Best gaming headphones for £100 or less

Discussion in 'Headphones, Earphones & Portable Music' started by jellofund, Jun 11, 2009.

  1. jellofund

    jellofund
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    Hi guys,

    I recently bought an Astro A40 system which consists of a stereo headset (w/ mic) & a Mixamp which outputs Dolby Headphone for pseudo surround sound.

    Whilst the supplied headset is fine (excellent mic / voice comms & good reproduction of in game dialogue) there are a few 'niggles' that make me think a decent pair of stereo headphones would outweigh the advantages of having an integrated headset. The main issues I have are:

    - the sound isn't as 'engaging' as I'd like (edit: after a few hours use this has improved greatly)
    - the bass is maybe a tad muddy at times
    - when things get busy in-game individual sounds can on occassion merge together rather than remain distinct
    - although offering a decent surround effect the soundstage seems slightly 'narrower' than I would personally like. I'm guessing this is a characteristic of closed back phones though...
    - & most importantly their performance is only average when listening to audio cd's (but to be fair they are squarely intended for gaming use)

    I know there are a lot of good headphones out there and they all have pro's & con's but I'm finding it hard to decide on a set. Wondering if anyone could recommended an open backed pair that would tick the following boxes?

    - a crisp, clear & natural sound (slightly bright is ok though)
    - tight, punchy & non 'muddy' bass...I'm not a bass freak by any means though
    - good seperation of sound
    - a good soundstage so that open environments really feel spacious
    - suitable for general music listening too

    I appreciate that I may be asking for the moon on a stick with this list but any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance :thumbsup:

    Edit: should add that I do my gaming on a 360 / PS3 (using an optical connection) rather than PC w/ dedicated sound card.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  2. jellofund

    jellofund
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    Reading some more the Audio Technica ATH-AD 700's sound like they could be a good choice.

    Would be interested to hear the thoughts of anyone who uses a pair esp. for gaming.

    The cheapest place I can see them is from a company called hifi4less. Has anyone used them before and would you recommend them?

    Thanks :thumbsup:
     
  3. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    I think the AD700s tick all your boxes very well.

    Good stereo phones will outperform any surround or pseudo 5.1 gaming headsets for separation and soundstage - because it's not about having more drivers, it's about having good drivers.

    AD700s are very good for music too, but the following re: sources applies.

    I'm not up on optical connections (it doesn't make any difference Vs. USB on my source), but the soundcard in gaming systems is likely to be the weak link, holding back any good phone you choose.

    Also, SFX files in games are fairly simple, and often highly compressed, so you can't spend ever upwards on phones and get bigger and bigger returns on soundstage - but the AD700 are a good balance b/n cost and performance in this regard.

    Generally speaking, consoles are the poorest of sources, as the component build is geared towards video over audio. I'm not sure if you can fix this with an internal or external card upgrade, as you can with PCs.
     
  4. jellofund

    jellofund
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    Thanks very much for the reply - I've decided to take a punt on them.

    The 360 & PS3 both output dolby digital (either 2 channel or 5.1) via optical so the output quality should be ok. Compression of the audio files may well be a limiting factor though.

    As you say there probably comes a point where increasing the budget starts to pay diminishing returns (& hurts my wallet) and the Audio Technica's seem to be offer a pretty good compromise between quality & cost.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    No problem, they're excellent phones and good luck with it.

    Although optical is purely a data transport medium, and has nothing to do with digital-analogue conversion, it's likely just more efficient/faster at sending the data from one device to the other.

    An improved source gives optical connections cleaner/better quality data to send :thumbsup:

    So if you are find you're underwhelmed by the AD700 soundstage, this is where the improvement will come from. Yes, gaming audio is a limiter, but the AD700 is a really good quality/price/performance point for gaming.

    But they sound very good for music too, and a lot of the gimmicky gaming headset ones suck at that.
     
  6. jellofund

    jellofund
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    I received my AD700s this morning and have to say that I am very pleased with them :thumbsup:

    In terms of gaming they really do make the environments feel much more open & spacious than the A40s. Positional awareness also seems to be improved and I am able to hear ambient noises that I missed with the Astro headset. They are perhaps a bit lighter in terms of bass but I would say the bass sound is a lot cleaner and the AD700s add life to the sound (they are perhaps slightly on the bright side of neutral).

    The real improvement is in terms of music playback as Drubbing suggested might be the case. The soundstage seems a lot wider (sorry if that's not the technical name), the music is a lot more engaging, the tone richer and individual instruments are much more easily heard.

    Really really comfortable too if a bit on the big side. Althought they are very light so this it not really an issue.

    So far I'm really impressed and I imagine they will only get better as the hours rack up :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2009
  7. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    It's always a good sign if you like phones straight away; some take a while to get accustomed to.:thumbsup:

    I'd agree, the bass on ATs is lean, but very good; quality over quantity. I listened to a number of them, but never bought any in the end, as my head is just too small for their big fit.

    I like their sound a lot, but their size is just not going to work for 54cm or smaller heads.
     
  8. Thomefan

    Thomefan
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    Surely you are not going to get the surround sound experience with standard headphones - no matter how good they are?

    Am I missing something?
     
  9. Drubbing

    Drubbing
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    nothing can replicate the true surround of 5.1 and a sub in a room - frequencies are split up, and given physical space. So gaming headsets are mostly marketing hype, and very often reviewed by people who have never compared good headphones to headsets, besides there's a market segment to create/support :). There is nothing a good set of stereo phones can't do just as well or better for the same or less money.

    Because it's about better drivers being able to create good soundstage and separation, not more, and cheaper ones.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2009

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