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Are headsets bad? I don't see it.

Dazerdoreal

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Oct 5, 2022
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It seems like audiophiles do not take headsets seriously.

In a Youtube video, famous audiophile Crinacle mentioned that buying a headset is hardly ever worth anyones money, even for gamers.
He recommended going for third-party microphone solutions instead.

Judging by reviews and frequency response graphs, I don't see why. While I was not able to check all these out with my own ears, there are many promising options.

The idea of an audiophile headset became popular by the release of the Audeze Maxwell. According to rtings it is well-built and has a great accordance with the Harman target. (This was after Crin made his video.)

But there are also great-looking mid-price options.
- The Sennheiser PC38X delivers a 560s-ish bass response with a darker 650s-ish treble, microphone included.
It costs 119$ on Drop, so it is cheaper than the similarly-built 560s in the US, and it includes a microphone.
- The Beyerdynamic MMX300 has a preference rating of 91 and an amazingly extended upper treble (if you like treble). The sound signature, while marketed for gamers, looks better than most "audiophile" Beyer headphones. The build quality seems similar to their 770/880/990 series and the microphone receives a lot of praise.
- If you want to save money, there also is the Custom Game series which is basically the Custom series with a microphone. To my knowledge it will not be produced anymore but you can often find it on Ebay for around 100-150 Euros. The only other thing you need to do is then is to buy velour pads. It includes a switch which gives you control over the amount of bass.

(Personally, I use a Rode RTH-100M.
The frequency response is not exactly Harman by default, but the response is very flat so it is easy to EQ. Besides, I like the design and the comfort.)

So basically, I dont know what this is this about. Looking at these options, you might even wonder why people do not by a headset when they can have a microphone included.
Another advantage headsets often have is that they are usually easy to drive, as they need to be usable with a Computer.
 
I think problem is not the headphones, its the microphones. Even Maxwell’s mic sounds bad compared to a wired USB mic like Røde NT mini. Some headsets do sound great indeed, but for mic I’d go for a seperate one.
 
I think problem is not the headphones, its the microphones. Even Maxwell’s mic sounds bad compared to a wired USB mic like Røde NT mini.
Not sure about the Sennheiser, but the microphone used in Beyer headsets is considered to be very solid.
That said, this is indeed another reason why I picked the NTH-100M.
 
The prevalence of terrible microphones in expensive headsets with onboard DSP and proprietary bidirectional wireless audio transmission has always mystified me. Manufacturers could very easily make use of high performance capsules such as the excellent EM272 or EM258 and achieve results comparable to those of a desktop LDC.

I have a very inexpensive mono headset that shipped with a terrible 10mm capsule and replacing it with an EM258 has rendered it my default streaming and Discord microphone. With a little bit of EQ, nobody ever guesses that it isn't my usual AT4040.
 
Manufacturers could very easily make use of high performance capsules such as the excellent EM272 or EM258 and achieve results comparable to those of a desktop LDC.
I pitched Antlion Audio on the EM272 a while ago. Sent them an audio recording, comparing it to their modmic 4.0.

They said they'd send it to their engineers but it seems like nothing ever came of it.
 
They said they'd send it to their engineers but it seems like nothing ever came of it.
Their engineers sent it to their bean counters.
640px-Rowan_Atkinson_on_a_Mini_at_Goodwood_Circuit_in_2009.jpg
 
I pitched Antlion Audio on the EM272 a while ago. Sent them an audio recording, comparing it to their modmic 4.0.

They said they'd send it to their engineers but it seems like nothing ever came of it.
I have recently been recommending EM258 to gaming groups and live streaming users, but I don’t have any recordings comparing it with other microphones. Teacher staticV3, can you give me their recordings?
 
I've been meaning to post this little recording of my EM258 headset, so here it is.

 
Things used to be worse. Way worse. Headset makers are trying a bit harder now than they were in the old days when "don't buy a gaming headset" became common knowledge, though, so you can use your discretion.
 
I use Microsoft's wireless Xbox headset. Only $99, game sound is good and my friends have no trouble hearing me.

I don't expect a gaming headset to be audiophile quality.
 
Things used to be worse. Way worse. Headset makers are trying a bit harder now than they were in the old days when "don't buy a gaming headset" became common knowledge, though, so you can use your discretion.
This.

Aside from the fact that you can get better components buying separately, the stigma you mentioned really stem from the mess that used to be the scene 5 years ago and prior to that. It's not that we generalized some bad few apples, it's that there almost weren't any good ones.

In Brazil, 14 years ago, inspired by a guide written by MadLustEnvy in head-fi, I published a guide into gaming headphones, the verbose title was "A guide to gaming headphones and the marketing behind them". In it I basically urged my fellow countrymen to NOT bother getting gamery offers and instead prioritize consumer audiophile products + boom or lapel mics if they were serious about audio. That worked well for about 4 to 6 years, until HyperX and other brands started doing white labels from actually good models.

Since then, there are good options if you're inclined to do a little bit of searching. The Auzede Maxwell is the pinnacle of what a headset should be (albeit it's poor mic quality), but today there are decent alternatives even from the old usual villains like Astro, HyperX and SteelSeries. Rtings database and raw data is a very good source of information on that.

As for me, I actually still think that, despite being less practical, "audiophile" products still put headsets to shame in SQ, SPECIALLY considering cheap chinese IEMs that seem to have gained traction inside the gaming community. For around 20 dollars you can get a closed earphone in iem form that puts to shame almost all headsets, even the decent ones. This is only further aggravated by the fact that nowadays a lot of competitive games provide native HTRF positional audio from the engine and software like Dolby Atmos and HeSuVi is so easily available, rendering obselete those gimmicky "7.1" usb soundcards that are one of the main selling points of gaming headsets .
 
Upcoming Crinacle video in the next few years: "Are headsets good? Here's how I changed the industry again"
 
As I am a gamer since quiet a long time, I come from those bad old days.
For about 7 years now I am using a Rode NT-1 with the Rode AI-1, together with a Sennheiser headphone.

I went for that combination because before that, I had to buy a new Headset every 2 to 3 years. Sometimes even earlier, just because things where breaking a lot.
Either one of the speakers would break, or the microphone.
I can't quiet remember for how long and often I was using one headset, with broken mic sitting on my ears, while I had another one around my neck where the mic was functioning but a speaker was broken.
Quality back then was just terrible.
Going for a separate headphone / mic combo would have saved me hundreds of dollars during those times.
 
How about using a ModMic, or a Lavalier microphone with your existing headphones?


 
How about using a ModMic, or a Lavalier microphone with your existing headphones?


If that suggestion was for me - I am pretty happy with what I am using for those 7+ years now.
The NT-1 has got good sound quality and is built like a tank. It will easily last till I am gone.
The AI-1 has good sound quality to my ears and combines Mic and Headphone DAC/Amp in one rather small but well built device.
 
I like the modmic but stopped appreciating more cables. The fact that mine finally broke is making me wonder if I should just get a calibrated UMIK and put it under my monitor somewhere. Multipurpose, at least.
 
I like the modmic but stopped appreciating more cables. The fact that mine finally broke is making me wonder if I should just get a calibrated UMIK and put it under my monitor somewhere. Multipurpose, at least.
The UMIK has a lot of hiss and being omnidirectional, will pick up noise from all over your room.

If you have like a keyboard and mouse between you and the UMIK, and want to use them while recording, the sound of you using them will be louder than your voice.

It's honestly one of the worse ideas I've read on ASR :D
 
Note to self, never discuss saving money at ASR. :p
 
Big oof
 
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