Getting the biggest baddest PC around with the most updated graphics card and cpu is not common these days for PC Gamers. These enthusiast look to get the best out of their Rigs(local slang for PC) so as to have the best gaming experience.
But while having blazing fast frame rates at the highest graphic settings is important, one also cannot neglect a good sound system to complete the full gaming experience. While most turn to 5.1 speakers for that, there are those who cannot afford this luxury due to either space constraint or even not wanting the neighbors to complain during a late night gaming session. Thus resulting in a new rising trend in turning to headsets and headphones for gaming.
In this month’s issue of POPCulture Online, our resident techie and PC gamer, Kenneth Wong, test drives the Audio Technica ATH-AD700 through some of the hottest games in the market.
*testing is done with the latest soundcard from Creative, the Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional soundcard using the THX TruStudio Pro software suite at default settings with windows audio settings at 5.1 speakers*
As the ATH-AD700 is known to have a very good sound stage, the first two must test games that comes to mind are Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.
Modern Warfare 3 is known to be more close quarter based when it comes to the action and having surround sound is an advantage as it gives you an audio clue as to where the enemy is. While this is an advantage I am sure most multiplayer gamers would love to have, single players also benefit from it as it sucks you right into the heart of the fire fight.
Battlefield 3 on the other hand is quite the opposite as it’s battles are fought over large area maps and many more methods of fragging your enemy with its variety of vehicles to operate. While directional sounds do not have a more immediate effect due to the larger playing field, knowing where your enemy is attacking from is always an advantage you want to have.
In both First Person Shooter games, the sound stage of the ATH-AD700 is accurate enough with its directional sounds that most of the time I could tell which direction the battle is coming from. This has not only saved my skin a few times but also helped me backstabbed the enemy.
Gaming with the ATH-AD700 is also a joy as sounds are crisp and clear to even hearing the spent shells from my rifle hit the floor. Of course I paid for that with a free frag given to the enemy but hey, its not everyday that you get to appreciate the effort in the sound details the game developers put in.
The next game I test drived the headphones on is a game that needs no introduction when it comes to open world role playing games. The world of the Elder Scrolls have always been one of my favorite and adventuring in the world of Skyrim took on a whole new level with the ATH-AD700. Just listening to the Dragonborn main theme is enough to give me goosebumps as I absorb my first dragon soul.
From the opening plot where the Dragon Alduin attacks the village of Helgen to the find battle in Sovngarde, I cannot help but feel even more part of the world that is Skyrim. This is one game that not only sucks the player right in with its rich lore and storyline but also with its accompanying soundtrack. The ATH-AD700 definitely did not disappoint here.
Although more than satisfied with the results I got from the ATH-AD700, I was curious to see how the headphone performs in one more game where most gamers would usually not spend much attention on sound… The World of Warcraft.
Now this is one MMORPG that has been around for a long time and as a former hardcore to casual raider now, the main attention I give is always either to the damage meters, the tanks’ health and any game mechanics like the infamous safety dance with Heigan the Unclean in Naxxramas.
It is only recently when that I started noticing that there are directional sounds in the game as I wait for my turn with the new Raid Finder option especially while casually flying in Stormwind with my 5.1 speakers.
With the ATH-AD700, this is replicated very well and I can even make out that a player to my rear right has summoned his mount or the mage to my front left has just disenchanted an item. Other subtle things that I never noticed till now are that the Stormwind theme music is actually quite nice and I can start to pick out different spell sounds rather than a whole mess especially when burning down a boss. Sure all these are non essential but you have to admit, it does make the game a little bit more engaging when its one of those bosses where you just press buttons in the usual rotation.
Overall, the open air cans from Audio Technica, the ATH-AD700 are a joy to use with during my hours and hours of gaming sessions. One thing I always like when using headphones when compared to my 5.1 setup is somehow the sounds feel more intimate to me. While of course no headphones is gonna beat a true 5.1 setup, having the next best thing as well to choose is good especially when you game at night.
But the ATH-AD700 is not without its flaws as if you are someone who is smaller built and have a smaller head, you might find yourself having to adjust the headphones once in a while during longer gaming hours. Another slight annoyance is for those looking to get a gaming session before they head out as the holding mechanism can ruin some hairstyles especially if you dun put enough gel or wax.
Audio wise, while I cannot find fault with the sounds it produces (taking into consideration the price of the headphone) at the highs and mids, the lows can be somewhat lacking for some people like non competitive gamers as the bass is not as strong and “boomz” as some like.
To further explain, the bass is clear and good so you can pick up directional sound details which competitive gamers will appreciate as they main objective is to get the kill. But for gamers who like the roar of big guns firing or even the those heart pumping sounds of action games, I will be honest and say this headphone is no match for other Audio technica headphones like the ATH-M50 or the ATH-PRO700MK2. Not that the bass in the ATH-AD700 is bad at all as you can still tweak it in the Equalizer settings, but rather for the bass purist, you might want to try out the headphones first before deciding.
It is no secret that the ATH-AD700 is one of the most recommended gaming headphones on the internet and with a good price performance in the low $200 range here locally (and sometimes even cheaper with special promos at authorized stores), it is not hard to recommend this headphone when asked by gamers who want to bring their gaming experience one step higher.
Ratings: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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