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Alex_o
1
Jun 14, 2018
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Hi, my HD6XX will come soon, and I wanted to know what dac / amp I should take knowing that: I use my headphones for everything, movies, music and especially for competitive games (rainbow six, counter strike ...) and I would prefer that the amp / dac has a microphone jack too. And it should not cost more than 200 € and I would also prefer that the amp / dac be available in Europe. If anything of the kind exists I would love to know it. thanks in advance =)
Jun 14, 2018
KacKLaPPeN23
45
Jun 14, 2018
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If you want a mic jack, give up, I wanted one too, doesn't exist.
Jun 14, 2018
Alex_o
1
Jun 14, 2018
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so what did you do ?
Jun 14, 2018
StevieRayVaughan
8
Jun 14, 2018
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Yes it does, it's called an audio interface.
Jun 14, 2018
Evshrug
1559
Jun 14, 2018
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There are some great DSP/DAC/Amp options out there with separate mic inputs. I have extensive experience with Creative’s 5.1 Omni and upgraded to the Sound Blaster X7, right now I sold the X7 and am using a Sennheiser GSX 1000. Another option you always have is to just get a separate USB microphone, like a Blue Snowball (I have their ICE model in white).
The Omni is a decent starting place, with a fairly strong price to performance ratio ($:Performance). It has two built-in mics and clever software to focus on picking up more sound from directly in front and quoting stuff to the side, plus plugs on the front for your headphones and an external mic (I got nice results from a cheap $3 mic meant to clip to your shirt lapel). The back is for connecting to your speakers (thus the 5.1 in the name, a bunch of active desktop speakers can be plugged in for a gaming desk surround), but there’s also an optical output which enables interesting upgrade options. The Amp is strong enough and typical for entry Level solid state amps, emphasizing detail over soft warmth, and the DAC is pretty much indistinguishable from the base level Schiit Modi. You can also use the Omni’s DAC and the headphone or RCA line outs to connect to a discrete Amp if you want, or you can even connect an upgrade DAC to the optical output on the back and just use the Omni as a DSP, so the Omni is a piece that will work as your system grows around it. When I say DSP (Digital Signal Processing), I mean equalization and surround processing. For gaming in particular, it’s a great benefit to be able to hear the difference between sounds coming from the front or back without having to guess, that’s an advantage from both a tactical and immersion sense. You can tweak the strength of the surround effect, EQ for more/less treble/mids/bass, make a harmonic resonance that enhances bass, enhance the volume and clarity of dialog, and also control volume compression (difference between loud and quiet).
The Creative BlasterX Katana is essentially an Omni put inside a small sound bar meant to fit on a desk under your monitor. It doesn’t have the line-outs or optical output, but it does add an optical input and can decode Dolby Digital Live 7.1 surround, so you can use it with a PC, game console, or media player. I thought I would hate the LEDs, but actually it spiffed up the liveliness of my desk and gives me a reason to clear the wire spaghetti (which currently has crept back in). The Katana doesn’t have built-in mics (AFAIK), but it has a mic input port on the back (again I would recommend a lapel mic, though it sounds even better with my Sennheiser PC37X headset). Oh, and it has Bluetooth, so you can also jam out from your phone.
The Sennheiser GSX is like the Omni, an external PC sound card with a headphone and a speaker output and a mic input, but it’s claim to fame is an even more realistic DSP, and (depending on the eye of the beholder) a more “executive” cool design. Once you get used to DSPs, it becomes one of the most interesting gaming upgrades, and this really will fool you into checking that any speakers you have in front you are indeed turned off. It also has a few EQ presets and a way to save your favorite configurations. The GSX also is one of the simplest to plug and play because it doesn’t require any driver installations.
The Sound Blaster X7 is the most expensive option here, but also makes the most effort for compatibility and quality components. It uses the same DSP algorithms as the other Creative products, but the sense of depth/distance and separation of sounds is improved with the upgraded DAC and amp components inside. This is also the only one that can mix sources (play from multiple inputs at once, with volume controls for each). It decodes Dolby streaming for surround from game consoles with Optical, though you have to get creative to use it with consoles for mic input. It has Bluetooth, analog inputs and outputs, USB input and a USB Host input for a wired connection with smartphones (and a smartphone app for remote control), two headphone jacks and a mic input, beamforming mic on the front, speaker amp powered outputs (so you can use it as a speaker amp), an optical output if you want to connect an external DAC instead, and a door on the bottom to allow you to easily upgrade the OpAmps to make it an even better amplifier. As an all-in-one, this one is pretty premium and a good $:P despite the extra cost, especially for computer rooms and apartments/dorms.
As I said, I’m mostly using the Sennheiser GSX 1000 these days, with the headphone output connected to a higher end amplifier. I’m waiting on a Kickstarter delivery of Smyth Research’s A16 Realizer, but now that’s almost ready to launch the price has been raised to $4000 (I got the early bird price for much less). Technically, that also has chat/mic connection capabilities too, but it’s mostly intended (and priced!) for professionals trying to emulate a music studio. You’ll find other options among computer sound cards and external processors which have mic inputs and headphone DAC/Amps, but the ones I described are the ones I had positive personal experiences with.
Jun 14, 2018
KacKLaPPeN23
45
Jun 14, 2018
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I gave up, I had to get an external mic anyways so it's now running over USB.
Jun 14, 2018
Alex_o
1
Jun 15, 2018
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Thanks for the very helpful comment, but i would like to know which one has the best surround sound ,between the GSX1000 and the X7 and what do you think about the Sound BlasterX G5 / E5 ?
yeah I saw the Smyth Realizer A16 (is it the one with head tracking and the strange shape ? =)), it is really incredible but too expensive for me and not for my use.
Jun 15, 2018
Evshrug
1559
Jun 15, 2018
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My anecdote about the G5: my unit stopped playing sound (but the mic input still works) after about a year, and shortly after it came out of the box this one panel on top came unglued and it sticks up at an angle. Obviously, not all G5 will have my issue. When it did work, people thought the mic input sounded really good on Twitch stream. Overall, and conceptually... it should have a bit better amp than the Omni, but you lose the 5.1 speaker line-outputs, built in mics, it costs more, and has the exact same enclosure as the E5. Its features are weirdly positioned between the Omni and the E5... now that the E5 supports surround on PC, I’d say get the Omni or save up for the E5 for a lot more versatility for not much more cost.
The surround is more “out of your head” and speaker-like on the GSX than creative’s processing, but the amp and DAC are better in the X7. If you like the mixing capabilities and all the other features the X7 offers, that might be the way to go, but if you don’t need those and want the best surround short of the Realizer, get the Sennheiser GSX.
Yes, the Smyth has headtracking and was the talk of CanJam for almost everyone that tried it at each CanJam it’s been exhibited at. They have the headstand version for hanging your headphones (the weird shape), or a long flat version for putting on a U2 Rack mount. I got the U2 version even though I don’t have a rack... kinda wish I got the weird shape, lol. I haven’t received my unit yet though.
Jun 15, 2018
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