Vista + Headphones + First Person Shooter games = what sound card?

'Sup folks. The more I read about sound cards, Windows Vista, and surround sound while wearing headphones the more depressed and the more turned off I become to the subject--because nobody has been able to answer the ultimate question I have which is, "Which is the best sound card to get if I want to wear ordinary headphones while playing competitive online games using the Windows Vista Home Premium 32 OS?"

I hear Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer often, but I also hear that Windows Vista might not support the feature that allows you to hear multi-directional sounds while wearing regular headphones. Or shoddy performance in general with Windows Vista and lack of updates.

I hear Auzentech Prelude but it only has EAX 2.1 or something which (in my mind) might mean that it does not support directional sounds while wearing regular headphones. Correct me if I'm wrong. I don't even know what EAX is, it's just another acronym to me.

I also hear HT Omega (supposedly the best option for Windows Vista users according to a few people) but it only supports 5 directional sounds while wearing headphones. This might be the one--but I hear that it isn't optimized for gaming but rather for theater-style purposes (music and movies).

As long as I can hear someone coming up from behind me or from around a corner, I will take this HT Omega card because it sounds like a professional-sounding product (not a gimmicky name like "X-treme Ultimate Gamer Generation-X Fatal Blaster 5000 Sound Card - Xtreme for Teens!").

I bought a surround sound speaker system but I never use it because I don't think my family wants to hear me shooting guns and making explosions from all around the house, so I decided to stick with headphones only.

If no one answers my question I will cry like a baby and continue on with my onboard sound.

Forgive me for sounding like a total noobie but audio is not one of my strong-points.

I just want to hear where the enemy's footsteps are coming from while wearing just a pair of ordinary headphones. Although I might get a pair of $80 Sennheiser headphones (HD 485 has good reviews) to make full use of this sound card I will be getting.

And I don't want scratchy-static sounds from this sound card either. Plz ya gotta help meh.

Does the CMSS-3D thing actually work?

Should I just wait? I've been waiting all my life. Sheesh. I finally get a nice computer and Windows Vista is being a ***** to me for it in so many ways I lack the energy to explain.

Now that I'm done with this novel-length post, all you patient readers, one more favor I ask of you! Please respond with helpful information. But talk to me like I am five-years-old because when it comes to sound and sound card features I am a total noob and will probably break down and cry if anyone tries to stuff any more acronyms and fancy-sounding gizmo names into my head that I just wont understand.

Bookmark this page if you are on the same page as I am. Or even if you are slightly less mentally challenged when it comes to this stuff. Maybe a knowledgeable Tom's Hardware member will give all the information we need and will become God-status in our hearts and minds forever.
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  1. I'm running a X-Fi Music Edition runs fine with vista. Crisp clear sound it's cheapish. Even on BF2 you can hear ppl sneak up on you. CMSS-3D does work well however, i would say more for the perfectionist than regular use.

    How long is your headphones 3.5mm jack lead? Maybe worth getting a cheapish USB one.
  2. To my knowledge EAX only works with multiple speakers (surround system) so i dont think youll be getting the directional space you want from a standard headset.

    If you dont have a decent set of headphones getting a good sound card will not help anything. you need to balance the 2, if you have **** sound card and awesome speakers then you sound card is the bottleneck and if it was reversed the sound will still be shocking becuase of the speakers.

    I would suggest you go with the Auzentech as the drivers will get better (unlike creative offerings). And for headphones either go for a surround headset (i dont believe in these btw) like the Medusa 5.1's. OR my preference get some Sennheiser HD555's awesome headphones and you can wear them for extended periods. Also to note on the Auzentech you can use your cases front panel whereas most of the Creative range you wont be able to do that.
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