Sound system of choice

[FONT=helvetica]If you’re playing a video game, what is your sound system of choice? Do you use surround sound, headphones, or neither?[/FONT]

Astro A30s + Mixamp. That I got for free from Capcom because I am awesome like that.

2.0 speakers.

Finally jumped the gun on Sony MDR-V6’s after a long time of gawking at them online and I’m really pleased with the results so far. Earcups are a bit small and the material feels a bit like an itchy wool sweatshirt but they’ve got a very rich organic audio with lots of clear distinction between sounds. They also seem to magnify faults in the original recording if there just so happen to be any, which makes sense since they’re studio monitor headphones. Putting the volume up helps a little in those cases though. My box got a bit smashed up in shipping but I was going to throw it out anyway and

Other than that, I have no very simple 'n easy answers. What sound system you should get relies largely upon your subjective tastes, budget, room size and your ability to wire things up, which are all more or less things only you would know about.

Concerning surround sound, the surround speakers are rarely ever used for anything other than ambient noises and panning effects, so a lot of people would prefer to sacrifice them for more money to put into better quality sound in the front speakers. Phonorecords, Music CDs and MP3s are never surround sound and will probably account for most of the music you’ll come across and let’s face it, sound matters most for music.

However I must admit that when the sound-stage is in use, the effects can be pretty cool sounding and for games in particular, you might want it so you feel more like part of the action. It’s a fair bit more immersive to hear bullets flying towards you; as much as I hate to use this phrase, it really helps to get a bit of adreneline going.

Definitely don’t bother with surround sound if you can’t figure out a way to string wire from the front of the room all the way to the back though. The entire purpose is to generate sounds at different points all around you and so that purpose is defeated if you can’t arrange your room to make that happen.

If games are the only consideration, it also might not be worth the bother if you’re not planning on playing the latest games: The Playstation 2 only supports surround sound during cutscenes while the Gamecube uses Prologic II, which is more or less ‘faked’ surround sound. Dunno about the X-box. A couple SNES games have Prologic (not II?) sound as well, say like Jurrasic Park and Super Turrican but by far you probably won’t be getting very much out of it unless you have one of the most recent game consoles like the Playstation 3 or care about it for movies as well.

I had done a fair bit of market research about this online and here are what I consider to be the fruits of my labors:

First to start off with the sound system I’d bought for myself, the Kef 5005.2s. I’d been doing some research on the brand 'cause I heard they were good for smooth, clean delicate listening. It seems like several youtubers liked using the Kef 3005se with their Playstation 3s. 5005.2s are Kef’s next step up use three of the same driver per speaker, with the same subwoofer and while the MSRP is higher, they’re offered for the about same price as the 3005s on Amazon at the moment, which is to say both cost approximately $1,300. I personally love classical music and figured this would serve me good purpose as an all purpose sound system and I must say I was quite pleased when I got them. My only complaint about the 5005s is that they’re a bit too tall to serve as a shelf speaker.

Careful though, they’re rather pricy and for reasons beyond my capacity to comprehend, it’s a fairly common industry standard not to honor warranties for high end audio products, unless distributed through an authorized retailer through a brick 'n mortar shop. Kef has this policy across their entire line of products. (I know Pioneer’s ‘elite’ line of receivers has this policy as well, not to mention a few other notable brands I can’t seem to take note of.)

If you prefer a more rockin’ punchy sound, are on bit of a tighter budget, then I hear JBLs are probably the way to go. I don’t own any myself, since I opted for the Kefs nor have I heard them since I don’t have a personal mode of transport out of the house but the JBL CS6100BG and the jbl cs480bg get constantly high reviews on amazon, averaging at a(n approximately) 5 star rating. Though some people say that only holds true when they’re offered for about half off M.S.R.P, giving them a best in class value. (Which they are at the moment, that’s why Amazon doesn’t show the true prices.) My experience with Street Fighter II on the SNES and Genesis seems to suggest that punchy rockin’ sounds are what the game’s audio is all about, so I’d guess it’s a good recommendation for the Shoryuken community in general for obvious reasons.

All those surround sound systems will require a separate A/V Receiver to be usable however, which is a bit of a surround sound decoder, home entertainment hub, amplifier and radio all rolled into one. As you can imagine, this requires more money and more market research that I haven’t quite entirely done. {My kefs are powered by the cheapest A/V receiver I could find with digital optical A.K.A. TOSlink inputs at the time so I could put that bit off. A discontinued Sony STR-697 I bought a couple years back used for $120, advertised with a scratch across the top.) You’ll probably have to do this anyway if you want to utilize lossless sound through H.D.M.I. (Dolby True HD and DTS-master Audio are only sent through H.D.M.I. as of current, to my understanding) though I’m unsure if games utilize lossless sound anyway.

However if the complexity of this puts you off and you require an easy, complete in box solution, the Logitech Z-55000 might also be a consideration. This surround sound system is often recommended by mac users to mac users who want to utilize the combination mini-jack/TOSlink combination ports on their computers. (Nevermind that it’s a little tricky to get macs sending out more than 2 channels of sound via SP/dif anyway).

For stereo sound, mac fans also enjoy Harmon Kardon Sound Sticks, which use the same drivers as the clear orb shaped speakers and subwoofer Apple commissioned Harmon Kardon to design especially for the G4 Cube. Basically they’re clear sticks using four of the same small tweeters as its forefather with a matching subwoofer to fill out the bottom. 2.1 sound. The earlier models, like their forefathers for the G4 cube, only work via USB though and as for the later ones, I don’t know what the deal is concerning inputs. The nice thing about the soundsticks however is that virtually every Apple Store I’ve gone to has them out on display near the iPod docks, so they’re relatively easy to examine and sample. Well at least that used to be the case; haven’t been there so much recently.

It’s also worth noting that also didn’t have any room for floor standing speakers, which might also be a strong consideration once you enter the higher end price range. So while I’ve often heard “there is no substitute for size” my study in that area is limited. I remember briefly reading that Aperion Audio in one of the many “Bose sucks” threads I’d come across all over the web and came across this Intimus 4T Hybrid SD review on Cnet but beyond that I can’t say much.

Speaking of Cnet, I remember an article called A $25 dollar speaker an audiophile can love, which is also worth some small mention.

Other notable brands include Bowser & Wilkins (B&W) and Polk Audio (a friend of mine who used to be a music teacher friend of mine, whom I’d also spoke to about speakers with called them “budget audiophile” equipment) although I can’t name any specific models of interest.

I have the Xbox upstairs, where I’ve got my 32" telly and no sound system - when I come downstairs, we’ve got a Sony DAV-F200 surround sound system, with the input coming in via optical - I occassionally hook it up and play there [read when the other half is out], since the quality on that thing is astounding.
Watching movies on it is just as amazing - the sub is monsterous and will cause the floor to shake when surround mode kicks in. The Dark Knight has this section that made me think the windows were going to bust out with the pressure :wink:
I know they don’t make it any more, but they’ve replaced it with basically the same piece of kit with a 3d blu-ray player in. if I ever have to replace the F200, I’ll go straight for that.
PS - it also keeps the missus happy, because it looks nice :smiley:

Also - I have the Wharfdale Diamond 6’s those speakers are pretending to be - what a pair of speakers they were. Can’t seem to find the Daytons over this side of the pond with 5 mins of googling - suspect it won’t be long before someone stocks them tho…

Yeah, I’d also trash away surround sound! 2.0 is enough; I’m thinking about getting the Edirol MA-15D since they have digital input via Toslink. I would probably go for surround, when I would play CoD (which I don’t ;)!), then it would be a reason to get a surround system. But for playing Tekken 6BR / MvC3 / FIFA 2010 with some friends, 2.0 is just fine!

z5500. Cheap, works ok (not hifi tho).

My gaming setup.

Asus VH226H
Logitech Z2300
Astro Mixamp (2010)
Rode PSA-1
Audio-Technica AT2035
Audio-Technica ATH-M50s
Shure x2u
Homemade pop filter

Not Pictured:
Xbox 360

The Mixamp receives sound from my 360 via optical and from my PC via RCA and USB. The AT2035 condenser microphone is connected to the Shure x2u USB audio interface via XLR cable and is mounted to my desk by the Rode PSA-1 boom arm. The headphone jack output on the Shure x2u is a monitor for all the sound coming into it from the super sensitive microphone. Connected to that headphone monitor is a two-way stereo splitter. One end goes to the microphone input on the Mixamp for whenever I want to chat over Xbox Live, and the other end goes to the MP3 input on the Mixamp so I can hear my surroundings at home when I have the highly isolating ATH-M50s on.

The pop filter is made from black women’s stockings and a wooden embroidery hoop. It is attached to the microphone shock mount by zip-ties. Derp.

If I don’t need to be silent, I turn off the Mixamp and just use the Logitech Z2300. The Z2300 are connected to the headphone jack on the Asus VH226H monitor. I get the game sound from the monitor because the 360 is connected to it via HDMI. The Z2300 are also connected to the PC.

Glad to see I’m not the only one who hasn’t removed that bit of plastic from my Mixamp.

I have a 5.1 setup in my living room, I play my games on the PS3 and 360 in there. It’s just an all-in-one set I got from BB like 6 years ago. Pretty soon here I’m gonna put together a 7.1 setup. No box set shit either.

I have some lame 2.1 crap on my pc. Or I use some Turtle Beach Ear Force X3’s that a buddy of mine gave to me. They’re a little busted and duct taped and the mic doesn’t work but they sound good. Just kind of uncomfortable because they’re busted.

Had a cheap Sony HTiB for the past year or so, but sold it to start piecing together a better 5.1 setup. Right now I’m using an old Sony STR-DG500 receiver paired with some Polk Monitor 40 Series II bookshelf speakers. Saving up for an Onkyo TX-SR509 and from there I’ll get a Polk CS10 for center, PSW110 sub and a pair of Monitor 30’s for surround.

It’ll take a while to get everything together, but it should sound much better than what I had before.

I’d not seen the (astro) mixamp until yesterday, while watching the LA coverage - I spotted Filipino Champ with one and was wondering what it was! Sucks that in the UK it costs the same as the US notes wise - 99 dollars or 99 quid (130 dollars). Hate it when companies do that.

Edit to fix auto complete.

Astro, not astrology.

Gah - auto complete on the phone, sorry.

Which is why I never use auto complete for anything, ever.

I finally sprung for some Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 this year. They’re amazing if you can stomach spending $150 on two speakers and a sub.

d3v - The speakers in my Naomi cab are awesome. I had no clue cabs were given such love. When I lurked the arcades back in the day the speakers weren’t set to a 10th of the volume it can produce. The only cabs that were ever given decent sound were the DDR. Uggh.

Cab speakers are generally industrial strength shizz. You have to consider that these things have to compete with other cabs for peoples attention.

They must have missed this in America. It’s rare to see a ‘loud’ cab that isn’t DDR or Guitar Hero. The poor 3S cab we have in town has no volume. You have to struggle to hear it.

Asian arcades are an orgasm of sound and noise for any connoisseur. If you listen well enough, you can identify most of the games by ear alone.