Adventures in headphones, part 1…

So I needed a new pair of headphones for my gaming system, since now that I’m in a shared household with my girl it was becoming increasingly necessary to isolate the sound of my gaming from the rest of the world.  I spent a little while doing some research, as I’m prone to do before a big purchase, and found that there are some great sites out there for information, but often they are pretty skewed by people that are into the higher end audiophile kind of stuff.

Don’t get me wrong… I love that kind of shit.  I just didn’t want to have to buy a separate desktop amplifier to get the best out of my games.  Finding something that would be powerful and responsive enough, but also wouldn’t break the bank really put some limiters on what I would end up getting.

Ultimately, I settled on the Sennheiser HD558‘s.

 

The main reasons that I went with these was twofold…

  1. I was looking for something that would provide me with amazing sound for games.  Not just for mid’s and high’s, but also needed to have some fairly decent lower end response; sub 30Hz, sub 20Hz preferred.
  2. They could be powered by a newer sound card effectively without having to buy a desktop amp.

Of the field of contenders, I kept coming back to the Sennheisers.  Also, after finding out how easy it is to modify them to sound like the HD598‘s, they were pretty much a shoe in at that point.  I had also looked at the Beyerdynamic’s and Audio Technica’s that are in the same price range and just wasn’t impressed.

After having them for about a month now, I can honestly say that they are the best headphones I’ve ever owned.  I did the foam mod immediately after getting them, not really caring to compare between the two.  They are exclusively being used to play games and listen to a small amount of music… a 90/10 mix.

Love ’em.

I may, after having read a ton of post and reviews of some of the higher end cans, end up trading up in a year or 2, depending on how long these last.  I ended up having to buy the new Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD sound card to fully support these 50 ohm headphones since it has an integrated amp on the card.  With this new card, I can maybe look at getting some of the nicer 300 ohm stuff later on.

 

Crysis 2 Ultra @ 2560×1600

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I finally managed to get some new video cards that were powerfull enough to play this game with the DirectX 11 Ultra patch and the HiRes Texture pack that just came out.   I’ve always loved Crytek for how they continually push the boundaries of what is possible in gaming, but I must say I’m somewhat blown away by how amazing this game looks on my 30″ monitor.   Since I’m late to the party, the fact that they just released these patches really doesn’t matter to me… however had I bought the game and cards to play it with when it came out, I’d be pretty pissed that it didn’t ship with the patch they just released.  Oh well…

crysis2_2011_08_05_13_22_48_497

 

I was torn between getting 2 of the latest and greatest EVGA Nvidia cards to run in SLI, what with Kepler supposedly coming out at the end of this year, or with getting cards that would be adequate to play Diablo 3 and SW:OTR this fall, plus Crysis 2.  I went with the latter, figuring that when the next generation comes out (GTX6xx?) I wouldn’t need them quite as soon.

Going from some old GTX285’s to these new GTX570’s is a pretty dramatic change, especially now that I can take advantage of the full DX11 benefits.  I went with 2 of the EVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD 2560MB cards, since at my resolution VRAM makes all the difference.  As you can see from the screenshots, each card is consuming just over 2GB of VRAM… much much more than the standard 1.5GB that most cards are coming with now.  EVGA is the only (reliable) company that is providing cards with extra VRAM, so this was an easy decision for me.  Plus they have amazing customer support and a great track record… wouldn’t buy any other brand of cards personally.

Check out some more screenshots I took, if you’re interested.

I may upload more as I continue to play… sometimes I’m just awed at how good things look.  To think that I can remember the days of 8-bit sprites and now we have trees that look almost photo realistic.

Crazy.