Need help choosing a setup with mic monitoring

Hey everyone! I’m new to the audio world and really want to upgrade from my current headset ( Logitech 430 ) and I’ve been researching a ton trying to find a dac/amp that not only can power nice headphones but also has mic monitoring like the current headset I use. I haven’t really chosen a headphone yet but I would rather stay away from a headset unless thats the only solution or if the MH751/752 really are that good for music as well. From what I’ve seen the three nicest dac/amps meant for “gaming” have been the mayflower arc, fulla 3, and the hel but Im pretty sure they dont have mic monitoring at all. I’m not sure if the syba sonic one has mic monitoring and I haven’t seen any answers to if they do or not so that could also be on the table. As for the sound blaster x3 I think they do offer mic monitoring but i’m not sure if its software based or not, even then I’m worried if they would be powerful enough to power 300 ohm+ headphones if down the line I end up with some. Right now I’m looking for a closeback that is good for %60 music - %40 gaming. Also if I get a dac/amp like the mayflower arc would it be possible to somehow connect it to an audio interface to get mic monitoring? Honestly I don’t think I could but I’m really new to this so I’m not too sure. I know the arc has a mic out so I was thinking maybe it would be possible? unless that’s not what the mic out is used for if anyone can give me some clarity on that I would appreciate it! I’m just trying to experience something that would blow anyone away who has never tried a good set of headphones before while also being able to game with them.

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Hey there @centar0, welcome to Hifiguides.

Mic monitoring? You mean Side tone where you hear your own voice? Also is this pc or console?

because if your on pc, mic monitoring is actually in your windows settings. 1. Open the Sound window by clicking Start > Control Panel > Hardware and Sound > Sound (instructions vary depending on your Control Panel view).
2. Click the Recording tab.
3. Click the headset you would like to test, and then click the Properties button. …
4. Check the Listen to this device box.
5. Click Apply.
If your on console well thats a different story.

Not bad, not the best just pretty good.

Nope because like I said, these are designed for PC hence they do not have an optical port outside of mayflower arc but it also doesnt have this feature for side tone.

nope, and I wouldn’t generally recomend this amp anyway as it’s extremely weak about the same grade as a low powered motherboard.

Depends on the headphone. X3 has Sidetone, 7.1, and SXFI mode which is a strange 3d spinoff to the 7.1. It can power 250 ohm headphones fine but once you get into the 600 ohm territory it struggles hard it can power quite a bit though.

I can make some recommendations but would need to know, especially since your wanting more musical style of headphones, what you look for in your headphones sound as there is a pretty big variety in this regard also what the budget on the headphone would be.

Generally you can connect an audio interface into other units so this should work. Audio interfaces would be the other alternative to have side tone granted not particularly necessary… theres also boom mics that have this feature built in on some cases like iirc the beyerdynamic fox mic has this feature for sidetone.

you wouldn’t be using a mic out on the mayflower if you had an audio interface… the interface is your mic input. I would also recommend probably skipping mayflower… its nice just expensive and not all that great in my opinion… more so if you plan to get an interface in which your better off potentially just using the interface as a dac with a mic input and getting a dedicated amp to power the headphones.

the mic outs on the schit hel, mayflower, fulla, etc are just to give better clarity and less feedback coming off the pc since its an amp/dac unit. Especially when it comes to computers the reason we use a dac is there is some slight electronic feed back that feeds through the lines and in some cases you can hear this slight hum, buzz, distortion, etc coming through the headphones albeit usually very faint. This same issue can feed through mics… so connecting a amp/dac unit with a mic line port helps clean up that signal and tends to prefer a clearer vocal sound. Of course though, you stand to gain a hell of a lot better clarity through a more dedicated microphone with an audio interface such as a higher quality dynamic microphone as these are singers microphones they use in live concerts. you generally wouldn’t want a condensor mic as they are designed for sound proof rooms while many streamers use them they make sure to use extremely quiet setups in an extremely quiet room with custom tuning so the mic doesn’t tend to pick everything up.

well the headphones themselves will blow you away as it seems you have barily scratched the surface on good sounding audio considering your using a logi 430. Just an upgrade from there such as something around the $150 - $200 range is enough to really cause a massive difference. In gaming vocality shouldn’t be a huge concern less you plan to use it for studio use such as singing otherwise if its just in game chat… well even a basic modmic that attaches to a headphone works perfectly fine with plenty good enough clarity behind it.

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Hey thanks for the quick reply! @Falenkor

Yea I do mean sidetone! The thing with the windows mic monitoring is that I know it has a really obvious lag to it from what I’ve read so thats the main reason why I’ve been looking for other solutions. The reason Ive been avoiding just getting an interface or mixer is because I want a discrete dac/amp that wouldn’t take up too much desk space and I don’t want to have to get a XLR mic as I would rather get something like the modmic or boompro. I think from everything you’ve said the soundblaster x3 seems to be the right choice for me. As for the headphones, I’ve never tried a nice set of headphones before so I really don’t know what my preference for sound would be. At this point I think something neutral would be the way to go so then I could tell if its too boring for me and I need something brighter or something with more sub bass or just something not neutral lol. I know for gaming imaging and treble are really important but I wouldn’t want something so bright that it effects my music listening experience. The reason I want a closeback is because I usually game at night and don’t want to wake up anyone in my house and I want sidetone so I know I’m not talking loudly. I know later down the line I will probably get some openbacks like the hd58x or hd6xx so I can experience something new while listening to music during the day but for now I can only afford one nice set of headphones around $100-$200.

This is indeed accurate but not all that “extreme” in terms of lag… its another reason many choose to use an interface or an unit with the sidetone on it.

Alright, sounds about right. Either X3 or G6 in this case. Both will work fine. G6 is stronger if I recall correctly and may have a better Dac inside of it. Though you lose Sxfi mode. You gain recon mode since iirc x3 replaced that with sxfi.

Bit of a tough choice for a neutral closed back but I will get into any recommendation in a minute.

So, actually imaging while important in gaming isn’t -as- important when gaming casually… its nice for like single players where you want to pin point where a character is speaking from or firing from and hte like but thats about it… treble is primarily only needed if you plan to play competitive fps as this is what brings forward the fps gunshots and the like allowing better placement. Therefore, you don’t really need a bright headphone for casual use and can use any signature really based on preference at that point.

Not quite sure how you would wake someone up in a seperate room with an open back. Heres how you know. Turn up the volume on your headset around 80% or so with some music on. Take the headphone off and lay it in front of you. The sound you hear is close to the equivelant of an open back. Now walk away… that will be a good judge for you to see if you can use an open back… otherwise like if your listening to something with someone in the same room that may be a bit of a different ordeal… Let me know if this particularly changes you to an open back or if you’d rather still a closed so I can make a recommendation of sorts. As for hearing yourself talk? Well, outside of side tone you can hear yourself speak much better in an open back as well so if your being actually loud you definitely will know it good for those who still want to be able to hear like a phone call, door ring, etc.

For someone wanting a neutral headphone? If it was open back then yes… definitely will recommend the Sennheisers. Outside of that potentially Shure 840 as its a closed back with extreme neutrality to it and fairly cheap. Shure, Sennheiser, in some cases Focal(these are much more expensive), and in portability case grado have some of the more Neutral sounding headphones. Bright headphones you are looking towards beyerdynamic and on the side like 1 headphone from focal and Phillips with potential headphones from akg and audio technica. Bright( bright means neutral or recessed bass but with raised treble) planars your looking towards Hifiman and Fostex on one particular headphone. Warm(neutral but with bass) headphones are brand such as meze, 1 headphone from beyerdynamic, some cases from audeze, 1 headphone currently from philips. Dark(or treble that falls under neutral by a good margin) would be Audeze and Audioquest(discontinued headphones still good) as well as Verum’s headphone. V signatures(bass raised treble raised vocals recessed) would be Beyerdynamic, Fostex on one headphone, Emu Teak, Dan Clark Aeons, and a few others by switching pads on certain headphones.

Course you have other headphones but these are just to list off brands here and there in their typical house sound

Yea I get that openbacks would probably be the best choice but do they really not leak that much? Some descriptions I’ve read have said its like having two speakers on your head and anyone within like 20ft can hear, I’ve tried looking for actual videos of the sound leak being demo’d but I can’t find a youtube video of one and since my walls are thin I’ve been looking for closebacks. Also I do play competitive games, mostly valorant but I dont take it too serious so I don’t mind if your recommendations aren’t best in terms of treble compared to something like the SHP9500 and I already know that since they’re closebacks they will be warmer for the most part. I’ll definitely check out the shure 840 but if you have any other suggestions please let me know! I really appreciate all the information and help @Falenkor

also I forgot to ask if you think the mmx 300 or custom game from beyerdynamic would be viable options if I go the headset route. @Falenkor

Only in rare cases depending on the headphone do they leak just an absolute ton. Fantastic example? Hifiman Sundara. It leaks so much sound that even an attached modmic can pick up the leak as their is close to nothing between that driver and outside so its extremely open.

Worst case scenario… literally crank your headset to maximum with loud music… set it down and walk away… As someone who uses both closed and opens? No, its not as severe as two speakers on your head like that lol that would be wild as hell. It would really only be a concern if the person was actually in the same room… listening to sound that loud anyway can damage the ears so even that test at 100% from your current headset is a bit much. In the case of sennheisers? the sound leak isn’t bad whatsoever.

Well, valorant isn’t all that picky to begin with… even the 58x jubilee will play fantastically in that game despite not having treble increased. Few things to look for in competitives. Soundstage, imaging, raised treble, neutral/recessed bass, raised or neutral upper mids, lastly seperation so no melding of the sound occurs but only in bigger fps. Shp9500? SO, that headphone is a bit of a special case… its great for competitive but its one of those that’s shockingly flexible at a dirt cheap price… You can find them around $48 but if you swap their pads out(you either need to scrape the glue off the adapter for the pads or buy a new 3d printed adapter for like $10 from modhouse over there) they drastically change in sound signature… they can become relatively neutral, warm, V signatured, or bright but also capable of being wireless, semi closed back due to 3d printed modification, and use a v-moda boom pro microphone. Also, while yes closed backs do increase bass frequencies doesn’t always mean they sound warm Aeon Closed over there is actually a V signature it has brightness despite having bass just as an example.

Hmm, alright yeah give me a sec to think.

So, let’s see… first off skip the custom game… its nice but it lacks a clean sound for musicality it’s just not good in my opinion. The other two would be better which is custom one pro plus which is actually a Dark sounding headphone with a bass slider definitely not neutral but it comes with an inline microphone not bad really and a good alternative to brighter headphones from beyer for a closed back the other is custom studio which becomes slightly bright while also maintaining that bass slider so it lets it switch from bright to V signatured. As for the mmx300 I don’t particularly think they are truly worth their price but they aren’t bad… they are a spin off from the DT 770 with a microphone which is a relatively U shaped… expect slightly raised treble and a lot of bass with vocals pushed back. In the case of you wanting neutrality in your sound? neither of these would work out.

Overall I still think shure is potentially the better pick for a closed back… being fully neutral is what musical creators strive for but a true 100% neutral headphone just really doesn’t exist. So, lets see… Sennheiser HD 280 was fairly close… sounded ever so slightly more on the bass and treble but was still pretty close the new variation not the old they remade this headphone of recent. Sennheiser HD 598C which is a closed back variation to the 598s. Potentially M40x from audio technica but only after a pad swap and thats a bit of a stretch…

Sennheiser practically as a brand in general seems close to what your looking for… but they definitely dont make a lot of closed backs lol

Hmm then it seems like just getting hd58x/hd6xx might be the best bet for me if they really don’t leak like crazy. Thanks a lot for all the information and help again! I really didn’t think there were that many mods for the shp9500 or that pad swaps could effect the tonality so drastically @Falenkor

Just wanted to chime in to say that I had much of the same concerns and interests a while back regarding closed back with sidetone. With babies sleeping in the house, my wife would get pretty upset when I’d be talking too loud without realizing it.

Get open-back headphones. The sound leakage will not disturb anyone unless they’re trying to sleep next to you. It’s definitely audible in the same room, but not loud by any means. And for me, open-backs just feel so damn good being able to hear myself naturally.

If you insist on closed-backs and want to hear yourself, I’d recommend the Sound Blaster G6 or a desk mic that has zero-latency monitoring (both mentioned above). I’ve used both and the monitoring is clear. On the G6 though, you’d want to use direct mode for the best monitoring since the sound processing can add some latency.

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Yea for sure! What headphones, mic, and dac/amp did you end up with as your set-up?

I didn’t either at first… but its pretty crazy how adaptable that cheap headphone is. It let me tinker with it a lot and was very pleasing for me. I now own the that setup and have custom velours, suedes, and leathers for it that also fit my beyers since the modhouse adapters use the same pad size as beyerdynamic pads which since im a huge beyer fan it works out great.

so 6xx I think has better sound quality to it but 58x is more well rounded and has better sound stage. Both are very lovely.

If I recall, didn’t I chime in there as well with this same stuff? lol.

Yep, thats why I prefer them… I need to be able to hear my phone and other stuff so open backs are awesome plus the added 3d sound they provide is amazing.

Well yeah you can’t use direct mode with an inputed mic on the g6 or x3 so you have to use a seperate microphone which is unfortunate. I would recommend him just grab a modmic usb at that point… works just fine otherwise a samson q2u desk mic probably as its dynamic and a usb.

Haha, my bad. It’s early here and I was skimming lol.

Are you sure about this? Maybe it used to be that way. The G6 has a ubiquitous direct mode now as the “standard” mode functions essentially as direct. But I’ve used a headset with the G6 in both its default and direct modes. I didn’t use the separate mic input since I could just use the headset input with a TRRS end. My comment was essentially cautioning from using SBX with mic-monitoring.

Currently, I use the HD6XX primarily for music and Beyerdynamic TYGR for gaming. I use the G6 with console (specifically PS4) and am currently running a Topping L30/E30 stack with my desktop. I just got that stack though, so before it I had been using a Schiit Heresy for an amp and the G6 as a DAC-only. (The G6 has excellent measurements as a DAC. Check out the Audio Science Review.)

Other headphones I’ve used and really enjoy are the Philips SHP9500, Beyerdynamic DT880 and DT990, Cooler Master MH751, and some others not worth mentioning lol.

yeah valorant’s sound is pretty minimal. aside from pre round voice lines. every sound in that game is designed to give you information. and is pretty loud. the footsteps are also more in the mids and bassier than most game footsteps.

Ill check out the Audio Science review for sure! Im assuming you use a usb mic for when you game on desktop?

Honestly don’t currently play a lot of PC games that require team chat. At least not until my console clanmates choose leave PS4 Destiny 2 behind and join me on PC :slight_smile: When I do need a mic on PC, I still use a headset. I modded my TYGR to have a detachable cable mount, so I use it with the Beyerdynamic Custom Gear Headset (basically the boom mic cable like the V-Moda BoomPro). Haven’t used it with the new stack, but if I did I’d just use a splitter to the amp for audio and front of my PC case for mic input. Before the stack, though, I just used the mic input on the G6.

I have used the HyperX QuadCast and Beyerdynamic FOX mics on my desktop before. The mic-monitoring on both was excellent. When I start to play more on PC and need a mic, I will probably return to a desktop option like one of these.

Yeah, when I tried using its mic input with direct mode it literally just didn’t work. I looked it up and other people had confirmed that is just how direct mode with its mic input was designed. Unsure if this was changed or anything. I mean, its fine if you use a seperate mic on a headset, external mic, or like a usb modmic but anything in that input seemed to just not work in that mode setting.

Got enough brighter headphones there lmao. Consider upgrading to the 1990 or T1 at that point may replace both 880 and 990.

Yeah, it does have a nice dac but not the best amp unfortunately. Good for those wanting a unit for their console bout it.

yeah, it was a bit of an oddball… noticed real quick that it’s just not as demanding in sound, especially not as crazy as Tarkov’s requirement and capability.

no matter what, in audio always take what you read or hear as subjective. Go on your personal preference.

One of the issues I have with my current mates but good thing is bungie stated they are planning cross play so there goes any reason to stay on the console lol.

same thing yeah dunno on its clarity in comparison unfortunately as I haven’t sat with beyers mic.

It’s just the issue with condensor mics that I am concerned abou there… plus FOX isn’t as good as like a blue yeti considering the price tag which is unfortunate. Handsdown would take the hyperx quadcast over that fox mic.

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Haha. Guess I have a preference. I’ll confess though that I got the SHP9500 and MH751 based on hype and wouldn’t have even been able to tell you what bright meant then. The 880 and 990 are when I really started to learn about the differences in signatures. I don’t have them all anymore though. Just the HD6XX and TYGR, with the incoming Nighthawk Carbon. My son uses the MH751 for his gaming now.

Same. Most of my experience has been with the BoomPro. I decided to grab these since I modded the TYGRs and my BoomPro was about to give out. Gotta say, I like it quite a bit and think it’s worth the premium over the V-Moda. The cable is the thicker Beyer cable, and the flexible arm for the mic is much more solid. I found I adjusted the position of the BoomPro a lot because of how light it was. The Beyer one stays where you adjust it, which is nice.

Agree. Only had the FOX because I bought the TYGR bundle and then returned it. I’m glad Blue has finally upgraded to USB-C, because that alone would push me towards the HyperX.

Hell, I wish I started with that headset when I was young. Amazing starting gamer headset.

Definitely let me know what you think on that! Give it a long listen though is highly recommended it takes time to adjust… took me literally over a week less your used to dark headphones… going from super bright like 990 to dark like a nighthawk is something entirely different.

880 is quite nice. I just didnt like the what appeared to be glare and lacking fullness to its low end. 990 was easily my entry point into realizing I loved beyers brand and bright headphones though… Granted that headphone is 100% not for everyone…

So you have now a neutral narrow, warm and very large stage, and now a dark / warm large stage great complimenting headphone selection.

Yeah, one of the things I didn’t like on the shp9500 with v moda is that it just kinda spins it never wants to stay in place lol. I will keep that in mind though maybe pick up that beyer mic later.

Hell I would have just sold the FOX mic and kept the tygr due to just the issue with the lack of stock… Tygr is too good to pass on… I am really curious right now so I am about to try my tygrs paired to an Aune stack I reached out to M0N asking for some info on warm headphones to brighten them up a little… I figured Aune probably but I wasn’t sure. Might be my next purchase is the X7s from Aune.

I bought it refurbed from Beyer’s eBay store (no tax or shipping, which was nice) and I tried to request a return for just the FOX mic, but they wouldn’t allow it. I listed the mic for sale for a couple of weeks and didn’t have any bites, so I figured I’d just hold on to my 880 until I could find another TYGR. About a week and a half later, I snagged a mint pair on AVexchange for $175. I had been refreshing that subreddit like crazy and am pretty sure I responded within 3 minutes of it being posted. Was definitely lucky to get it.