Overclock.net › Forums › Components › Sound Cards and Computer Audio › Setting up your X-Fi sound card for gaming
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Setting up your X-Fi sound card for gaming

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
So I never managed to find a proper guide to setting up CMSS-3D when I got my Forte. Whether it's useful or sounds good isn't important in this thread (you can discuss that somewhere else), I'll just help people set up their sound card properly. I originally tried this to find the best setting for my own use, but no reason not to share what I found.


CMSS-3D allows users to get virtual surround out of either headphones with only 2 drivers or surround sound speakers with a stereo source. It's most commonly used for gaming with headphones since most games support 5.1 surround natively anyway and because the sound quality of music is lowered with CMSS-3D (practically making it useless for 5.1). I've tested with 5.1 speakers too though.
For those of you that don't know exactly what it does, this video is very good and can be used with any headphone/sound card combination:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcB9faNrz_M

There are a couple of factors when setting up your sound:
Your sound card.
Windows.
Your game.

Your game is obviously the source of the sound. It's send from the game to Windows and then to the sound card. Each of these have options for how many speakers you use and thus all affect how the sound is heard.
I'll be testing with all possible combinations and I'll then conclude which combinations are the best at the end.

Testing is done with an Auzentech Forte 7.1 sound card, Logitech Z906 5.1 speakers and Audio-Technica ATH-AD700 stereo headphones. I use Call Of Duty 4 because I love the game and because I can minimize it and still hear the sound.

Before starting I want to mention something about Windows sound. Windows' speaker setting is usually overridden by the sound card's setting, but since Windows doesn't have a headphone option (only stereo speakers, which isn't the same), it can be set to any option even when setting the sound card to headphones. Also, some of the results are obvious, but nonetheless still included to be thorough.

On to testing!

5.1 speakers:

Test 1: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D disabled:
Perfect surround sound, good sound quality.

Test 2: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D enabled:
Perfect surround sound, good sound quality. Same as test 1. CMSS-3D doesn't change the sound at all since the source is 5.1 and the real 5.1 has the best possible sound quality. With 5.1 speakers, CMSS-3D only changes a stereo source (music or maybe a movie).

Test 3: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D disabled:
Just normal stereo, good sound quality.

Test 4: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D enabled:
Sound is output to the rear speakers, but it's just the same sound as the front speakers, so no real surround (or even virtual, it's just additional noise). Anything in front of you is heard from the rear speakers as well.

Test 5: Sound card set to stereo, Windows set to stereo, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D disabled:
Just normal stereo, good sound quality. Same as test 3.

Test 6: Sound card set to stereo, Windows set to stereo, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D enabled:
Seemingly no difference with CMSS-3D compared to test 5 (doesn't output to rear speakers, since the sound card is set up as stereo).

Test 7: Sound card set to stereo, Windows set to stereo, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D disabled:
Just normal stereo, good sound quality. Same as test 3 and 5.

Test 8: Sound card set to stereo, Windows set to stereo, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D enabled:
Seemingly no difference with CMSS-3D compared to test 7 (doesn't output to rear speakers, since the sound card is set up as stereo). Same as test 6.


Headphones:

Test 1: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D disabled:
Good sound quality, but almost no sound from behind the character since the sound is being output to the rear speakers (which the headphones don't have).

Test 2: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D enabled:
Good sound quality, no difference with CMSS-3D compared to test 1 (there are no rear speakers connected and even if there was, CMSS-3D wouldn't be in effect since the source is 5.1).

Test 3: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D disabled:
Good sound quality and plenty of sound from behind since the sound is only stereo and being output to the front speakers.

Test 4: Sound card set to 5.1, Windows set to 5.1, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D enabled:
No difference with CMSS-3D (there are no rear speakers connected which is where the virtual surround sound is being output).

Test 5: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to 5.1, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D disabled:
Good sound quality and plenty of sound from behind. Sound card is downmixing the 5.1 source to stereo.

Test 6: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to 5.1, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D enabled:
CMSS-3D is in effect and works well, providing better, although distorted, directional sound than test 5.

Test 7: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to 5.1, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D disabled:
Good sound quality and plenty of sound from behind. Same as test 5.

Test 8: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to 5.1, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D enabled:
CMSS-3D is in effect and works well, providing better, although distorted, directional sound than test 7. Same as test 6.

Test 9: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to stereo, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D disabled:
Sound quality and volume is for some reason lower than when Windows is set to 5.1. Bad directional sound.

Test 10: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to stereo, game set to 5.1, CMSS-3D enabled:
CMSS-3D works, but further distorts the already bad sound. Positioning improves over non-CMSS, but it's still much worse than when Windows was set to 5.1.

Test 11: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to stereo, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D disabled:
Good sound quality and plenty of sound from behind. Same as test 5 and 7.

Test 12: Sound card set to headphones, Windows set to stereo, game set to stereo, CMSS-3D enabled:
CMSS-3D is in effect and works well, providing better, although distorted, directional sound than no CMSS-3D. Same as test 6 and 8.


Conclusion:

For 5.1 surround, the best option is, no surprise here, to set sound card and games to 5.1 surround (Windows' setting will be changed by the sound card). For 5.1 speakers, CMSS-3D has no effect when using a 5.1 source (practically any FPS game) and even when it's used with a stereo source, it pretty much only sends front speaker sound to the rear speakers. Suffice to say, it's not very impressive.
NOTE: I don't own a "ZOMG true 5.1 gaming headset", so I can't say for sure, but if it uses analog connection (3x 3.5 mm jack plugs), it should probably use the same settings as 5.1 speakers.


For headphone, you have more options, but the first step is to set your sound card to headphones. Setting it to 5.1 speakers won't work with CMSS-3D (if you don't like CMSS-3D, it will work fine as long as the game is set to stereo though). You can then either a) set Windows to 5.1 and your game to whatever or b) set Windows to stereo and your game to stereo. These will give the same sound and both will work with CMSS-3D.
M1XN
(18 items)
 
Study Zenbook
(5 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 4770K @ 4.2 GHz ASUS Maximus VI Impact MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G 2x8 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 @ 2400 MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Crucial M4 64 GB Crucial M4 128 GB SAMSUNG Spinpoint M9T 2 TB LiteOn DL-8ATSH 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-C14 Windows 10 64-bit ViewSonic VP2770 Vortex Pok3r 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair SF600 NCASE M1 V2.5 Logitech G502 SteelSeries QcK+ 
AudioOther
HiFiMan HE-400 Logitech C920 
CPUGraphicsRAMHard Drive
i5-3317 GT 620M 2 GB soldered + 8 GB Corsair OCZ Vertex 3 120 
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 
  hide details  
Reply
M1XN
(18 items)
 
Study Zenbook
(5 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 4770K @ 4.2 GHz ASUS Maximus VI Impact MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G 2x8 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 @ 2400 MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Crucial M4 64 GB Crucial M4 128 GB SAMSUNG Spinpoint M9T 2 TB LiteOn DL-8ATSH 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-C14 Windows 10 64-bit ViewSonic VP2770 Vortex Pok3r 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair SF600 NCASE M1 V2.5 Logitech G502 SteelSeries QcK+ 
AudioOther
HiFiMan HE-400 Logitech C920 
CPUGraphicsRAMHard Drive
i5-3317 GT 620M 2 GB soldered + 8 GB Corsair OCZ Vertex 3 120 
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 4
Thanks for such a nice guide. I dont own an Xfi soundcard, but i have friends who own it. It will be lots of fun playing around with the settings.
MusicPC
(13 items)
 
Headphone rig
(2 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i7-920 2.66Ghz Quad Core Processor Asus P6T Deluxe Gaming Motherboard nVidia 9800GT 512MB GDDR3 Video Card 3GB DDR3-1333 Triple Channel Memory (3x1GB) 
Hard DriveOSPower
Western Digital 1TB SATA-II Hard Drive Vista Home Premium 64-bit 580 Watt Power Supply 
OtherOther
Burson HA-160Ds Hifiman HE-400 
  hide details  
Reply
MusicPC
(13 items)
 
Headphone rig
(2 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i7-920 2.66Ghz Quad Core Processor Asus P6T Deluxe Gaming Motherboard nVidia 9800GT 512MB GDDR3 Video Card 3GB DDR3-1333 Triple Channel Memory (3x1GB) 
Hard DriveOSPower
Western Digital 1TB SATA-II Hard Drive Vista Home Premium 64-bit 580 Watt Power Supply 
OtherOther
Burson HA-160Ds Hifiman HE-400 
  hide details  
Reply
post #3 of 4
Great post!

I had a question did you try 2.1 with your headphones? They sound much better then thumb.gif
Centurion
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD 1700X @ 3,8 ghz Asrock X370 Taichi EVGA 1070 SC G.skill 3200CL15 32 gb @ 2667  
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 960 EVO + Intel P600 DVD drive Noctua NH-D15 Windows 10 pro 64 bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
EIZO EV2736W Logitech K800 Corsair RM750X Define R5 Blackout Edition - Window 
Mouse
Logitech MX Master 
  hide details  
Reply
Centurion
(13 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD 1700X @ 3,8 ghz Asrock X370 Taichi EVGA 1070 SC G.skill 3200CL15 32 gb @ 2667  
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 960 EVO + Intel P600 DVD drive Noctua NH-D15 Windows 10 pro 64 bit 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
EIZO EV2736W Logitech K800 Corsair RM750X Define R5 Blackout Edition - Window 
Mouse
Logitech MX Master 
  hide details  
Reply
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by weebeast View Post

Great post!
I had a question did you try 2.1 with your headphones? They sound much better then thumb.gif

I have and it doesn't work. Just use the test function under CMSS-3D when using 2.1. It cuts in a really weird way and sounds awful. Using it in a game, the CMSS-3D doesn't work and it sounds exactly like setting headphones without CMSS-3D, just with lower volume (and possibly sound quality). If you like the sound of 2.1 with the headphones, try disabling CMSS-3D with headphones enabled.


EDIT: OK, just to be 100% clear (I confused myself before). What you did was the exact same thing I did in test 9-12 with the headphones. As you can see, 9 and 10 had bad volume and sound quality. 11 and 12 were good, but required setting ingame to stereo which is a huge hassle for me as I switch between speakers and headphones every day. It's way faster for me to use 5.1 ingame and then change in the driver. And even if it wasn't a problem, the sound is exactly the same in test 11 and 12 as in test 5 and 7 and 6 and 8. There's nothing to win by using 2.1 over headphones, only something to lose if you do it wrong.

Try it out yourself. Set it to 2.1. Your Windows setting will now be stereo. Then set your sound card to headphones. The sound of whatever you're listening to doesn't change. If you check Windows, it's still at stereo. So, logically, my test 9-12 is what you suggested. Except, CMSS-3D doesn't work when the sound card is set to 2.1 and it does when set to headphones, even if the Windows setting and the sound is the same.
Edited by B!0HaZard - 12/14/11 at 3:31pm
M1XN
(18 items)
 
Study Zenbook
(5 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 4770K @ 4.2 GHz ASUS Maximus VI Impact MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G 2x8 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 @ 2400 MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Crucial M4 64 GB Crucial M4 128 GB SAMSUNG Spinpoint M9T 2 TB LiteOn DL-8ATSH 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-C14 Windows 10 64-bit ViewSonic VP2770 Vortex Pok3r 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair SF600 NCASE M1 V2.5 Logitech G502 SteelSeries QcK+ 
AudioOther
HiFiMan HE-400 Logitech C920 
CPUGraphicsRAMHard Drive
i5-3317 GT 620M 2 GB soldered + 8 GB Corsair OCZ Vertex 3 120 
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 
  hide details  
Reply
M1XN
(18 items)
 
Study Zenbook
(5 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 4770K @ 4.2 GHz ASUS Maximus VI Impact MSI GTX 970 Gaming 4G 2x8 GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 @ 2400 MHz 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Crucial M4 64 GB Crucial M4 128 GB SAMSUNG Spinpoint M9T 2 TB LiteOn DL-8ATSH 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NH-C14 Windows 10 64-bit ViewSonic VP2770 Vortex Pok3r 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair SF600 NCASE M1 V2.5 Logitech G502 SteelSeries QcK+ 
AudioOther
HiFiMan HE-400 Logitech C920 
CPUGraphicsRAMHard Drive
i5-3317 GT 620M 2 GB soldered + 8 GB Corsair OCZ Vertex 3 120 
OS
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 
  hide details  
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Sound Cards and Computer Audio
Overclock.net › Forums › Components › Sound Cards and Computer Audio › Setting up your X-Fi sound card for gaming