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[Gaming Audio] Astro MixAmp presets + Best Audio Gear Guide + Headphone Reviews  (Read 229230 times)

Offline Roman_M

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Oh and yes the 4.4 pentaconn adapter cables are difficult to find.  I never would have realized I already had one for my Sennheiser HD800s if you wouldn't have mentioned it lol.  I'll have to run "RCA in" to the IFI Zen Can until I get some cables in.

I have everything intertwined through rca, from loki+.  since you had it mixAmp / loki / amp.
Eve Spectrum 4k/144hz ✓ Xbox series X ✓ Xbox elite series 2 ✓ Jds ell dac 2 ✓ Jds atom amp ✓ Insignia audio extractor ✓Bayerdynamic dt 990 pro 250 ohm ✓ Audio-Technica ATGM 2 ✓ASTRO Gaming ,  MixAmp Pro TR ✓Shiit loki mini ✓iFi Zen Can ✓ Varmilo MA87 Koi with EC switch V2 Wired Mechanical KeyboardMA87MCu2W/WR2BnGJv ✓ ZYGEN NP-01G Esports Mouse (Glossy) ✓ BOSE SPORT EARBUDS BLUE ✓ Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 XB ✓ HyperX Cloud Mix ✓

Offline K9ozzy

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What are dual female XLR to 4.4mm pentaconn male so hard to find? 

Offline AMG

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Mainly because pentaconn 4.4 is "new".

Only Sennheiser has push this standard on its professional audio equipment.

XLR is cheaper to manufacture, it has long time in the market it is very solid and wear resistant.

IMO most equipment with XLR balanced circuity has no need to be smaller factor, actually helps to dissipate heat and room for noise electrical isolation is always welcome. When a device uses pentaconn connector it must be very well design and top notch manufactured.

Once you have iFi Zen Can on your hands and feel its build with fine metal and aluminum materials and hefty weight in a very tight smaller unit, you will know... this unit is very well put together, outside and inside is using ceramic capacitors and panasonic ones only used on very high end devices.

I would love to see Roman_M reaction holding the Zen CAN vs JDS Atom Amp plastic build, shocking right?  ;D ;)

Offline AMG

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Find out How Effective is your Audio for Gaming


So, you got a new pair of headphones or nice DAC, Amp, the newest MixAmp, Audio dongle or Gaming Wireless headset etc, and want to know how really effective is for gaming on:
+ Localize sound sources (directional imaging),
+ Footsteps detection (midrange and treble performance)
+ Immersive "surround" performance (wide sound-stage) or not (narrow sound-stage)

Why good audio is important on Gaming.
As gamers we put attention on audio due the fact: human brain reacts 3x faster to sound than visuals is not only for good audio quality, we want all the advantage we can get, right?. Good positional audio is a legit wall-hack.

While testing on your favorite game is recommended, can be very inconsistent; is always good to have a generic test as a frame of reference.

Below, I have compiled some demos that will test the performance of your audio gear for gaming.  8)

Quote
TIP: For this demo, close your eyes and open it after the sound is fading away.
Imaging Directional Accuracy: - Link

How accurate your audio is to ping point sound-sources, how good you can hear your enemies position: front, behind, at 45, 360 and distance.

Quote
Put "Surround 7.1" to test, play it with and without surround. Realize how well you can do without it and the advantage of stereo imaging specially on competitive gaming.  ;)

High and Low Height Changes: - Link

How dead-on you hear sound cues above and below of your position.
* only very good headphones/DAC/amps perform well.


Sound-stage and Layering: - Link

This test shows your audio gear ability to handle high and low sounds, positions and very crowded scenarios like in the middle of a battlefield with many things going on around you, yet how well you can distinguish and track each of it (layering)
- only TOP headphones/DAC/amps performs well, your visual guide will match with what you are tracking by hearing.

On not up to par audio gear everything sounds mess up, mixed and clamp, pretty hard to distingish. On artificial audio positional doesn't match with visuals indicators.
.

That's it!,  ;D I hope you find this article/guide helpful. Please leave a like on the videos, their creators deserved it.

Have a Blast!  ;D 8)

Plus clip:
Check this gameplay audio from Squad very realistic recordings, to appreciate or audio gaming fidelity ;)
« Last Edit: 03:46 PM - 07/18/21 by alanmcgregor »

Offline Roman_M

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I would love to see Roman_M reaction holding the Zen CAN vs JDS Atom Amp plastic build, shocking right?  ;D ;)

Of course .. But what can I say, when you pick up the iFi zen, you immediately feel a heavy object in your hand, metal, reliable and strong.  And not a jds amp platytic box ... You immediately understand what is what :)

*If it were not for Alan, I would not have found out about iFi Zen ... Thank you very much, I have gingerbread for tea, or coffee (;
Eve Spectrum 4k/144hz ✓ Xbox series X ✓ Xbox elite series 2 ✓ Jds ell dac 2 ✓ Jds atom amp ✓ Insignia audio extractor ✓Bayerdynamic dt 990 pro 250 ohm ✓ Audio-Technica ATGM 2 ✓ASTRO Gaming ,  MixAmp Pro TR ✓Shiit loki mini ✓iFi Zen Can ✓ Varmilo MA87 Koi with EC switch V2 Wired Mechanical KeyboardMA87MCu2W/WR2BnGJv ✓ ZYGEN NP-01G Esports Mouse (Glossy) ✓ BOSE SPORT EARBUDS BLUE ✓ Turtle Beach Stealth 700 Gen 2 XB ✓ HyperX Cloud Mix ✓

Offline K9ozzy

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The Topping D70s and Zen Can should be hear any minute so im pretty excited.

       Is there anyway to do away with static.  Not constant audio static, but it's static I only get when I stand up to go to the TV.  I'll hear pops coming thru the headphones, and sometimes it'll cause the sound to go out for a few seconds.  I'm sure it's either me causing it or the cables shuffling. Anyway to stop it. 

Also if my Drop 789 has the gain knob in the 3rd position, my sound will go out every so often even when I'm not doing anything.  I dont need the 3rd position, but the more I learn about this stuff you know

Offline AMG

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The Topping D70s and Zen Can should be hear any minute so im pretty excited.

       Is there anyway to do away with static.  Not constant audio static, but it's static I only get when I stand up to go to the TV.  I'll hear pops coming thru the headphones, and sometimes it'll cause the sound to go out for a few seconds.  I'm sure it's either me causing it or the cables shuffling. Anyway to stop it. 

Also if my Drop 789 has the gain knob in the 3rd position, my sound will go out every so often even when I'm not doing anything.  I dont need the 3rd position, but the more I learn about this stuff you know
Awesome!, looking forward to read your first impressions!.

That's weird, not sure if can be related with your audio, with static can be anything really: your shoes, carpet (if any), air quality or lack of, dry environment are prone to static shocks.

If it was your audio gear, when touching it and feeling an electric hum to the touch... maybe your has hasn't proper ground. Wires can't and shouldn't produce a static current, for it should be very very thick and with breaded with cloth, still very unlikely.

Also when you get to the high end audio... your have to make sure your have set a proper power delivery from wall, good regulator with an insulator, proper ground and a power conditioner is a must. Even though Topping D70S comes with its linear power supply built in, to eliminate dirty electric power and EMI noise from other devices, a power conditioner should be on your shopping list.

Offline K9ozzy

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So little bear will be here tomorrow.  But......I've been trying to get chat to work using D70s and Drop 789. I've tried controller, astro mixamp, and the Turtle Beach  controller adapter thingy.  Everyone one of those hijacks the signal and completely removes the D70s from the equation.  I was trying both D70s and whichever chat method on a Splitter into my loki or Amp.  everytime I do it I can basically unplug the D70s and nothing will change in the audio proving I'm getting both game and chat thru my controller or the mixamp.  Will the Little Bear MC5 fix this.  I just want chat from those sources and no game audio. I want all my game audio from my D70S.  The puzzle has become more complex

Offline K9ozzy

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    As it stands now. The clear winner is Astro mixamp > Schiit Loki > IFI Zen Can > Sennheiser HD800s.  When going after an overpriced overkill console audiophile setup wanting the absolute best audio possible......if you want the ability to chat......ease of use is an absolute factor. I was willing to throw all kinds of money (and have) at this quest to find the absolute best and I've learned a lot along the way. Most I learned from AlanMcGregor, and most of this he's already said.....repeatedly. If you want to start using wired non-gaming headphones which just about any headphones are better than gaming headphones in my book . Then expect more wires. You want to add Schiit Loki Equalizer to the setup so you can fine tune the sound, so you can hear that dude creeping 40 yards off....more wires.
  But if you want to do away with the Astro Mixamp and get a real Dac to really up the ante...and you still want to be able to chat......add a ton more wires even still and throw in some frustration, and throw out ease of use.  Forget holding your controller and not having multiple tripping hazards all over the place. It's just a hassle and where I found my limit.  Got an expensive Dac and the diminishing returns along with the added complexity and frustrations, was were I drew the line. 

However,  with AlanMcGregor's recommendation of the IFI Zen Can, I haven't lost a thing, my audio is better than ever, and I still have the ease of using the Astro Mixamp.

The Topping D70s dac I bought to replace the astro mixamp is going back.  Yes it sounds great....but not so much with the HD800s's. Plus running anything other than the astro mixamp is a major PITA, annoying, cable nightmare.  I'm gonna break down what I was running before and what I'm running now.

Before:
Xbox Series X > HDMI cable > HDMI audio extractor > Optical/SPDIF cable > Astro Mixamp > TRRS CTIA 3.5mm Headset Adapter:

Headphone adapter 🎧 out > 3.5mm to RCA Adapter cable >  Schiit Loki > Drop THX AAA 789 Amp > Sennheiser HD800s

Headphone adapter 🎤 out > Mod mic attached to Sennheiser HD800s

I was running Dolby Atmos "on" thru Xbox sound settings
Dolby Digital "on" on the mixamp
Custom EQ profile by Emperor Potara made for the Sennheiser HD800s
_______________________________________________________________________

Now:
Xbox Series X > HDMI cable > HDMI audio extractor > Optical/SPDIF cable > Astro Mixamp > TRRS CTIA 3.5mm Headset Adapter:

Headphone adapter 🎧 out > 3.5mm to RCA Adapter cable >  Schiit Loki > RCA cables > IFI ZEN CAN > 4.4mm Pentaconn out > Sennheiser HD800s

Headphone adapter 🎤 out > Mod mic attached to Sennheiser HD800s

Xbox audio settings:     Headset Format = Stereo Uncompressed
                                          HDMI Audio = Stereo Uncompressed

Astro Mixamp: Dolby Digital "Off"
Custom EQ profile by Emperor Potara made for the Sennheiser HD800s

IFI ZEN Can: Gain Level 1
                       3D mode "On"
                       Xbass mode "Off" 
_____________________________________________________________________

Thoughts:
      I have to say Alan hit this IFI Zen Can setup out of the park!  I've done away with all the heavy processing (Dolby Atmos & Dolby Digital), and turned on the 3D mode on the IFI Zen Can instead, and everything sounds cleaner.   The soundstage, imaging,  and positional cues are all better.......a lot better.   The 3D mode on the Zen Can is the difference maker.  It doesn't involve digital signal processing (DSP). Instead it seems to me it introduces some subtle crosstalk to create the surround sound effect and does it really well.  I'm very impressed with the IFI Zen Can and really thought I wouldn't be.  It's a keeper, and the setup I'll be running for a long time.

Thanks again AlanMcGregor!
                       

« Last Edit: 08:11 PM - 07/19/21 by K9ozzy »

Offline Rockyruption

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Wow...40 pages of enthralling confusion here.  I'm in awe of this post,  and totally in awe of AMs passion and knowledge on the subject... I'm a complete sound noob and play currently using a hyperx cloud alpha headset, which I've had for a few years. It was cheap and does the job fine. I'm competitive, but I just want more...I was hoping to come to this post and just be reaffirmed that I should upgrade to a40s and mixamp and I would have left happily to purchase my new toys.  Sadly,  I'm more confused now,  as I've watched so many videos saying that gaming headsets are rubbish as they don't give true sound,  yet just as many videos saying that they are the best for gaming as the 'fake' digital surround is where you get your directional queues from, and although non gaming headphones will give you truer sound, you struggle to determine which direction its coming from.
I really just want to buy something at the a40 price tag that gives me the best sound,  where I'm able to pinpoint locations and footsteps and other queues, but I don't want to spend 6 months researching best headphones and dacs and amps. Can you recommend a good set-up at this price range,  or do I just bite the bullet and go for the easy store bought a40 option?

Offline K9ozzy

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Wow...40 pages of enthralling confusion here.  I'm in awe of this post,  and totally in awe of AMs passion and knowledge on the subject... I'm a complete sound noob and play currently using a hyperx cloud alpha headset, which I've had for a few years. It was cheap and does the job fine. I'm competitive, but I just want more...I was hoping to come to this post and just be reaffirmed that I should upgrade to a40s and mixamp and I would have left happily to purchase my new toys.  Sadly,  I'm more confused now,  as I've watched so many videos saying that gaming headsets are rubbish as they don't give true sound,  yet just as many videos saying that they are the best for gaming as the 'fake' digital surround is where you get your directional queues from, and although non gaming headphones will give you truer sound, you struggle to determine which direction its coming from.
I really just want to buy something at the a40 price tag that gives me the best sound,  where I'm able to pinpoint locations and footsteps and other queues, but I don't want to spend 6 months researching best headphones and dacs and amps. Can you recommend a good set-up at this price range,  or do I just bite the bullet and go for the easy store bought a40 option?

I do think gaming headphones are getting better, but non gaming types will always be better.  Your directional sound comes from the Dac or or the chips in your headphones that process the sound.  Gaming headsets do not do this better.  You could make a pair of earbuds give you great positional cues if you run them right.  All you need to know is whether you want wired or wireless headphones and how much do you want to spend.  There's a lot more you can do with wired headphones and options.  I'm a tinkerer so I'm always tweaking the sound with my equalizer to maximize the footsteps I can hear.  Let me break this down:

Let's say your budget is $300
If you want a wireless headset, you get a headset, plus they have to include a mic, the technology that involves, the technology needed for the Bluetooth or whatever connectivity it uses, plus the technology inside them that processes the signal and produces their sound and/or effects.

$300 wired headphones - you get headphones that most of the budget went into the quality of the sound.  Although you may have to provide a mic, and in a lot of cases an Astro Mixamp or Dac to process the signal and possibly even a headphone amp if they require alot of power.  This is the rabbit hole option, but the sound is much much better.  I changed from wireless probably close to 10 or so years ago and I'll never go back for gaming.

There is a reason most streamers and pros have wired headsets, and those that do use wireless, often are using "IEMs"(inner ear modules) (you know the things you see singers wearing on stage).  They wear the IEMs under the wireless headphones. The wireless headphones are not on and they do this to help drowned out crowd noise, and the wireless headphone sponsor still gets to push his product. 

I personally recommend an astro mixamp and some headphones that it can drive without needing an Amp.  I feel that's the "next" step for someone wanting more.  The Astro Mixamp will allow you to play with all the equalizer settings (fine tune footsteps), and the Dolby Digital surround sound processing effects.  Plus you'll be able to adjust chat and game volume on the fly.  You'll just have to also pick out a headset that comes with a mic, or by a mod mic to attach to it.

What's your budget?  Alanmcgregor can make some great recommendations.

Hope I helped atleast a little.  Good luck
« Last Edit: 12:39 PM - 07/20/21 by K9ozzy »

Offline Rockyruption

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Wow...40 pages of enthralling confusion here.  I'm in awe of this post,  and totally in awe of AMs passion and knowledge on the subject... I'm a complete sound noob and play currently using a hyperx cloud alpha headset, which I've had for a few years. It was cheap and does the job fine. I'm competitive, but I just want more...I was hoping to come to this post and just be reaffirmed that I should upgrade to a40s and mixamp and I would have left happily to purchase my new toys.  Sadly,  I'm more confused now,  as I've watched so many videos saying that gaming headsets are rubbish as they don't give true sound,  yet just as many videos saying that they are the best for gaming as the 'fake' digital surround is where you get your directional queues from, and although non gaming headphones will give you truer sound, you struggle to determine which direction its coming from.
I really just want to buy something at the a40 price tag that gives me the best sound,  where I'm able to pinpoint locations and footsteps and other queues, but I don't want to spend 6 months researching best headphones and dacs and amps. Can you recommend a good set-up at this price range,  or do I just bite the bullet and go for the easy store bought a40 option?

I do think gaming headphones are getting better, but non gaming types will always be better.  Your directional sound comes from the Dac or or the chips in your headphones that process the sound.  Gaming headsets do not do this better.  You could make a pair of earbuds give you great positional cues if you run them right.  All you need to know is whether you want wired or wireless headphones and how much do you want to spend.  There's a lot more you can do with wired headphones and options.  I'm a tinkerer so I'm always tweaking the sound with my equalizer to maximize the footsteps I can hear.  Let me break this down:

Let's say your budget is $300
If you want a wireless headset, you get a headset, plus they have to include a mic, the technology that involves, the technology needed for the Bluetooth or whatever connectivity it uses, plus the technology inside them that processes the signal and produces their sound and/or effects.

$300 wired headphones - you get headphones that most of the budget went into the quality of the sound.  Although you may have to provide a mic, and in a lot of cases an Astro Mixamp or Dac to process the signal and possibly even a headphone amp if they require alot of power.  This is the rabbit hole option, but the sound is much much better.  I changed from wireless probably close to 10 or so years ago and I'll never go back for gaming.

There is a reason most streamers and pros have wired headsets, and those that do use wireless, often are using "IEMs"(inner ear modules) (you know the things you see singers wearing on stage).  They wear the IEMs under the wireless headphones. The wireless headphones are not on and they do this to help drowned out crowd noise, and the wireless headphone sponsor still gets to push his product. 

I personally recommend an astro mixamp and some headphones that it can drive without needing an Amp.  I feel that's the "next" step for someone wanting more.  The Astro Mixamp will allow you to play with all the equalizer settings (fine tune footsteps), and the Dolby Digital surround sound processing effects.  Plus you'll be able to adjust chat and game volume on the fly.  You'll just have to also pick out a headset that comes with a mic, or by a mod mic to attach to it.

What's your budget?  Alanmcgregor can make some great recommendations.

Hope I helped atleast a little.  Good luck

Thanks K9ozzy.... great info here... I'm definitely only interested in wired headsets which makes things hard, as 90% of videos on yt are for wireless options.  I'm in Australia where the price of everything is literally doubled,  so budget would hopefully be around $400 Australian. Looks like the mixamp by itself is around $280 here so it wouldn't leave much for a good set of headphones... maybe I need to bump the budget up to $500

Offline Walle90

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Is it possible to buy this HDMI Splitter https://www.hdtvsupply.com/8k-1x2-hdmi-splitter.html and connect a HDMI 2.0B Audio extractor to one output and the monitor to the other output? (1440p 120hz) want to keep the VRR 8) Am I able to accomplish that with this HDMI splitter?
« Last Edit: 03:03 AM - 07/21/21 by Walle90 »

Offline AMG

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Hi Rockyruption!, thanks for your comments.

Well, thread started as stop to share MixAmp EQs and grew out of proportion, didn't knew were many XIM gamers ready to go to the next level on audio fidelity and many more already in the journey; glad that we can help you out.

All right, short version:
- MixAmp, great all-in-all device. If you like surround sound for immersion and team chat is a must, definitely is a great choice.

- A40's its headset: not good enough. If you buy an entry level Hi-Fi headphone (SHP9500) your sound quality and experience it will improve drastically, but MixAmp DAC/Amp comes tuned to work with A40's headset is a symbiotic relationship, in order to make those Hi-Fi headphones sound its best you need tune MixAmp for it.

Hence Emperor Potara Discord where you can find many EQ tunes for different headphones. Yes, he has one already for your HyperX Cloud Alphas:)

By the way, HyperX Cloud Alphas are not a normal gaming headset, those had Hi-Fi Pedigree. HyperX was savy enough and what the did is they took a entry level Hi-Fi very good performer:
Takstar Pro 80 Headphone


and turn it on a Headset, now its headsets is one of their best on gaming, Cooler Master follow the path did same with MH751 also pretty good.

So you did it right, those had good fun bass and present middles.

However... for competitive gaming: sound whoring, hearing footsteps, figure enemy position etc. you can do better.  For that, we ask to a headphone is to have: crystal clear treble, distinguishable high mid-range and very precise sound imaging.

Cloud Alphas are not like that, we can make them sound like that using EQ through MixAmp or Schiit Loki or Rolls EQ570,

or...

You can pick up a headphone that sounds like that, like Philips SHP9500, Status Audio CB-1 (Closed back) or if your budget allows it, the sub-marine radar footsteps detector: Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro $280 best on its class, up to par vs $1500 cans.

My suggestion if you are on a budget, search on second hand market, open box etc, warehouse deals, etc, you can find these on a good price, the thing is... they are so crystal clear and sharp that many people (used to bass and soft headphones) dislike them and sell it.

However, these 250Ohms headphones requires a good headphone amp you can find a decent one from $100 USD:
Topping L30
Schitt Magni 3
JDS Atom
Liquid Spark
and for $50+ our new favorite: iFi Zen CAN.

Then you need a microphone: ModMic Uni, Audio Technica ATGM2. And you are set.

So, here are the paths:
A) Get a MixAmp DAC/Amp (buy the unit only save some money) try EQ for your alphas.

A+) Get MixAmp + SHP9500 + ModMic/ATGM2 Uni try its EQ's

B) Get DT990 Pro + 100 Headphone Amp + ModMic/ATGM2.

A+ is pretty good already, gives you footsteps, surround, chat mix.

B is in another level, you lose surround, which you don't need for competitive gaming, normal chat audio but you no only a headphone... a freaking weapon to detect enemies positioning and footsteps accurately, so good that it can makes you think you are on a unfair advantage.... and you are, maybe more than having a XIM.

B) require higher budget yes, but from experience I can tell you by pay for the best fail-proof, you are saving over buying many cheap ones and not getting quite there.

As you can see there isn't a DAC on the chain or something to manipulate frequencies... you can wait for that upgrade it will be worthy, but DT990pros sound signature is a unbeatable footsteps detector.

There is another variant Beyerdynamics TYGR 300 R, these are a more tame DT990pros actually same effective imaging  but its treble is more soft and gentle, you can wear them for longer time... DT990 pros while are good can hurt its brightness.

Beyerdynamics TYGR 300 R are cheaper $200 USD but harder to find. If you can get them, take them over the DT990 Pros.

Hope it helps!

« Last Edit: 06:15 PM - 07/21/21 by alanmcgregor »

Offline AMG

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Is it possible to buy this HDMI Splitter https://www.hdtvsupply.com/8k-1x2-hdmi-splitter.html and connect a HDMI 2.0B Audio extractor to one output and the monitor to the other output? (1440p 120hz) want to keep the VRR 8) Am I able to accomplish that with this HDMI splitter?

Walle90, welcome!  :)

It won't work, unfortunately the HDMI 2.0b Audio Extractor will no bring VRR support.

Is very confusing now, as far I knew VRR Support was exclusive on HDMI 2.1. Then I tried Dell S2721DGF (HDMI 2.0b) and I got VRR on my XBSX via HDMI 2.0b cable.

A few weeks ago I receive: LG27GP850, try it: no VRR support, even though the monitor supports it. I was using the HDMI 2.0b cable from Dells monitor, switch it for HDMI2.1 cable from XBSX and VRR was back.

So, in the future for any HDMI switcher, splitter, extractor I will check that VRR support is mention and not assume that comes with the HDMI version.

Workaround for your question, use a HDMI splitter 2.0b. At the moment, in order to keep VRR, use a DAC that goes through the controller like Turtle Beach Headset Controller Plus, Astro M80 and pair it with a good headphone amp if your headphones need it.