Tuesday, July 14, 2015


Odds are if you're reading this you use your PC to play games, so sooner or later you're going to need the ability to communicate through voice chat which leads us to the question how do you get a good sounding headset without eating into the graphics card budget...

The video I've provided above is from Tek Syndicate, where they discuss at length why "Gaming" branded headsets are crap. But more importantly they give you options for building your own for under $50 with audio quality far and beyond what you can get from a so called "Gaming" headset. If you want to learn more about what went into my own headset solution, or you're just looking for more options (including more expensive options) then definitely check out the video above and other videos in their headset series.

Adding 3rd party pads is HIGHLY recommended ...

First, at the time when I built my PC a few things came to- gether quite nicely. First, I got a motherboard with a nice onboard audio chip, the MSI Z97-G45 Gaming Motherboard was on sale for $100 (also not everything with the gaming branding sucks). Normally it's around $140 and it's built with an "isolated" audio chip, which supposedly reduces (not eliminates) interference from other electronic devices in your machine. Additionally, it has the amp necessary to power a decent headphone.

I decided to give the onboard audio a listen before invest- ing in a DAC, something I recommend to anyone who cares about the audio on their system. For me, the onboard has actually been quite good for normal use without the addition of a DAC. Of note here, if you're going with the onboard audio you're definitely going to want to plug directly into the motherboard, do not plug into the front I/O, srsly don't do that.

For the headset I went with the Superlux HD668B, I actually have my computer on a small table to the right of my desk. I use both of the packaged cords to reach the motherboard on my machine, passing behind the monitor, etc. This gives me plenty of slack to reach my head and move around comfortably. I added a set of velour ear pads for a few bucks, the pads that come with the Superlux are fine, but they do cause my ears to sweat pretty quickly. So, for most gaming sessions they get uncomfortable before long.

For the Mic I went with the Zalman ZM-Mic, I added an extension cord I picked up from eBay for about $2 including shipping making the mic and headphone cords roughly the same length. It all works, and works well together. Much better than the exponentially more expensive Sennheiser headset I replaced (it was great, but it DID eventually die after years of abuse).

The Sennheiser headset I was using previously cost $180, they were a gift or I'd never have gotten them. I'd never have spent that much on a headset myself. So how much did I spend on the new headset?

Superlux HD668b $32 on Massdrop
Zalman ZM-Mic $7 on Amazon (Sale)
Replacement Ear Pads $5 on Amazon
Extension Cord $2 on eBay

Total: $46

Having said that, these are quite literally the best headphones I've ever owned. The sound quality and the sheer volume they are capable of reaching is fantastic. Mostly I listen to metal and rock, so these are perfect for that. However, the lows aren't bad either for some hip hop (definitely put these things through their paces with some Death Grips and Mastodon) when I'm not gaming. If you're looking for a headset replacement, or just a good pair of headphones the Superlux is a solid choice. I would recommend looking for them on Massdrop (they'll show up for sale sooner or later I'm sure) otherwise, I'd recommend looking for a pair used on eBay.

At the time of this writing I was able to find them in the box for $36 with shipping. I understand the hesitance in buying used headphones, however they're not too hard to clean with some cotton swabs and alcohol. Additionally, if you're replacing the pads anyway, buying used makes a lot more sense and saves you some cash.

If you have a different solution you used, or if you have thoughts in general on the subject feel free to reply below.


1 comment :

  1. The video I've provided above is from Tek Syndicate, where they discuss at length why "Gaming" branded headsets are crap. But more ...