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DROP + SENNHEISER PC38X Review (Headphone)

Thomas_A

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Good review. Gives an example that headphones with a close target response may show up when you are not expecting it. There are more of them "out there", but finding them is not easy.
 

blse59

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I am no gamer, but wouldn't a Gaming headphone with poor spatial qualities out of the box would be a dud? Can you even EQ videogames sound and if so would that help in localizing your opponents? Just curious, it's seams than specifically this would be the very most important thing in gaming no? I have zero experience with that type of use case for headphones so I ask.

No, that is a myth that keeps getting perpetuated over and over again by ignorant people kind of like gold cables warming up the sound and silver cables giving more sterile sound. The only thing you need for gaming is a headphone that outputs stereo sound. The game engine itself already attenuates the sound (footsteps, gunfire) based on how close or far away it is. The game engine already uses stereo sound to position audio cues. Professional esports players play with iem's which compared to full sized headphones have zero soundstage and "imaging" (whatever that is).

Are there any stand-out reasons to pick the Sennheiser PC38X over the AKG K371 for headphone performance in the $100-150 price range?

This makes me even more curious to see where the Sennheiser HD560S slots in ($200).
Yes, I don't have the PC38x but I imagine it has the typical Sennheiser expert and experienced build quality. The K371 was designed by amateurs it feels like. The sizing mechanism they use for the headphone is amateurish at best.

The 560s is excellent and my favorite headphone at the moment.
 

phoenixsong

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No, that is a myth that keeps getting perpetuated over and over again by ignorant people kind of like gold cables warming up the sound and silver cables giving more sterile sound. The only thing you need for gaming is a headphone that outputs stereo sound. The game engine itself already attenuates the sound (footsteps, gunfire) based on how close or far away it is. The game engine already uses stereo sound to position audio cues. Professional esports players play with iem's which compared to full sized headphones have zero soundstage and "imaging" (whatever that is).


Yes, I don't have the PC38x but I imagine it has the typical Sennheiser expert and experienced build quality. The K371 was designed by amateurs it feels like. The sizing mechanism they use for the headphone is amateurish at best.

The 560s is excellent and my favorite headphone at the moment.
True, even though I was listening at relatively low volume levels on the Moondrop Aria 2021 IEMs, when playing games like Deep Rock Galactic I was annihilating cluster swarms of monsters with my grenade launcher before my friend could even see where they were coming from (these were his own words; do note that he was using a generic gaming headphone though). However, I can see how with reduced bass there would be reduced distortion, increasing perceived clarity, and also allows for increased volume levels in the mids and treble without increasing the overall SPL due to the cut in the bass. Especially with a driver like this PC38X's- people were praising its sound in general but were complaining about it sounding woolly/muffled in the bass and low mid frequencies, which matches what the measurements reveal here. It can even be audibly perceived (with a pinch of salt) through demo recordings on YT. One thing which slightly differs from the general consensus of the (Mass)Drop reviews though is the take on its soundstage, which Amir was not impressed by. However, I think considering the user demographics of those reviews this can be attributed to most of them comparing it with either terrible generic gaming headsets they were using prior or the Sennheiser HD58X/6XX series which is notorious for possessing smaller soundstage for an open-backed headphone
 

bidn

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Take this with a grain of salt . . . .
Perusing the drop discussion regarding these headphones garners a significant number of quality issues e.g. DOA and component failure. Furthermore it appears (not confirmed) that Sennheiser does not support the product only DROP does. A recipe for disappointment YMMV.

You may already know, but there are more bad things. Sennheiser is kicking off its headphone division (profit had decreased these last years; and, I think it was already a year ago, they had to lay off many long times employees; their lead headphone engineer, Axel Grell, also left the sinking ship).
They announced (I think about a month ago) that a Swiss company will buy and take their headphone division over.
 
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Propheticus

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Understood. Does Sennheiser make anything comparable outside of Drop?
There's the Sennheiser G4ME One, still sold here and there (Amazon here has it).
1624530097254.png


Which looks like the same range as the PCxxx (this one comes from ~2014, the PC360 G4ME was from ~2010).
The newer game oriented models are designated GSPxxx (eg GSP500).
 

A Surfer

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You may already know, but there are more bad things. Sennheiser is kicking off its headphone division (profit had decreased these last years; and, I think it was already a year ago, they had to lay off many long times employees; their lead headphone engineer, Axel Grell, also left the sinking ship).
They announced (I think about a month ago) that a Swiss company will buy and take their headphone division over.
I hadn't heard that before. What a shame. I have owned the HD600/650/700 and HD800S and enjoyed them all (the 700 the least of the pack). The HD800S remains one of my favourite headphones.
 

phoenixsong

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There's the Sennheiser G4ME One, still sold here and there (Amazon here has it).
View attachment 137192

Which looks like the same range as the PCxxx (this one comes from ~2014, the PC360 G4ME was from ~2010).
The newer game oriented models are designated GSPxxx (eg GSP500).
Different drivers, the PC38X is using the GSP series drivers and the PC37X is using the Game Zero/One drivers afaik
 

Helicopter

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Thanks Amir. I have Sennheiser GSP500, but I don't really use them because there is an intermittent fault in the microphone switch. It works about 95% of the time. The microphone boom looks the same as this Drop model.
 
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HorizonsEdge

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You may already know, but there are more bad things. Sennheiser is kicking off its headphone division (profit had decreased these last years; and, I think it was already a year ago, they had to lay off many long times employees; their lead headphone engineer, Axel Grell, also left the sinking ship).
They announced (I think about a month ago) that a Swiss company will buy and take their headphone division over.

Divestiture and mergers happen all the time. I personally have been through 7 acquisitions/mergers. The results are often unpredictable. Internal politics, power plays and competing solutions to the same problem can insure failure while at the same time one side overwhelming the other can lead to the promised land. I think the best tactic is to see what happens under new management and evaluating their new product lines. A Drop partnership is not a good test case due to its uniqueness and divergence from typical product development.
 

HorizonsEdge

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Thanks Amir. I have Srnnheiser GSP500, but I don't really use them because there is an intermittent fault in the microphone switch. It works about 95% of the time. The microphone boom looks the same as this Drop model.

I laughed, sorry. I immediately thought most people suffer from an intermittent fault between their mouths and their brains ). General fact, no reflection on anyone in particular.
 

AVKS

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A nice thing about this headphone is that it plugs right into low-power gaming controllers and has ample volume. I have a pair that I game with (on those rare occasions my brother and I play Left 4 Dead) and it provides balanced sound without the ridiculous V-shape many gaming headphones have.

IMO/IME this is fully intended to be a gaming/communication headphone and any musical usage should be considered as secondary/a nice bonus. The Drop page itself says nothing about music performance/non-game usage, though there are some warm fuzzy words about higher fidelity and frequency response than a couple of other Senn headsets. I daresay it should be judged as such and for gaming it more than gets the job done without piercing one's ears.
 

phoenixsong

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A nice thing about this headphone is that it plugs right into low-power gaming controllers and has ample volume. I have a pair that I game with (on those rare occasions my brother and I play Left 4 Dead) and it provides balanced sound without the ridiculous V-shape many gaming headphones have.

IMO/IME this is fully intended to be a gaming/communication headphone and any musical usage should be considered as secondary/a nice bonus. The Drop page itself says nothing about music performance/non-game usage, though there are some warm fuzzy words about higher fidelity and frequency response than a couple of other Senn headsets. I daresay it should be judged as such and for gaming it more than gets the job done without piercing one's ears.
Indeed, many reviewers regard this as the best gaming headset, stereo or not, especially when paired with a DAC/Amp like the Schiit Hel series. From this review it is clear why :p
If distortion were lower it could probably sweep 95% of headphones off their lofty pedestals lol
 

Walt_Tech

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It has no choice but to keep going down. Transducers are most perfect when they don't move! As to me measuring it, no can do. You need a quite box to get rid of ambient noise. I can build one but they are nearly the size of a coffin and I just don't have room for such a large box.

Distortion grows exponentially so the wind is behind you as play at lower and lower volumes.

Thank you for the info also Is the source that I referenced is it accurate? I also noticed that planar magnetic headphones seem to have higher absolute distortion and little non-linear distortion (using vocab solderdude used) though that seems to not matter because most headphones have low enough distortion at low volumes that you should not hear it. Would having harmonic distortion on the entire frequency range at the near limits make it significantly more audible?
 

Thomas_bati

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I honestly always thought that great headphones for gaming are wasted. In my opinion, the real difference is made by the game's audio engine. For example in gears of war 5 I hear everything and everyone even with a couple of astro a10s. While on Warzone everything is a disaster. A difficulty that is encountered perhaps is the perception between high and low, while no type of problem with no headphones for right and left.
 

PeteL

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No, that is a myth that keeps getting perpetuated over and over again by ignorant people kind of like gold cables warming up the sound and silver cables giving more sterile sound. The only thing you need for gaming is a headphone that outputs stereo sound. The game engine itself already attenuates the sound (footsteps, gunfire) based on how close or far away it is. The game engine already uses stereo sound to position audio cues. Professional esports players play with iem's which compared to full sized headphones have zero soundstage and "imaging" (whatever that is).
I never said it would use anything else than stereo, by definition a soundtrack being experienced in two channel is stereo, and sure maybe it's not that important to gamers, I'll agree it may be a misconception it would up your game, but in the first page of this thread someone posted a sound demo of hellbound, well sorry, but the experience is much more realistic with my Focal Elex than with my Grado IEMs. That doesn't mean it matters to gamers, as I said, I'm no gamer, but sorry, one has a much better sense of space than the other, nothing to do with gold cables that don't make a difference. Thats not "ignorance", a stereo mix (gaming soundtrack, music, movies) has it's sound elements positioned in a 3d space, that's a fact, yes you can reproduce with only two channel a 3 dimensional soundstage and sound designers for games know that full well. Some headphones are better than other at recreating a 3D space, that is also a fact. Maybe this experience, pro gamers don't care about, but it's definitely not the same experience with just any headset.
 

buxtehude

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Now that this earned the golfing panther, Sennheiser must be like... oh, we have to remove the mic and give it an audiophile look and charge 10 times more. :cool:
 

Robbo99999

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I am no gamer, but wouldn't a Gaming headphone with poor spatial qualities out of the box would be a dud? Can you even EQ videogames sound and if so would that help in localizing your opponents? Just curious, it's seams than specifically this would be the very most important thing in gaming no? I have zero experience with that type of use case for headphones so I ask.
In all honesty, I wouldn't know, and yes it is provided by signal processing or recording techniques, or both, but, gaming, to me, should be a good measure of spatial quality. I have no expertise on this, I sincerely wonder, but with sound FX the effect is easier to quantify. I don't know, when a gun shot is coming from right behind you, would a headphone good at "spatializing" give you this feeling that it's coming from a speaker behind your back, where others it would be less obvious? I did in the past truly heard this effect, being puzzled when your brain don't register that you are wearing headphones because you hear a sound that's coming from behind. not from the left and right.
I am quite an avid fps gamer in BF1 over the last few years and I use sound to localise opponents. I use virtual 7.1 surround sound processing from Soundblaster, courtesy of my SoundblasterX G6 DAC. I also own all the different headphones you see in my sig and I EQ them to the Harman Curve, which I keep activated during my gaming sessions through the use of EqualiserAPO. I have indeed found that headphones with the best musical spatial qualities are also the best headphones for creating a 3D sound environment - for example my K702 is the best and the HD600 is the worst, with the HE4XX & NAD HP50 sitting inbetween. So there's certainly a link between the spatial properties of a headphone for music and their ability to be used with virtual 7.1 surround sound processing to create an accurate 3D sound environment. The Soundblaster software takes 7.1 channel information from the game (Windows also sees the Soundblaster as a real 7.1 device) and processes it down to the the 2 channels of your headphone and makes it possible to distinguish if sounds are coming from in front or behind you.....which you can't have if you're using headphones that are just in 2-channel mode, unless the game itself applies the generic HRTF information to simulate a 3D environment....however most games leave it up to 3rd parties like Soundblaster to do the processing whilst the game outputs 7.1 channel information.

I hear this all the time but sadly don't have any experience myself as I don't play games. But I would imagine that any necessary spatial quality is provided by the signal processing in the game and not relying on these subtle effects. I don't even know if these effects are positionally accurate that we talk about here.

What is a Window's game that I can play in demo mode or something to experience such effect?
If you've still got your Soundblaster G6 you could stick it in 7.1 mode, whilst making sure the Surround function is active in the software, you'd probably want to set Surround to around 30 (it's variable from 0-100).....then you make sure your game is outputting 7.1 channels, then you're good to go with testing various headphones. It's heavily frequency response related re the headphone in helping to maximise or minimise 3D spatial effects, but if you EQ all of your tested headphones to the Harman Curve then you're removing the frequency response variable as much as possible, at which point it's coming down to the "inherent" spatial qualities of the headphone. I have indeed found a strong correlation between good musical spatial qualities of a headphone with a headphones ability to create a meaningful 3D sound environment when used with virtual 7.1 surround sound (Soundblaster in my case)......for instance the narrow soundstage of the HD600 is horrible for gaming in relation to creating a 3D sound environment, whilst my K702 which has a wide soundstage is the best for creating that accurate 3D sound environment - I can "instantly" spin to footsteps or gunshot sounds in a 360 degree arc around, whilst if I try to use my HD600 I find I don't have the same situational awareness and can't locate sound queues accurately in the 3D space around me. Battlefield 1 would be a good title to test, I find the 7.1 spatial effects effective & convincing.

No, that is a myth that keeps getting perpetuated over and over again by ignorant people kind of like gold cables warming up the sound and silver cables giving more sterile sound. The only thing you need for gaming is a headphone that outputs stereo sound. The game engine itself already attenuates the sound (footsteps, gunfire) based on how close or far away it is. The game engine already uses stereo sound to position audio cues. Professional esports players play with iem's which compared to full sized headphones have zero soundstage and "imaging" (whatever that is).
I disagree with your assertions there, it doesn't match my experience at all. (see my replies to other people in this post of mine).
 
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phoenixsong

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I am quite an avid fps gamer in BF1 over the last few years and I use sound to localise opponents. I use virtual 7.1 surround sound processing from Soundblaster, courtesy of my SoundblasterX G6 DAC. I also own all the different headphones you see in my sig and I EQ them to the Harman Curve, which I keep activated during my gaming sessions through the use of EqualiserAPO. I have indeed found that headphones with the best musical spatial qualities are also the best headphones for creating a 3D sound environment - for example my K702 is the best and the HD600 is the worst, with the HE4XX & NAD HP50 sitting inbetween. So there's certainly a link between the spatial properties of a headphone for music and their ability to be used with virtual 7.1 surround sound processing to create an accurate 3D sound environment. The Soundblaster software takes 7.1 channel information from the game (Windows also sees the Soundblaster as a real 7.1 device) and processes it down to the the 2 channels of your headphone and makes it possible to distinguish if sounds are coming from in front or behind you.....which you can't have if you're using headphones that are just in 2-channel mode, unless the game itself applies the generic HRTF information to simulate a 3D environment....however most games leave it up to 3rd parties like Soundblaster to do the processing whilst the game outputs 7.1 channel information.


If you've still got your Soundblaster G6 you could stick it in 7.1 mode, whilst making sure the Surround function is active in the software, you'd probably want to set Surround to around 30 (it's variable from 0-100).....then you make sure your game is outputting 7.1 channels, then you're good to go with testing various headphones. It's heavily frequency response related re the headphone in helping to maximise or minimise 3D spatial effects, but if you EQ all of your tested headphones to the Harman Curve then you're removing the frequency response variable as much as possible, at which point it's coming down to the "inherent" spatial qualities of the headphone. I have indeed found a strong correlation between good musical spatial qualities of a headphone with a headphones ability to create a meaningful 3D sound environment when used with virtual 7.1 surround sound (Soundblaster in my case)......for instance the narrow soundstage of the HD600 is horrible for gaming in relation to creating a 3D sound environment, whilst my K702 which has a wide soundstage is the best for creating that accurate 3D sound environment - I can "instantly" spin to footsteps or gunshot sounds in a 360 degree arc around, whilst if I try to use my HD600 I find I don't have the same situational awareness and can't locate sound queues accurately in the 3D space around me. Battlefield 1 would be a good title to test, I find the 7.1 spatial effects effective & convincing.
Looking forward to a K702 review, it may provide us with some distinct clues about what contributes to soundstage and perception cues! I have a K712pro but heard that it's slightly inferior to the 702 in this regard, and having compared the 712 directly with the 7XX (before selling the latter), I am convinced that such a difference could well be true :p
 

Robbo99999

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Looking forward to a K702 review, it may provide us with some distinct clues about what contributes to soundstage and perception cues! I have a K712pro but heard that it's slightly inferior to the 702 in this regard, and having compared the 712 directly with the 7XX (before selling the latter), I am convinced that such a difference could well be true :p
Yes, would be great if Amir reviewed the K702. It's my favourite headphone, but I wouldn't mind if Amir found he didn't like it...not that I'm expecting him not to like it....I'm kinda expecting that he would like it after EQ, but if he didn't and gave it a poor review it wouldn't change my mind about the headphone & I wouldn't be mad either, ha! Afterall it's important people like Amir give honest interpretations of their experience in both measurements & listening experience, which can vary from person to person when it comes to headphones.
 
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