Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

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Greywander
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Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Greywander » 04 Jun 2017, 08:44

I need to get a new pair of headphones, as mine are starting to die. I feel like I'm in a bit of a peculiar spot and I'm reading a lot of conflicting information.

I'm mostly interested in gaming, and would like a pair of headphones with surround sound. I used to have a Logitech g930 that worked great in Windows, but I never could get it to work on Linux. I've heard several people say not to bother with a surround sound headset and just use HRTF with a stereo headset. I saw that OpenMW has a setting for HRFT, but I don't think I've been able to get it working on my PC (honestly I think I need to reinstall Linux, and maybe try another distro, as I've been having various small issues of late). Even if I did get HRTF working, I'd still want something with surround sound for Windows, as there's still a few Windows-only games I like to play. Is there a way to get HRTF working on Windows? In many cases, I'm left wondering if a set of headphones is even compatible with Linux at all. As I said, my g930 didn't work very well on Linux, although that was a few years ago.

I'd go to a forum better suited to this sort of question, but I'm not really sure where to go...

Chris
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Chris » 04 Jun 2017, 14:35

FWIW, "surround sound headphones" are generally normal headphones, with drivers that pretend to be a 7.1 device and apply HRTF filters to simulate surround sound speaker placement (it's possible for this to happen with specialized hardware, but software can just as easily do it too). I've never looked into it myself, but perhaps you could find a stand-alone virtual device driver to enable surround sound on any pair of headphones.

If you have trouble enabling HRTF with OpenMW (or any other app that uses OpenAL), I can try to help with that. It has to be able to access the headphones directly as a plain stereo device though, skipping the implicit HRTF filters that simulate surround sound.

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Ravenwing
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Ravenwing » 05 Jun 2017, 17:36

Lol, can't wait for all of the pretentious audiophiles to come out of the woodwork. They do sometimes have a point though, I would agree that a good pair of stereo headphones will be much higher quality than a great pair of surround "gaming" headphones. I'm not sure how important sound fidelity is to you, but I listen to a wide range of classical music and game a lot, but never with the kind of twitch reaction games where sound location is really important. Good thing about a normal set of headphones is you'll have no problem being compatible with all platforms. At the end of the day though, they're your ears; if you can try out a few different pairs, that will be way more helpful than a bunch of us randos on the internet.

As to the HTRF, let me know if this is hijacking your thread Greywander, but I would very much like to know how to enable it properly on Windows in OpenMW. I tried googling it a couple times and never really got anywhere.

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AnyOldName3
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by AnyOldName3 » 05 Jun 2017, 17:55

A lot of new games are shipping with built-in support for real binaural audio. As this requires no post-processing or hacks and is objectively the best way to do things when it's possible, explicit speaker surround sound (except for home cinemas and actual cinemas) might be going away soon, in which case, stereo will be all you need. It might not be quite time to abandon multichannel gaming headsets yet, but it could well be by the time you get your next pair.

Chris
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Chris » 05 Jun 2017, 22:05

Ravenwing wrote:
05 Jun 2017, 17:36
As to the HTRF, let me know if this is hijacking your thread Greywander, but I would very much like to know how to enable it properly on Windows in OpenMW. I tried googling it a couple times and never really got anywhere.
First, I'd download the latest OpenAL Soft version: http://openal-soft.org/openal-binaries/ ... .0-bin.zip
In there, extract bin/Win64/soft_oal.dll (or bin/Win32/soft_oal.dll for 32-bit apps). Rename it to OpenAL32.dll (yes, even for 64-bit) and place it in OpenMW's folder (where you find openmw.exe). Might want to rename/backup the original OpenAL32.dll it has just to be safe.

The latest OpenAL Soft version should do better to detect you using headphones (presuming that's what Windows reports the device as being) and automatically enable HRTF, without any extra files or configuration.

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Greywander
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Greywander » 06 Jun 2017, 05:09

Thanks for the feedback everyone. From what I can gather, I'd be better off getting a good pair of stereo headphones and figuring out how to set HRTF up on both Linux and Windows. (Since HRTF is an OpenAL thing, I'm curious how that relates to Windows/DirectX. I know DirectX competes with OpenGL, but I'm not sure where OpenAL fits in that equation. Do DirectX games use OpenAL, and would therefore be able to take advantage of HRTF?)

I can try to set up HRFT on Windows, but I think I need to do a clean install of Linux (root and /home) to clear out some of the cruft that has accumulated over repeated reinstalls (seriously, VLC of all things had been having such issues that I removed it). I saw someone recommending keeping root and /home on one hard drive with all your actual documents on a separate hard drive (as Linux installs some system files into /home rather than root), with symlinks for Documents, Videos, et cetera in /home pointing toward those folders on the separate hard drive. That way, you can reinstall or format /home without losing those documents. Anyway, I'll worry about that later, as I need to get something to backup my files to first.

I've gotten a few different suggestions, both in-person and from checking various forums online.

Kingston HyperX Cloud
Audio Technica ATH M50x
Audio Technica ATH AD700x or AD900x
Sennheiser HD 558

At the moment, I'm leaning toward the HD 558, as they're affordable and, from what I hear, pretty good all around, whereas, say, the AD900x is better suited for gaming but not so good for music.

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Br0ken
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Br0ken » 06 Jun 2017, 11:47


Chris
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Chris » 06 Jun 2017, 16:58

Greywander wrote:
06 Jun 2017, 05:09
Thanks for the feedback everyone. From what I can gather, I'd be better off getting a good pair of stereo headphones and figuring out how to set HRTF up on both Linux and Windows. (Since HRTF is an OpenAL thing, I'm curious how that relates to Windows/DirectX. I know DirectX competes with OpenGL, but I'm not sure where OpenAL fits in that equation. Do DirectX games use OpenAL, and would therefore be able to take advantage of HRTF?)
To be clear, HRTF is its own thing. It's a method to process audio signals so that when played over headphones, it replicates the behavior of sound waves interacting with your head, creating a realistic sense of sound positioning without needing a bunch of speakers. OpenAL Soft merely implements it as an option, and other audio APIs can theoretically do it too.
Kingston HyperX Cloud
Audio Technica ATH M50x
Audio Technica ATH AD700x or AD900x
Sennheiser HD 558

At the moment, I'm leaning toward the HD 558, as they're affordable and, from what I hear, pretty good all around, whereas, say, the AD900x is better suited for gaming but not so good for music.
I tend to hear good things about Sennheiser. Though I'm not really all that familiar with headphone manufacturers to say how others compare.

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Ravenwing
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Ravenwing » 07 Jun 2017, 06:40

It works! Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I think my problem was I had installed it the system wide way, but the already existing version in the OpenMW directory was preventing it from working. Once I overwrote it, it worked well enough to notice a difference. Incidentally, now that I kind of understand what I'm doing, I highly recommend people use this explanation for Minecraft as it's very detailed and for both Linux and Windows. More importantly, they also explain how to set up your own specific version of it. I haven't had time to go through all of that yet, but I'll let people know my results.

Back onto the topic of headphones, I know the M50 are widely popular and many people's first introduction into high quality headphones. I forget why I didn't choose them, but I think it had something to do with lots of people feeling they were overrated. When I was searching the consensus I kind of gathered was that, if you've never owned high quality headphones before, anything was going to sound very different. I ended up buying the NVX XPT100 because they have the same hardware as a much fancier and more expensive pair, but were very affordable. I was looking for a very neutral set of headphones though, but I think in general, modern tastes prefer something with a bit more bass. I like them a lot and I can pick out the individual sections in an orchestra much easier with them. I feel like I can hear more of the music at lower volumes than I could before, if that makes any sense. I remember looking at this back when I was shopping and finding it helpful along with some of its links.
https://www.head-fi.org/f/threads/mad-l ... ed.534479/

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Greywander
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Re: Looking for some good headphones for Linux/Windows

Post by Greywander » 08 Jun 2017, 01:46

I decided to go with the Sennheiser. Amazon had a Used - Like New pair that was about $70 with shipping, vs the $100 - $200 that most of the other headsets were.

I think I may have gotten OpenAL Soft's HRTF set up on Windows, but I'm not really sure what games it will work with, as apparently the list is much more limited than it is on Linux. I ordered a hard drive so that I can back up my files and do a fresh install of Linux, then I'll try to set up HRTF. I'm considering partitioning the drive and installing multiple Linux distros. I'll probably do Ubuntu or Mint (opinions on which is better?) for one, since Ubuntu has become more or less the "standard" version of Linux, and Mint is based on Ubuntu. This should give me a backup option if something is allegedly supposed to work on Linux but is having trouble on my preferred distro (I had input issues running Dark Souls through Wine, for example).

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