Series X Audio Options Suck
Audio? Forget It
When it comes to video, XBox Series X is ahead of the curve: the new flagship console promises 8k pixel resolution, 120Hz frame rates, HDR, HDMI 2.1. The industry isn't even ready for all of these options yet.
But when it comes to audio, the options are HDMI, whatever a controller can drive via its 3.5mm stereo output, or officially-licensed headsets. Of these, HDMI is the clear winner for getting the best possible audio quality out of the console, but since there are no HDMI 2.1 audio extractors on the market yet, the real choice is between sacrificing some video options and using hardware doomed to obsolescence for better audio, or ... just forgetting about better audio.
Um, no. Not really. It does have its limitations, but it will output perfectly good stereo audio for something like headphones or desktop speakers. It's certainly better than using a controller, which can drive some
headphones sufficiently loud, but has who-knows-what for a DAC and doesn't have enough power to do serious amplification.
Meanwhile, I'm not hearing good things
about the licensed USB audio options (see post by audleon on p.5 behind the link).
Thing is, this is not a difficult problem to solve. I'd venture that a lot of people at TA are familiar with microphones like Blue Yeti for streaming and podcasts. And probably quite a few people are at least aware of streaming control centers that support both microphones and headphones and maybe come with mixing features or the like. But outside of audiophile circles, few people know much of anything about dedicated DACs and Amps, how expensive headphones get, and what kind of listening experiences are available from high end gear.
It's maddening to me. If console video were stuck at the same place as console audio, the only games available would have 8-bit graphics at 720p, 30fps.
Pictured above is a Topping 50s stack--available at a discounted price of $550
if you buy all 3 components, including the optional linear power supply. Cost is similar to the Series X Console, and likely quite a bit cheaper than the TVs most people with a Series X will use for gaming. Its audio quality is also good enough that until you start spending $1000+ on headphones you shouldn't have any concerns about outgrowing it.
On Windows 10, the Topping stack is plug-and-play. Just connect it and it will show up in your audio devices. On Series X, it doesn't work--the console simply ignores it. It's not anything more magical than a USB microphone, and it doesn't need custom or unique drivers to operate. Microsoft is simply artificially limiting our choices so that they can license out audio solutions to a few options that, frankly, all suck.
So, yeah, I got a pair of Series X consoles and set them up last night:
XBox Series X ... in Series
Meanwhile, I hit 1000 Completed Games a while ago and meant to write a blog about that, but I've been caught up in work and a bit of election drama, and the moment passed. For completion #1000 I chose Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered
as a kind of homage to the first 1000 as well as a farewell to the Call of Duty
Series, which really lost me after Black Ops 3
In music news, I picked up Hifiman Arya--a well-loved headphone that could seriously be endgame for most people. It delivers most of what the Susvara does, but at a fraction of the price ($1600 list vs $6000). It's also a heck of a lot easier to drive than Susvara--my beefiest portable players can actually do Arya justice.
Meanwhile, I have more big things in store for my loudspeaker chain. I've ordered a couple more things that are being custom built for me and promise to squeeze every last bit of audio fidelity out my music. I'm seriously about out of things to upgrade at this point.
Well, that's it for now. Until next time.....