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Shin CZ 10-25-2010 03:36 PM

UPDATE 2/12/2011: Added my FULL 1st post from my Gaming Headphone/Headset guide found on Head-fi. PLEASE check the 4th post on this page. It is massive, so bear with me.

Considering how huge the "What Gaming Headphones To Buy?" thread has become (over 10,000 post and still going), we've decided to make a new thread where the first post gives you all of the necessary information for getting anyone started on gaming with headphones or headset. We'd also like to request for it to be stickied as the same questions pop up almost every week with the same answers. That, and it's a highly active topic.

edit: Posted information on real surround sound headsets vs stereo headsets/headphones with virtual surround.

If you're looking for effective and well known solutions into gaming with virtual surround, you have a few options: (I will post the most well known combinations and setups. There are plenty of headsets and headphones that do well with gaming, but these are regarded as the most accessible or just plain out best for the price)

Note: Open means that they have an open ear design, which allows air to pass through the back of the cups, allowing your ears to 'breathe', as well as keeping the sound from bouncing back to your ears which may or may not sound inferior to a closed ear design.

Closed means that it's a closed-ear design that will isolate you as well as prevent sound from leaking out. Closed headphones usually have more bass, but less width and depth to the soundstage. Closed designs will also heat your ears up a lot faster, which some may find uncomfortable.

Note: REAL surround sound headsets are almost always inferior to a good headset/headphone with virtual surround. Those true surround headsets pack in multiple drivers of lower quality, usually sacrificing sound for the gimmick of them being REAL surround. Many of the posters here and other forums will agree with me in saying that a very good stereo headphone that uses virtual surround (like the Mixamp and AX720's Dolby Headphone), will trump real surround headsets in both audio quality and a surround sound-like effect as well!


1. Tritton AX720. ($130)


Closed: This all in one solution brings a headset/w built in mic, virtual surround (Dolby Headphone amp) and all hookups necessary to get you gaming on consoles and PC). At $130, it is an affordable yet effective solution to your headset gaming needs. Most of us agree that this is the most logical first step. Also, while the AX720 comes with two proprietary headphone jacks made specificaly for the AX720 headset, the AX720 comes with a connector that allows use of typical headphones with a 3.5mm plug as well as 3.5mm mic input.

Thanks to Formulanerd for the image of said connector.

2. Astro A30/A40 Audio System ($200 for A30 w/Mixamp, $250 for A40 w/Mixamp, $130 for Mixamp alone to use with other headphones/headsets)


Open OR Closed: This is what I personally started with and it was an effective way into gaming with a headset. It also uses Dolby Headphone virtual surround via the Mixamp. The Mixamp has more versatility than the AX720 amp, as it has the optical digital input, as well as RCA, and digital coaxial inputs. This was regarded as the best headSET combo for gaming, but many don't believe it's worth the extra $100+ over the Tritton AX720 setup. YMMV).

Update: January 2011 There is a new 2011 edition of the A40's with a better mic and new pads that seal better, adding bass. If you own the A40s already, you can buy the upgrade 'kit' for $50, which gives you the new mic and pads, which you can then attach on your own to your old A40s.

Mixamp Wireless 5.8 - ($99.95-$139.95)


This is a virtual surround amp like the wired Mixamp, AX720, and Ear Force DSS. However it uses a 5.8ghz signal between the transmitter until and the receiver (which you keep near you to plug any headphone in). The people who have used it has compared the sound quality to the wired mixamp and the difference is indistinguishable. This is the forum member's preference when it comes to wireless. If you absolutely need wireless, this is the way to go, as it won't have the interference or hiss like typical RF units, though if you have 5.8ghz devices, you MIGHT get interference.

3. Turtle Beach HPX or HPA2 ($65-80) with Mixamp ($130)




Open: The HPX or HPA2 is Turtle Beach's headset that is considered by many to be better than both the A40s and AX720, and for a cheaper price. It/they have multiple drivers in each cup, but they perform better in stereo mode (utilizing only 2 cups per ear instead of 4 in each) when paired up with the Mixamp. Keep in mind that you may need to buy a specific Mixamp cable from Turtle Beach's website in order to get it to work with the Mixamp.

Originally Posted by obazavil View Post

The HPA2/HPX can be used as follows:

HPX (Dolby Headphone 5.1)
HPX + MixAmp
HPX + AX720 decoder

HPA2 (Real 5.1)
HPA2 + Extigy
HPA2 + HD Audio Rush 5.1 Decoder
HPA2 + GWC Technologies AA1570 External USB 7.1

Sennheiser PC350/PC360

PC350 ($180 or so)


Closed: The PC350 seems to be based off the Sennheiser 555 in a closed design with a mic atached. You judge if it's worth the premium for a closed version with a mic.

PC360 ($250)


Open: Here are my impressions of the PC360 now having owned them: AWESOME. They are by far the BEST headSET I have had the pleasure of using. Balanced sound, clear, comfortable, works extremely well with Dolby Headphone. If you want ONE headset that does it all, look no further. These are the ones to get. Just look for deals, as $250 MSRP is a hard price to swallow.

Here's akaTRENT's review on youtube, which pretty much mirrors my own impressions of them.



The next few setups are all with headphones that do NOT come with an attached mic, so you'll have to find a way to do so. However, headphones generally are a lot better in sound quality than headsets in the same price range.

These are all known to perform great with the Mixamp, so make it a mission to buy the Mixamp with any of these. The AX720's amp will work as well if you desire to go that route.

4. Audio Technica AD700 ($80-100)

(credit goes to Fragtality for the boom mic mod and his picture)

(AD700 w/Labtec LVA-7330 microphone modded on)


Open: The AD700 is famous over the internet as a headphone that performs incredibly well for gaming, especially when paired up with a virtual surround amp like the Astro Mixamp. It focus most on subtle details in the mids and highs, but lack a good amount of bass. They're great for competitions, but for single player on non-competitive gaming, you may find it a bit lacking. It's extremely comfortable for many, but may fit very loose to some. Again, YMMV. I personally recommend them IF you can get past the lack of bass and extremely loose fit. They do sound great, IMHO.

5. Sennheiser 555/595 ($80-100 or so for the 555, $180+ for the 595)

^Sennheiser 555


^Sennheiser 595


Open: Popular as gaming headphones as well. The 555 and 595 are VERY similar. So much that people have opened up the 555s and found that they use the same exact drivers as the 595, but with a piece of sticky foam that blocks off some holes that make it sound inferior to the 595. So what do they do? Remove the sticky foam! Yup. Doing this will make the 555 indistinguishable from the 595 when it comes to sound. For less than half the price! Here's a video showing us how:


These are the most commonly known gaming headsets/headphones. There are many others, but they are either inferior, comparable in sound but much more expensive, or just not worth looking into.


Here is a few microphones people have used to mod onto their headphones or use them without permanently attaching them...

Labtec LVA-7330 ($6-$10 ebay)


I have personally used this with my Creative Aurvana Live, and the mic works very well. What people do is saw off the headband and only use the part with the mic attached (look at the AD700 pic on this post as a reference)

Califone neck mic

Dealextreme clip on mic

I have personally used the Zalman, and found it to be just downright terrible. THIS clip on is cheap and VERY effective. I personally own it and it rocks for the $2.50 I spent, though you have to wait like a month to get it...

(many thanks to forum member obazavil for recommending these)


AKG K701 (white) or K702 (dark blue) ($250 or waaay more)



We here on AVS tend to go a little to the extreme, and generally have found that the K701 or K702 make AMAZING gaming headphones. Quite possibly the best gaming headphones under $300. The only problem is that they are very hard to drive, especially if you plan on attaching a mic for voice chatting. The Mixamp is actually very capable of powering the K701/2, but only if you set the Game/Voice knob all the way towards game, meaning no voice chat. Once you mix in voice chat, you will find the K701/2 to be severely underpowered. So in order to get past that issue, you need to add a dedicated desktop amp (like the Fiio E9) for the sole purpose of powering hard to drive headphones.

With this method your setup would look like this:

Console/PC --- Mixamp/AX720 amp --- Power amp --- K701/2 (or other hard to drive headphones)

I'm a gaming headphone enthusiast and will say that the K701 is in my opinion the very best gaming headphone I have used and owned, and I have tried quite a number...

Sennheiser HD598 ($160-300 or so)


One word. FANTASTIC. Even better than the PC360 sans built in mic. Consider these the truest upgrade to the AD700 without extra amping. Crystal clear, fantastic soundstage, amazing positioning, and incredibly comfortable. Also has detachable cable. If you don't need a mic and can find these for around the $170 mark, these are a MUST buy for those who don't wanna spend extra on an amp. I'd say the K701/K702 is better, but they are also more expensive and NEED an extra amp if you plan on using a mic. The HD598 is a more logical choice for gamers. They will NOT let you down, I personally guarantee it.

Headphone Stands

Rubbermaid Fast Hose Hook ($10-$15)


Works like a charm, is very solid, and the edges are rounded off so it won't damage your headband. If you have huge headphones, you might wanna add something on the top (where the headband rests) to get some clearance for your cables.

obazavil 10-25-2010 03:40 PM


Thanks Shin CZ for the effort.

Maybe you should reserve some posts for updates (kind of posts with reserved space only)

Also, you should maybe put some info where CALs, 990s, and single / multi aspects are mentioned (and of course,voice)

obazavil 10-25-2010 03:48 PM

The HPA2/HPX can be used as follows:

HPX (Dolby Headphone 5.1)
HPX + MixAmp
HPX + AX720 decoder

HPA2 (Real 5.1)
HPA2 + Extigy
HPA2 + HD Audio Rush 5.1 Decoder
HPA2 + GWC Technologies AA1570 External USB 7.1

Shin CZ 10-25-2010 03:50 PM

OKAY, this post is a direct copy/paste from my topic at Head-fi, found HERE (with bolds and whatnot)

It has not been changed whatsoever, so if some of the info is found on the first post here on AVS, my bad, but you'll deal.

Mad Lust Envy aka. Shin CZ's Gaming Headphone/Headset guide.

Before I start, let me get a few things out of the way. Everything I say is PURELY personal opinion. If you don't like it, well... tough.

I'm not a professional. I have clearly stated that is is all my opinion, so don't get butthurt about anything I write. Okay, now moving on.

Hello everyone. I wanna make an introduction on my journey into headphone gaming, and pretty much headphones in general. I myself actually got into this audiophile hobby BECAUSE I fell in love with the sound of the AD700 when I paired it up with my Mixamp. I first started this journey when I looked for a discrete solution for gaming during the night time, where my home theater at the time (Pioneer HTS-G1) was just too much for my roomates and neighbors. Being someone who reads up on the things he buys before making purchases, I read up about how good the A40+Mixamp combo was, and that it would be all I would ever need. It was $250, which was extremely expensive for me at the time (at least I thought such a thing was too expensive back then). I caved in and went for it, as long as it delivered as promised.

Once I got it, I have to say that I was somewhat underwhelmed. I was expecting something that mimicked my surround sound. I wasn't feeling dolby headphone in the least. I was so underwhelmed that I barely used it, and decided to just play my games really quietly, which to me hurt, as I like to be immersed, and concentrate quite a bit when I game online. Fast forward to a few months later, where I decided to give it another try. Much to my dismay, my practically brand new A40s (very rarely touched back when I did use it) had lost the right side audio. I was so peeved that I didn't bother contacting Astro. I tossed them... just like that.

So there I was back again, with a seemingly useless Mixamp, and no headset. I went back online and read up on ACTUAL headphones that worked very well with gaming and the Mixamp in general. I, like many of you, heard how grand the AD700s were especially for games like Call of Duty 4, which was my favorite game back in the days I got into this hobby. So what the hell, I went for it. When I got it, I was somewhat turned off by the color, and they didn't exactly sit well on my head. It was slippery as hell, and it just sorta pissed me off. I then did the rubberband mod and then felt it was good enough to try.

I then hooked them up to the Mixamp, and fired up Call of Duty 4... let's just say... my mind was BLOWN. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was hearing EVERYTHING. Sounds were coming from all around me. I could hear exactly where people were around me. A pin drop was easily distinguishable for me. I did notice the distinct lack of bass, but for this game, I couldn't care less. I felt like I had an unfair advantage against those who DIDN'T wear a headset. Bass was the last thing on my mind. My speakers sounded like pure crap next to this ridiculous soundfield I was suddenly enveloped in.

Dolby Headphone and Headphones in general showed me what a miraculous combo they could be, and I told myself I would never seriously game without either of them ever again. I had converted. This was just but the first step into this disease called upgraditis.

Since then, I have somewhat gone through literally COUNTLESS of headphones, both for gaming, and for music/movies. I knew I'd have to own at least two pairs: One for direct hardcore gaming, where bass was on the lighter side so I could focus on the more important sounds like a grenade pin being released, footsteps, or claymores being placed. The other would be for more, non-competitive gaming where I could enjoy what audio as a whole has to offer. I wanted a nice boost in bass, to feel the explosions. Something to directly contrast the sound of the AD700 but still work well with the Mixamp. I was also a budget headphone hunter. I loved what cheap headphones had to offer: bang for the buck. So I have bought my share of garbage, and gems.

Enough of that, I'm now going to attempt to remember ALL the headphones I have bought and used since the beginning of my journey. One criteria HAD to be met at first: The headphones would have to work well with Dolby Headphone, or they were gonna be returned or sold. It was that simple to me.

Okay, I'm gonna list my share of WORTHY mentionables, especially for gaming. By worthy, I mean worthy of being discussed (some may be added to let you know they are NO GOOD for gaming with DH). This list doesn't include headphones I bought/used that were never intended to be used for gaming (for example, my HAS700, ES7, ESW9, though I did try them with meh results, obviously). I couldn't begin to remember them all anyway. This list may grow (it WILL definitely include the Sennheiser PC360 which I'm waiting on actually).

Also rating them based on how good they are for 'fun' gaming (anything not taken too seriously, where sound accuracy isn't a huge concern), and competitive gaming (where sound is incredibly important, specifically positional accuracy and ability to pick up the finer details). The scores aren't scientific. It's just MY opinion on how they stack up, so don't whine about scores, lol.



Spectacular for FPS games. Great detail in the mids and energetic treble. Soundstage is the biggest of any headphone I have heard in Dolby Headphone mode (including the K701). Everything sounds just so crystal clear and sparkly. Directional accuracy is just bloody fantastic (2nd only to the DT770 Pro 80s for me). If you want a headphone that just murders practically everything else for FPS games, the AD700s is that headphone. They are really bass light. That is their biggest issue. Bass is so light, it sounds like a tin can attempting to sound like a subwoofer. Just no bass, lol. So for immersive, non-competitive gaming, these aren't going to impress. The pads are super comfortable, but the cans are way too loose for some people, and your ears may touch the drivers, which a shock prone person like me couldn't handle anymore.

Fun: 6/10 (the soundstage is it's own brand of fun)

Competitive: 10/10


Dreadful soundstage, bad width and depth. Just doesn't work all too well with Dolby Headphone. The bass is a bit too prominent for hardcore gamers. As much as I love them for music, they just don't do well with DH. Look elsewhere for gaming.

Fun: 7/10

Competitive: 1/10

Koss UR40

Tried two of these... both were so ridiculously bloated and congested in bass, and everything sounded like pure muffled nonsense. Hated EVERYTHING about them. Of course the HD650 fans actually like this thing, so I'll chalk it up to me hating that ridiculously warm/smooth sound. Still, I felt the bass was ridiculously out of proportion, more so than heavy hitters like the XB700. It was giving me headaches. You can bs about modding and whatever, but I'm not gonna mod anything. If it doesn't work for me as is, then I'll look elsewhere. You can also tell me about how they use the same drivers as my beloved KSC75, and I'd still think you're herpa derping for thinking they sound even remotely similar. We all should know by know how different a driver sounds depending on housing and other factors.

Fun: 2/10 (give you an extra point for the obsecene bass... if that's a good thing...)

Competitive: 1/10

Philips SHP2500

Budget closed back headphone found for less than $20. Very comfortable, and has a surprising decent sized soundstage for gaming. Not bad AT ALL for gaming with Dolby Headphone. Won't top the KSC75, but if you need isolation when gaming for the least amount of cash, this is a fine choice.

Fun: 5/10

Competitive: 6/10

DT770 Pro 80

Comfort king. This is a heavy hitter. Very impressive for non-competitive gaming, especially if you wanna feel like you're in a movie theater. The bass is considerably super powered, and would make this a bad choice for competitive gaming. However, the soundstage depth and width is surprisingly large for a closed headphone. These also have the VERY best sense of distance when positioning sounds...PERIOD. Nothing has toppled this headphone when it comes to that. Not the AD700, K701, or HD598. Too bad it's too wild in bass for hardcore FPS gaming. The finer details are prety much sucked out because of the bass.

Fun: 9/10

Competitive: 6/10 (positional accuracy is the very best, but the bloated bass makes it hard to pick up details, so it hurts it quite a bit.)


My real guilty pleasure. I knew what I was getting into, and I LOOOOOVED it... for music that is. For gaming...well, let me give you an example. In Mass Effect 2, when you're on your ship, you CAN'T hear the dialogue, because the humming sounds the ship makes is SOOOO pronounced, voices are pretty much completely drowned out. Needless to say, these are NOT ideal for picking up finer details. Pass for gaming. The 770 Pros do a better job at keeping mids intact, and they are pretty bad in that regard themselves.

Fun: 7/10

Competitive: 1/10

Premium DT880

Fantastic. Absolutely. Comfortable, durable, and prestigious. Best balanced signature I have heard. If you want a gaming headphone based off sound alone, the DT880 is that headphone. It's so good, the sound works well in both hardcore gaming, and when just enjoying a game. The bass is quick, unobtrusive, but can get deep when the game calls for it (for example: Mass Effect 2, when you warp from one place to another, there is a low end rumble that sounds pretty damn epic on the DT880. Lovely. They do have one possibly major drawback. Think of yourself being in the center of a clock. Sounds with Dolby Headphone pretty much come from any direction relative to the clock.

The DT880s had a problem accurately depicting sounds that come from between 5 o clock to 7 o clock. Pretty much everything behind you. It actually sounds closer to the center, as opposed to sounding like it's actually behind you. With practice you can LEARN the distinct signature a rear sound makes with the 880s, but it will take you a split second to register that it's coming from behind you. That split second is enough to get you killed in an FPS game. Trust me. This is an issue with all models of the Premium DT880s, as I have compared with a few of my AVS friends who have owned different versions. They all came with the same conclusion. Some others don't experience this problem, but they also don't have the experience I have with headphones that DO have a much better sense of rear sound pinpointing (like say the 770 Pro 80s or K701).

If FPS gaming isn't a priority, don't skip these. They are ABSOLUTELY wonderful for gaming.

Fun: 8/10

Competitive: 8/10

K701 (or K702 for those who went that route)

Remember how I felt the AD700 did something to me? How it completely change my view on headphones and Dolby Headphone? Well, I got that same feeling again with the K701. In fact, I felt like god had given me the secret to just out right smite my enemies with the hammer of justice. The K701 to me, is pure, unadulterated, SMACKDOWN inducing OWNAGE. The very first time I used them (Modern Warfare 2), I went 2 straight 25-0 games in Free For All. I mean, holy smokes. The K701 was like wearing x-ray vision goggles for my ears. Depth, width, imaging, complete detail retrieval... it had it all. These to me, are the very vision of the perfect gaming headphone (with Dolby Headphone). I'd still place the overall positioning behind the DT770 Pro 80, and AD700, but it's on par with the HD598. We're talking about them being maybe a 9.9 instead of a 10 (which is what the 770s and AD700s are to me). Those two have NOTHING on the clarity and detail-whoring the K701 has. The bass is light, but present enough for it not to be anywhere near a complaint for me. It just works. You want my top pick for a purely godlike hardcore gaming headphone? The K70x is it. Now if only they were easy to drive. Believe it or not, the Mixamp does a SPECTACULAR job driving the K70x, as long as you don't mix in voice chat whatsoever. Talking about leaving the game/voice balance completely on the game side. Once you nudge the balance away from game, the volume takes a steep dive, and you will note how badly the things need an amp.

Now I already know how volume =/= driving force, but for gaming with dolby headphone, you WON'T think about that or notice. Trust me, the Mixamp is enough for the K701 if again, you don't add voice chat. If you do, you WILL need to attach an amp to the Mixamp's headphone out, just to juice the K70x and voice chat audio.

Fun: 6/10

Competitve: 10/10

Premium DT990

These are GREAT for gaming. Probably easier on the ears than they are for music, as the treble's edge isn't as pronounced in Dolby Headphone mode. There is a greater soundstage, more fantastic bass impact than the 880s (super quick and tight, and unobtrusive still, but more lively), and the detail retrieval is on par, if not better than the 880s due to the more emphasized treble, and just as detailed mids (though the mids aren't as forward as the bass and treble). If you want a more fun oriented sound than the 880s have for gaming, the 990s are it, and they do it RIGHT. The bass isn't boomy, but more theater-like, which adds to the immersion. They also work very well for the hardcore gamers out there who wanna nitpick the finer details in games like Call of Duty. Imaging is excellent, and overall positioning is better than the 880s. The hole between 5 and 7 is no longer there, though it's still not as good at judging front and rear sounds as my other faves. However it does it well enough for me that I happily sold the killer K701s as I saw no need to own anything for gaming after the 990s at the time. The treble will be too much for some people, though I believe that is more of an issue with it's use in regular stereo. For gaming, I didn't ever feel it got up there...

Fun: 9/10

Competitive: 8/10

Premium DT770 (non Pros)

Hmmm... this one is a tough case. There are a few versions out there. A bass light version, and a bass heavy version. In my case, I received the bass heavy 600ohm version. And I will state right now, that the bass was RIDICULOUS. It had a disorienting amount of bass... but it was weird... I could still pick up the other sounds, not like the 770 Pros. However, I felt that it added bass to every little thing. More than I could ever want for my always maturing ears. Let's get into the gaming aspect. Positioning, soundstage, and front/back positional accuracy were all there. Maybe as good as the 770 Pros. However, the bass was just messing with my ears, so I didn't test it out enough. I returned them quickly. There was just way too much. Don't give me the burn in nonsense, because I doubt a million hours of burn in would tame it down to considerable levels. It was leaning too heavily on that side. I actually believe it may have been faulty, but it's too late to go back now. If one of you ends up getting one with tamer bass, I believe that the synergy it has with Dolby Headphone could be a potentially godly combo.

Fun: 8/10

Competitive: 3/10 (can possibly be a 9/10 if the bass is tamed)

Creative Aurvana Live!

Ah, the little Fostex driver that could. For $70 or so, this is one seriously good headphone, that works very well with Dolby Headphone. For a closed headphone, the soundstage is decent. Positioning is good, bass is excellent but not overwhelming, and the treble is relaxed enough to bring out the mids a bit more than the M50s, IMHO. I would directly compare them to the M50s. The M50s are more aggressive, with smaller soundstage, while the CAL is more laidback with a better sense of depth and width. If you're looking for a closed headphone under $100 for gaming, seriously consider the Creative AUrvana Live. I had absolutely no problem using them during my more competitive gaming sessions in CoD4 and MW2, though in the end, they are warmer in signature than I prefer.

Fun: 8/10

Competitive: 7/10


Can an IEM truly be good for gaming with Dolby Headphone? Astrogaming just released the A*Stars to use with the Mixamps, so they believe so. My experiences with the highly regarded HiFIMAN RE0s leads me to believe the same. The sound signature is like a VERY neutral to slightly bright sound, lacking a little in bass, but being incredibly analytical. That to me, sounds like a perfect headphone to test for hardcore gaming. Being an IEM, the RE0 doesn't have any worthy soundstage depth and width to speak of even with Dolby Headphone. Everything sounds pretty much close to you. What they DO however, is accurately pinpoint which direction sounds are coming from, and pick up all the detail you could possibly want for gaming. No one will be sneaking up on you with the RE0s on. Still, you will be missing the soundstage, which helps in immersion. Still, when it comes to IEMs, this is a fantastic one to use.

Fun: 2/10

Competitive: 7/10


Normally, I wouldn't be recommending you spend anywhere near the price of the D7000 for gaming needs, but since I happen to own them, I'll go ahead and critique them. This may or may not be a surprise, but they are absolute gaming monsters. Despite them being closed, there is a ridiculously great soundstage, with plenty of depth and width. Pinpointing directional sounds around you is a BREEZE. Detail is in everything you can focus on. If you happen to own the D7000 and something with Dolby Headphone, you need not look further for your pleasureable gaming needs. The bass is so magnificently present without it smearing over the rest of the frequencies. The mids are rich though obviously taking a slight step back because of the bass and pronounced treble. The treble is sparkly but nowhere near the emphasis of the DT990s. They are also GREAT for hardcore gaming, but in all honesty, the bass is so good, you'll find yourself paying attention to it when you should be picking up the finer details, which is why I'd still choose something with quicker, and less present bass like the AD700, K701, HD598, and even DT990 for hardcore gaming. Still, yes, they can do it all.

Fun: 10/10

Competitive: 8/10


You all know it as an improved HD595, which is a consistent fave among gamers, especially those who use virtual surround amps like the Mixamp. My opinion? The hype is well justified, at least when it comes to the HD598. They are incredibly well balanced. Somewhat bass neutral, mid rich, and energetic treble (never harsh) translates to a very promising headphone for gaming on paper. And I'm happy to report that they are ABSOLUTELY phenomenal for gaming. They belong right up there with the AD700 and K701 when it comes to my very faves hardcore gaming headphones. Soundstage? Check. Positional accuracy? Double check. Detail retrieval? Triple check. The trifecta. It's missing nothing for those needs. The bass may be a bit too laid back for those wanting some immersion in their non-competitive gaming however.

I have to note, these are not a typical Sennheiser. It is not warm or smooth. It's bright and energetic. All for the better, IMHO.

Fun: 6/10

Competitive: 9.5/10


I mentioned this a few days ago, but let me bring them up again. Yes, this $13-20 clip on BELONGS here. Most of you already know what a bang for the buck these are, and I'm more than happy to say that they are also absolute stellar gaming headphones. Directionality is wonderfully accurate, detail is fantastic, and treble is pretty much the perfect amount. The bass is also no slouch, assuming you are in a decently quiet atmosphere. The KSC75 is very picky about what is around you, so the quieter the place you're in is, the better they perform. If you want to game on a budget, these should be not be taken lightly. I use them when I wanna relax and lay back, since I don't ever have to worry about them sliding off or out of position. They stay in place no matter what. I love them so much. You couldn't get me to give mine up unless it's for another pair...

Fun: 7/10

Competitive: 8/10

HD280 Pro

Needed to mention this one. Like the M50... these are NO GOOD for Dolby Headphone gaming. The soundstage is so miniscule, everything sounds pretty much like it's right next to you. No sense of depth or width. My RE0s were better at least.

Fun: 5/10
Competitive: 1/10


Another budget performer. Very well balanced sound signature. Closed headphone with a sense of depth and width. Not terribly exciting, but for $20, these are a prety good alternative to the Philips SHP2500 when it comes to budget closed cans. Id still say the Philips SHP250 performs a little better with Dolby Headphone and is more comfortable.

Fun: 5/10

Competitive: 5/10

Gaming Headsets (mic attached):

Sennheiser PC360 (ADDED 1/21/2011)

JUST GET IT NOW. Seriously, if you want a headset, don't even think twice. Get it. NAO. Easily the best headset I have heard. THE BEST.

Clarity? Check. 8/10
It lags behind the AD700, K70x, and HD598, but for gaming, it is NO slouch. Trust me, you won't need it any more clear than it is. I won every single match in CoD4. EVERY SINGLE ONE. I can say that it COULD be clearer as a whole, but no other headSET comes close.

Balance? Check. 9/10
There is no part of the audio spectrum that I felt was truly emphasized over the rest. Well balanced. That's all I can say. Treble is neither too smooth, nor too sparkly. It sounded neutral. Fantastic.

Soundstage? Check. 8.5/10
Obviously lagging behind the monsters that are the K70x and AD700, but is indeed no slouch. I'd say it has a bigger soundstage than the DT990. Fantastic sense of space and airiness.

Directional Cues? Check. 9.5/10
What can I say? This may actually be as good as the best when it comes to overall directionality. Trust me when I say that I could EASILY tell where everyone was around me.

Easy to discern front and back? Check! 10/10
Perhaps the most important aspect of Dolby Headphone, and the PC360 got it down masterfully.

This is my first hour's impression. If you're in the market for a headSET, this should be the top priority. If you're looking for clarity, I'd say that the others mentioned have it beat, but the PC360 does a fine job with all the clarity it gives.

Unless there is a dramatic change:

Fun: 7/10 (well balanced, but not really matching the punch in bass I like from funner cans, though the bass is enjoyable).
Competitive: 9.5/10 (I highly doubt you'll be complaining about anything as you're precisely locating anything and everything around you).

If these indeed sound exactly the same as the 595 (or modded 555s), then unless you really need a mic and volume control all in one package, you'll be saving money by going with the 555's and modding them for the 595 sound and attach a mic. However, the PC360 can be had for around $180, and brings everything in one very attractive package. I can't say anything about the 555 and 595, but the PC360 is definitely a gaming beast.

Astro A40

To be honest, I can't remember them all too well, though I remember them sounded pretty hollow, and I couldn't really pinpoint sounds behind me. I'd like to give them another chance though.

Fun: ?/?

Competitive: ?/?

Tritton AX720

My roommate recently purchased the AX720, and I'm happy to say that it's a pretty decent headset. I find it better than what I remember the A40s to be, but the general consensus is that the A40s are slightly better than the AX720, which is why I can't really judge the A40s. The AX720's mic works fine, the amp is comparable to the Mixamp if slightly MORE powerful and sleeker and more practical (it's a set top box, which you don't need next to you unlike the Mixamp). The headset itself is closed and comfortable, with good positional accuracy, with a small but still decently spaced out soundstage. It doesn't come close to the headphones I have mentioned, but it's a great starting headset which you can consider FREE, as what you really want is the AX720 virtual surround amp. Many people wouldn't have an issue with the AX720 headset. It doesn't do anything horribly wrong, but doesn't do anything particularly particularly well either. It's just good enough to get you going.

Fun: 6/10

Competitive: 7/10

Tritton AX Pro (TRUE 5.1 headset)

This is my first and LAST 5.1 headset. This is the worst frigging headset I have ever heard. I couldn't believe this junk was worth $189... I was peeved. The sound quality was absolutely mediocre, more on par with $30 headphones (KSC75 excluded). Now to the meat of the reason anyone would get this garbage: The 5.1 speakers. If it's better than virtual surround, it sure could have fooled me, because I wasn't buying into that gimmick. There was a noticeable gap between the drivers when a sound switched from one driver to the next. Sure, you can TELL where sounds are coming from if you pay attention to which driver is currently puting off noise, but I'll take the complete 360 degree soundfield Dolby Headphone has to offer over this tripe. Yes, I absolutely hated this damn thing. Anyone who thinks this is better in positioning than a pair of AD700s, DT770 Pro 80s, and K70x with Dolby Headphone is someone I'd call a bold faced liar. Sorry, but I'm seriously angry this thing is actually more expensive than the AX720 which I consider better in pretty much every way, and costs $50 less. Let me not get into this as we have a few Ax Pro fanboys on here...moving on.

Fun: 1/10

Competitive: 5/10

Turtle Beach PX21

Hey, do you like hiss with your sound? Yeah? Then the PX21 is PERFECT for you. There is an audible hiss blanketed over the sound due to it's proprietary inline amp. Yeah, if you hook this up to the Mixamp, you're geting a hissy, double amped (in a bad way) piece of crap. Okay, not crap. If you can get over the hiss, the sound is actually pretty crisp and detailed. I actually LIKE the sound it has, hiss aside. However, due to the hiss, I won't go any further into trying to remotely going into the specifics. And yes, this is an innate issue with all PX21s. The inline amp is the problem.

Fun: 4/10

Competitive: 5/10

Turtle Beach Z2

Lol, these come with 50mm drivers, has no inline amp, and is cheaper than the PX21. These MUST be good! Okay, so when I opened the package and attempted to adjust it... the right cup snapped off. FUUUUUUUUUUUUUU-- Seriously. Just snapped. That goes to show you the kind of quality to expect. I couldn't even test the damn sound quality properly. Not to be unfair, I asked for a replacement on Amazon, which was shipped to me within 2 days. Knowing the durability issues, I took RIDICULOUSLY special care on not snapping one of the cups off when adjusting them on my head.

The sound: Hmm... bad. Just...REALLY bad. Now I will tell you why: the pads. It uses neoprene pads that don't isolate, and don't form any sort of seal. Why in the flipping hell would TB use pads that let the potential sound quality escape before it reaches your ears?

The Z2 is a closed headphone, with non-sealed pads. WTF. Okay, the AX720 is the same and sounds decent, but it just doesn't work for the Z2. Avoid it like the plague. If you really want me to tell you how it worked with Dolby Headphone, well... not even remotely good. Terrible lack of soundstage and positional accuracy. Actually, I think it's the very worst I have ever used with Dolby Headphone. Just...no. If I had to choose between the Z2 and the AX Pro, I'd probably just shoot myself.

Fun: 1/10

Competitive: 1/10

Steelseries Siberia V1

Bought these for my now-ex girlfriend. Quiet possibly the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. Seriously. The self adjusting headband is just AWESOME. Very light, and very open. Looks like a budget Sony MDR-F1. On to the sound... hmm... a bit on the veiled side. To be honest, they sounded better with music than they did with gaming. It wasn't even impressive with Dolby Headphone. I wouldn't look at these twice. The Siberia V2 is known to be pretty good, but sadly, I didn't get those because she didn't want pleather pads, so opted for the inferior version with tiny velours and smaller drivers.

Fun: 5/10

Competitive: 4/10

I have also briefly used the X11 and X41, but neither really did anything for me, and you couldn't give me a wireless headset for free. Just...no.


In Order








Creative Aurvana Live





Creative Aurvana Live

DT770/600ohm (bass heavy version with bass ports)

DT770 Pro 80


Here's a general idea of which headphones will more than likely perform very well with Dolby Headphone:

1. Large soundstage: Yes, the soundstage itself isn't a deal breaker, but it truly helps as it adds distance between you and the directional sounds. This is extremely helpful as it adds rear depth, making it a lot easier to diferentiating between front and rear sounds, which many closed headphones just can't do properly due to small soundstage.

2. Balanced sound: You wanna be able to hear all sounds right?

3. Relatively bass light, to energetic treble. This is the makings of a truly great headphone for competitive gaming. Really brings out the more subtle but doubly important details.

I plan on going a little more in depth with the good headphones, including their overall sound signature (warm/smooth, bright/aggressive, etc). This will happen sometime later, and I will let you guys know when it is done.

Like I mentioned before, to anyone wanting to try any pair of headphones for gaming, a good place to start is with headphones that have a good sized soundstage, and a more balanced sound. If the headphones are too colored, it just won't work well with online gaming. This is why I suggest having two pairs of headphones, one for online gaming, one for when you're enjoying a campaign, or just messing about. That is, unless you get something like the DT990 which pulls off both very well (however, remember the sizzling treble that may bother you).

Closed headphones CAN work well. My suspicions on certain headphones I haven't used that would probably be phenomenal for gaming:

D2000 (fun)

D5000 (fun)

Ultrasones with S-Logic on (fun)

K271 MKII (competitive)


Sony MDR-F1 (competitive)

HD800 (competitive)

K601 (competitive)

Beyer T1 (fun and competitive)

I distinctly remember people saying the HD600 and HD650 didn't have a very large soundstage in DH mode, so it wasn't as impressive. I can't be for certain.

Also have to note, that warm/smooth headphones are usually claustrophobic is DH mode, so they don't work well.

The brighter it is, the bigger the soundstage seems to be able to project further. Just my impressions.

This ridiculously long and unprofessional post took hours... @[email protected]

Shin CZ 10-25-2010 03:50 PM

Reserved 2

(this should be enough)

Daekwan 10-25-2010 03:57 PM

See if you can get it stickied Shin. Its definitely one of the longer running, more worthy topics that shouldnt go away. And you are involved enough to keep this thread alive.

Shin CZ 10-25-2010 04:05 PM

Yeah, I gotta go for now, but I'll look into a way to sticky it when I have the chance.

obazavil 10-25-2010 04:12 PM

if needed, I can delete my first 2 posts, in case there is a limit

More comments:
you can put pics of modded k702 too also, available mods for headphones if available, not only ad700

I bought this clip-on mic. is cheap and good:

nosaj03 10-25-2010 04:41 PM

Wow awesome thread shinz! Very comprehensive detail and really useful for those getting into gaming.

Ohh by the way I'm selling my modded ad700s just saying lol

EVM 10-25-2010 05:33 PM


Pluvious 10-25-2010 06:17 PM

Why are the Turtle Beach DX11's not listed? I would say they're close to the AV720's.


SID3W8Z 10-25-2010 06:21 PM

I'm here... Hi everyone. I'm a headphone addict. It all started some time ago when I decided stereo was not enough, and my wife decided that my Home Theater was too much. So, I began my journey to headphones. It's been a journey, and one that has been very fun (and expensive). I'm still not finished getting my fix, but for now I'm content. I started the 12 step process, but I think I won't make it to step 1 before falling off the wagon and coming back here to buy something else.

If you are strong, you will survive... if not, the Media, Ads, and this Hobby will eat you up! Enjoy it while you can... and crank the volume when you become hard of hearing. Nothing beats boredom like volume!

appleseed 10-25-2010 08:00 PM

If anyone is interested

SteelSeries is offering 40% off storewide with Coupon Code: bzna4d40 (Exp 10/25).

BTW Great job Shin.

PJ_Rage 10-25-2010 08:46 PM

Good idea with this thread, Shin, and I generally agree, BUT... the A40s are 10000x better than the HPX for multiplayer gaming positioning. Not even close -- the HPX are about the worst I have used for that purpose (positioning). I don't know how the AX720s compare to either, though. I just wouldn't put so definitively that the HPX sound better than the A40s, because I know, even with your hatred of the A40s, you would agree with me. For single player gaming, I could see someone liking the HPX more, though.

Shin CZ 10-25-2010 10:38 PM

My bad, I wrote that in a hurry. I meant to add a 'considered to be' in there. Will do that know.

There's still plenty of info I'd like to add on the first post, like the PC350/360, and MMX300.

I'll get around to it, but I figure I covered the most important information for now...

Also, if you guys have anything worthy of adding to the first post, let me know (or better yet, post it), and I'll make sure to put it down.

Originally Posted by Pluvious View Post

Why are the Turtle Beach DX11's not listed? I would say they're close to the AV720's.


That's because the DX11's fall into the category of 'meh headsets', and the DSS is still relatively new and lacks voice chat with any other headphone that isn't a Turtle Beach. I posted the best entry to mid level ways of getting into a serious headphone gaming setup. There's plenty of headsets out there that people can test out on their own, but these are the general suggestions by AVS members (as well as other headphone forums) considered to be ideal for gaming.

jammybastard 10-25-2010 11:10 PM

Originally Posted by Shin CZ View Post

That's because the DX11's fall into the category of 'meh headsets', and the DSS is still relatively new and lacks voice chat with any other headphone that isn't a Turtle Beach.

New thread, same old bias.

Shin CZ 10-25-2010 11:42 PM

Just because you like the X11 doesn't mean everyone else does. As I have already mentioned, I posted the most well known and POPULAR headsets that tend to be paired up with Dolby Headphone.

ALL the headsets and headphones (with the exception of the AVS current faves the K701 and K702) I posted have been tried, tested, and proven to be very popular in the gaming community, not just this forum.

Did you see me post the Creative Aurvana Live, DT770 Pros, and F1? No, because those aren't for everyone, nor are they as well known and popular as the few I have mentioned. Hell, the Senn 555/595 isn't that popular here on Head-fi, but they are still widely known as great gaming performers and always come up as viable alternatives to the AD700s. Some forum regulars don't like the HPX or AD700s, but does that make them any less popular as suggestions for gaming? No. On the contrary. I'm not putting personal bias here. I don't even like the A40s. But guess what? Yup. They are still widely known and used and will always come up as one of the best headsets... When it comes to the AD700, HPX, Senn 555, A40, AX720, those happen to be the most well known. PERIOD.

If you wanna post about how great your X11s are, by all means go ahead. They just won't be highlighted in the first post. You're more than welcome to give your opinion on them, just as everyone else is welcome to disagree with you. I personally think they're not worth the money, considering there are waaaay better offerings for just a little more money. Hence why they are hardly ever mentioned as a 'great' headset. Most topics are about their hiss, crappy build quality, or generally disfavorable opinions.

Cool Face 10-26-2010 12:07 AM

im sorry but why are we starting another thread? can you just post this information in the exisiting thread?

Shin CZ 10-26-2010 05:27 AM

Some of us think that the old thread is outdated, and there's so many posts that people have to go through. The same questions are asked EVERY SINGLE day, that would easily be answered by looking at the first post on this thread. The old topic starter doesn't post here, and therefore the thread doesn't an have easily accessible way as to how to get into headphone/headset gaming. I as well as a few others are forum regulars, so my first post will be updated with any new necessary info. This way, people can easily just tell everyone to look at the first post as reference.

Xae 10-26-2010 05:33 AM

Don't forget the Sennheiser pc360's which are basically 595's with a quality microphone.

Edit - saw you mention them in a later post, oops. Anyway, I prefer them over the pc350's I tried because they are open and imo sound better. I would also start to feel nauseous with the 350's because the isolation made me feel underwater or what not.

Shin CZ 10-26-2010 05:41 AM

Yeah, I'll get to it later today. Both PC350 and PC360. I'll skip the MMX300 as it's prohibitively expensive, and I think only one of us here has tried it with Virtual Surround...
I think I covered most if not all of the popular ones, so I believe that will be it. I'll be making minor tweaks to the images, as well as adding info that you guys think the first post needs.

PJ_Rage 10-26-2010 06:32 AM

It's funny, there is already so much discussion in this thread, it won't be long before it's purpose is defeated and it's just another of the same thread. Yes, the information is on the first page now, but I still feel that most people will want to see what the latest and greatest is and generally feel that older posts (especially in an active thread) are outdated.

RemoWilliams84 10-26-2010 06:50 AM

I have the ax720's and I've been wanting to get the astro mixamp to go with it. In your first post you say you can buy the mixamp for $130 by itself. I haven't been able to find it sold alone. Where would I get it?

Yrd 10-26-2010 07:14 AM

Originally Posted by RemoWilliams84 View Post

I have the ax720's and I've been wanting to get the astro mixamp to go with it. In your first post you say you can buy the mixamp for $130 by itself. I haven't been able to find it sold alone. Where would I get it?

I would google that for you but I won't.
Dell or Astro.

Shin CZ 10-26-2010 07:44 AM

Originally Posted by RemoWilliams84 View Post

I have the ax720's and I've been wanting to get the astro mixamp to go with it. In your first post you say you can buy the mixamp for $130 by itself. I haven't been able to find it sold alone. Where would I get it?

Wait, so why do you want the Mixamp if you already have the AX720 (and I assume the amp that comes with it)? They're practically the same thing, with the Mixamp having a few more inputs, something that a cheap switcher/splitter can probably do just as well.

bbexperience 10-26-2010 09:04 AM

Originally Posted by Xae View Post

Don't forget the Sennheiser pc360's which are basically 595's with a quality microphone.

Edit - saw you mention them in a later post, oops. Anyway, I prefer them over the pc350's I tried because they are open and imo sound better. I would also start to feel nauseous with the 350's because the isolation made me feel underwater or what not.

I'd be curious to see a comparison of the K702 and the PC360 for positioning, sound field, and whatnot. I really wanted to try the PC360's when I was looking but at the time you couldn't find them anywhere.

RemoWilliams84 10-26-2010 11:37 AM

I thought I had read in the old thread that the astro mixamp was much better than the amp that comes with the ax720. As far as finding it, I checked Amazon. I guess I just usually assume that if it's not on amazon it doesn't exist.

Cool Face 10-26-2010 11:38 AM

i still use my ipod gen 2 headphones. u cant tell me some $400 ear speakers do a better job.


obazavil 10-26-2010 11:41 AM

Originally Posted by RemoWilliams84 View Post

I thought I had read in the old thread that the astro mixamp was much better than the amp that comes with the ax720. As far as finding it, I checked Amazon. I guess I just usually assume that if it's not on amazon it doesn't exist.

basically, IF you have already AX720 OR don't want to spend a lot of cash, there is no real need to change to mixamp.

IF you are willing to pay more, you can use MixAmp + (some fancy headset) such as A30, A40, HPX, AD700, K702, etc, etc, etc

Cool Face 10-26-2010 11:46 AM

hey OP, how bout just making an excel sheet with all the headphones ya'll blab about, plus all the mix amps. create a table with references to "Crap, Good, Better, OMFG!" as a rating system.

hyperlinks to extra reviews, vid demos, MSRP info...kinda like someone used to do with all the arcade games... what was that genisus' name?!?!?!

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