Creative X-Fi: A New World of Sound

Headphones: Space Inside Your Head

The other CMSS-3D mode is dedicated specifically to headphone listening. Though often indispensable, traditional headphone listening has many disadvantages, in particular, the impossibility of creating a credible soundstage. The sound seems to come from the center of your head, or sometimes from the top, but in general it remains confined to within your skull. With CMSS-3D Headphone, you'll discover 3D sound with headphones - not only differentiation in the positioning of various sound sources, but above all what Creative calls "externalization," the creation of a true soundstage.

Let's discuss the principles behind the positioning of sound sources using headphones. Three factors come into play: ITD (Interaural Time Difference), ILD (Interaural Level Difference), and HRTF filters that reconstitute the sound as it reaches you, with reflections and diffractions caused by your body, head, and outer ear.

With a stereo source, CMSS-3D continues its extraction of ambience information from the recording to give the listener the sensation being in the middle of the action. But naturally, the effects are most spectacular with multichannel sources (movies in Dolby Digital or DTS) and with games. Headphones are no longer the punishment they once were, and become a real pleasure in their own right. Some progress still needs to be made on the front/rear positioning, based on our experience. Sound sources that are directly in front of you or behind still lack a little realism. We won't be categorical about that, however, as individual experiences of sound do vary widely. Also (in our personal experience) sources were placed a little too high, and an elevation adjustment would be good.