How can I improve Sennheiser HD599 SE imaging and spatial audio?

Hello good people.

So I’ve had these for well over two years but I feel even entry level “gaming headphones” give better sense of direction in competitive shooters. Is this something that can be tweaked by playing around with EQ settings and/or getting a dedicated audio interface?

I’ve tried Dolby for Windows with (and without) HRTF in supported games (I mostly play Valorant) and it seems to make no difference at all, HRTF just muffles everything a bit.

Will getting an audio interface improve spatial audio? I’m currently running audio off my motherboard MSI MPG B550 Gaming Edge WiFi which has Realtek ALC1200.

I just want a better sense of direction in competitive shooters. What course of action should I take?

Dolby Atmos isnt needed for Valorant, it has its own integrated HRTF. If a Game already has its own Spatial Audio integrated, there is no need to use any other Spatial Audio/Surround Sound Software with it, but it seems like you are aware of that.

How well the HRTF/Dolby Atmos works depends how well the game has integrated it. Pubg for example only has HRTF for gunshots, to my knowledge the HRTF in Valorant is limited too. It also depends on how well your ears work with the “standard ear” they use for their hrtf simulation. For me its a night and day difference between hrtf and pure stereo (hrtf is so much better to my ears), but for you it might not work that great and you might have to fall back to pure stereo. If games use different technologys for their HRTF, it might also work better for you in one game than in another game.

Motherboards have quite a high amplifier output impedance, usually around 80-200 Ohm Click here for more information about that, which could make your headphone sound more muddy. Audio interfaces often have a bit higher output impedance as well, so for low impedance and easy to drive headphones like yours, usually an apple dongle is the cheaper and better choice. It has low output impedance and should drive the HD599 without any problems.

In terms of EQ it could help to reduce the area around 200Hz. The HD599 is quite bloated in that area, which makes it sound not as clear in games. I would just use the Oratory1990 EQ settings for it, but i wouldnt apply as much bass with the 105Hz, maybe only apply a 2-3dB Boost there and not the 5,5dB which is needed for the Harman target.

since 599 is such a bassier headphone compared to other models I would suggest considering an alternative within the sennheiser line such as 598 or 58x jubilee

Can’t say an interface or EQ is going to help as much in terms of spatial but EQ may be able to help highlight some sounds if you tweak the mids / treble… some testing would need to be done in that regard.

much like jurgu said, not needed for valorant… explaination to that above from Jurgupower

Would sooner suggest the same with the dongle dac but since I have had some poor results with that little dongle in specific cases i would also just suggest getting an amp/dac something of the cheaper varieties