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Gaming Audio Myths: Avoid The BS & Save Your Audio Life

Think you need a sound-card and a 7.1 channel Dolby certified digital special headset with EAX 12 and 200 reverb effects on each channel? Watch this video.

Tyler from Mayflower Electronics stopped by to play some video games and talk about audio. In this video we cover these gaming audio myths:

  • Sound cards
  • Noise shielding
  • Software enhancements (EAX, etc.)
  • Fake surround sound
  • And a few more things

Let us know what you think. Feel free to let us know what we missed... or if you think we are full of BS let us know.

If you value the content, please consider becoming a member of our Tek Support team. Also, go like the Mayflower Electronics page on FB: https://www.facebook.com/mayflowerelectronics 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

This is just what I need. I have some pretty good onboard sound and I would like to learn more about options. e.g do I need an AMP + DAC

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Whether or not you NEED an amp, dac or an amp + dac combo is really largely dependent on what headphones you are trying to power. Like they say in the video if you have low ohm headphones (under 80) typically onboard sound is perfectly fine. If its not clearly labeled or you can't actually find what ohms your headphones are that probably means they are under 80. If you have a relatively popular brand of headphone and even if you have some weird off brands if you just search for the headphone online with the term "ohm" you can usually find what they are.

Signal and noise issues are another consideration. If you plug your headphones in and have nothing playing (meaning silence) but you can still hear an audible hiss or when you plug in other devices to your pc and you hear popping and whatnot in your headphones theres probably some interference there. It should be completely silent with no electronic sound at all. If you have a lot of noise going on getting an audio solution thats separate from your pc, even a cheap one, will be a huge upgrade.

Theres all kinds of stuff if you can get yourself into if you really dive into the audio world. Theres things like impedance matching, op amp rolling, high end cables that lower resistance or provide noise shielding or prevent signal loss. A lot of it I think is unnecessary snake oil snobbery (audio cables especially) but some of it has merits. For a good audio listening experience you really don't need to dive that far into it though. Getting a good dac a good amp (or dac+amp solution) and some quality headphones is usually enough.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Well, I wasn't expecting a reply, but I am glad I got a lot of reinforcement about certain points. The one thing that I took away is that audio is as good as the weakest link in the chain. I believe that someone said that below.

I know that my onboard is pretty good, as I am using the ROG supreme FX chip. That might not mean much in the world of being an audiophile, as I have realised that many premium soundcards use the same chip as their cheaper counterparts. Maybe that premium onboard goes a long way to eliminate interference.

The weakest part of my chain is my headset. It was pretty inexpensive and I did make a note of the level of resistance when I bought it. It was pretty inexpensive, about the only reason I bought it - not horrendously low quality, but cheap.

This was just a bit of information gathering before I select a new set of headphones. I am not currently in the market for a set, but I wanted the information now. If I do go utra quality with a set of headphones, I will test the sound before deciding on an AMP and DAC. So I feel pretty confident that I can build a good chain now.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Good headphones are more important than your source! What are you currently using?

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Not at all true; 16-bit 44kHz mp3 audio on $3000 headphones with onboard audio isn't is going to sound just as bad as 32-bit 192kHz flac vinyl rips on $60 headphones with a $3000 amp and DAC.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Sure, the whole chain matters, and spending $3000 on a source and using a headset is just as stupid as spending $3000 on headphones and using them with a computer. However, if you think $3000 headphones wont sound better than $60 headphones on any source, maybe you haven't tried $3000 headphones. :P

If OP's budget is high, I'll obviously recommend a good source to go with good headphones, but I'm just making sure he's not about to go out and buy an O2 to use with some Beats by Dre. 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

There are two questions I ask about the onboard: Is the signal clean and relatively noise free? Is the output impedance low? If those two things are ok... then you can usually get away with using most headphones (32 Ω and sometimes up to 250 Ω) with onboard audio. 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

I use an ROG motherboard that supposedly has decent audio, my graphics card will be able to use the new technology called TrueAudio by AMD Radeon... do you think TrueAudio will be any good?

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Well, if with those $3000 headphones you can hear static in the music, then they wont sound better. My bad pair of headphones sound better than my good ones when I use my onboard audio because I can't hear the noise floor with them.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

and 320kbps mp3 will not sound as bad as a Flac Vynil rip... Because the Vynil is the weakest link, but i'm not gonna lie i do quite like how the vynil sounds, but if i want to hear all he detail and instruments properly i gotta go with full on digital...

posted 1 year 8 months ago

sorry  incorrect... the best head phones in the world can only reproduce the input to them ..put garbage in you will get garbage out.this is irrefutable ..The final sound can ONLY sound as good as the weakest link in the chain from source to your ear 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Debatable. I'd prefer high-quality interference than low-quality interference, but I can understand if other people don't feel the same way. ;)

posted 1 year 8 months ago

+1

posted 1 year 8 months ago

your only as strong as your weakest link its been that way forever. I bought a solid state home amp and used a low end pre-amp and it sounded like shit so i bought a better pre-amp same amp,speaker configuration sounds amazing could not belive the difference. crap in crap out. 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Headphones/speakers will always be the weakest link - they cannot perfectly reproduce any signal input to them no matter how high-end the source. So why bother with a high end source if your headphones will always be worse? 

Intentional straw man is intentional.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

i don't need it to be perfect just need it to be to my preference, I can't wear headphones because my ear's burn up in them so i use speakers but my gaming setup is in the living room so I'm using tower speakers not conventional computer speakers. you'd be amazed at how much the tweeter changes how the whole system sounds. crisp clear highs and changes the overall sound of the mids and lows, I use jl zr/xr tweeters in just about every setup. there not perfect but for the price they are. the tweeters i was using before had to much treble and over ran the other frequencies . but its really preference i like aluminum/titanium dome tweeters, I've heard some really good ribbon tweeters to, but not so much for the composite tweeters. 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

+1 to dave8

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Well you just save me some money so now I'll just get another SSD.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Hey everyone!

I got a Onkyo TX-SR608 that handels all my sound around my room, everything works perfektly except for the 5.1 sound from my PC. I always assumed I would need to buy a soundcard to get the surround from my PC to my speakers but have always hold off on buying one. Now, is there any other way to get surround to my speakers? Hope someone can help me, now that I have seen this video, I'm even less excited on buying a soundcard.

Greetings from Germany!

posted 1 year 8 months ago

(Sorry I'm lazy, use Google Translator)

Deine Onboard Soundkarte sollte doch alle Anschlüsse haben? Meistens haben die Boards 3 Anschlüsse die die zwischen LineIn, Mic, LineOut und Front, Back, Center/Bass umschalten kannst. Manche haben sogar 6 Klinken dann gehts noch besser. Wenn du nur 3 Anschlüsse hast und neben dem 5.1 Sound auch noch dein Headset (Mic) betreiben willst, wird dir wohl nichts anderes übrig bleiben als dir ne billige Soundkarte oder gleich ne USB Soundkarte zu holen.

Eine andere Variante wäre den optischen Ausgang zu benutzen wenn du einen hast. Dann kannst du eine Klinke wieder zum Mic machen und ihn für das headset benutzen.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Google translation for the EXTREMELY lazy:

Your onboard sound card should still have all the connections? Most of the boards have 3 connections that can switch between the line input, Mic, Line out, and front, back, center / bass. Some even have 6 pawls, we go even better. If you have only 3 connections and want to run next to the 5.1 sound even your headset (mic), you will probably have no other choice than to bring you ne cheap sound card or USB sound card equal to ne.Another option would be to use the optical output if you have a. Then you can again make the mic and use it for the headset jack a.
posted 1 year 8 months ago

Most modern motherboards have analog surround sound outputs, but not all receivers have analog surround inputs.Over optical, you can only use surround sound if the source is pre-encoded with surround sound in a Dolby or DTS format (this is a limitation of S/PDIF, not the optical technology itself). You need a motherboard or soundcard specifically capable of encoding an audio stream into one of these formats, as well as the capability of decoding one or the other with your receiver.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Well that sucks, was hopeing the tek would have something up their sleeves! Nomatter, i'll just have to buy a cheap soundcard that supports one of these formats!

Anyway, thank you very much for your help! :)

 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Use HDMI port on your GPU, that way you can bitstream multichannel audio to your receiver without problems. I've been using this with HTX-22HD and I'm getting 7.1 audio from PC to the AVR digitally.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Yes! I forgot to mention HDMI if your receiver has that functionality! :)

posted 1 year 8 months ago

They are talking about headphones. Coaxial audio is the best digital audio source and I wouldn't recommend anything less for a nice amp. These guys are talking so general and as if people don't care about audio and just want cheap fixes.   

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Optical is literally the same thing, with the benefit of zero possibility of transmitting electrical interference/noise.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Run your HDMI out from you video card provided you have one 

set it at 24 bit 48000hz and the receiver will the do the rest unless your bit streaming

If you bit stream it then the computer will do the processing like what the PS3 dose when playing blu ray.

Im using a Onkyo TX-SR805 which is fairly old but a very powerful amp. Neo: 6 Cinema is perfect for games 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

U SAVED ME :D

Now I have a room for another graphics card and I can do a dual-SLI :)

posted 1 year 8 months ago

phew! never bought a sound card as I thought they were for serious audiophiles

posted 1 year 8 months ago

But this one goes to eleven    D:

posted 1 year 8 months ago

You guys always talk about headphones. What about speakers?

I dont use headphones at all. Id like some advice on kick ass speakers!

posted 1 year 8 months ago

My advice: don't buy anything in a boxed set. Get some good 2.0 bookshelf speakers (or even active studio monitors) and then pick a subwoofer separately if you want a kick in the chest. Don't be afraid to buy used items in good condition on eBay - you can find great deals. 

If you find passive bookshelf speakers, a LP-2020A+ Lepai amp is cheap and great for anything you'd need until you find yourself with a large living room and a surround sound setup.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

+1

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Never bought a soundcard but might have had. Please review DAC options.

Cheers

posted 1 year 8 months ago

After listening to the virtual barber shop, and finding out how offensive it is, there is one thing I'm really looking forward to now and that's more games adopting AMD's TrueAudio. Will see how that works though.

On the sound card topic, what do I do if my onboard sound solution genuinely sucks? I have an Intel motherbaord (that's going into a file server soon so goodby to that) and in some videos/sound bites I was not able to hear the smaller, finer sounds like people chatting in the background or random street noises before I switched to a sound card, a cheap Xonar in my case. What then? Because this video makes it seem like all onboard sound solutions are created equal ...

Finally, can someone recommend good headphones? I have a Razer Tiamat, and had it for a couple of years now, but I want to switch up to something that sounds better (it sounds alright but it's a gaming headset with 7.1 surround crammed in there so ...)

posted 1 year 8 months ago

It's true not all onboard is created equal, and sometimes soundcards do make some sense. The point of the video, is that for most stereo headphones, and most modern onboard solutions, a soundcard is either not necessary, or there are better external solutions for the same price.I'd suggest you buy some nicer headphones first, that way if you eventually upgrade your computer you wont still be stuck with that Tiamat. 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

See, the problem with my current rig is that even with the Tiamat I can hear the difference between my onboard and the Xonar. However, this should change soon as I start with the new build (finals) as the motherboard for that is a Formula VI Extreme (same sound hardware as Xonar cards onboard)

My main mistake was going for an Intel Extreme mobo in the first place. I was young and naive back then :P

 

posted 1 year 8 months ago

The output impedance of the opamps they put on ROG boards may degrade the frequency response of the Tiamat.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Very nice video!

Maybe you can help me. I'm looking for some headphones for quite some time now. I want to carry them with me all the time, maybe around the neck or in the backpack. I'm used to neckband headsets. A detachable cable would be great because I always break these. My price limit is around 100$ maybe 120$.

Do you have any suggestions?

posted 1 year 8 months ago

You should be able to find some V-Moda Crossfade LP's for around a hundred bucks. They are very bass heavy though, so probably not the best for rock derivative music genres.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

For portability I always prefer IEM's. If I'm going to be walking around I don't want a big ass bulky set of headphones on. These are a great set of IEM's with removable cables. Cheers.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Nice video. Lucky you! We dont have any snow here, Im from Finland and it should snow here, damn it!

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Finally the truth came out,many friends of mine have sound cards and were pushing me that it's great and that i should buy it...now i can send them this vid and watch them cry.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

More than likely they will not cry, but just counter this one single video opinion with a number of contrasting opinions from equally reliable sources. Biggest mistake you can make is acting on a single opinion or source.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

so what software do you recommend? I would like to play around with some equalizing (for music) and a 7.1 emulator would be great. I have a pair of BOSE AE2's.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Razer Surround is free software for now. :)

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Use this for music and EQ: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5um6NEMZGZo

If your game has a "headphones" option then you will probably not need the 7.1 emulation. The Razer free software does require a Razer account... and it's software that takes the sound and tries to simulate the 7.1. I'm over that stuff... any headphones  should be good so long as the developers have done a good job with their positional audio. If you really want surround sound... get speakers and use the optical out to them.

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Sounds good. I have a Razer Taipan so an account is not an issue. For speakers I've been looking at:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836183040

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836183035

Any insight?

posted 1 year 8 months ago

Googling around shows that the output impedance on my soundcard (Titanium HD) is on.... wait for it.... 35 Ohm...

My headphones have an impedance of 50 ohms. :(