Head-fi respond - gaming audio myths

first of all I'm a tek syndicate fan and a long time follower of Logan since his early tigerdirect days. and I'm also a head-fi member. but after watching that video,  I also believe someone needs to correct some false misinformation specially regarding DSP processing.. here is the respond from senior head-fi member chicolom.. I'd gladly like to quote his well written respond instead of writing the same thing in another way....

That Teksyndicate video was a bit dissapointing. :(

First off though, there were a some good things mentioned, such as:

  • Avoid using the audio headers on the front of the case.
  • Using an external DAC/amp is preferable to an internal one (for noise reasons).
  • Try to find yourself a good pair of headphones instead of opting for an inexpensive gaming headset.
  • Use the optical out from the motherboard if you have it.

Unfortunately, most of the rest of the video was a bit misleading.


In order to automatically disqualify most soundcards they focus on WAY over exaggerating the effects of output impedance.  He actually said that with a 10 ohm ouput impedance "1/3 of the signal is going to be GONE" and "1/3 of the music is being dropped".  :rolleyes:  He cites output impedance like it's the determing factor in how good an amp is.  I'd like to see them compare theE09K and O2 in a blind test.  It should be incredibly easy to spot the E09K as it's dropping 1/3 of the music, right?

You guys said your going to be "busting as many audiophile myths as possible", but are you sure these statements on output impedance effects aren't just reinforcing or even creating new myths?

Next he says, YES soundcards have amps but why would you even need a dedicated amp when most headphones are only 32 ohms?  Even the Hifiman HE500s are only 38 ohms! So these days you don't really need an amp, and your onboard audio will be just fine - even for the Hifimans.  "These days most heapdhones are under 80ohms.  That means they're efficient and they don't need extra power.  Unless your nuts you don't need more power than that."  

Hmm..are you sure your not neglecting to mention some things, like why low impedance ≠ easy to drive with headphoneslike Hifimans (and other Planars), Beyerdynamics, AKGs, etc? ;)

Oh BTW, you should buy an O2 though!  (please disregard everything just mentioned about NOT needing an amp). :o


Throughout the video they basically skip over the WHOLE POINT of why you would use a gaming soundcard, which is for their DSP processing (such as CMSS, Dolby Headphone, SBX pro, etc).  They say that your motherboard audio can do everything agaming soundcard can do, and that using optical from a soundcard like a Xonar "is the same exact digital signal you'll get from your motherboard's optical out".  Yeah - except one has has a surround DSP and the other doesn't. 

Then he says "I guess the only benefit from using the soundcard is they can use the software that came with it.  But that's all in Windows anyways, so..." O RLY?  Windows already comes with Dolby Headphone, CMSS, and SBX Pro built in?  Good to know.

They say it doesn't make any sense to use surround DSPs anyways if you have a good pair of headphones.  Just use regular stereo and your brain will put everything into place!  :blink:Sorry, I don't believe you.  A quick 5 second testshows that a good surround DSP > basic stereo for 3D positioning.  The vast majority of people who've tried both would agree.

Don't believe use?  Just watch this binaural recording video.  If you go to your game options and set the sound to "headphones" it will "take the signal and make it so it's binaural".   :blink:I wish that were true.  I wish selecting "headphones" = binaural audio in games.  Maybe in the future that will be possible, but for now that's NOT the case.  BTW, If anything that virtual barbershop video is an endorsement for USING surround DSPS and NOT using basic stereo.

I know they meant well with the video, but I think they created just as many myths as they busted.

The obvious irony of the whole video is that they start off saying that they're tired of the "audiophile snobbery" and that they're going to be getting rid of some of the snobbery in the audiophile world - but then they basically spout audiophile snobbery for the rest of the video.

He says that he only wants to get the most pure experience for gaming as the developers intended it, so NO surround sound DSPS, NO EQing, NO gaming headsets, and NO amps with ~10 ohm ouput impedance.  They all color the sound, so all of them be damned.  Ironically, those are exactly the sort of things an audiphile snob would say, and his "only pure and uncolored sound" viewpoint is about as snobbish as you can get.

He only want's the most pure experience, which is why he's getting an ODAC...for gaming.  :p

Enjoy your "pure" gaming experience in basic stereo, and I'll enjoy my "colored" gaming experience in surround sound.  I might even EQ in some bass!  :eek:

Logan seems to be a little too gullible and easily influenced by what he's told regarding audio.  While I'm glad that he's no longer brainwashed by the gaming companies, he's now simply brainwashed in the other direction by an audiophile company.

"I will never use another soundcard.  I just want to be happy with my audio setup." He's left "ignorant gamer land" and has entered ignorant audiophile land instead.If ignorance is bliss though, he'll be happy either way.



Yeah, head-fi. A lot of forums are full of people that are envious of what other people have the guts to say.

Any guitarist, just like anyone educated in basic physics, knows that the impedance cascade is the single most determining factor for sound quality. An audio signal is just energy, by leading it to ground nothing is achieved. It would be great if those guys at head-fi would understand basic concepts of audio circuits, like for example how a volume/tone control works (i.e. with variable resistance for the signal to load off to ground, so full volume loads down the least). Any guitarist knows that the pots have to match the resistance of the pickups, and that turning down the guitar volume makes the sound lose treble, because the signal is loaded off to ground. So yeah, impedance is the one single most determining factor in audio quality. I'd be glad to replace all my signal and speaker cables with ordinary UTP cables, it won't make much of a difference, but stay away from my carefully thought out impedance cascades, whether on my guitar pedalboard or on my hi-fi, in fact, I use a JFET-based buffer with a switchable 1-4 MOhm impedance on my pedalboard, and defeat-type pots in my guitars (bypass when fully open), just because I know there is a huge difference.

They do have a point on the DSP, except not in Windows or with the Asus DSP's. The Creative DSP's can do what the user wants them to do in linux, but not in Windows, and the Asus DSP's have a lot of driver issues in Windows, and mostly don't work at all in linux, they might just as well not be there. A DSP can be useful to some users, those that use a DAW with plug-ins for instance, or those that use a DSP for MP3-correction. The Creative X-Fi stuff is pretty old by now, but it's still a quite nifty solution for those dull sounding MP3's.

Another point that is not touched is the power supply, next to the impedance cascade, that is what makes or breaks sound. 15V or more is just needed in order for an op-amp not the clip. Head-Fi is also very anti-op-amp, but actually, a stupid little op-amp is the closest to the ideal amplifier of any other circuit, it has very low output impedance, and is designed for a pretty high input impedance with very plain components and in very plain applications, and it's cheap, and there isn't much difference in quality between op-amps at all (just another one of those myths).

Oh well... we'll see how many myths will be busted lolz...

As somewhat of a newb to the technical side of this, I'm not entirely sure what to believe from all of this. I do know that just switching to my external (usb) soundcard/dac thing and plugging $20 headphones into it already sounds better than my $100 headset plugged into my onboard sound. 

Thanks for the info everyone!

"Enjoy your "pure" gaming experience in basic stereo, and I'll enjoy my "colored" gaming experience in surround sound.  I might even EQ in some bass!"



...and P.S. What do you think Mantle will be with it's positional audio?? Ahh right, DSP.

Sad to say that I agree with what that guy said. I love Teksyndicate and Logan and crew, but most of what they said in the video is useless. I have a feeling that pretty much anyone versed in audiohpile related stuff would be thinking those exact same things during the video. I game with an external dac, but the Dolby digital that comes with a decent soundcard is a huge advantage as far as positioning in game goes. About the impedance thing, anyone who has been around for a while knows that the only real way to tell how something sounds is to listen to it. Sure it could be better to have better specs on stuff, but there are lot of other factors like the chips they use and the wiring and all of that. The end result is that you have to hear it (or read reviews from people who have heard it and have experience to put it into perspective) in order to know how it sounds.


Just so that we are clear, you can hear the difference between stereo and DDS yourself. Look up some videos on youtube. The positioning difference is pretty scary. Sure, you don't need a bunch of different drivers in the headphones, but what you need is the software and hardware necessary to decode DDS. Onboard sound cards and most external dacs just can't do it.


EDIT: Teksyndicate is great for computer stuff, but I would really urge you and everyone else to somewhere like headfi (somewhere devoted to audio) to learn about and explore audio related stuff.

It's sad to see so many of you ready to agree with someone from head-fi. I really try to stay away from head-fi. There are some great users on there... but there are a zillion shills and a zillion morons as well. So, I avoid it as much as possible. I know that I am somewhat new to audio (though I am more of an audio guy than a pc hardware guy)... I do not think this user was grasping everything. 

He doesn't seem to understand the output impedance thing regarding soundcards or maybe he didn't know what we were talking about. Losing 1/3 of the sound is a WAY simplification... but you do screw up your headphones because a high output impedance will totally change the characteristics of them in unpredictable ways. If you have high ohm headphones then this is not a big deal... but 32 ohm headphones are very effected. See here for more: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/headphone-amp-impedance.html

Next up... he complains that the DSP > basic stereo and I totally disagree... though this item is very subjective. I also did not mean to insinuate that in-game was binaural. It generally is not... but the binaural test is to prove one thing: positional audio is totally possible with stereo headphones and you don't need fancy simulated surround sound to make it happen. Most of that stuff sounds echoey and hollow to me, but again... that is subjective. 

I did this: I put on my headphones, loaded up GMOD, put the game in "headphone" mode, asked Pistol to join me, and then asked her to run circles around me while firing her weapon. The audio was clean, no silly echoes, no silly reverb, no weird sounding hollow nonsense (like I hear with most simulated surround experiences... imo), and I could pinpoint her location at all times. I heard her moving around me as if I were there. Some games do not have headphone mode... but I challenge you to do a similar test before judging. I did.

This dude also makes it seem as though I am shilling for the ODAC from Mayflower. I will be using an ODAC because I have 600 Ω headphones. I clearly say in the video that most people will be able to use their standard headphones with onboard and I clearly say that if onboard is working for you then you are good to go... did he miss this? I want/need the ODAC and AMP because I have 600 Ω headphones and I want very clean, external sound. I also do have an external sound card... it's a Roland for ASIO drivers (needed for when I create music).

Lastly, I will be happy to compare some of the Fiio products and I predict that they will do very well. They are a good option for the money.

This dude sounds like someone trying to justify his expensive gaming soundcard... he totally does not understand output impedance. 

While there may be a few things wrong with the video, and I can try to address those as I do more research... I do stand by it and I do feel that most gaming sound cards are nonsense. 

He called us a snob because we don't like to color our audio... that's fine. I'm a snob. I do use an eq for music and I do tweak things a bit... and the headphones do color the sound a little... but I was talking about fake effects. He can have his simulated surround and reverb. If he likes it... that's great. He does need to do a bit more reading before trying to criticize others... I'd say he would to well to get the hell off of head-fi and go read some better info on a better website.


I know there are some serious issues with the sound card drivers and their update frequency.. but  I'm currently using my phoebus with doldy HTv4 without any issues with win 8 atm... honestly I use DHTv4 with all the pc games to get the accurate positional clues..  you cant just magically select the headphone mode to get binaural audio... and btw lol who uses the a DSP for MP3-correction... lol.. not me.. may be you.. 

Well, they aren't exactly wrong, but I'm not agreeing with either party.

Impedance isn't resistance, but they kind of treated it as such when explaining it in the video - that was my only real complaint.

Well... this could be a totally separate video... but it's difficult to discuss without getting into a 10 minute thing: http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/headphone-amp-impedance.html

We were trying to not get too deep into the whole impedance thing.

lol no offense, but its so funny how you trying to labeling some as morons and shills.. if thats the case we have to abandon youtube and many other sites as well... may be we have to live in a cave to get away from those so called shills and morons...   yes audio is subjective.. not all DSPs are revrby as you claim.. may be you need to try dolby HTv4

When I realised that the Head-fi post didn't recognise the simplification of the resistance explanation and took it as an exact, I just lost interest. So while he may - or may not - have valid points, he lost that credibility.

People are too quick to open their mouths and you can't listen to them. In another forum some guy was explaining the difference between two 22nm chips and produced the argument of how they were two different architectures. Like whut...? "different" architecture...?

The more I sit on the internet, the more dumb it gets. And I am a pretty easy guy to troll. So I just sit and get angry at these people all day.

Entirely accpetable, as well, given time constraints. To someone using that video as their main source of info, however, it would establish a pretty bad frame of reference.

Perhaps more audio videos are in order, in the future.

I want to point out that your issues are all subjective except for the issue of output impedance. Sure, you can listen to it and think, "this sounds fine..." but the high output impedance is actually changing the frequency response of your headphones... it usually messes with the lows and mids the most. Why would you spend money on good headphones if your soundcard is going to change how they sound?

You won't really have this problem with headphones with a high impedance... but 90% ore more of the headphones out there will be very effected and that is not subjective. 

Yes indeed. I get more excited about audio... because I play instruments and create music, etc.... but there are things I need to understand more myself. I will be inviting more industry people on to talk but I will also be doing my own research to make sure what I'm saying is accurate. 

The main trouble with audio is that much of it is subjective and while I believe that reverb and other effects really ruins a game, others do not. The bigger problem is that some people start to think things are subjective when there is actually science behind them... or on the other hand, they try to apply some sudo-science to something that actually is subjective. 

The thing I really care about is this: Is it audible? If yes... then is it measurable in some way other than "feeling". 

Hey Logan, what's the deal? Not enough going on that you decided to declare war on the subset of the community that has way too much money and no idea what to do with it? You should have just branded a set of "Tek-Phones" (by re-branding an existing set with a sticker or something) and made a fortune.

This all seems like overkill.  I've got ~6 sets of cans, but I really only use my $100 AKG K240's.  I use them all for comparison during music production, but as a daily driver the $100 cans just sound the best to me. Whether onboard, offboard, studio, etc...

I've used ~50 other sets over the years, and all the studio engineers use whatever is most comfortable and less fatiguing night after night.

I just don't get it. Most of the music ever recorded was done on headphones far "inferior" to the modern "audiophile" standard. So basically they are insisting that their equipment sounds superior to the guy who recorded it?

I'm going to have to buy a 1970's Neve to even get close to understanding this argument.

DSP? Really? What's the point?

You've really opened a can 'O' worms.

I will be inviting more industry people on to talk but I will also be doing my own research to make sure what I'm saying is accurate.

probably JJ from ASUS is the perfect industry person to talk about this topic...

well I said this was going to be a shit storm and oh look it's a shit storm.... was first to call it too.

Are you a Trailer Park Boys fan?



Ok that is funny as Hell, il be sure to check em out now lol. those analogy's are quite amusing. looks like my sort of humour.


The problem here is that audio in general is subjective. What one person has a problem with, another person will like perfectly fine. Harping on impedance so much is getting it into the heads of those who don't know much about audio that that is a what makes or breaks a dac. That simply isn't the case. A good dac can still have high output impedance and a dac with low output impedance can still be crappy. It isn't the end all be all, is my point. The only real way to know is to try it out for yourself, or find out what those who have heard it say about it. Preferably those who aren't being paid for their reviews. Head-fi has plenty of reviews about all sort of audio gear, so it is a great resource to that end.