but don't come with the usb soundcard. A lot of people seem to be saying you don't really need it nowadays due to windows spatial sound doing a decent job, but I'm not really sure about it. Best to do your own research.
     
  17. EsaT

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    That ~100 gets pretty much top level headphones for sound accuracy: AKG K702.
    Actually expensive "audiophile" headphones mostly don't even try to give accurate and neutral sound, but have some "music enjoyment/warm sound" etc tuning.

    Little cheaper K612 would be little behind in details and have slightly more bass, though not yet at fun punchy bass immersion level like Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro.
    All are open designs, which is advantage for sound quality, but they leak all noise of environment pretty much unmuffled.
    And hence need low noise environment.
    Closed designs like Beyer's DT770 easily suffer from above neutral bass seriously drowning details compared to accurate neutral headphones.
    HyperX Cloud is likely similar to DT770 in that amount of bass, except propably weaker in details to start with.
    https://nl.hardware.info/reviews/60...-luisteren-testresultaten---frequentierespons
    Those graphs show well how bad frequency responses typical gaming headsets have.
    Roller coaster's loop wouldn't look out of place in many of them.
     
  18. Gimpymoo

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    Location: Nottingham

    We have two pairs of Hyper X 2's in this house and they are a good, solid all round headset with an adequate mic too.

    The USB soundcard holds them back, connecting them to a good soundcard adds £20 value IMO.

    The only "downside" is they are a 4 pole design, meaning you need a 4 pole headphone/Mic splitter to use with a PC.
     
  19. Gimpymoo

    Capodecina

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    Such headphones do not always perform well for gaming though to suit everyone.
     
  20. Marsman

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    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,376

    And then he will have to buy a sound card on top of that in order to get positional/surround sound effect.

    I get the impression the OP was looking more at spending £70. K702 + sound card would be at least £130; so double that.

    You talk about top level accuracy; but not everyone needs or wants that.