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Creative Aurvana X-Fi Headphones

We’ve never liked headphones that use active noise cancellation because they simply mask environmental noise by generating background hiss. But Creative’s Aurvana X-Fi headphones are almost good enough to win us over.

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Rocketfish USB Gaming Headset

The gap between cheap and inexpensive widens to a yawning chasm when you’re talking audio gear, which is why we’re so pleasantly surprised with the Rocketfish gaming headset. We didn’t realize this was a Best Buy private-label product until after we’d given it a listen, but we’re glad we didn’t dismiss it out of hand.

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Turtle Beach Ear Force AK-R8 Headset

One of the reasons we picked Turtle Beach’s Ear Force HPA2 headset as one of the 19 awesome upgrades we recommended in our June 2007 issue was the fact that it’s analog and can be paired with a soundcard. The new Ear Force AK-R8 is USB only, but this enables it to offer some compelling features in addition to fabulous surround sound.

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Tritton AXPC Headset

We reviewed Tritton’s Audio Xtreme 360 headset in our July issue. As you can tell by its model name, that device is aimed as much at console gamers as it is movie watchers and PC gamers. The AXPC is a little simpler, better suited to PC users, and nearly $50 cheaper. But it sounds just as mediocre.

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Shure SE530PTH Earphones

For the price of one set of Shure’s SE530PTH earphones, you could buy two 30GB iPods, 17 sets of Apple earbuds, or 500 encrypted songs from iTunes. A worthy investment or Marie Antoinette­–style consumption?

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Shure SE530PTH Earphones

For the price of one set of Shure’s SE530PTH earphones, you could buy two 30GB iPods, 17 sets of Apple earbuds, or 500 encrypted songs from iTunes. A worthy investment or Marie Antoinette­–style consumption? With that question in mind, we couldn’t resist auditioning these pricey phones to the sound of Cake’s Fashion Nugget, ripped and FLAC-encoded, on Cowon’s D2 digital media player. We don’t know if Shure’s BOM (bill of materials) justifies a $500 price tag, but we did have awfully big smiles on our faces after using these earphones.

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Genius HS-04U

The Genius HS-04U plugs into your PC’s USB port, instead of your soundcard’s analog speaker output and mic input, so it bypasses any EAX or OpenAL audio effects that game developers might have painstakingly programmed into the software. What you get instead—after installing a driver—is what Genius calls “Virtual Dolby.”

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TheBoom Quiet

We generally don’t like headphones that use active-noise cancellation because these devices mask external noise by producing noise of their own. But we decided to make an exception for theBoom Quiet because of the lofty promises the company makes for its noise-canceling mic.

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