Questions about gaming and casual listening headphones

Hello all,

I’m new to the forum and need help from those with plenty of experience in audio. I’m a bit of a newbie but I’ve researched quite a bit to understand some audiophile jargon. I’m not an audiophile and I plan on staying in the “mid-fi” range of audio products.

First, I want to get headphones that are good for FPS games like Rainbow Six Siege. So my top candidates at the moment are either the Beyerdynamic DT880 and TYGR 300R hooked up to the SoundblasterX G6. I like the G6 because of it’s game/chat mix feature on PS4. Heard so many good reviews of the DT880s and TYGRs. Because these aren’t headsets, I’d need a modmic. Are these great options or are there better options for my needs? Perhaps one with an attached mic? I have the Sennheiser GSP-300 at the moment. Problem is the sound isn’t that good. I tried the Audio-Technica ADG1X and I was happy with the sound on those, but not with the comfort. Is there anything like or better than the ADG1X in terms of sound with respect to gaming but without that weird 3D wing system and shallow earcups? Have also heard great things about the SHP-9500 and AKG K7XX.
Regarding headphones for competitive shooters, I’ve heard a neutral or even a recessed bass is preferred, while treble should be top priority to hear footsteps. Also heard that Imaging is more important than soundstage to pinpoint the direction footsteps and other audio cues are coming from. Can anyone confirm this?

Second, I’d like a headphone and DAC/AMP combo (2-in-1 or stack) for listening to Music. Not sure which headphones would be perfect for me. I listen to several genres of music and would like to figure out my “sound signature.” I mostly listen to Rap/Hip-Hop, as well as R&B and Bachata, or as I like to call “baby-making music.”

When it comes to Rap/Hip-Hop, Bass is obviously important, though I wouldn’t consider myself a basshead. I prefer quality of the bass rather than the quantity. So clarity and depth of the bass is more important than having a lot of head-rumbling. I think this means no muddyness or excessive boomyness (I think I’m using those terms right, but not sure).
Clear mids and vocals are also important; I want to REALLY believe that Tupac himself “F—ked my b—ch” and that his 44 will make sure “all my kids don’t grow.” This goes for the beautiful vocals of R&B artists and the great Romeo Santos.
As for highs, I think this is the least important for my musical taste. I could be wrong. I don’t listen to Rock, Opera, Classical, or any of that fancy-schmancy stuff. I listen to more male vocals than female vocals. Not sure if female R&B vocals are upper-mid or highs
For my casual listening Amp/DAC, I have some options and heard that they depend on the headphones I get. I’m considering the JDS Labs Atom stack, a Schiit Stack, the Monoprice Monolith Amp/DAC, and the Drop THX 789 amp with one of the aforementioned DACs. I feel like I’d want a warmer sound so which ones will be great for me?
I can answer any further questions if need be

Thanks, in advance

Welcome! You’ve listed several good entry level pieces of gear. What’s your total budget?

Hi! Welcome to HFGF!

You can attach a modmic to any of those Beyer headphones with attached cables using some adhesive. Here’s an example:

Based on your post, you sound like someone who may need to shop around for multiple sets of headphones. IMO, you’re not going to beat the 600 ohm DT880 for competitive FPS gaming anywhere under $200, and you’re probably not going to beat it at $500 either unless you get Beyer’s own DT1990 on sale. The DT1990 might satisfy your simultaneous gaming and bass thump needs with pad swapping (it comes with two sets of pads, one is very analytical the other gives it a slight V-sig). However, the 1990 is not usually thought of as a basshead’s headphone.

As for amp/dac, you sound like a good candidate for a Schiit Asgard 3 with dac module - that’s $300 for the base dac module, or $400 total for the multibit dac module. That gives you an all-in one with all the power you’ll need for a high-impedance headphone. The Asgard is also really strong (at the price) with recreating space. It will complement the imaging and soundstage of the high impedance Beyers really well. It also has the power for you to throw just about any mainstream headphone at it without complaint.

@FiCurious is right that you’ll need to give a total price. So this recommendation may be out of your reach:

Amp/Dac - Schiit Asgard 3 w/ dac module ($300 or $400)
Gaming headphone - Beyer DT880 600 ohm (~$180-200)
HipHop Headphone - Fostex T50RPMk3 (~$150) with Shure 1540 pads (~$20) or a Dekoni Blue (~$200). The Dekoni Blue comes with 2 sets of pads. The hybrids they come with are bass cannons.

I think the T50 with those pads will have a signature you’ll enjoy with hiphop. The Asgard has more than enough power for them. Then you have the option of upgrading them to Modhouse Argons for potentially even more bass oomph.

Enjoy the journey you’re about to embark on…

I would recommend the Cooler Master MH-751. It’s a really good gaming headset that is also good for music since it’s pretty much the Takstar Pro-82 with a mic slapped onto it. The mic quality is also really damn good for the price and it is removable. Z made a review on it and you can look for other reviews on youtube to hear what the mic quality sounds like. It is currently $76 on amazon.
As for an amp since you want a warmer sound I would recommend the Liquid Spark. It performs as well as the Atom but has more power, much warmer, and adds a bit more width. For Dac I’m not sure because I’mm looking to upgrade my dac also but I suggest looking into the Topping E30.

I don’t really have a budget, but I’d like to spend less than $1000 to get started. If I need to go a bit over that amount i.e. if it’s worthwhile, I’m willing to pay more

Thank you for the detailed response! I will definitely look into those options. I was looking at the Argons but wasn’t sure how good they are at handling bass. Do they fit my preference of “quality over quantity? I wouldn’t want for bass to be too muddy or overpower and maybe cover up the detail in the rest of the frequencies.

The good thing about the Beyers is that I think I can get them on Amazon to try them and return the ones I like the least

As for the DAC/Amp, the Schiit Asgard 3 has been recommended to me before and seems great. But I heard some Amps can make headphones sound warmer, others brighter, and others give a pretty “natural” or accurate sound. Is this the case with the Asgard?

In that case, the setup @WaveTheory mentions would be pretty sweet, IMO. Could even look toward something like a DCA Aeon RT Closed, Sony MDR-Z7M2 (if you catch a deal), Nighthawks (again, if you can find them) as your music set. If not opposed, there’s also a plethora of IEMs that should satisfy the sound signature requirements you’d have for your preferred music.

I’ll add that you can scower the used markets in search of a Massdrop-Fostex TR-X00 or TH-X00 Purpleheart (same headphone, the H means attached cable the R means removable cable). They are becoming VERY hard to find, but they’ll scratch your bass itch. I think the E-MU Purpleheart has similar characteristics but maybe not as refined(?) - although I admit to hole in my knowledge there.

Your question about how amps color the sound is a good one. I love my Asgard 3. It’s the most natural sounding amp I have or have significant experience with in the price range. I would describe its signature as neutral with just a hint of warmth. IMO, op-amp based amplifiers like the Atom or anything THX are treble-forward, sound brittle and harsh in the treble, and struggle with spatial presentation. The Liquid Spark is a warmer amp with a slight treble roll-off. For my money, though, you’re not going to get a better solid state headphone amp than the Asgard until you spend at least $500.

I have not heard Argons myself. I have a set of Dekoni Blue that I’ve tried several different pads on. The T50 class of headphones can struggle in the transition from the bass to the mid-bass, sounding a bit bloated. Pad swapping can alleviate this some, but usually not fully. From other listeners I trust, I’ve heard the Argons have a hint of that bloatedness, but they have killer bass and really wide soundstage.

The only other bass-cannon headphone I can think of that would keep your total bill under a kilobuck under my plan might be the Meze 99 Classics or Noirs (the Noirs are sold through Massdrop). I’ve not heard those personally either but they have reputation for being a warmer, bassier, relaxed headphone that might work well with hiphop.

That’s another model I looked into. I like the price and the fact that it already comes with a mic. I may give those a try as well since they’re on Amazon. Thanks for your recommendations

Interesting. I will probably end up getting the Asgard 3 then ($299 option). I may also make the jump and get the Argons considering all the positive reviews I’ve heard/read. I appreciate your response regarding the Amps and how they color sound. Thanks again :smile:

I’m looking for a headphone with a pretty good soundstage and a warmer sound signature. I want a “relaxed” sounding headphone. What are your suggestions for under $500 ?

I currently have an Atom amp and a gsx1000 (saving the DAC upgrade for down the road). The headphones I use are the 58x, k240 studio, and k553 Mk ii. Of the three I mainly use the 58x for the comfort and their amazing mids/vocals.

Monolith M1070 fits the bill…Fidelio X2HR, Argons, or Nighthawks would also be good for warmer leaning and good stage.

Alright so I will chime in on this. While yes, technically by the more I am going to say extreme competitive gamers point of view this is a partial technically accurate statement. Too much bass gets in the way as it causes rumble which tends to hide sounds such as footsteps and the like therefore a neutral or recessed bass tends to be prefered this is however not mandatory and will depend on how serious of a competitive gamer you are. as far as imaging being more important than soundstaging this completely depends on the fps. If you are playing a big open battlefield game such as Arma, Battlefield, Planetside, etc then you definitely want a lot of soundstage however more linear games like COD, Rainbow Six, and others don’t tend to rely on a very large stage as much and you tend to want imaging more if this helps as imaging is good for your placements but you also want to realize that some headphones need a good seperation of sound too if they can’t properly seperate all that’s going on in the battle you will struggle to place the sounds correctly.

DT 880 is very good at competitive gaming but it definitely lacks a lot of bass presence in comparison to many other headphones. Tygr is more towards the casual gamer and you can read my review on that one here 🔶 Beyerdynamic TYGR 300 R I do not completely recommend it for strictly FPS but it’s a great all rounder with more warmth and body to it’s sound so I find it better for casual gaming and casual music listening and it’s not too bad in competitives either just not the most ideal

I don’t particularly think this is a bad amp but theres definitely better alternatives. they just don’t have the chat mix feature usually. I would immediately point you to the Schiit Hel instead as it has a mic input with a sound dial and a headphone input with a seperate dial for the headphones but it also can drive practically anything you throw at it making it really good as an amp/dac combo for gaming one of the best imo for straight gaming. Seperate units would be better though… and if you can afford them I would recommend a Schiit Magni 3+ Or Monoprice Liquid Spark alongside a Topping D10 dac as a budget starter a step up from here would be Asgard 3 and either Modius Dac(not modi) or Topping E30.

Well the issue here is that your competitive gaming is going to sfufer from wanting bass. Due to this generally you want a more all rounder type of headphone that isn’t horribly bassy but not so bass lite that you can’t enjoy your beats. In this regard you could also get a second headphone for straight music.

so good bass and vocals? Sennheisers then or Focals. Budget friendly sennheiser with good vocals and bass with nice soundstaging would be something like the HD 558/559 later versions will have more detail clarity among other things but they tend to have less bass and quite a bit less soundstage. Focals also have more linear soundstage outside of maybe the Elex and are more opened larger soundstage iirc but these are pretty expensive. The recommend Schiit Hel can work for both your music as well as gaming but so can the spark/magni3+ + E30/modius and Asgard 3 + E30/Modius as this is a very great all rounder setup.

So, lets start with just some headphones that are well rounded.

Philips Shp9500/Fidelio x2hr: Compatible with V-moda Boom Pro bright headphone and not as bassy is it’s alternative. One of the really good budget headphones for gamers sounds good, is comfortable, wide soundstage, smooth sounding, and has a respectable amount of bass. It’s alternative the Fidelio X2hr is much bassier and warm and while nice in competitive isn’t as strong of a contender regardless they are both all rounders. These both can use V-moda which is considered one of the best boom mics and is potentially better and cheaper than modmics

Sennheiser 558/559, 598/599, and later generations 58x Jubilee, 6xx Massdrop, HD600/650/660S: so Sennheisers tend to be more towards a neutral or rather balanced type of sound and are fantastic all rounders with lots of mid focus in their tones so this may be right up your alley for both gaming and your music. The 558 and 559 have more bass while 598 is more balanced and 599 has more treble to my ears these have more soundstage then the later generations these versions of the Sennheiser used a 2.5mm jack detachable cable allowing them to make use of a seperate detachable boom mic which is pretty cheap and much cheaper than the modmics. 58x Jubilee came in as an alternative to the HD 600 and Hd 580 it’s rather cheaper and very well rounded very balanced sounding with sided cables that became the norm for the later versions allowing this headphone to be plugged into amps via the balance jacks allowing them to sound a lot better in comparison this version has less soundstage though. 6xx and later revisions have some of the smallest of soundstages I don’t really recommend them for a lot of gaming applications but they are very nice, clean, and very detailed, some with more brightness than others

AKG k702/k612 and k712/k7xx: K702 is regarded as one of the kings in competitive gaming alongside it’s cheaper budget variation the k612 this is a very analytical headphone that is bass lite with mids and highs being pushed forward and an extremely large soundstage the issue here with the akg is the imaging… they have some bad placements from time to time in their sound. K712/k7xx are less analytical and more fun they have quite a bit more bass in comparison

Audio-Technica: AD—x Series and M40x. AD700x AD900x, AD1000x, and AD2000x respectively build quality sucks on these imo but recessed bass with bright treble and good mids make this a budget headphone thats great for competitives… I don’t like these for music however and the overall comfort and build quality is a bit lacking in my opinion it leaves much to be desired… proper seperation was achieved with ad1000x and best sound goes to ad2000x the closed back alternatives are the ad—Z series. M40x: Budget friendly, can be turned wireless, compatible with 2.5mm boom mics like the sennheisers, pad swap is a requirement, V signature. Bassy, mids aren’t too recessed, and highs are raised, also is portable which is nice.

Beyerdynamics: so the issue with beyers is you may not like them as they don’t tend to have the greatest mids and vocals honestly. DT 880 is probably the best bet here for the more budget friendly into competitive gaming but it lacks quite a bit on the bass. DT 1990 is stupid good for just everything both music and gaming but this is very expensive. DT 770 is very bassy and bright but more U shaped tune being closed backed while DT 990 is bass heavy and extremely sharp brightness with recessed mids I never recommend this to anyone less they like treble though and have a good setup to deal with it’s brightness. Alternatives to this is as mentioned the Tygr300r or the MMX300 which is a gaming headset closed back that sounds wide has quite a bit of bass to it and has some brightness too making it very good for well rounded gaming. Tygr on the other hand to avoid gushing on that one feel free to read the review I linked to.

Focal: Elegia and Elex would be best here probably but may be out of your budget as they are $450+ still elegia is more linear and elex is open back both are very nice with some brightness to them and wonderful detail.

Aeons: this is one of my absolute Go-To’s when it comes to all rounders. I use the Aeon open X but you can also get the RT from dan clark. They are typically however around $500. Very detailed, mids sound good rather clean with detail despite the headphone being a V signature, bass is raised, treble is raised, tuning pads allow you to customize your sound to your preference. Responds incredibly well though with higher grade setups of amp and dac that allow it to be balanced even more so towards tube amp hybrids it appears.

In terms of seperating the headphones I can definitely second the purchase of picking up the Fostex line with the T50rp or its modded counter parts of Argons or Dekoni blues this is an absolutely amazing headphone however, It may not be as mid centric as you would prefer and due to that I would still be more inclined to point towards a Sennheiser or Focal.

Other mentions here for just good beat warm headphones would be Meze 99, Fidelio x2hr, Tygr 300R, Argons, Aeons, Nighthawks/Nightowls(semi open/closed), Fostex TR-x00(purple heart, Mahogany, Ebony. Discontinued but can be still found more linear soundstaging though), KPH30i, Verum One mk2, Emu Teak

This should also help you out

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Wow, thank you for the detailed response!
I’ll check out your review on the TYGRs, as well as the other links.

Yeah realizing that my gaming needs and my music listening needs are incongruous, I’m probably going to get 2 sets of headphones. One set that’s good enough for competitive FPS (I don’t do much casual gaming) and another for listening to music. I’ve read good things about Focal, and the Elegias are $430 at the moment I think. My other consideration for music is the Emu Teak but I have to do more research before deciding on the cans I’ll use for music, since these will be the more expensive headphones. I’ll probably compromise for gaming cans and get some that are cheaper like the SHP-9500 or the Coolermaster MH 751. I have a lot of research to do and many things to actually try out

I think you would appreciate the Elegia’s more than the Emu for an all rounder as the emu are real bassy in comparison. They elegia aren’t as bass heavy and have some brightness so they are pretty nice in competitive gaming and they also have a really nicely detailed and clean sound to their vocals and mids. Hopefully that list helps ya though lol gave you plenty to work with.