2,143-word post, approx. 7 min. read
- 10/12/20. Article posted.
- 10/28/20. Added some more setups.
- 11/19/20. Added E30/L30 image.
Looking to find the best gaming setup as a beginner audio enthusiast? Need some gaming setup ideas? Don’t know quite where to begin?
Well, breathe a sigh of relief because…
I’m here to help!
By the end of this article, you should have a great idea of some fantastic setups that you can get started with right away, and we’ll also compare a couple of popular mic options in case you feel like screaming obscenities at people when you inevitably die and get mad!
Greetings mate, and Welcome aboard… Stuart Charles here, homestudiobasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience, that will make you fall in love with music, all over again so.. don’t want to read?!
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Let’s talk about the best gaming setup for beginners, shall we?!
This is quite a loaded topic, but let’s dive in. All of these setups can be used with a console or your PC, so don’t freak out! Also, check my top 5 best headphones under $100 for gaming if you need some additional guidance on how to choose.
What you will need:
- Philips SHP9500 (roughly $75)
- Creative SoundBlasterX G3 or G6 (roughly $50 – $150)
- V-Moda Boom Pro or Mod Mic (roughly $30-50)
Total: Roughly $255 – $275
Keep in mind: You don’t necessarily need a G6, G3, or a Mic. I started out by simply plugging my 9500 into the PS4 controller and was perfectly satisfied for a while. This also applies to PC gaming. You don’t need an Amp/DAC with the 9500 because of its high sensitivity and low impedance. It’s a very efficient headphone on its own, but you will probably want some sort of Amp/DAC in the future because, well, who doesn’t like venturing down the audiophile rabbit hole?
Speaking of, let’s talk about the setup in question.
The 9500 + G6 + Boom Pro is the perfect overall setup for the long term, for most people. The 9500 is a well-built, comfortable headphone providing a crisp, open sound with fantastic width and depth to the image, and an excellent Soundstage for such a cheap model. What is Soundstage?
You can also go with the cheaper G3, but my recommendation is to bypass that and go for the gusto. I did demo the G3 and liked it, but it’s just not quite as premium feeling or sounding as the G6. You’ll kind of know why it’s cheap once you really put it through its paces. That’s just like, my opinion though. XD
If you are interested in the G3, do check out my first impressions vid here:
Creative G3 Unbox & First Impressions
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Anyways, as far as the G6 goes…
Just replace the detachable stock cable with the Boom Pro and you’re ready to go! The Boom Pro comes
with a 3.5mm female to dual male. Plug one end into the left side of the G6 for your audio, and the other into the mic jack on the right side. Remember: They are NOT interchangeable, so just make sure they’re in the correct positions or you won’t hear anything.
There are indicators on both jacks informing you which is which, so don’t fret! After you plug them in, adjust your audio first, then press and hold the volume pot to enter mic mode (which is red), making sure that its volume is also high enough for playback and recording purposes.
This can be a little tricky at first because the G6’s knob turns infinitely. Still, it’s fairly straight forward and you should only have to tweak it maybe once or twice to get your voice recording loud enough. With the mod mic, it’s especially important to make sure the volume is turned up. You can also adjust the settings inside your console’s dashboard as well.
Now you’re ready to slay some baddies! The Boom Pro sounds amazing for its price and provides astonishing clarity and cleanliness for such a cheap product. I was simply flabbergasted at how good it sounded. The Mod Mic is also a great option, but I found the quality of the sound to be better out of the Boom Pro.
What’s great about the Boom Pro is that it does sound better and is easier to hook up to any headphone with a 3.5mm detachable cable. The downside is that not every headphone provides this.
What’s great about the Mod Mic is that it can be used with ANY headphone because it doesn’t rely on a 3.5mm jack to function. It also has a better overall package and there’s more value present.
The downside is that it’s a bit more cumbersome to set up, and doesn’t quite sound as good as a Boom Pro, but I’ll let YOU Be the judge (the video at the start shows the sound differences in-game)!
Set-Up #2 (Upgrade)
- HIFIMAN DEVA
- Creative SoundBlasterX G6
- V-Moda Boom Pro or Mod Mic
If you would like an upgrade, just swap out the 9500 for something like a HIFIMAN DEVA, or anything with a detachable 3.5mm jack suitable for gaming! I was personally using the DEVA in the above demo and really love the sound. It’s a Bluetooth headphone that comes with the Bluemini for pairing, which also doubles as the Amp/DAC that can be used with a wire plus it’s perfect for gaming! What more could you ask for?!
The DEVA, coupled with a Boom Pro and Creative SoundBlasterX G6 is perhaps the most complete overall package in audio!
Why? Glad you asked.
The G6 can be used for Gaming and Film, but it also works phenomenally well on your desktop through Spotify, Tidal, or whatever you use to listen to music.
- Related: Tidal vs. Spotify
What’s more, simply download the SoundBlaster Connect App and you’ve got a highly customizable, built-in EQ profile just in case you want to go all Metal571 with your headphones. It’s truly one of the most versatile pieces of equipment I’ve ever used.
I game with it, I watch movies with it, I listen to music with it, I can EQ with it, it’s got a gain switch and
an incredible amount of power, it’s easy to transport between my living room and studio, it’s got Scout Mode which really opens up the Soundstage and directional cues for competitive gaming, and it just sounds fantastic! Out of the 9+ Amp/DACS that I currently have on my desk at the time of this writing, the G6 most certainly gets the most use. What is Soundstage?
Check out my Creative SoundBlasterX G6 full review if you’re not convinced of how bad a** this thing is.
- AKG K702 or K612
- Creative SoundBlasterX G6
- V-Moda Boom Pro and Adapter, or Ant Lion Mod Mic
- Side-by-side comparison: AKG K612 vs. K702
All of the above applies here as well, except you will need an adapter for the Boom Pro should you decide on the K702. Simply unplug the stock cable, plug the adapter into the K702, then plug the boom mic into the adapter.
With the Ant Lion Mod Mic, again, you will not need an adapter. With the K612, you must use a Mod Mic as the cable is NOT detachable. I included this option because out of all the headphones I’ve used for gaming and film, I keep going back to the K612 time and again because of how incredibly natural and open it sounds.
Check the link below for the K702 adapter, as well as all links to these products and articles should you decide to purchase. I do get a kickback from these links depending on where you live, so your continued support of the blog and channel is much appreciated!
In the meantime, here’s a raw demo of the sound differences between the Mod Mic and Boom Pro. A snippet of the A/B can also be seen in the video at the start of this article. 🙂
Ant Lion Audio Mod Mic Uni vs. V-Moda Boom Pro
More Gaming Setup Ideas
I’ve had quite a bit of experience with gaming dacs that have optical inputs and thought I’d list out some more interesting options that you can try. Keep in mind these are just for gaming without a mic.
On PC, you can obviously use some sort of USB mic with them as the Blue Yeti, but I mostly just use these when I’m rockin’ single player.
This is a great little combo Amp/DAC that has RCA outs, optical in, and a USB Type-B jack on the back.
I really enjoyed this DAC paired with a Sennheiser HD650, and I’d describe the sound as having a touch of warmth while still sounding very clear and detailed.
- Full Review: Audioengine D1 Review
Topping E30 + L30 or Topping E30 + Zen CAN Signature
I’ve been using this setup of iFi Zen CAN + Topping E30 for gaming and watching movies with my PS4 and oh man does it sound fantastic. The L30 can also be stacked with the E30. Both sound great!
- If you were interested in a side-by-side: Topping E30/L30 vs. iFi Zen CAN Signature 6XX
Note: The image above is the Zen CAN Signature 6XX – a drop collaboration with iFi meant to be paired with the Sennheiser HD6XX. You don’t say? Lol. Nah, it’s midnight blue which is pretty much the main difference. ?
Most of my regular readers and subscribers know my disdain for amps and dacs, but I actually think this combo sounds incredibly clean; even more so than some of the other setups I’ve used.
There’s an element of clarity and intimacy in film that seems to be a step above other setups. It’s hard to explain, but voices and sounds seem more realistic as if you’re experiencing more of a theater-like presentation than what you’d typically associate with a generic headphone experience. There’s more life to dialogue especially, as if I’m sort of there speaking and engaging with the actors/actresses. Like I could maybe reach out and touch them.
If you’re interested in this setup, I don’t blame you! Check out the E30 at Apos Audio. They are a great up-and-coming distributor with a phenomenal-looking website and excellent customer service. They also offer free shipping, the lowest price guarantee, a 2-year warranty, and a 30-day return.
JDS ATOM/Objective 2 + DAC Magic 100
This is another great combo that I used for gaming and film, and as the E30 + Zen CAN, it really delivers. You can also see the Audioengine D1 on top as I was comparing the 2 back and forth.
In fact, both of these combos (E30/Zen CAN vs. Objective 2/DAC Magic 100) are about equal to me as far as everything we discussed above. More of the same applies, incredibly lush-sounding voices and sounds, intimacy, clarity, cleanliness, micro detail, etc.
It kind of tends to immerse you in the gameplay and film more so than other less expensive combos.
Keep in mind that you can mix and match to your heart’s content here. There’s no “set in stone” way of connecting a DAC to an Amp. A lot of combos will sound fantastic, and that’s the idea.
Anyways, that’s enough talk. It’s time for the final exercise.
My Gaming headphone recommendation:
Interested in the 9600 from Philips?
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this discussion on the Best Gaming Setup For Beginners, and are better equipped to make a purchasing decision!
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Which of these options sounds best to YOU? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,