Hey I’m looking for a new setup consisting of a good pair of headphones, an easy-to-use mic and possibly a DAC+AMP combo or separate DAC and AMP for gaming with emphasis on music for a complete price of 500€-ish.
By gaming I don’t mean that I need headphones to locate footsteps or something like that since I don’t really play shooters. I want headphones that I can really enjoy music with while still being able to have a microphone for Teamspeak / Discord which I use daily.
I mainly play League of Legends and as long as I can hear the sounds at all its fine for that game, so no worries about that.
I have no experience with open back headphones but since they are supposed to be better and I don’t have any problems with disturbing someone else I’d tend to buy open back ones. Closed back works fine with me too though.
I was thinking of getting a Modmic Wireless, simply because its the easiest option.
I have the option to get a designated desktop mic but I really need a quick-mute option (preferrably without having to set a hotkey on my mouse / keyboard for that) and I’d have to get a wall mount because I cannot fit it on my desk. (The wall mount does not have to be calculated into my budget).
It’s fine as long as people can hear me clearly but the mic should not pick up the noise of my keyboard with MX Browns.
I am willing to invest into a DAC+AMP combo or two separate devices if it enhances my experience but only if the budget allows it.
My current setup consists of a pair of Astro A40’s which I’ve been using for 8-ish years now.
They’re connected to a tiny Syba USB 2.0 DAC+AMP and I use the microphone of the Astros.
I also got Logitech Z625 speakers which are connected to the DAC+AMP but I use my headset 95% of the time and will continue to do so.
What I really like about the Astro A40’s is that they are extremely comfortable, even after several hours of gaming and I don’t want to lose that with the new headphones.
As I mentioned the main focus for me is good enjoyable sound for mostly music. Game sound is not as important to me in terms of being able to hear footsteps or something, but more in terms of having a clean, rich and wide sound.
I mostly listen to Drum&Bass and House and I really enjoy very clean yet strong bass in music. Mids and Highs should not sound completely crap either though but I think that’s self explanatory. And I really love wide sound stages, the wider the better. That’s why I tend towards open back headphones.
I was thinking of getting Beyerdynamic 250Ohm DT990’s because they are pretty cheap by now (120€-ish) but I don’t know if they really are what I’m looking for.
Alternatively I was thinking of Sennheiser HD 650’s (310€) but I guess I would have to get a proper DAC + AMP which could be hard to manage with my budget. Also I don’t know if these are really what I’m looking for either.
Also I have absolultely no idea about DACs + AMPs, I only bought the one I got now because I wanted to see if I’d hear the difference and even though it’s a pretty small and cheap unit I still like the improvement. I guess keeping that little unit is not really useful if I want to upgrade to better headphones?
Any help and further information is much appreciated.
Perhaps I can offer some information and advice on this one!
I wanted to start here as this is rather important to touch on before anything else. This was one of my first headphones I bought for gaming and while I myself enjoyed them, greatly so and still have them, they are definitely not for everyone. The reason for this is simply put the treble. The dt990s have some of the sharpest treble I have ever sat down with and if you have any form of treble sensitivity this will definitely tell you, by scratching it out of your ears. It can be found horrifically sibilant without someone who can stand that brightness as well as pair it to a respective amp that can drive it while reigning that treble in. While you can also get a filter that will drop the peakyness from solderdude over at diyheaven or even remove the pad and place some 1-4 ply toilet paper cut to size behind its foam on the driver, and it will decrease the treble dramatically, this headphone is rather I wanna say a hit or miss. I would highly recommend auditioning this one if you feel it may be worth to you and not fully commit to its purchase just incase. If you have an audio store or a place with a return policy that would be best here. Also, the headphone sounds its best and more refined in it’s 600 ohm “edition” which will demand an amp around the $100 margin unfortunately. Beyerdynamics are amazing headphones but their housesound is the brighter frequencies of V or U shaped and in some cases Neutral Bright. The sound signature here with the DT 990 is a very sharp V signature or rather a lot of bass and rumble recessed mids(vocals) and a whole lot of brightness(treble).
You do realize the astro A40 is an open backed gaming headset right? lol it’s one of the very few that are actually open backed. It’s not closed. Just some food for thought on that one. If you enjoy the nature of that astro and you found it comfortable you will probably be just fine with open backs.
Right so lets talk mics here for a minute before getting into headphones and dac/amps. So, I had to ask some stuff about microphones when I was first creating my setup as well as I seen you liked my thread so I assume you read through it. The modmics are fine and sound relatively okay with the wireless being incredibly expensive but a hands free option which is nice. You typically have a few options here. Modmic(uni, Usb, Wireless), V-moda Boom Pro 3.5mm and its 2.5mm cousins, some brands have created other 3.5mm boom mics as well now, an external mic whether it be USB or XLR in either condensor or dynamic, or a Lavalier mic which is a small mic that can attach to your shirt.
Typically if your headphone has a detachable cable the cheapest option would just be the v moda or 2.5mm unless its duel sided or a different connector. However, in terms of vocal clarity you will stand to gain the best benefit from the actual xlr or usb microphones. The decision would fall on you as to which microphone you feel most comfortable with using.
You don’t have to particularly go straight for a 650. Sennheisers in generally are relatively neutral and very well rounded. However, I will tell you to immediately skip this one as you mentioned you prefer a wide soundstage. The Sennheisers generally don’t have a really large soundstage and in the case of the 600 series they have a very small stage to them. If you want a sennheiser with the moderate staging you will want the 500 series instead. The ones in the 500 series however have different tuning between one another which will require looking into based on your preferences. If you want the best quality of sound however I would probably say 58x Jubilee if you can get your hands on it as this is one that has the perk of being used with balanced cables for a balanced input amp/dac much like the 600 series. The rest of the 500 series uses a 2.5mm detachable cable and can make use of 2.5mm boom mics if need be. They can be pad swapped too if you want and you can get an ease of access 3d printed ring from modhouse if you feel you want different pads as sennheiser pads tend to be very shallow and relatively small so not the best for someone with very large ears in some cases. Just remember that changing your pads will change a headphones sound in some cases drastically.
Alright so, let’s get started here on some more fun sounding headphones yeah?
Fidelio X2HR: Big brother to the shp9500 very bassy slightly muddy relatively neutral mids and slightly elevated highs. Sounds very smooth and has a incredibly wide sound to it. You can also just get the shp9500 and mod the hell out of it for about a total cost of $120 as well if you prefer that route and you will have more sound choices but you will have to pick up a variety of pads in that regard. Both headphones use a 3.5mm detachable cable allowing access to v-moda boom pro(sounds better than modmics and is cheaper) as well as a 3.5mm bluetooth adapter if you still want to use a modmic allowing it to be converted into a wireless gaming headset. Generally the fidelio x2hr here can be found from $90 - $120. However, the price may drop further as the fidelio X3 is now being released alongside the SHP9600 though they are only in china as of this moment. These headphones should be able to be driven off your current amp/dac combo you have now.
Sennheisers HD558 / HD 598 / 58x Jubilee: these are the ones I feel most worth mentioning. HD 558 has more bass than the others and still maintains a relative neutrality to its sound which is quite nice. It shares the same qualitys in soundstage as the HD 598 and other 500 series. HD 598 this is very balanced out in sound and has a larger soundstage than the 58x jubilee as is customary of the 500 series. 58x Jubilee this one sounds the best and can be balanced while still maintaining a relatively neutral approach. Highly recommended looking into these headphones and their subtle differences. You can pair the 58x Jubilee to an IFI ZEN DAC for a balanced port amp/dac combo otherwise if you pick the other sennheisers they should run fine off your current amp/dac. You should be able to find these headphones from $100 - $200
Beyerdynamic DT series and Gaming series: (all these are maximum $200) This is a bit of a gamble and will depend on you personally. Beyers house sound is that of a bright frequency like mentioned previously however if you can manage it they are one hell of a brand and build quality is that of a tank with extreme comfort and breathable pads. We covered the dt 990 however I wanted to remark that its not a bad headphone at all just not for everyone but lets talk about its cousins in the DT series. DT 880: this is the happy medium of the 3 in this series Neutral Bright with treble raised but not very sharp very neutral mids with beautiful vocals however lacks in sub bass and body and doesn’t sound very full overall. Unlike other sennheisers 880 appears to be more mid centric instead of the regular V signatures and is very well rounded for a lot of people this headphone is just perfection to them as the bass while relatively light is still very natural sounding this headphone is Semi open back while the 990 is open backed and the one I will go into now is closed backed the DT 770. So the dt 770 is a closed back yet still having a relatively wide sound to it despite it being enclosed. It has more of a U shaped signature but still can be seen as a V to some depending on the pad of choice. Since its a closed back and it make fantastic use of Sheepskin or leather based pads. To some this headphone can be seen as very sibilant and like the 990 it will depend on you and your sensitivity. This headphone is not as bright as the 990s but a bit brighter than that of the 880. Now that we covered these three let me explain something a bit more into the ohm factor on these three as if you go to buy one youll notice they have difference impedance levels. Ohms are going to determine its sound and how strong of an amp you need to drive it. The higher the ohm the better and more refined these will sound. DT 770’s highest was 250 ohm however 80 ohms sound fine to a lot of people. DT 880 bar none sounds its best in 600 ohms but can get away in some cases with its 80 and 250 ohms and 990 I very highly recommend only using this in 600 ohms as its much peakier in 250 ohms unless you can manage it. You will generally need a stronger amp to drive these. Something to note is that you can also have these modded to have a detachable cable or balanced. DT 880 will sound better on tube amps and help with the low end and recommended to pair the other two to a combo unit such as IFI ZEN DAC combo SCHIIT HEL or Seperate unit Monoprice Liquid Spark + Topping D10 to start out with. These will run the 600 ohms and bring in the treble.
Game series of beyerdynamic: So one of the things that beyerdynamic has done is that they realized not everyone is a big fan of brighter headphones so they developed a “Custom” series as well as gaming headphones. Let’s start at my favorite known as the Tygr 300R unlike the rest of the beyers this is like a retuned 990 it maintains a lot of bass but not overwhelming instead of very recessed mids it now maintains a more neutral approach and now instead of brightness it goes dark with an ever so slight brightness peak to it. Very wide large soundstage very warm and one of the most comfortable beyerdynamics I have worn that practically disappears off the head, this ones to the point I refuse to get rid of it. You can relay to my total review on this headphone over here 🔶 Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R after that you have the mmx300. This is a headphone that is very siimlar to the dt series but its actually a gaming headset now and doesn’t require amplification, also tygr doesn’t either but it helps. MMX300 sounds very wide and not as bright in comparison and has been compared to the ARGONs from modhouse it sounds great but a lot have agreed that its rather too expensive for what it is nonetheless its quite the fantastic headset and worth mentioning. Lastly, the custom one Pro plus this is an adaptable headphone with a wire mic and adjustable bass slider allowing the signature to change. The bass will dramatically increase based on the settings of the headphones slider mids fall on neutral and treble falls on dark or neutral its for those who generally like the sound of the dt 770 but just don’t like the brightness yet also want a more customizable approach. Your syba should be able to drive the game based series just fine
T50RP and its respective Mods: This is the base form to the incredible headphone known as Modhouse Argons. Modders favorite and can be adjusted to pretty much whatever sound you want. Base form of t50 rp is around $150. Demands a pad swap and depending on the pad you can completely change the sound signature here to pretty much whatever you want as each pad will change it dfiferently. Bit of a fun approach to getting into audiophile gear. However, definitely requires a strong amp in the $100 range. You can of course obtain an argon outright but these are around $350 + and will take several weeks to obtain. The other great alternative is Dekoni Blue which has already some great pads that allow for a V signature and has some modifications added to the headphone these can actually sometimes be found at the same or even cheaper pricing than the base form. This headphone is fantastic for someone who just wants an extreme amount of versatility and wide access to signatures. It’s a planar too so that bass slam and speed is definitely noticeable as is customary of a planar. Semi Open back but can be modified to be fully closed or fully open as well.
Audio Technica M40x: While in my guide I would recommend a ad—x series here in this case the m40x is more laid back. This absolutey demands a good pad swap as the pads on this one are just garbage though the headphone is cheap and portable as well. Using certain pads can open up its soundstage quite well for a closed back. I have seen many recommend cowhide pads for the best signature here. 2.5mm detachable cable. Worth taking a look. Doesn’t need an amp particularly but it can run fine off your syba.
Meze 99 series: Classic, Neo, Noir. Great headphones very warm and smooth with a moderate level of soundstage to them. Luxurious and to some people just look beautiful with their wooden finish. Relaxing sound that while not the best in gaming just for regular music and listening are awesome. Responds well to pad swaps. Uses duel sided cables. Classic is the most expensive while the other two versions are $200. Does well with an amp.
Hifiman Sundara: neutral bright. duel sided cables and can be balanced accordingly. Build quality is relatively decent. Company has quality control issues. Planar and has the speed and slam accordingly. Very detailed with a natural sound to it. Very open and wide. Can be found around $250 mark.
(in used yet good condition only) Beyerdynamic Premium DT series 1990 / T1 / 1770 / 177x GO: These are the next step up from the original beyers and have a more refinement to their treble so its not so bothersome. DT 1990(250 ohms only) isn’t the greatest for relaxed listening but it is one hell of a competitor it sounds great very analytical with 3 different sound signatures though very aggressive can sound like a 770 880 or 990 depending on the pads but with more refinement and detail. T1 gen 2 demands a powerful amp and can be balanced as this one is in 600 ohms relaxing bassy mids sound recessed but are still up in the mix with raised treble rounded bass with a very wide presentation this headphone just sounds great and feels great. 1770 had some issues here and thing with quality control but is a step up from the 770s still the same signature just more refined and now has better cables 4 pin mini xlr allowing balanced connections. 177x Go is the more refined version of the 1770 more towards neutral yet still bass and treble increased with mids now being more neutral lower ohms so its portable and still maintaining the ability to be balanced. All of these have a large soundstage, dt 1990 is the only one that cannot be balanced, T1 has some of the most progressive sound depending on how good of an amp you have. I mention to buy these in used as right now they are found in the $500+ range sometimes $600 however, from time to time you will find them being sold around $300 - $450 which if found allows these to be placed in this list.
Dac/amps will depend on what your going after. I would suggest figuring which headphone is best for you before deciding on this one as it will also tell you how much budget you have left for this.
The Mod Mic WL is hooked up via USB, right?
So if you went with that, it would not take part in the DAC/Amp/Headphone chain.
XLR or not?
XLR mics of any kind would need an Audio Interface (Focusrite being a prominent brand, Behringer U-Phoria series being the cheap default). A dynamic XLR mic would have the benefit of just staying at your desk without picking up too much of the room accoustics.
Advantage of XLR is flexibility (as in: can pick a mic style to fit your room accoustic) and the audio interface volume knob (or switch on the mic) is a definite cut-off.
TL;DR A modmic is good enough, neither the worst nor the best. XLR gives you more options for a higher price.
Beyers are definetly comfortable. Not sure about the 990s in particular, but beyers typical V-signature (as in bass and treble are elevated) will work for DnB.
The Fiio K5 Pro would set you back 180€ and should be able to drive 250 Ohm headphones just fine (can’t speak for how well it pairs with the beyers). As it includes a DAC, it is a all-in-one solution (assuming you go with the ModMic WL).
For your speakers, it provides the options to control volume.
yeah its a usb dongle wireless mic but it will set you back $120. He could always use the wire clamps they give you from modmic to just connect the modmics wire to the main headphone cable making it a singular unit if he wanted a bit more than that he could buy some wire tube fabric, forget its name, to put over the connected cable essentially making it one cable so the clamps and that don’t get in the way or something.
He could probably pick up the Samson Q2U if he wanted. It was the first mic I picked up and is a hybrid dynamic mic both usb and xlr. Lets you adjust your budget so you can pick up an interface later on which is nice imo.
Drum and bass music with the 990s is exhilarating and exciting. Super deep bass with a hell of a lot of detail and the highs bring out any form of keyboard or electronical sound in the song. Only the mids fall short cause recession. Love it to death but man can it be painful to some people. I ended up just grabbing a filter for it later just so its not so fatiguing despite not being treble sensitive like at all.
yeah this will drive the 250 ohms just fine though I think it may struggle with 600 ohms? Dunno never checked that. Though This was one of the first ones I picked up as a combo unit. It did not go well with the 990 while it sounds very clean and good it does by no means tame that treble which is unfortunate. Does work well with the 770 and 880 though imo I just think theres probably better options
Appreciate the comment. I try to be as helpful as possible with what I have learned myself. The hobby has a absolute ton to get into and learn about. It truly is a journey but its one you have to take in steps rather slowly to fully appreciate.
I think it really depends on the drum and bass yeah. In some cases its just really bad without some adjustments to that treble other times its just amazing. Though I will admit. it just sounds better to me completely after switching to the T1 or 1990.
I think they actually have bundles for the microphone though not sure though yeah… the arm and shockmount I would definitely say would be needed
First off I want to thank you for the effort you put into your response. I really appreciate the time you put into it.
I was pretty overwhelmed at first but I slowly worked my way through everything you mentioned and now I got it down to either the Sennheiser 58x Jubilee with or the Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R. Both hooked onto a IFI ZEN DAC.
How do they really compare to one another? If I understood it correctly then both are open back and got wide sound stages but the TYGR’s have stronger bass?
Also I think I’d still get the IFI ZEN DAC for the TYGR because it won’t hurt and should still be a noticeable upgrade to my current DAC+AMP, right?
The 58x Jubilee’s are harder to get for me since its massdrop exclusive which means long shipping time and trouble with taxation etc…
So if they are not significantly better or more what Im looking for then I don’t really see a reason to bother with that.
And as far as the mic goes I’m leaning towards the Samson Q2U you mentioned, combined with a desk mount and a pop filter.
The mic arm only costs 19€ which I think might be too cheap to be a high quality mount but then again I have no idea.
So, 58x jubilee has bass that falls just slightly under neutral with slightly raised mids and a small dip on the lower highs under neutral overall its very neutral in sound with a moderate level of soundstage and can be balanced by using the added cost of the balanced cabling however you need the balance input like you mention with the ifi zen dac unit. In comparison the Tygrs have a much larger soundstage, much more bass, neutral mids that aren’t raised, and similar treble response though in this case a very slight peak that offers a little more detail to the sound overall. Build quality 58x jubilee has skull crushing headclamp out of the box and needs stretched, relatively shallow oval pads about a quarter inch in thick and fits rather comfortably around the head with very good weight distribution, You should be able to use a 3d adapter for the pads on 58x jubilee to switch them around if need be. Tygr on the other hand feels lighter with thicker pads made of the same material, velour, feels airier and plush with around half inch maybe more pads. Tygr however does not have a detachable cable it is a single ended 3.5mm or 1/4 depending on the plug you want to use therefore it cannot make use of balanced plugs. However, the tygr can be modded to have a detachable cable and has potential to be modified to become balanced though the headphone is still relatively new and I have yet to hear anybody try this with results. Modifying the tygr to a detachable 3.5mm would allow it to be wireless or use a v-moda though the mod from another person would cost probably around $60 if you can find someone to do it for you as for the balanced your probably look at around $90
Oh, most definitely. Ifi Zen Dac is a really nice little combo amp capable of driving pretty much anything you would want to throw at it. In the case of the tygrs it may make it just slightly warmer though so I would not recommend using the added bass functionality as it will muddy up the bass. Both headphones do not need an amp to be driven but in the case of 58x jubilee its just because it can be balanced that I brought up the zen dac as a strong yet cheaper option. In regards to the tygr I would probably recommend just a cleaner or bright sounding combo amp/dac
In your case I think the tygr may be more up your alley since your taste of music I feel personally syncs up with the tygrs more than the 58x. Of course thats my own opinion. Both are fantastic options
Mounts don’t need to be particularly expensive they just need to work and be placed properly so I wouldn’t worry to much on that. The samson q2u is a great little mic for someone just starting out. You can buy an audio interface later on if you want to upgrade then get a higher quality boom mic later down the way. Just keep in mind the difference between a condensor mic and a dynamic mic. The q2u is a dynamic mic. Meaning its designed for live concerts there for it will block out most sound outside of your own voice. Condensors are designed for more sound proofed rooms and will pick up practically everything around you though can be used with push to talk options without much issue
That’s what I think aswell since you said that they have more bass and a larger soundstage while still offering decent mids and detailed highs which is exactly what I’m looking for.
I don’t really understand how I should modify them because the cable is fixed from factory and I’d destroy the headphones if I tried to remove them. Plus I don’t really see a reason why I should get removeable cables, except if I can balance the headphones with them.
Even though I don’t really get yet what balancing them even means or what the point of that is.
Well that’s actually exactly what I want so that microphone would be perfect for the start, considering the fact that I can still use it if I should decide to use it with an interface.
It depends on the headphone honestly. Some headphones just don’t need balancing while others sound quite a bit better overall when they are balanced. things such as details, impact, width, and other characteristics can be impacted by balancing a headphone. Amps also tend to have more power behind their balanced port allowing it to drive more power hungry headphones when balanced
So, to modify them you would indeed have to take the ear cup apart, though granted it’s not really hard as its built the same way as the dt 880 and dt 990 and theres guides on how to do this, and modify the headphone to be detachable. Takes some work on it but it’s not impossible, though I wouldn’t recommend it less you know what you are doing. The reasons for a detachable cable? Well, eventually that cable may falter or get a short, break, etc and since its attached you cant just go buy a new one youd have to have the headphone repaired or buy a new one which costs a lot more than your average cable. Detachable 3.5mm cables are also what the V-moda uses as a connector allowing the headphone to turn into a gaming headset for $30, cost of the v moda, or even use a 3.5mm bluetooth connector allowing you to wear the headphone completely wireless. There are people out there who offer these modifications as a service for a sum of money.
Sounds like it. I personally love my tygrs so I think it will be a good fit for you.
Yeah, the fact of it being dynamic and a usb/xlr made it for useful for me so I could invest in a higher budget audio interface later on then just upgrade and sell off the Q2U so you get the clearest microphone quality. It’s a good mic, granted not the clearest of audio it’s just cleaner than things such as modmics and the like.
Alright sounds good. The only potential concern I can see would be that ifi zen makes the tygrs a bit too muddy as the low end on the tygrs is touchy from my experience. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Glad I could help out
The headphones arrived today but I’m still waiting for everything else. That means I could only test the TYGRs with my tiny Syba DAC+AMP so far.
They are definitely a significant improvement over my Astros in terms of them having noticeably clearer sound overall, but I am still a bit disappointed by them.
Bass is a bit stronger than with my Astros and that’s generally fine but I really wouldn’t mind them being even punchier either. Treble is completely fine. But the mids tend to be very muddy, unclear and somehow filtered sometimes, almost as if the headphones overamplified in that specific frequency range, which is pretty annoying, especially if anything else sounds very clear at the same time.
That all might only be because of my current AMP+DAC though, so I will wait until the iFi unit arrives.
Also I’d definitely have to change the pads because they are by far not as comfortable as the oval ones on my Astros and I am not sure yet if I could stand wearing them for several hours.
The mids are ever so slightly recessed but you shouldn’t have any “muddy” tones ot he headphone. If anything you may be hearing the darkness of the treble in the sound and may take some getting used to. Though I think your the first person to ever say the beyer pads especially with the tygr were uncomfortable. least to my knowledge.
I guess that’s what’s bothering me then. Admittedly it only really occurs rarely and if everything is at max volume.
But then I got to know which headphones have a similar sound character but with even clearer mids.
I guess it came out wrong then. They are by no means uncomfortable, it’s just that my Astros fit me so perfectly that I literally did not even feel them even after several hours. But I guess that I simply cannot expect any headphone to fit so well onto my head since everyone’s head is different anyway.
It may very well clear up when you switch your amp/dac. I had a cheapo sound card quite literally obliterate the bass on my tygrs but upon plugging it in to something such as a liquid spark or something that is of actual quality that it sounds great. Just be sure to never pair it to a warmer pairing cause it makes everything sound a bit muddy and off to my experience.
Ah okay I see what you mean. Astro has those huge boxy super velour pads with very little weight. Most headphones to my experience unfortionately won’t do that for you like the astros will it’s one of the good qualities about them… A40s are not bad by any means but when it comes to just music and gaming together its not so great… But as you said your also seeing the differences in sounds and characteristics between the two which is very helpful for someone getting into other headphones. From there if you still don’t like it… well you should be able to send it back if you feel you can do better and from there you have a general idea of okay… what did that headphone lack to my hearing personally what do I want to see changed and then you can find that headphone that suits you personally.