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How to get the best sound for Guild Wars 2?

sound jeremy soul sound card headphones

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#1 Kalfer

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 10:41 PM

IMO, the world of sound is confusing. building your own computer, figuring stuff out about pixels and graphics cards and fps and resolutions is simple... to me.

But I have a hard time figuring out about sound. I read a lot of sound reviews, and people are always cryptic. audio reviews are always described with emotion and feelings and for every person who thinks something there is someone who thinks the opposite. It's a little more conclusive with imagery.


1) Headphones. Headphones by far ( I have found out) will be the most inexpensive way for a gamer to buy the best sound for the smallest amount of money. On top of this, they can be used with other devices on the go like laptops, tablets, mp3 players, cell phones, or just on other peoples devices.

* Does one need a sound card, if so, which one? what will a sound card give. the stigma is that a motherboard is build in with decent sound. having a dedicated sound card in your system, how much will it do, and will it do any good at all if you dont know anything about equalizers, or simply dont want to tingle with it!? can you even here the difference in games?

* Are gaming headphones / headsets really worth it? Personally I am a hardcore gamer, but I spent as much time listening to music or watching movies. After all, ain't gaming headphones usually tuned to heighten the off beat sounds? footsteps, off-screen explosions, wind cracking, water splashes and other subtle audio engineered effects gets increased by many gaming headphones balance.

Kinda like the infamously hated/loved Beats By Dre has a very high bass to make hiphop(Which uses a lot of bass) to sound better. but of course this comes at a negative in other genres like classical music ? Are gaming headphones poor for other things?
is it better to get a quality normal set of headphones, and then maybe buy the cheapest gaming headset available if you need to use a mic when on vent?

* And what about amps? Do they help at all?




I'm lost in the audiovisual department. For all our fixations on the visuals, how do we make the audio team and Jeremy Soule proud?

#2 tijo

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 11:36 PM

Sound is something really subjective, what sounds good to you might not sound good to others. A soundcard will make no difference unless you go for audiophile grade equipment, that means dropping quite a bit of cash on a pair of headphones and even then it will depend on your onboard audio, the soundcard (cheap soundcards won't do much) and how does your audio equipment sound amped vs unamped.

A gaming headset is built for comfort, getting good directional cues, good sound for games (i.e. it may suck for music or it may not) and a good mic. You will get better sound from a pair of headphone at the same price as that of a gaming headset simply because you have to account for the cost of the mic on the headset

The audio source also has a rather marked impact, highly compressed audio will sound pretty bad in high end equipment since the flaws due to the compression will be more apparent. GW2 sounded pretty good no matter what audio equipment i used so i doubt that will be a problem.

Most people only need a decent headset and that's the end of it and not all headsets are that engineered, as one of my friends put it, get a good pair of cans, the rest is gravy (unless you have some very crappy onboard sound).

My best word of advice would be to go out and try headphones/headsets, find something that sounds good and is comfortable for you. For gaming, i use a corsair vengeance headset, can wear the thing for 4 hours and not have it bother me. Sound quality is alright, but it's nothing compared to my headphones.

An amp may or may not have an impact, it really depends on what you're using. For example, my Sennheiser HD25-1 II sounds pretty good even unamped (sounds better with an map, but nothing to make you want to carry a portable amp with your mp3) while my friend's Shure 440 (insanely uncomfortable, but that's another story) has very disappointing bass unamped and as a result the mids sound too forward to me. I have friends who swear by it (amped), to me they sound a bit boring, accurate, but boring for popular music, electronica and metal. They probably sound great for other genres though and it all depends on your tastes.

Also consider that if you have young kinds, pets, etc. If they might damage your audio gear, forget high end stuff or you'll want to shoot yourself when your dog eats the wire on a 250$ pair of headphones. With luck the cable will be replaceable, but it will still cost you to replace it.

tl;dr: get out there and try some gear, then buy what suits your tastes. If it were for music, i'd say load your MP3 with your favorite tracks of every genre you listen to and test those headphones. It's a bit harderfor a gaming headset, but i have yet to run into a good headset that wasn't ok for music as well, nothing to wow you away, but still alright for most people.

See for example:

Edited by tijo, 17 June 2012 - 11:53 PM.


#3 wowzers5

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 12:18 AM

To speak a little more on the topic of sound cards and headphones. Firstly, there are 2 major routes in this area.
1) analog headset/headphones and soundcard
2) headset/headphones with usb and built in software.

I'm not talking about just straight analog into the motherboard, b/c as far as sound quality goes while it is acceptable, its nothing compared to the alternatives. Since we're looking for the "best" sound, I'll leave that out. Also like you said, sound is EXTREMELY subjective. So in the end its best to try out stuff for yourself to decide.

For 1, this will be the more expensive and difficult of the two, but will yield the best (or more agreed upon) results. I have an Asus Xonar dg paired with a sennheiser pc 360. The Xonar has a feature called "Dolby Headphone". It basically emulates a surround sound setting on headphones, and can really make listening to anything more enjoyable. I leave it enabled at all times and it makes movies, games, and music seem to be much more crisp and have much more depth. For the headphones on this route, you want something as neutral as possible. For that, read a LOT of reviews. head-fi.org is a great place to find credible reviews on headphones and headsets.

For 2, its a lot easier. Most usb headsets come with their own software that basically does the job of a soundcard to enhance the audio. Quality wise it probably won't be as good as a dedicated card set up, but it has convenience on its side. And like said before, this is highly subjective. You might not be able to tell the difference, or you could have a very sensitive audio palette.

"Gaming" headsets can have their pros and cons. If you're very sensitive I wouldn't hesitate to recommend what I have, the Sennheiser PC 360. They're expensive, about 220$. But Sennheiser is known in the audio world as being a high standard company for anything from speakers to headphones and microphones. Generally speaking though, you are correct to say most "Gaming" headsets aren't the best quality wise.

When it all comes down to it, the best thing to do is try out headphones for yourself. If interested in sound cards research the software that the cards use and get an idea of what they are like.

#4 98percentcute

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 12:24 AM

I can tell you one stupid myth to be aware of:
Super Bass doesn't mean good sound.

I don't know why, but many people feel like if it doesn't have the strongest bass around, it's worth nothing for sound. Beats by Dre is overrated in my opinion. It's comfortable but I don't think it has very good sound quality - just a lot of bass.

The steelseries is one of the more popular headsets, and I'm getting one myself. I haven't tried it yet so I can't comment on it myself for audio.

#5 tijo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 01:31 AM

Head-fi is a good place to start, don't drink the kool-aid there though, you'll find that opinions vary a lot even on head-fi. Take the ATH-M50 for example, they got hyped a lot at one point then it was the trend to hate on the M50. They are good headphones, but they got a lot of love and hate at head-fi, too much of both if you ask me, still a good pair of entry audiophile headphones if you can find a pair for 150$ or less.

The senn PC360 is a good analogue headset, but pricey as previously mentioned.

Haven't used the syberia extensively, but comfort wise it's pretty good, i personally don't like pleather pads that much, they make my ears sweat which is why i went with a Vengeance headset with velour pads. Both are very comfortable headsets though.

Quote

I can tell you one stupid myth to be aware of:
Super Bass doesn't mean good sound.

This can't be said enough. Beats while not bad headphones are more of a social status symbol. I found the bass not that impressive, very prominent compared to the rest (too much so), but not that impressive. I'm not what you'd call a basshead though and i prefer the bass of my HD25-1 II, it's there, doesn't overshadow the mids and high and it's tight. That said, i haven't tried the beats pro so i can't comment on the sound quality of those, but i'd assume they are overpriced for their sound quality like the rest of the beats. In the end it's still something very subjective.

With the beats it's more a matter of price vs sound quality that makes them not a great buy if your main concern is sound (to me at least).

Your third alternative is separate headphone and separate mic. Great alternative if you find a pair of headphone on which you absolutely love the sound.

Oh and one addendum on amps, for headphones, looking at the impedance is a good indicator of whether you will need an amp or not. A pair of HD650 at 300homs most definitely will. Some low impedance headphones will still sound better with an amp though. I don't us an amp when i'm on my desktop, but i have an older laptop with not so good onboard sound and as such i use a dac/amp connected through USB.

Edited by tijo, 18 June 2012 - 01:46 AM.


#6 Turbine

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 01:36 AM

Sound cards and a great headset with great sound quality is pretty much all you need.

#7 tijo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 01:55 AM

View PostTurbine, on 18 June 2012 - 01:36 AM, said:

Sound cards and a great headset with great sound quality is pretty much all you need.

In the end, i'd say the headset is the only thing most people need. It will all depend on how much you're willing to shell out for audio gear and how much trouble you want to go through in the end.

Personally, when i play i tend to concentrate on other stuff than sound quality so anything decent will do the job hence the corsair headset. If i want to enjoy the soundtrack and just take in the scenery then i'll dig out my ATH-M50 or HD25-1 II.

Edited by tijo, 18 June 2012 - 02:00 AM.


#8 Kuju

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 02:53 AM

I use Logitech S-220 2.1 speaker setup with whatever is onboard for my AsRock Z68 Extreme 3 Gen 3 mobo; everything sounds perfectly fine to me. However, it is all subjective to the individual as mentioned above. I would never, ever, spend the money on a decent sound card. I'd rather just save the money towards my next GPU upgrade!

#9 Istaf

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 04:45 AM

I've gone through the exact same thing you did when I 1st got into sound. I had been using the on-board sound my whole life and a sound card had never even crossed my mind. When I turned 18 I finally got into competitive gaming for counter strike source. This game sound is used a lot to shoot people through walls and basically using peoples movements as wall hacking  legitimately. My team all used X-Fi cards which at the time were around $200ish if I remember right.

I wanted to hear the difference myself so I did some researching and decided on my Xtream Gamer X-Fi sound card and a pair of Sennheiser HD555's head phones. Which the competitive community agreed upon was the way to go when it came to sound. I didn't have enough to buy both at the same time and instead bought them at different times which was a real eye opener.

I first bought the sound card which I used for a few weeks with a cheap pair of Logitech headphones. It was a instant difference, even with the cheaper headphones the sounds some how seemed clearer and I was able to pick out sounds I wouldn't normally hear or notice. While it didn't make me more accurate, it did make me a much more aware player in general which led me to play better. Once I saved up enough for headphones to go with the sound card it only amplified this.

Now I cant really play without the nicer audio, and a good way to compare without actually buying anything would be to listen to the same song in low and high quality. Its simply much nicer to hear higher quality audio than lower, much like its the same for videos.  

Do you need a sound card? No, now as many have said sound is a lot better on motherboards and you don't need it really. However I do think they are a worth while upgrade if you have the money. I haven't seen any reviews on it really, but some gaming cards offer things such as "scout mode" where it will actually pick up sounds in a much larger area around you that you shouldn't really be able to hear (yea its kinda hacking but its legal so whatever lol)

What does this mean for a MMO player? Not much to be honest, we cant really use sounds to our advantage like FPS gamers can. BUT! Having better audio will lead to a much more enjoyable and immersive experience. My suggestion, buy a pair like these that come with a USB sound card. They'll give you a good base to compare  with. If you like what you hear upgrade from there. Headphones are the first step to becoming a audiophile.

Edited by Istaf, 18 June 2012 - 04:46 AM.


#10 Tarun

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 06:51 AM

In my experiences, a sound card has always done better than onboard audio. I have a 5.1 speaker set and when I used onboard audio, the speakers had a low hum to them and music didn't sound very good at all. Drove me nuts. So I switched back to my sound card and was perfectly happy with it.

That said, I have some old 5.1 speakers I got from Gateway of all places. They've worked just fine and produce great sound quality. The geek in my wouldn't mind a 7.1 set though.

#11 tijo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:10 AM

Well, onboard on higher end mobos has gotten pretty good, but even if the hardware is good, you will run into some motherboards where the rest of the circuitry is making some interference with the analog output. You often see this in laptops since everything is crammed together, but it could happen on desktop mobos too. Then there the audio gear itself some of which is really sensitive to signal noise. Those two can completely ruin an experience.

I haven't run into the noise issue with onboard in quite a while with my own equipment, but i've seen it often in laptops when you use higher end headphones.

I still don't believe in cheap sound cards since they can't output better sound than the onboard on a good mobo. Interference is the only reason i can see someone going for one. Now higher end soundcards are another story, but i don't like using cheap headphones with higher end outputs and vice versa. Cheap headphones tend to have problems keeping up with sometimes so the soundcard is kinda wasted and bad onboard/soundcards will sound bad with higher end headphones since the headphones will pick up anything bad in the signal and make it rather apparent.

In the end budget will decide and you won't need audio cues in GW2 like you would in CS. That said, Jeremy Soule's music is often pretty good,but when things get hectic you will be busy doing something else.

#12 dhatcher1

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 08:30 AM

View PostIstaf, on 18 June 2012 - 04:45 AM, said:

I've gone through the exact same thing you did when I 1st got into sound.
Which was when?

New motherboards have onboard that now matches Xi-fi for HD sound playback (but not recording).  Unless you are ready to spend $200+ on a sound card and $200+ on headphones (or $500+ on speakers) you wont be able to tell the difference between new onboard and a cheap sound card.

Edited by dhatcher1, 18 June 2012 - 08:32 AM.


#13 Alex Dimitri

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 09:18 AM

I`m a proud owner of Asus Xonar STX and what can i say, sound is so much better then trough onboard sound chip !
NOTE: Stated above is TRUE if you listen to your music trough amp/reciever/decent speakers/quality headphones, if you use crapy PC speakears you will not hear difference !
As far it goes with headphones going with brand names is almost always win (AKG,Sennheiser.....) they are more expensive but generaly worth a money (lot`s of "gaming" headset`s are just crap painted more colorful and in the nice box).
NOTE: Prolongued use of headphones on high volume can damage your hearing, headphones are not meant for non-stop use !Also some model cause fatigue on your ears (pain on ear lobes).

In my opinion Headphones are good for listening music (one or two album sessions) good headphones give you "feel" that in speaker market needs to be paid 15000$ + , for gaming well i would say use them only when you absolutely need to keep noise down (not disturbing parents,wife,girlfriend,boyfriend,grandma & grandpa) avoid listening to repetative sounds (FPS guns, bomb blasts, MMO screams, spell casts) after listening those for hours you are bound to get headache (strong migrene) and that`s something nobody want`s !

#14 Niila

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 05:41 PM

My two cents for this discussion:

I would forget about headsets and buy high quality headphones and cheap your-walmart-labtec/logitech desk microphone seperately instead. The microphone is more than enough for mumble/vent chitchat and you get the comfot and crisp, clear sound of quality headphones without the compromises of a headset (robust bass, 3d-surround and all other niches which ruin the music experience). The microphone is always attached to the headset which might be a hindrance when you don't even need it.

My recommendation for good price/quality would be Sennheiser hd-558, which has replaced the former hd-555.

#15 moriz

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 06:44 PM

one thing on headphone impedance:

the value listed is the "nominal" impedance, usually measured at around 1kHz. however, headphones don't have the same impedance across their entire range. for example, the popular sennheiser HD 598, often named one of the best headphones that don't require an amp, has a huge impedance spike of 300 Ohms around 100 Hz, right in the upper-bass range. while they sound perfectly fine driven by an ipod, adding a strong amp really improves them, especially in anything bass heavy.

another example is the popular AKG K701/K702/Q701. its listed nominal impedance is 62 Ohms, but sound like garbage unless it is hooked up to a powerful amp.

as for my recommendation, i'd first get quality headphones (and an amp, if required) and use the onboard sound initially. only get a separate sound card or external DAC if you hear audible noise from the onboard (idle hum, clicking noises, buzzing, etc).

my current setup: asus xonar essence stx sound card, Fiio E9 desktop amp (connected via a RCA-3.5mm cable, bypassing the xonar's built in amp), and sennheiser HD 600 headphones. i use the mic built into my apple LED cinema display, which is absolutely spectacular.

#16 tijo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:01 PM

If you want to look at good headphones, going to head-fi might a good idea to get a general idea of what to try in your budget. Try them if you can though and Moriz is spot on about amps, the Shure 440 example i gave earlier is another situation where an amp does make a difference. Personally when i'm on my laptops, i use a FiiO E7 (DAC + small AMP) to power my headphones, onboard on my G73 is alright, but on an older toshiba i had it wasn't so good hence why i got the FiiO.

Edited by tijo, 18 June 2012 - 07:01 PM.


#17 Kalfer

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:27 PM

Thanks for contributing to this discussion. I hope others will find these comments as beneficial as I have. This stuff actually made sense to me.

What makes me more happy - I actually own the Asus Xonax Essence STX! I purhcased this with my computer, but It didn't fit in my original case, but I might have room for it in my current one.

So basically, if a sound card like the Xonar Essence STX can drive up to 300 ohm - And what ohm does (as far as I understand it) is that it reworks the sound to make it sound less distorted. It sounds less digital and more real. Like the difference between listening to a record and a mp3 file?

So if I have this sound card that can handle all these ohms, I need a pair of headphones that can take advantage of that?



Beyerdynamic DT 770-PRO Headphones: http://www.amazon.co...m/dp/B0006NL5SM


Seems to be a decent headphone? It comes in several variations - one with 80 ohm and one with 250! So I guess - If I only wanted to use these with an Ipod without an amp or anything, I would get the 80 ohm version!? But if I have a sound card like the Xonar STX, I would benefit from the 250 version?

View Postmoriz, on 18 June 2012 - 06:44 PM, said:

one thing on headphone impedance:

the value listed is the "nominal" impedance, usually measured at around 1kHz. however, headphones don't have the same impedance across their entire range. for example, the popular sennheiser HD 598, often named one of the best headphones that don't require an amp, has a huge impedance spike of 300 Ohms around 100 Hz, right in the upper-bass range. while they sound perfectly fine driven by an ipod, adding a strong amp really improves them, especially in anything bass heavy.

another example is the popular AKG K701/K702/Q701. its listed nominal impedance is 62 Ohms, but sound like garbage unless it is hooked up to a powerful amp.

as for my recommendation, i'd first get quality headphones (and an amp, if required) and use the onboard sound initially. only get a separate sound card or external DAC if you hear audible noise from the onboard (idle hum, clicking noises, buzzing, etc).

my current setup: asus xonar essence stx sound card, Fiio E9 desktop amp (connected via a RCA-3.5mm cable, bypassing the xonar's built in amp), and sennheiser HD 600 headphones. i use the mic built into my apple LED cinema display, which is absolutely spectacular.

you use an amp and a dedicated sound card? but I thought the sound card was a sort of amp in of itself?

#18 moriz

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 07:53 PM

here's a good link with the information you need:
http://www.head-fi.o...phone-impedance

or in other words, headphone load impedance doesn't really determine the headphones' performance. rather, it just so happens that a lot of the best headphones have high impedance.

from what i've gathered, this is because these headphones are often used in recording studios, where they are hooked up to a device called the distribution amp, which is an amplifier that can drive multiple headphones. these devices require very high loads on each output jack, otherwise they'll get damaged.

View PostKalfer, on 18 June 2012 - 07:27 PM, said:

you use an amp and a dedicated sound card? but I thought the sound card was a sort of amp in of itself?

i received my HD 600 second-hand, together with a FiiO E7, E9, AND an E11. the E7 and E9 can be combined together via a built in dock to form a powerful DAC+amp combo. the E9 is a better and more powerful amp than the built-in one on my STX, but the STX is a much better DAC than the E7. so i'm using my STX as a pure DAC and using the E9 amp to drive my headphones. also, the E9 has two outputs, which i'm using the high gain 1/4" jack for the HD 600, and the low gain 3.5mm jack for my speakers. perfect combo.

Edited by moriz, 18 June 2012 - 07:56 PM.


#19 tijo

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:00 PM

The DT770 are a good pair, but you have other options from other manufacturers as well in that price range. This is why i suggested going in a store and trying them, this depends on your location though.

If you're in the US, B&H is a good place to order headphones online: http://www.bhphotovi...23/N/4294550602 http://www.bhphotovi...72/N/4220238605 Compare prices of course, since some are bound to be cheaper depending on where you buy.

If you live in N-Y, then you can even go to their store to try them first hand.

EDIT: Here are some headphones that aren't too expensive that popped up as a recommendation on NBR recently:

-AKG K81DJ
-AKG K181DJ
-Creative Aurvana Live!
-Sony MDR-V6
-Brainwavz HM5
-Audio Technica M50
-Sennheiser HD25-1 II

I'd add the Shure 840 and 940 to that list as well. If you want to spend more that 100-200$ though, you can go for something more expensive like the HD650. I would definitely check head-fi though, but like said, when it comes to sound, it's so subjective that you should look for opinions from people who listen to the same genres as you.

I'd read up on the advantages and disadvantages of various designs if you don't know what you exactly want. For example, do you want closed or open headphone, on ear, IEMs or circumaural?

Everything i go headphones shopping i feel like pulling my hair out because there's so many choices, prices, opinions, etc.

Edited by tijo, 18 June 2012 - 10:14 PM.


#20 Istaf

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Posted 18 June 2012 - 10:10 PM

View Postdhatcher1, on 18 June 2012 - 08:30 AM, said:

Which was when?

New motherboards have onboard that now matches Xi-fi for HD sound playback (but not recording).  Unless you are ready to spend $200+ on a sound card and $200+ on headphones (or $500+ on speakers) you wont be able to tell the difference between new onboard and a cheap sound card.

2006ish

I also think you are GROSSLY over pricing what you need to spend on sound to improve it to the point you can tell a difference. A card such as this and really any decent set of headphones which is no where near $400 would yield improved sound.

#21 sargentgunner

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 06:58 AM

The ATH-M50's are a great buy, and I would highly recommend them. Though as with all other audio, you will need an amp to power them, or else there is no point.

#22 tijo

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 07:59 AM

View Postsargentgunner, on 19 June 2012 - 06:58 AM, said:

The ATH-M50's are a great buy, and I would highly recommend them. Though as with all other audio, you will need an amp to power them, or else there is no point.

I actually think the M50 sound pretty good unamped, the amp is definitely not needed, but still adds a little something.

Edited by tijo, 19 June 2012 - 08:00 AM.


#23 Alex Dimitri

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 08:17 AM

@OP

Yes Asus Xonar STX has Amp (for Headphones), not a single audio card is Amp on it`s own !
To se the biggest difference in sound you need to use FLAC files (uncompressed music) mp3 (at it`s best 320Kbit is about 1/3 of original file quality).
I suggest Foobar2000 (with ASIO drivers installed on your PC) great music player, far better than it`s competition and totaly free.
Bayerdynamic is great company, Xonar will drive any decent headphones (midrange +) if you get 300-600 Ohms headphones then you will need dedicated headphone amp !

#24 Treble

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Posted 19 June 2012 - 08:38 PM

Do NOT get a gaming headset. Not unless it's called a Beyerdynamic MMX 300 (DT 770 with a mic attached). No gaming headset can replicate the sound quality of a good pair of headphones with a dedicated soundcard.

Go with Sennheiser (HD 595), Beyerdynamic (DT 770/ Pro880 or MMX 300), or AKG (K701/702's). People like the Audio Technica M50's, but I found they have absolutely zero bass impact. It's great for FPS positioning, but absolutely horrible for ambience and immersion.

Get a good quality soundcard. I have the HT Omega Striker paired with Astro's MixAmp, but you won't need the MixAmp if your soundcard has DH built in.

No, onboard sound isn't as good as a dedicated sound card. At least not unless the onboard has Dolby Headphone. DH is what emulates surround sound for headphones.

Edited by Treble, 19 June 2012 - 08:43 PM.


#25 techbiker

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 07:19 AM

I'm registering on this site just to post in this topic, so hopefully this knowledge is of some use to the op and responders.

One of the main problems with integrated audio and sound cards is that these devices are all inside your computer case, an area that experiences tons of interference. For the cleanest sound, purchase an external audio interface. People who work with pro audio rarely use internal sound cards. I use a Mackie Blackjack http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/B003VZG550 and it generates quality balanced and unbalanced audio signals while isolated from my computer.

The blackjack had driver issues until the latest version was released last month. You can disregard most of the negative reviews.

These balanced and shielded signals feed a Crown Com-tech 400 amplifier, which pipes sound to a Jamo 250 subwoofer and a pair of Pioneer SP-BL41LR speakers. Sound quality is excellent and engulfing. Bass is also much better than anything generated by headphones. I use an external microphone to chat.

If you are interested in headphones, purchase a mid to high-end pair like the Audio Technica M50's or better. The AT-M50s have great bass response if powered by a capable amplifier. I know because I built Ian Thompson-Bell's Improved headphone amplifier for SargentGunner. If you are curious, this is a SRPP vacuum tube amplifier with a NFB loop. I ordered custom output transformers that were designed for maximum compatibility with the impedence of his M50's. He has a very nice audio system (he's also a great GW2 player).

http://uk.linkedin.c...-bell/7/16b/960

Either way you go however, you need to decide whether external speakers or headphones better suit your needs. Quality sound reproduction is not subjective, however some people prefer flawed or imperfect sound. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

If you go with external speakers:

-Always use an external audio interface
-Always run balanced audio connections
-Only use hifi or pro audio equipment. No "computer" speaker systems compare.
-Do not focus on wattage. Focus on quality.
-Aim for a flat frequency response curve when purchasing hardware. Bass, etc. can be modified through software.

If you go with headphones:

-Determine the type that best suits you. Earbuds for portability or cans for more bass and immersion.
-Amplfiiers do make a difference. Often, your computer cannot power a large set of headphones adequately.
-Again, aim for a flat frequency response when looking at hardware. Going with Dr. Dre's is often a bad idea because the bass tends to bleed over into the mid-range.

Finally, I would rather have 2 nice audio channels than 5 poor or emulated audio channels. Most music is still recorded in stereo and I have had little problem playing all manner of video games with "just" two channels.

Let me know if you have any questions. Have fun playing GW2!

Edited by techbiker, 20 June 2012 - 07:32 AM.


#26 Quaker

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 03:23 PM

Keep in mind, through all this, that the sound quality in GW2 is apt to be limited by the quality of the sound recording and compression of GW2 itself. You can have the most expensive audio setup imaginable and it's still gonna sound like crap if you pump AM radio through it. :)

#27 MisterB

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 08:50 PM

You don't need to spend anything on internal soundcards unless you want to use the analog outputs, which you shouldn't do. PCs generate too much interference, as mentioned earlier. For best sound quality, use digital transmission to an external device, then use the outputs on that.

Edited by MisterB, 20 June 2012 - 08:51 PM.


#28 Treble

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 09:36 PM

View Posttechbiker, on 20 June 2012 - 07:19 AM, said:

Finally, I would rather have 2 nice audio channels than 5 poor or emulated audio channels. Most music is still recorded in stereo and I have had little problem playing all manner of video games with "just" two channels.

Let me know if you have any questions. Have fun playing GW2!

Dolby Headphone is a great emulation of 5-channel surround though. You obviously need a great set of headphones (2 channels) for it to work best, but it's great for getting personal surround for movies and games and many Head-Fi gamers swear by it. Those gimmick 5-channel gaming headphones are trash though.

Also, internal sound card tech is pretty much a non-issue if you get one with TOSLink/Optical and feed that into an external analog device.

#29 MisterB

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Posted 20 June 2012 - 10:11 PM

View PostTreble, on 20 June 2012 - 09:36 PM, said:


Also, internal sound card tech is pretty much a non-issue if you get one with TOSLink/Optical and feed that into an external analog device.

HDMI and digital coaxial work just as well, too.




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