Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Don't get 5.1 headphones for CMSS-3D soundblaster cards?

Tags:
  • Sound Cards
  • Headphones
  • 3D
  • Components
Last response: in Components
Share
December 27, 2006 1:58:19 AM

Hi, I just got myself the creative sb x-fi xtreme gamer card and want to get some headphones for it. i've been looking at 5.1 headphones like medusa and zalmans. i'm leaning towards zalmans for around $50, but i've read here that if your card does CMSS-3D stereo surround, you can get 5.1 listening out of regular headphones and getting a 5.1 headphone would be redundant, unnecessary. is this true? how about if you disable CMSS-3D and just use the 5.1 headphones? What is the consensus on 5.1 headphone and these soundcards? thanks in advance.

More about : headphones cmss soundblaster cards

December 27, 2006 7:03:12 AM

This is how CMSS works for speakers.

You play a stereo (2-channel source) like music mp3s. It takes the signal, and mixes them up, and different combinations come out of the rear and center channels, time delayed so when it works well, it sounds like a sound source just went through several speakers sequentially.

This is supposed to be a (understandably flawed) attempt at surround sound (real surround sound is discrete channels, not stereo being remixed). CMSS as its sources as originally games were 4.0, and CMSS was created in an attempt to take advantage of newer 5.1 computer speakers. Some people also have come to use CMSS as a way to play "stereo remixed" to 5 channels.

In headphones, CMSS headphone does something similar, except its being played through a single source. The single driver ends up playing all the re-mixed sounds, but it still sort of works (not as well as CMSS through speakers) as the re-mixed parts are also time delayed.

5.1 headphones take all the channels (front, rear, center) and mixes them through multiple drivers.

So the difference here is "emulated" surround sound vs "real" surround sound, if you can call several discrete sources playing right next to your ear as "surround."

If CMSS-3D is enabled and you have true 5.1 sources playing, the result is generally a strange cacophony that I never really liked. It's taking the stereo channel, playing back all the remixed material through the rears and center at the same time while the "true" surround (rear, center) sources are playing.

As for "What is the consensus on 5.1 headphone and these soundcards?" I believe you are asking what other people think about their musical sources. While this might be important to you (like fashion is important to some people), I think when you are at home listening to music, you should listen to what you like, since no one is there to watch you. If you like playing true 5.1 with CMSS on (or not), you should do it, and not because someone else says you should.
December 27, 2006 8:06:55 AM

i forgot to add this is solely for gaming. for music, i have logitech 5.1 speakers to listen to.
Related resources
December 27, 2006 7:05:53 PM

Quote:
i forgot to add this is solely for gaming. for music, i have logitech 5.1 speakers to listen to.


If this is for gaming you should get a true 5.1 setup. There is no replacement for true surround sound in games. True 5.1 headphones will work as well but make sure that you are getting the full 6 channels.

I've heard (not experienced) that the bass response can be a bit weak in hphones though. Can someone else comment here?
December 27, 2006 8:36:40 PM

what do you mean a true 5.1 setup? as i said, i already have 5.1 speaker system and want a 5.1 headphone to use when people are sleeping.
December 27, 2006 9:07:02 PM

What I mean by true 5.1 is that there are 6 dedicated channels that produce analog waves. By getting stereo (or "regular" as you referred to them) headphones you are limiting the output to 2 channels.

This will not sound anything like true 5.1 gaming.
December 27, 2006 9:24:38 PM

You can turn off the 3d crap on the x-fi cards, but don't get the zalmans I made that mistake and they were ummmm not good lol. The medusa's are much better but I would steer clear af the usb versions, the analog are much better have a fuller sound and much better bass.
Don't believe me? look it up. Also if you buy more that one pair you get a discount :) 
December 27, 2006 10:29:17 PM

Quote:
You can turn off the 3d crap on the x-fi cards, but don't get the zalmans I made that mistake and they were ummmm not good lol. The medusa's are much better but I would steer clear af the usb versions, the analog are much better have a fuller sound and much better bass.
Don't believe me? look it up. Also if you buy more that one pair you get a discount :) 


oh well, i already ordered the zalmans. it was 50 bucks. the medusa's were too expensive at above 100 bucks. whats bad about the zalman's? they got good reviews around the web.
December 27, 2006 10:40:45 PM

Well be that as it may, 6 months ago I went through the same thing but I also bought the ice mat 5.1's and I know the medusas are more but you get what you pay for. The zalmans sounded tinny and really didn't have any bass to speak of, also they were tight on my head and the ear phone broke off in 3 days of me having them lol. The icemat's were quite a big suprise they sounded fantastic! just not as good as the medusas. for music the icemats were king (but I use senn 680hd's for music) but for gaming the medusas were IMO much better. I've read good reviews on the zalmas too thats why I bought them but they were just not up to par for me. But hey who knows you might love them, its just my opinion. funny how the o'l ears work on different people.

But in all honesty nothing beats the true 5.1 for gaming (Z5500) in my case.
December 27, 2006 11:06:40 PM

I have a set of Zalmans running on an Azunetech HDA X-Plosion sound card. I can say that they do provide a very good surround sound experience, but they are lacking in the bass area. When I want to game I keep my sound settings on the Zalman's (Analog output from the sound card) and when I want music I switch over to Optical output which goes to my Harman Kardon receiver and then either out to my main speakers or my Sony DJ headphones.
December 28, 2006 1:36:20 AM

But compair the zalmans to the medusas and you'll see what I mean. Thats all I'm getting at is that the medusas are a much better choice, ya they are more money but you get much more in return.
December 28, 2006 1:37:19 AM

btw, is there such a thing as a 5.1 switch for people who want to easily switch between 5.1 speakers and 5.1 headphones? if so, can someone recommend one?
December 28, 2006 1:39:47 AM

I'm not sure but I would think so, the medusas have a amp with a pass through so you can have your 5.1 speakers and your headphones going at once or seperate. So I would imagine there is something else you can buy like that.
December 28, 2006 5:24:00 AM

I'll have to get my hands on a set of those and give them an audition.
August 6, 2011 12:06:17 PM

True Surround Sound headphones (which actually have 4+ speakers built in) have been proven to be a poorer experience than emulated Surround Sound (CMSS) with stereo headphones

this is due to the distance between your ears & the speakers when using headphones

i purchased an expensive pair of surround sound headphones & was really annoyed after realising i got a more accurate surround sound experience from using CMSS with the headphones set to stereo :( 
August 9, 2011 5:06:17 PM

In my experience, "5.1" headphones sound like garbage, because they have to pack 3-4 drivers into each can, which means they're going to be small and probably not very good quality. And don't even get me started on things like the Psyko Audio headphones.

As long as you set things properly, CMSS-3D (or Dolby Headphone if you're using a different sound card that supports it) should do a pretty good job of simulating surround sound, in my opinion anyway. It's important, however, that you use a good set of headphones, or it'll still sound like garbage.

Spend some time on head-fi.org if you want to read up on a good set of cans, but I can personally recommend the ATH-AD700 by Audio Technica... it's a pretty cheap pair of headphones with great audio quality, IMHO.
August 22, 2011 2:37:53 AM

thefivetheory said:
As long as you set things properly, CMSS-3D (or Dolby Headphone if you're using a different sound card that supports it) should do a pretty good job of simulating surround sound, in my opinion anyway. It's important, however, that you use a good set of headphones, or it'll still sound like garbage.


I use a relatively cheap $9 pair of Fuji Labs earbuds, and the CMSS-3D sounds pretty good to me.
!