Yes, the giant wall of text is next. For reference the Orion Pro was compared to a well-used AKG K701, using an external headphone amplifier, as well as onboard sound. I used quite a lot of sources, from classical to hip-hop, in compressed and 24-bit, 192KHz uncompressed formats.
I think most folks will use the Spitfire USB dongle, just because it is so convenient. Unfortunately the Spitfire sound is a little unrefined and grainy. Even the onboard sound on my ASRock Extreme4 (Realtek ALC898) was better than the Spitfire. The Orion Pro are capable headphones of much better sound quality than the Spitfire can, uh, spit out. They’re good enough to tell me the difference between on-board and USB, that is for sure.
The Orion Pro doesn’t have the transparency or detail that the K701/Audio-gd combo has (this is a very high standard), but it is not far off. The Orion Pro sound very good, overall. Bass is very good, deep and gripping. Not lacking at all. The treble is accentuated, but not overdone like in the Corsair HP1.
One hallmark of headphones is that sound can appear to be inside your head. This is because most audio is meant to listened to with speakers where both your ears hear both channels at once. With headphones, you only hear the left and right channel in your left and right ear. Incidentally, this is how ‘headphone surround modes’ work, by mixing in the missing channels.
That all said, the illusion of stereo separation with the Orion Pro is not as good as the K701. The soundstage is wide, but not deep, for example, which might affect some games. Sound appears to come somewhere around you but not in front of you as the K701/Audio-gd. The Orion Pro also don’t separate instruments very well, it’s all just homogenized.
For example, vocals, such as Ronnie James Dio in Sign of the Southern Cross, gets lost in the mix, where it stays focused in the center with the K701. Another example is in The Heavy’s Short Change Hero the guitar rhythm doesn’t really come through. It’s a rhythmic device that the guitar can do, and I’d like to hear that.
Another subtle difference is the dynamic drive of the Orion Pros. The introduction to Short Change Hero has abmient sounds of thunder and footstomps that have a sense of realism with the K701 that the Orion Pro don’t present. When the drums kick in after a minute and a half, the Orion Pro handle it very well, but not quite to the level that the K701 present. The Orion Pro do have excellent bass and will make your head bop, though. You wouldn’t be missing much, really.
The treble is a shiny spot for the Orion Pro, the presentation is a bit brighter than the K701, but it’s still delicate and very crisp. Very good.
When watching Netflix, The Walking Dead specifically (“Stuff. Thiiiiiings.”), action and dialog was super clear and no trouble at all. Watching some UK Top Gear episodes, I ended up preferring to use my reference K701 headphones, for the growling engines and squealing tires.
Overall, the Orion Pro are very good headphones with exceptional sound quality for team-based games. The Spitfire USB Audio dongle is interesting, but it ultimately lets the Orion Pro down, and while I played through the different modes of the Spitfire, I eventually end up plugging the Orion Pro into the motherboard or my external amp.