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Thread: Sound card and headset buying advice needed

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    Question Sound card and headset buying advice needed

    I have a fairly decent system (Athlon 3800, 7800GT, 2G Ram), but I'm currently using on board sound and I'm thinking of getting a soundcard.

    I'm only interested in gaming, not music or DVDs and although I currently have 4.1 speakers I only have 2.1 plugged in as the two "rear" speakers can't be easily placed.

    My motto is value for money, so I'm not looking to spend a packet. The latest and greatest is obviously the xfi cards, but even the basic oem is £50+.

    SP I was wondering about the Audigy 4 (£35) or perhaps the Audigy SE (£18).

    At £18 the SE looks quite appealing. Are there any great reasons to spend more ? I'm mostly an FPS player (BF2) and am looking to "enhance the experience"

    I was also thinging of getting a decent headset. I've had a variety of cheap and nasty headphone/mic setups and they've never worked very well. You get what you pay for I suppose and for <£10 you don't get much

    So what about the Speed-Link Medusa 5.1 ProGamer headphones (£45) ? Are they worth the effort/money ?

    One thing that concerns me (a little ) is the Audigy 4 has an extra two jack sockets over the SE. What do these do ? And is it coincidence that they are white and pink and the Medusa also has a pink connector. Does the "4" offer something over the SE that the Medusa would really benefit from ?

    All advice greatly appreciated.

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    Fried Chip Extremist alsenior's Avatar
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    id go for the audigy 4 over the se simply becuse the audigy 4 is fully fledged rather than the the se witch appears to be a cut down version
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    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    I've got the headphones and they really are the dogs bollox for sound. Very good for games and DVD films especially.

    Downsides:

    1. They can get quite hot to wear after a time. About 2 hours and I need to take them off for a while.

    2. I had to locate the control box away from my PC as it was getting feedback hum from the PC. Luckily all the wires are long and there is a volume control gadget, so it doesn't cause any problem siting it 3-4 feet away and routing the wires out of sight.

    One thing that I like about them is that I don't need to unplug the phones to use the speakers.

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    I have the X-fi extreme music card, no complaints there it sounds great in games.

    Just ordered the same headphones <edit> actually I ordered the 'home' version which is a bit different i think </edit> from ebuyer, hope they are as good as the reviews say they are. Will know for sure next week.

    Chunks

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    Senior Member chrisg22's Avatar
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    I'v heard the headphones are utter cack... I would rather get an decent sound card (X-Fi) and a decent set of Sennheisers, I'm getting the HD555 sometime next week so I'll know if its a good combo then.
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    i have got the medusas and i can highly recommend them!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisg22 View Post
    I'v heard the headphones are utter cack... I would rather get an decent sound card (X-Fi) and a decent set of Sennheisers, I'm getting the HD555 sometime next week so I'll know if its a good combo then.
    I love posts like this . Why substitute knowledge for prejudice? I did a lot of research before I bought my headphones, and I started wanting to buy Sennheisers. They just didn't have the product I wanted (or generally the price).

    Of course it depends on what you want. But some downsides to the HD555s for me are:

    1. The HD 555s are open, circumaural headphones. That means they let outside noise in and inside noise out. Now if you live on your own in a quiet environment that's great. For most of us that causes problems.

    2. They are NOT 5.1 headphones (they do some sort of internal surround sound, but this is no good for giving you direction). I'm sure they are great for music, but I usually use headphones for games and the movies that only I want to watch (and those are usually very noisy). Obviously if you mostly use your PC for listening to music then the Sennheisers win out.

    3. Price. Cheapest I could see them (by some way) was £58.99 on Amazon (OK you can find them cheaper on ebay, but not once you add the postage).

    4. It ends in a full ¼" plug, needing an adapter to fit into most soundcard (or speaker) sockets. This may cause problems round the back of your PC, not least on keeping the connection.

    So basically if you live on your own in a quiet environment and mostly listen to music (or don't care about direction in your games/films) then the Sennheisers are great. Didn't fit my bill at all. YMMV.

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    Thumbs up Thanks ....

    Thanks for your help guys. I've looked at some of the Sennheisers. They seem to have a huge range and be aimed more at Hi-Fi than gaming specifically.

    I'm sure they're fine, but I've never really been one to buy into most of the Hi-Fi marketing. I'm sure it makes a difference to some people, but my £40 scart lead produces exactly the same quality as the £5 one it replaced

    I still have one concern that perhaps you can help me with. The Medusa 5.1 has 4 stereo connectors, red, blue, green and pink. See "view 2" here. What do these all do ? 1) Front R/L, 2) Rear R/L, 3) Centre and Sub-Woof, 4) Mic. (?)

    So presumably to fully utilise these I need a sound card that has 3 outputs + mic input.

    Looking at the Audigy SE, the Audigy 4 and the X-Fi Extreme Music, they all have different connection configurations.

    I think I'll rule out the SE as the "4" is only £20 more.

    So it's down to the Audigy 4 or the X-Fi. I'm tempted to just get the X-Fi but I don't want to buy features I wont use. Do es anyone know what the 4 jack sockets are ? If one is "line out" then presumably one of the plugs on the Medusa's will go unused.

    I also notice Creative are claiming that BF2142 has support for X-Fi features.

    Any more advice ? Thanks.

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    I thought X-Fi had trickery to create a 3D soundscape using regular headphones . How do 3D headphones work with X-Fi? Do you switch the feature off or leave it on for 'double' 3D sound and the ultimate ear bashing.

    I have some medusa 5.1s (non vibrational model) using an onboard soundcard and they seem just fine. Good long trip wire on the medusa headphones too.

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    Late Night Ninja! CrazyMonkey's Avatar
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    The Medusa's are pretty top notch, i like the X-Fi personally (the 24bit crystalizer is somethign not to miss.) The Audigy 4 would be better than the SE in my opinion. Its up to you but i would go for X-Fi or Audigy 4 they are both good cards.

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    I have had a pair of medusa's

    I now have a pair of Icemat Siberia's

    All I'm saying is.

    http://www.play.com/PC/PCs/4-/897857...e/Product.html


    You wont look back.

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    the x-fi is worth the extra &#163;15 if you want it for gaming as it can handle more sounds at once than the Audigy 4. many games come with an X-fi option too which generally cranks the sound up to 'ultra high'.

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    many games come with an X-fi option
    I think that's going to be the clincher TBH. I went to Sainsburys this afternoon, to buy some ice, and accidentally bought BF2142 as well

    That has X-Fi support. Oh well, an X-Fi + Medusa 5.1s. There goes £100

    Thanks again.

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    No-one's Fanboi Thorsson's Avatar
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    BTW your question on how the Medusas plug into the soundcard. Well for some reason the Xi-Fi has changed the colour of the Microphone socket to blue instead of pink, but the green/black/orange all match, so that's a doddle. I then plugged my speaker leads, which were also colour coded, into the Medusa box. Don't need the Medusa box on to use speakers, so they are totally independent.

    I've only just got the Xi-Fis, and was just watching Ultraviolet - the sound was awesome.

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    Damn! Looks like u've committed to buying before I could offer u this advice...

    I have both the Medusa's and the X-Fi Xtreme Music card. Both are nice bits of kit. However, I (and others) have had problems in certain games (BF2 for example), where the Medusa's and the X-Fi dont mix. For some reason in BF2 all the bass dissappears when a sound is behind u. Its really weird, but u can stand with ur back to an artillary strike and it sounds all tinny behind u, then swivel 180 and its in full bass. There's loads of "things to try" on the forums (tomshardware and the creative forums) with settings and the like and I've managed to get mine to a satisfactory level.

    Its not all games that experience this either, some are fine. No one seems to know why it happens.

    The other thing I would suggest is to get the X-Fi, but combine it with a good stereo headset rather than a 5.1. The reason for this is that the X-Fi does an amazing job of virtual 3D audio in a stereo headset. Bizarrely, I think it actually sounds better than the Medusa's themselves lol.

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    I returned my Medusa's, they sounded terrible compared to my Sennheisers. The 3D was not worth the downgrade in sound quality.

    The X-fi is the nads, though, absolutely fantastic sound.

    Chunks

    Agree with the comment above, the virtual 3D from the X-fi using my Sennheisers sounds better than the Medusa 5.1's did. Unless its too late I wouldn't bother with the Medusa's. I went to the hassle of sending them back and getting my old Senn's repaired instead, no regrets
    Last edited by Chunkers; 24-11-2006 at 04:41 PM.

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