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A/V Recommend a sound card and/or Gaming headset

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by PhoenixTank, 10 Mar 2012.

  1. PhoenixTank

    PhoenixTank From The Ashes

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    Hi all,

    First, some background for you:
    So I've been having issues with my onboard sound for quite some time now. Sometimes it will happily acknowledge that my headset microphone is indeed working and shows the levels correctly. At others it will record sound at a far lower volume than it should, or flat out show no sound being captured.

    Now I don't honestly know whether this is a problem with my headset's microphone (Sennheiser PC150 with a 2.5mm jack, not usb) or my onboard sound input (playback is fine)... or maybe a bit of both. I do know that I've tried many things to fix it :Fresh 7 install, newer/older drivers, both back and front panel audio input. The only thing that provides a temporary fix when it refuses to register any sound input is to restart some sound related services.
    Frankly I'm sick of it and just want to bypass the issue.

    Now I have no idea whether to just grab a good USB headset and call it a day, or go all out on a Xonar D2X (or something else?) and a good 2.5mm jack headset.
    Using the recent review of the Corsair Vengeance 1300 Review as an example... would opting for the the 1300 with a D2X even make a difference in audio quality over the 1500? Not so fussed about 7.1 audio from USB, but won't snub it either.

    Really I'm looking to have as few issues as possible, so reliable hardware and drivers are important here. That pretty much means no Creative sound cards. I've had enough "fun" with my old build, dealing with an Audigy 2 ZS (great card, terrible driver install process and support)

    I don't use speakers with my PC, just my headset. I make a lot of Skype calls and such so the headset needs to have a good microphone; comfort is important too.
    I've read enough threads to know there are plenty of people who say it is best to get a good set of headphones and a separate microphone. I honestly appreciate that viewpoint, but I'm really going for convenience here.

    Budget is flexible, I can pony-up up to £200 if I'm going down the sound card and headset route. £200 for a headset is a bit steep, but I would if the headset really was worth it.

    Any advice you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Even somewhere to head to for good headset reviews so I can decide for myself would help. (Nothing wrong with the headset reviews here, just not many of them)

    Thanks!
     
  2. lancer778544

    lancer778544 Multimodder

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  3. PhoenixTank

    PhoenixTank From The Ashes

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    Thanks for the post. That is an option I had honestly forgotten about, but as you said the bundle doesn't seem to be a great set judging from the review, and I've read that it is discontinued (which would explain the pre-order option on scan).


    Still kinda weighing up the Corsair 1500 and 1300. I could get a 1300 and then a sound card if the issues persisted... or just straight to the 1500. After reading a side-by-side review of both on hardocp I'm leaning towards the 1500. Seems like the virtual surround could be fun for the games I play and the USB audio chip is apparently commonly used, but the 1500 has a particularly good implementation with drivers. If I hate how the surround option sounds, it is easy to turn it off and revert to stereo.
    Apparently a good microphone too, which is good to know.

    Typing out loud here right now, in case anyone ends up in a comparable situation themselves and finds this thread.
     
  4. Tangster

    Tangster Butt-kicking for goodness!

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    I've heard good things on the old Sennheiser PC350, good aural positioning for games, somewhat lackluster bass and a decent mic.

    I would probably go for a AD700 + clip mic though, since that has both better sound and a good mic. The AD700's are excellent value for money.
     
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  5. PhoenixTank

    PhoenixTank From The Ashes

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    Thanks for posting. Those Sennheiser's could be an option. Not so sure I like the volume control & mute option there, though.

    I do keep seeing the AD700s used as reference headphones, but I really do want to go for convenience here. If I ever want headphones that aren't for gaming, I'd definitely give Audio Technica a try.

    Have seen the Astro A40s popping up a lot, but getting the impression they are good headphones, but overpriced for what they are.

    Still very curious if a set of corsair 1300s and a good sound card would out perform the 1500s by any noticeable margin.
     
  6. PhoenixTank

    PhoenixTank From The Ashes

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    Bump! Anyone else want to weigh in?
     
  7. AoE

    AoE What's a Dremel?

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    Are you recording or anything? if not I wouldnt splash that much for a card and headset. An xonar DG is plenty IMO, and a good set of corsair vengence is the way to go. But if your recording etc I would go with fatality card.
     
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  8. PhoenixTank

    PhoenixTank From The Ashes

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    No, I'm not recording anything professionally or as a hobbyist.
    That said, happy to pay the extra for quality and reliability... as long as it isn't another creative product. Bad memories there.
    Thanks for your opinion. All helps to figure out what to do. Cheaper to do the research and get opinions than to have buyer's remorse for skimping ;)
     
  9. Tangster

    Tangster Butt-kicking for goodness!

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    Ohh come on! You've been upgrading every other month since you joined the forums. :p
    The DG/DX are great cards though. DG has the built in AMP.
     
  10. Parge

    Parge the worst Super Moderator

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    Really, almost any modern headset will be fine for Skype. If you don't want to go creative then your only option is Asus Xonar. So then it's just a choice between what card. The DX is a happy compromise between the DG and the D2X. Headset wise, if you don't want 5.1, the the corsair vengeance 1300 or the Asus Vulcan are currently the best buys.
     
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  11. TheDodoKiller

    TheDodoKiller Minimodder

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    Hey, if you're willing to spend £200, you could get a Razer Tiamat... and a decent sound for just over that, allthough you'd have to wait a bit. as a sensible suggestion, don't get USB, any soundcard over £30 will beat USB's any day, and then a decent set of headphones/headset, such as a ROG Vulcan.
     
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  12. feathers

    feathers Minimodder

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    Forget all the standard options (creative crap or asus xonar) and go Auzentech X-Meridian 2G. Best soundcard I have owned. Great for games, music, movies. Non-bloated control panel. Doesn't crash your pc and has the best sound thanks to the large audio-grade caps and 4 x opamps you can upgrade.

    http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-meridian2g.php

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. MSHunter

    MSHunter Minimodder

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    The Logitech G930

    Is a great head set with built in sound chip.
     
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  14. Slizza

    Slizza beautiful to demons

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    I'm pleased with the Asus Vulcan Headset.

    Would recommend to others looking to buy one.
    Really comfortable and great sound.
    Only minor gripe i have had since using the headset is the in-line volume controller should be stiffer. it can sometimes be adjusted be accidently brushing over it.
     
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  15. PhoenixTank

    PhoenixTank From The Ashes

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    I think I have more or less settled on either the Corsair 1300 or 1500 as far as a headset goes.

    I do hear plenty of good things about the DX for value and quality. I'd have no gripes about buying from ASUS.

    I was honestly surprised, but after listening to some audio samples (on TomsHardware, I think), a few microphones in their gaming headset roundup were far from clear.
    As above, definitely will consider the Asus cards.

    The repeated delays don't fill me with confidence, though the 10 driver idea is interesting. Thanks for the advise on USB sound - nice to know there is a clear benefit to dedicated sound cards and headsets.

    Fairs well in reviews, and particularly happy that it seems to pick up microphone input well without boosting. I have actually found somewhere I can buy one, which is great.
    Corsair 1300 & this card? Tempting. Only "flaw" is the use of PCI, but I'd be fooling myself if I said I would want to carry over this card to a new build in a few years time, so not a big issue, I think.
    Thanks for posting, Feathers.

    Looks nice but wireless turns me off. I've no love for faffing about with batteries and quite expensive for just headphones.

    Does sound like a contender for the vengeance headsets. From what I've read you can't move the mic up out of the way can you? Detaching it is the only way to get it out of your way, right?

    Thanks everyone!
     
  16. Slizza

    Slizza beautiful to demons

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    The mic can be bent out of the way to the side, it can not swing round to face back or anything though.
    I take it off unless it's being used, imagine most people just detach them from all the headsets.
     
  17. AoE

    AoE What's a Dremel?

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    lol thanks for onlooking my fortune, but I only upgrade components that can significantly increase ingame/performance of the rig. A sound card will make a difference but unless your vocally and aurally trained to spot small differences in low/mid/high range frequencies and tones etc then the standard user wont be able to truely benefit from the high end cards. The DG is a step up from onboard sound but its up to the user I guess and headsets are worth every penny IMO, they bring the sound to life really. I'll be getting rid of my dg soon for a dx as I play alot of fsx and the varouis tones in that need to be better for me.
     
  18. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    +1 for the Vulcan, I love mine. They're so very very comfortable. I wish they'd not bothered with the ANC though as I never use mine.

    The sound from them is amazing, going from my SP2500's to them all I lose is the bass...

    I tried my mates Corsair 1500's yesterday, and although they sound good they're quite uncomfortable. The padding is no where near as soft and they squeeze your head quite hard. Plus the Vulcans have a metal extenders (to make then bigger/smaller) and to fold the cups in (for travel) while the Corsair is plastic. I would easily go for my Vulcans over his Vengence anyday :)
     
  19. Da_Rude_Baboon

    Da_Rude_Baboon What the?

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    I use a pair of Sennheiser PC360's and have found them to be very nice with great mic quality. Check ebay for second hand Xonar cards, I got my PC360's and Xonar (less than half retail) for under £200.
     
  20. JPClyde

    JPClyde What's a Dremel?

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    I have a pair of these Sennheiser PC350 and a X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro Series, the card I have had years and it was the best thing I bought at the time and I don't plan in changing it anytime soon, to me it has great 5.1 and a mode switcher for games/entertainment/audio creation, PC350 were more than I wanted to pay for an headset, but I thought what the hell and bought them and I'm glad I did they out beat any of my other headset I have had, I have a big head but these feel really comfortable and the sound to me is awesome, I would have liked the mic to be detachable.
     

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