My goal is to configure my gaming machine to properly use CMSS-3D for headphones (I only use AT ATH-A900 stereo headphones, no other speaker configurations are required). Up until now I've been setting Creative control panel to "Headphones" and let it set Windows speaker configuration automatically (to "Headphones"). After reading more about this I think that my setup is probably suboptimal. Btw, I run Windows XP.
As far as I understand, some games support hardware audio while others do not (especially the newer ones). There are no problems with those that have hardware support and CMSS-3D works natively with them. However, those that don't support hardware audio should be set to output surround sound (5.1/7.1) which the sound card can process into a proper "stereo surround". The final effect may not be comparable to hardware audio support, but it's still better than nothing.
Having this in mind, it seems that an optimal "one size fits all" configuration would be:
1. In Creative audio control panel set speaker configuration to "Headphones" and disable synchronization with Windows control panel.
2. Set Windows speaker configuration to 5.1/7.1.
3. When playing ANY game, if it allows selecting a speaker configuration, set it to 5.1/7.1 as well.
So here are my questions:
1. Is the configuration above the recommended setup? If it is obviously wrong, please explain why.
2. Considering the setup above, if I select 5.1/7.1 configuration in a game that DOES SUPPORT hardware audio (OpenAL, DirectSound3D), will this cause any problems? Should "Headphones" or "Stereo" be selected instead?
3. Is there any reason to select 5.1 instead of 7.1 (in game options and Windows control panel)? It seems that most people prefer 5.1 - does the rule "less is more" apply in this case? Is 5.1 simply a better supported option in games than 7.1?