Need Advice on Casual Gaming and Music Headphones

I’ve been looking for new headphone for a while now, currently I have a Logitech G Pro X headset. I don’t mind it because it’s the best sounding, most comfortable, and most durable headset I’ve ever owned (I’ve only ever owned gaming headsets). I have used much better headphones, my father is a drummer and I’ve listened to his headphones before and they’re leagues above mine in sound quality.

I play games very casually, I play a lot of War Thunder, co-op shooters, MOBAs, and rpgs. I don’t need to hear footsteps for any games I play so I’m much more interested in good sound as I’ve never actually owned a good headset. Comfort is very important as I spend at least 10 hours on the computer 3 days a week. I find pleather earpads to be extremely uncomfortable as I sweat a lot while wearing them and they become sticky and sometimes even itchy.

I listen mostly to Rock music, specifically classic rock, psychedelic rock, and folk rock, though I could name at least one band I enjoy from many different genres of music. My current headphones are pretty bass heavy - they’re gaming headphones after all. I don’t really know what sound signature I will most enjoy because I’ve only ever had similarly bassy headphones. I listen to music when I play most video games that aren’t single player rpgs that I want to be fully immersed in (currently Cyberpunk is the standout for this). Even when I play csgo and apex I’m listening to music and talking to friends most of the time.

I’m looking for open back headphones that will be immersive for many hours of casual gaming and music listening without becoming uncomfortable. I’m hoping to stay below $450 for the headphones, a dac, and an amp. I’m looking to get Neomi BS5’s when they come back into stock as well, I have money set aside already so that won’t come out of the rest of the budget. I’d like to have a dac + amp that I can hold onto for a long time that can run more powerful headphones like HD600 or even more power hungry if at all possible.

I like the Idea of M560’s if they show up in stock ever, X2HR’s the HE4xx’sh, the HD58x’s, and the 99 noirs (even though they’re closed back they still seem to fit the sort of thing I’m looking for) but I’m not sure which would actually be best for what I’m wanting.

I also have been having trouble with navigating amps and dacs, I was originally going to go for the mx3 combo but I’m not sure if that’s still a good option. I don’t need a headset mic, I have a desk mic set up already. In terms of a dac and amp I currently only have a usb dac, I would like something that could drive the BS5’s and whatever headphones I end up going for. I like the upgradability of separate dacs and amps though I would consider a combo. I need to be able to toggle between speakers, headphones, and both hopefully without needing to unplug anything.

I’ve been trying to research for the last month or so and I’ve become extremely overwhelmed with the possibilities. I’m trying to stay below $500 for the whole setup not including the BS5’s. I would greatly appreciate the help.

Though I can’t really make a hard recommendation for a good open-back above $100 (there’s plenty) how about trying a Koss KSC75 to start? No need for a seperate DAC/amp really, and it’s a good demonstration of pretty arche-typical “audiophile open-back” sound. Good mids and highs, good soundstage imaging and openness, bass that doesn’t dig deep and may seem lacking compared to closed backs but is tight and clean. Pretty much a “just try it blind” since it’s only $20.

Afaik seems HE400i (2020) and the HD6XX are popular open-backs to start with.

Personally, my first open-back was an Audio Technica ATH-AD900x. Still holds quite well today, although not in the same league as today’s better offerings.

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My current recommendation for your price level would be a used / open box Sennheiser 660s. I’ve had a set for a couple of weeks, and it is my new favorite (although it doesn’t match my LCD2). The 660s is easy to drive, quite detailed and balanced. Great vocals, strings, and pianos. I also find myself enjoying treble on these headphones more than I ever have before.

The other bonus of the 660s is they sound good with everything. All genres, and off of any device.

My current main chain is the SU-8 to CTH then balanced to the 660s (but balanced isn’t required). They also sound really good out of the ES100. So, basically any amp / dac you should be fine.

Again, I’d recommend looking used. I buy tons of stuff on this forum and head-fi and I’ve never had a problem. The big perk of buying used is that if you want to try something else, you can sell and recoup all your money pretty much.

That’s my $.02.

Have you tried playing with EQ for your existing headphones?

Reducing the bass response and cleaning up the mids and treble will unlock those cans quite a bit. The tuning on those is odd and will mask a lot of sounds. Those look WAY better though than my Corsair Virtuosso headset which must be tuned to be good at something but nothing I found (after EQ it’s not great but ok).

Were I you, I’d look into a planar headphone. They are really interesting to listen to. I like the Sundara, Arya, T50RP (mods). Not the biggest fan of Sendy-types. I haven’t tried but hear that the Audeze Penrose is pretty cool. That’d get you a decent planar in a wireless format in your budget. Plus is it doesn’t need an amp. Downside is you won’t have an amp to use with future upgrades / side-grade adventures =).

I’m new so take my opinion with that in mind.

If you’re ok with a more flat (less bass) signature I’d recommend the Atom Stack and HD560s as a good starting point.
I’ve also ordered E30/L30 (new batch) along with HD6xx’s but I’ve only used the E30 as I’m writing this.

If you need more inputs (optical, coax) or the remote then I’d lean towards that but if you only need USB input and its on ur desk I’d go atom and save $$ for another headphone :slight_smile:

Comfort is a tough one to predict for others.

I came here to mention HE5xx, big ol’ floppy super-open, expansive. Very light, low clamp and very comfortable for me. I am always nervous about build here, but they’ve done nothing wrong to me.
I wish to veto the M560 if that was indeed what was meant here. I also own multiple Sennheiser-600 series and the language here seems like broader more spacious sound might be desired. I’d also rather “rock” in the budget Hifiman than these more often.

The big thing as I read this better - the Neumi BS5’s are passive, correct? Do you have any separate power amp for them? The headphone amp you choose will likely function well as a preamp, but the options to drive your cans AND your passive speakers are very small, and will start to strain the budget badly.

Cheap used power amps are dime a dozen out there in the 2nd hand market, but hard to recommend as they are unique cases to everyone’s locality. And, I know this forum and base is much about new and shiny.

I wanted to stretch the budget and get you an Asgard 3… yoinks!