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2.0 Speakers, Headphone, and Microphone on $1000 budget

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Maybe I am trying to do too much with one thread, but here is my situation. I have a budget of roughly $1000 to put towards new sound equipment for my gaming PC. I currently have a set of Logitech 5.1 speakers that I bought about 10 years ago for under $60 that I am using in 2.1 configuration, a Logitech desktop microphone that has since been discontinued, and a pair of Hesh headphones that do a decent job.

 

I am looking to replace all of these. My budget allocation is $150 for mic, $250 for headphones, and $600 for speakers. However, I don’t know much about what brand does what when it comes to speakers and headphones, so I figured I’d post my budget and my needs and see if you guys have some good suggestions.

 

Speakers: $600

I live in an apartment, so volume and bass are not my primary goals. What I want is longevity and clarity. The quieter I can have my speakers while still understanding everything that is being said on that TV show, the better. I only need stereo speakers in 2.0 configuration (a subwoofer is not desired, as I think the thumps it provides are the worst offenders against happy apartment neighbors). While I’m not looking for something that can be heard in the next building, I do want to be able to clearly hear what is going on when I am in the next room if I turn up the volume during the day.

 

I also would like fairly long cords for a desktop computer, with the assumption there are several monitors between them (wireless is a no-no). I prefer black speakers, but the color isn’t a necessity. The price cap should include anything else required to make them work. I don’t know much about audio equipment to know if an amplifier is needed, but if it is, factor that into the cost.

 

Headphones: $250

I’ve heard that open headphones are better than closed headphones, so these are something I would like to try. Once again, I’m looking primarily for clarity. Leather or fake leather pads are much preferred to cloth/foam style pads. Circumaural is my preferred style. The headphones must be wired, and microphone should NOT be included. I am not going to use the microphone on the headphones, so I don’t want to pay for one.

 

Also, I would like a solution to easily change from headphones to speakers, and to control the volume of the headphones.

 

Microphone: $150

I would like to change to something that isn’t taking up desk real estate. I have plenty of room behind my desk that isn’t being used, that could be used for a mic boom. I would like a studio-style microphone with pop filter and a floor stand. Of course, all black. I don’t have a super huge budget hear, because I do care more about what I hear than what others hear.

 

If you can suggest a better way to allocate my resources (i.e. take $50 off the microphone budget to add to the headphone budget) that is fine, but there is a hard cap of $1000. To recap, this thousand would be for:

*Stereo speakers with a focus on clarity

*Open stereo headphones with leather-style circumaural pads

*Recording studio-style microphone with a floor stand

 

I know next to nothing about what brands do what when it comes to audio equipment, so I’d like suggestions on what best fits my desires within my price range. Thanks!

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Headphones:

If it is for playing video games, AKG K702's ($260) are often recommended: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001RCD2DW/

If it is for music, I'd stretch the budget a little ($310) and go for Sennheiser HD600's: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00004SY4H/

 

But that does not include an amplifier or DAC.

How are you planning on connecting them to the computer?

You can just connect them to the headphone output, but a dedicated amplifier usually makes quite an improvement.

 

Speakers:

A pair of JBL LSR308's ($420) is probably a very good choice within your budget.

These are powered studio monitors that have their own amplifiers, so all you do is connect up a power cable and and audio cable to them and you're good to go. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00E8CEW7I

 

Microphone:

I'm not really the person to ask about microphones. But I know a lot of people that use and like the Blue Yeti mics.

The Pro is regarded as being the highest quality, at $200: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004L9KLT6/

The regular Yeti delivers

with some fewer connectivity options at $120: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002VA464S/

 

 

If you need to stay under $1000, I'd probably go with the HD600, LSR308, Regular Yeti Mic, and a Magni 2 headphone amplifier.

That should leave you with $50 or so to spend on any cables that you might need or a stand for the mic.

I'm sure other people will probably come up with entirely different suggestions though.

 

The only thing I'm not really sure about would be switching between the headphones/speakers.

It really depends what your PC already has as far as audio outputs go (e.g. a built-in 5.1 soundcard) and what you plan on using it all with.

For example, everything on my PC goes through JRiver - and in JRiver it's easy to treat a 5.1 sound card as three stereo devices.

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Gaming is the priority over music. I don't like the earpads on either of the headphones presented. Soft velvet or any other clothy type pads are very bad for me. I need it to have a smoother texture, like leather.

 

Those LSR308s look nice. I will definitely put those on the "most likely" list.

 

The Blue Yeti mic looks nice. Bit pricier for one in black, though (although the color isn't required). I also see suggestions for Audio Technica, so I guess I'll have to read on how they compare to Blue.

 

Thanks for the suggestions so far. I would appreciate a new recommendation for headphones, specifically ones that don't have soft, velvety pads.

 

Edit: this would all be connected to my computer using Realtek onboard audio, which has 7.1 channels. I don't have (or have room for) a dedicated audio card.

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Oh, and regarding something to allow me to switch between, what would be useful is a hub or amp that I can connect both the speakers and headphones to, which would allow me to flip a switch or turn a knob to switch from one to the other. The ability to control volume through this would be nice, as well.

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Another +1 on the JBL speakers.

 

Now for a way to switch between speakers and headphones this might work.

 

http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-E10K-Headphone-Amplifier-Black/dp/B00LP3AMC2/ref=pd_cp_e_1

 

About $75 which is taking money from something else. This lets you feed audio over USB (bypassing your onboard Realtech and any limitations it may have), should play your headphones better, and has both headphone jack and line out for the speakers (probably better than on board audio at that chore as well). It has volume control over headphones, but not over the line out. So you would need to control speaker volume in software.

 

As for headphones I would suggest AKG240 though they are open backed. They do have fake leather earpads rather than something fuzzy. They give a more open out of your head sound than many headphones do. They also would leave enough in your headphone budget to get headphones and the FIIO unit above.

 

http://www.amazon.com/AKG-240-Stereo-Studio-Headphones/dp/B0016MNBAM/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1424484048&sr=1-2&keywords=akg+240

 

Now you could go with these closed headphones.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AFUE7S6?tag=thewire06-20&linkCode=as2

 

Maxes out the headphone budget, but you are saving enough on the LSR308's to cover these headphones and the FIIO or other amp/preamp.

 

Here is a short rundown of some available candidates including the PSB.

The Best $300 Over-Ear Headphones | The Wirecutter

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Since the LSR308's are active monitors, I'm not sure that you would want to switch inputs back/forth while they are on.

Personally I'd much rather use separate sound devices so that the headphones/speakers can be driven independently.

audioswitch works well for me, for that purpose.

But I can understand if you would prefer a hardware solution.

 

For full-size sealed headphones, take a look at InnerFidelity's wall of fame: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/innerfidelitys-wall-fame-full-size-sealed

It's worth checking out some of the older models further down the list, as some of them are available at quite a discount on Amazon.

For more gaming-oriented advice, check out this topic on Head-Fi: http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/

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