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Do You Turn On CMSS?

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March 1, 2006 3:44:02 PM

just a few days ago i recieved a nicely encoded divx file and i was messing with my sound card (Audigy 2 NX)and my HQ-1700 headset.

the thing is when i listen to it with CMSS turned off, the voices of the actors appear to come from the sides (typical of stereo output) and has very powerful bass to boot.

i turned on CMSS-3D and i realised the voices seem to map correctly to the front however it seems that the bass is severly reduced and caused my headphones to sound crappy.

do u turn it on while doing stuff? play games? watching movies?
the seperation of the sound seems fine to me but somehow it sttil sounds crappy(bass and clarity). perhaps the new CMSS-3D from xifi will solve this?

More about : turn cmss

March 1, 2006 7:06:39 PM

I use the xfi version for games and dvds sometimes. It works very well. Its off for music.
March 1, 2006 7:39:35 PM

I second that, I have the X-fi XtremeMusic and I watch movies with CMSS-3D on all the time in headphones, sounds great, but not for music. It actually sounds good with music on my stereo speakers after I did the THX calibration.

But for Divx files, its not all that, unless they are encoded in more than just stereo.

And I use it always when playing Counter Strike Source or any game for that matter. Works great in games, can hear where shots are fired from, and footsteps.
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March 1, 2006 10:02:56 PM

Trust your ears : )
March 21, 2006 8:33:05 AM

I am using Log z5300 5.1 and if i turn off the cmss the music only play at 2.1, is that correct? and if your say its better to turn off the cmss for music that means its only 2 speaker working... why is that better?
March 21, 2006 8:49:50 AM

I only use it for gaming mainly. Im using a 3D headphone and the CMSS is pretty good with it. :D 
March 21, 2006 9:03:09 AM

Your question is an interesting one, and I will try to tackle that based on an "objective" standpoint from physics theory, since there is no commonly agreed with characteristics of "better."

If music is recorded in 2-channel format--what are talking about if the source you are playing is 2-channel, and specifically 2-channel--then it would be optimal to play it back in a 2-channel format. It has discrete channel information for left and right channels. The complex sum of this output will help you get an idea where the individual instruments, and soundstage is.

Playing it back from a matrixing system (where left and right channels are collapsed to the center and transients are thrown to the rear) would mean:

a) you've lost some stereo seperation. The center channel is playing back the a sum of the left and right channels. If there was an original center "pointsource" from the sum of left and right channels, an additional "pointsource" has been thrown into the mix and the combined effect is ambiguous. There might be an equilibrium condition where if you were perfectly lined up, a single pointsource might present itself. But much more likely, you are sitting somewhere closer between two channels (center and left, or center and right), and further from another pair. Under any of these conditions, instrumental location and 3D soundstage will present two, perhaps even three identical pointsources when the original stereo sum was only 1.

b) Very arbitrary use of transients from the front soundstage that are just played back in the rears. Some muddying of instrumental location will invariably happen. Things that happen in the rear soundfield would usually be delayed from your ears as they reach the back of the room and reflect back to your ears. Now you have a doubly effect of direct and first reflections, which would have an ambiguous effect.

c) Any music that was not recorded specific channel dominant (some recordings don't have a center sound stage, but have vocals dominant in one channel, such as Coldplay's X&Y which is explicitly left-channel dominant) are now center channel dominant. This might sound *strange* to your ears. Also, if they *were* specific channel dominant to begin with, CMSS's front soundstage collapse into the center would be *very* strange, because this would doubly focus the vocals on one side of the front soundstage.

I'm sure there are a lot more specific issues but I can't think of any right now. But music is subjective, regardless of the physical output. If you enjoy it, don't listen to what others say.
March 24, 2006 2:03:00 AM

Thanks for your explanation...
Btw do you know how to use the 24 bit sound? is there any suggested player for that?
Let say i buy a music cd that is recorded using a 24 bit then how will i play it using a pc? I try using a winampe but when i look at the output plug in status,it only appear as 16 bit.

Thanks.
March 24, 2006 2:36:10 AM

Hmm...I've never heard of any CD thats 24bit. Can you provide any examples?
March 24, 2006 9:30:25 AM

I know an audiophile music cd, and i think in the cd case written 24 bit...if i am not wrong, i never own it actually just friend came by and try it in my pc.
March 24, 2006 10:20:00 PM

Oh, I see.

A lot of recordings can be originally made in 24bit but you when they are finalized on regular CDs, they are downsampled to 16bit/144db dynamic range. So in reality, there is no such thing as a "24bit CD." You need DVD-As or SVCDs to properly playback at 24bit resolution.
March 27, 2006 1:44:02 AM

With CMSS on in my headphones for Xtreme Music. Seems to work great for me :) 
March 27, 2006 3:34:08 PM

As Astralite noted if sound was mixed to stereo CMSS Expand or Surround are artificial means to mix it up to say 5.1. If you have 5.1. speakers you may just want to use them all and CMSS allows that. Naturally if you have very good hifi or monitor speakers you will rather prefer to listen to music the way it was recorded i.e. in stereo fullstop.

On the other side - with original 5.1. signal played back thru stereo headphones or speakers CMSS makes sense, especially with headphones.
Think that we hear 360 degree surround sound with just two ears: due to relative time and pitch differences between two signals coming to left and right ears we know sound comes from the right or from behind. That is what CMSS attempts to recreate: full surround thru just 2 speakers or headphones.

In games it works really good. Since I got X-Fi I play games only with headphones (CMSS-3D Headphones ON)
April 4, 2006 7:27:46 AM

I've been using headphones lately (my speakers suck) and i've found that they sound best when i turn CMSS off. You can actually hear people speaking and everything just sounds clearer.
April 5, 2006 5:32:39 PM

My guess you do not have X-Fi. CMSS 3D Headphones on X-Fi is quite different then other CMSS modi. I like it a lot.
April 5, 2006 10:18:41 PM

My answer - I only have Audigy 2 with latest driver updates so I only have CMSS 1 & 2 and Stereo Surround (strangely hidden within the Audio Console).

CMSS is excellent in Directsound games which dont fully utilize surround sound.

Multichannel material I just use CMSS2 to add ambient effects to the original source material.

Music and other stereo material I just use Stereo Surround as this creates a surround effect without losing stereo separation. Or I simply queue the playlist in PowerDVD and use the Dolby Pro Logic IIx decoder.
April 6, 2006 3:55:06 AM

thanks for all the advice guys

one more question tho... if i turn on CMSS / CMSS2 in my console before i start my game, will the game turn off CMSS/CMSS2? or does it work together with the 5.1 channel sound effects/music?

most importantly, if CMSS/CMSS2 is on together with the game's 5.1 effects, will it sound crappy?

thanks =)
April 6, 2006 6:32:57 AM

I've got a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS.
April 6, 2006 10:42:35 PM

The game should work alongside the CMSS - for example Vice City uses EAX HD technology for the sound effects but the radio stations and cutscenes are encoded in stereo - those stereo signals are processed using the CMSS technology while the in game signals are processed using the EAX HD technology. Same story with Hitman 2 - the music is in stereo so thats processed using CMSS/CMSS2 and the in game effects are left as they are.

CMSS will only affect the music or background sounds of the game and it will not harm the discreet audio signals (e.g. in game effects) so turning it on should only enhance it - in Hitman 2 hearing the soundtrack from all round you really does give it the cinematic feel - otherwise its drowned out in the front two speakers with the effects from the rears!!

I'd guess that CMSS is only really used on Stereo signals and some of the mutlichannel signals are left unprocessed - the SRS Circlesurround II plugin in Windows Media Player is only 5.1 but the CMSS doesn't upmix it to 6.1!! Dolby Digital and DTS streams are also a hit and miss affair but I rely on my software decoder's DD EX upmix and DTS ES technology respectively to upmix these soundtracks.

I can only stress one thing - your ears are the best judge at the end of the day - some people like to be totally surrounded with sound while others like to leave the soundtrack in its original discreet format - for whatever reason. As they say, to each his own!
April 7, 2006 3:35:36 PM

That's with CMSS for stereo to 5.1 upmix. But CMSS works the other way, too. It does 5.1. downmix to positional "stereo" with HRTF - for use with regular headphones. Real 3D surround eargasm ;) 

But that's apparently X-Fi feature and one I am not sure how to get on board with Audigy and if it is possible at all.
April 7, 2006 9:44:32 PM

Well I was amazed with the Stereo Surround feature availible in the Audio Console after I updated my Audigy 2 drivers. This simply mirrors the left and right channels into the center and this is mirrored into the rear speakers which is more satisfying than the CMSS!!
May 2, 2008 1:56:55 PM

Trust your ears. Remember the goal of the music/movie, etc. is for you to enjoy it. The tools that Creative is providing are simply tools that may or may not increase the enjoyment of what you're hearing more. I think, depending on the source, CMSS can increase spaciousness, but I also think it can mess up some audio tracks too.

I don't think there's a hard fast "leave it on" or "leave it off". It'll depend on the source material and your individual tastes. Many an audiophile will tell you anything that makes the source sound any different than originally intended is an abomination. Well, that's certainly one perspective. ...but there's something to be said for taking a weak compressed stereo recording and adding more depth, even if that perceived depth is synthetic and adds some slight distortion (that is not detectable to a lot of ears).

Do your own subjective listening tests. Noone else's ears are the same as yours, IMHO.

!