Wide purpose audio setup for gaming, movies, music

I am trying to upgrade my sound systems from my current pair of headphones (HyperX Cloud II) as they’re starting to fall apart after almost 8 years. I am not sure what direction to go since I am planning on adding speakers to the setup later. I wanted to preface that I am a total noob at this and am simply trying to do the best I can researching before purchasing. My primary sources have been the forum, zeos,

I will spend the majority of the time gaming either on both headphones/speakers depending on the game but I love watching movies/youtube on my PC as well (using headphones 75% of the time bc GF). I only infrequently listen to music when there’s something I’m particularly excited for (probably around 10% of the use time). Because I am limited in desk space (which is where this will all reside) and since I want something easy to use that I can set and forget, I’m mainly looking for as few “boxes” on my desk as well (since I already know I will want to get an XLR interface for my microphone). In general I am thinking of trying to get a speaker amp that can run headphones too since I like the modularity of passive speakers, but am open to the idea of getting a dedicated headphone amp+dac combo with speaker outs to powered speakers. My current budget for headset+amp/dac is about ~$400 and I am happy to buy from Amazon, direct from retailer, etc and am also totally fine with secondhand. My thought process was around $250 for the headphones and $125 for the amp/dac would be a nice sweet spot. I listed potential speakers for future purchase as well but they are not a crucial part of the setup as I anticipate taking my time and getting them later.

I’m currently looking at:

  • Headphones: Beyerdynamic dt880 premium edition 250Ohm/Sennheiser HD6XX or 58X since I’ve heard the 6XX aren’t amazing for gaming/Hifiman HE4/5XX/TYGR 300R

  • SMSL AD18 (or Topping MX3 but sold out everywhere)

  • Fluance Signature passives or similar

My primary concern here is that the DT880s and HD6XX are quite difficult to run. Alternatively I would go for a combo headset amp/dac and use powered speakers since I don’t have any preference. For which I was looking at using the same headset and:

  • Edifier R1280T

  • Refurbed Soundblaster G6/iFi Zen Dac (or a Schitt Fulla or something like that)

As for use case, I play a wide variety of games from competitive FPS to expansive games like Horizon Zero Dawn and would like a pair of cans that is suitable for that (I just tagged as competitive since I do both competitive and casual). I also love watching movies on my computer. For other audio stuff, I mostly end up listening to podcasts/youtube over music but that tends to make up a smaller portion of my use. I’d really appreciate any advice, links, etc.

I would do iLoud Micro Monitors (wait for sale at $200-220) and a Sennheiser PC38X headset. You get bottom end for movies with the speakers and positional accuracy for games with the headset. Schiit Fulla 4 would be nice as well for the headset and pre-outs for the speakers.

58x would be the good choice for the sennheiser, 880 at 600 ohm is better than 250 but do 250 if you must… tygr is also exceptional. Would not recommended the prior recommended pc38x as its junk in many many cases and reasons imo

Can’t really speak on speaker amp recommends or anything.

g6 is fine just dont expect “audiophile” level sound quality out of it so to speak… itll drive up to 600 ohms… fulla is weaker than g6 by quite an amount but has better sound qualities.

looking at your budget $250 for headphones… you can snag the beyers at around… $100-$165 if you shop smart about it, $125 for an amp is extremely lacking but if you shopped smart on the headphones above you can push that up a notch… regardless if you still want the cut corner just swing the aformentioned G6, rest of the money would go on your speaker stuff which I am not well versed in enough for recommendations on that.

I wasn’t particularly keen on the pc38x because the microphone isn’t detachable anyways. I am definitely able to find the Beyers around that price which is why they were super appealing to me. Like my Cloud IIs I am planning on holding onto this setup for as long as I can. For the amp, is it that worth it to spend almost as much on the amp over the headphones especially if I’m not planning to upgrade the headphones for an extended period of time? I appreciate your advice though (most of your posts were a central part of my research)

It seems likely that I’ll go for the 880 600Ohms with the Soundblaster and look for deals, and then get powered monitors based on your recommendations so far.

I think its personally a rather large missed opportunity from Sennheiser as it could have been a lot better than what it is. It’s definitely one of the best headsets but it doesn’t compete with headphones in price bracket as long as a person owns a dedicated mic and that’s the main issue… outside of convenience reasons its just not the smartest purchase.

That plus the fact they are some of the best imaging headphones in the price bracket for competitive games makes them an extremely good choice, however you need to be cautious about their treble… not everyone can handle a lot of treble which is what beyers are known for. Being treble intolerant can cause issues.

Amps and dacs will provide sound traits and can really open up some headphones… for example going from a liquid spark or g6 up to the asgard 3 you notice many different things… not only does it sound clearer but theres more color and detail in its sound topped off with a much larger spatial recreation so it just sounds bigger. Dacs aren’t as different as amps in sound traits but your amp and your dac are more of an investment… good chance that the amp and dac will easily outlast the headphone as long as you take care of it and as long as the amp and dac are of good quality with good power you don’t technically need to worry too much about upgrades to them less your jumping down the rabbit hole in this hobby. G6 though is fine and will last quite some time less you really want to chase that sound quality… Since you say $400 for headset amp and dac if this doesnt include speakers… you could -theoretically- snag a beyer 600 ohm for $100 and then try to chase the asgard 3 + Modius at $150 each so $300… which would be a killer setup. Asgard also has pre outs in the back as well if you want further connections.

well, speakers are definitely not a strong suit but there is a lot of people here who can help with them… though I appreciate having my input taken to heart.

So, I won’t have recommendations for powered monitors… thats a whole other ball game that I am sure if I make a bad recommendations the others will speak out about lmao. Your more than welcome to ask them… itd be best to potentially put that ask over in the respective speakers thread. As for the DT 880, just remember it -is- a bright headphone. If you have any way of auditioning a bright headphone first or maybe you have experience with high treble headphones already I would recommend that first and foremost… the 880 is the 2nd least bright beyer but its still rather up there. At the same time its pretty much the most versatile next to 1990 and T1 which are steps above it… being able to not only have a great signature balance between lows mids and highs but also being fully flexible to change its signature through extensive eq and pad swaps is quite nice… something as simple as suedes depletes the treble out of the 880 and makes it very bassy as an example. The biggest fall point though of the 880 is its soundstage lacks in comparison to the alternatives like tygr… while tygr is a V signature instead its fully open back so it sounds wider and larger. Regardless, either will be a good choice.

Least, for now… as the newest of the beyer creations is bout to come out with a refresher on the 770 and 990 though we know nothing about them just yet in terms of sound traits

Do you have suggestions as way to audition a bright headphone? I really only have used the HyperX ones… I live near microcenters and other tech stores so I may be able to find a way to get to one if you have any suggestions.

stores or a return policy of sorts are all that comes to mind.

Do you know how to EQ headphones? If you do, you could always just try a bright EQ preset on your existing ones to see how your ears react.

I do not really. Any quick tutorials available?

As a follow up question, do you know if the Drop DT880 special editions are the same as the DT880 Premium Editions?

E: Just kidding I’m an idiot I realize they’re the 250O version

black 250 ohm special edition 880 has a different separate tuning to the original 250 ohm 880. Wouldn’t recommend the black 250 special honestly, the headphone sounds at its best at 600 ohms provided you can drive it

I’m noticing now that the G6 doesn’t have any RCA outs and only a line out. I’m thinking about getting these powered monitors suggested by Zeos, that seem to have an aux in cable, do you know if that would work? I was also considering checking eBay for something like the iFi Zen Dac V2 – I just really would like to only have one little brick on my desk lol. Or should I ask this over on the appropriate topic?

yeah to my knowledge you need an adapter to convert it over for connections in some cases but it will work it’s a Line / Optical Out Jack, it’s where you can connect your speakers but mainly if you have the right connectors

I caution anything that guy says when it comes to his recommendations cause hes a hype man. Good speakers though, I know someone who owns them. Would recommend still asking those with a lot of experience in the speaker threads for a lot of advice on that… theres a ton of speakers to choose from after all.

zen dac is decent but it lacks in power less your using its balanced port… even then its around the same power as the g6 but only through the balanced port… unbalanced wise its quite weak in terms of power. It has a warmer signature trait to it and a bit on the dark/neutral side on treble to my ear. It’s not bad really but it absolutely will depend on the headphone. Combination units like this usually will lack in power compared to separate dedicated units and they also won’t usually sound as good… You could always just get like a magni/modi or liquid spark + topping D10… they are small stacks but offer a lot of power and sound quality… usually pick them up $200 new around $140 used.