Creative revamps Sound Blaster audio lineup

Creative is rolling out a new family of sound cards at the Gamescom convention this week. The Sound Blaster Z-Series appears to use the same Core3D audio processor as Creative’s recent Recon3D cards. However, the new models all add a “high-quality beam-forming microphone array” that works in conjunction with noise reduction and echo cancellation schemes to improve the quality of voice recording for everything from Skype to games.

There are three models in the lineup, starting with the base Sound Blaster Z. This $100 offering has an integrated amplifier designed for headphones with impedances up to 600 Ξ©. The card boasts a 120-decibel SNR, according to Creative.

The Sound Blaster Zx adds $50 to the price and is apparently “the bad boy of the bunch.” For the extra cash, Creative adds an external Audio Control Module (ACM) that combines a volume control knob with headphone and mic ports, plus a dual microphone array. (The Sound Blaster Z’s external mic is just that, with no extra ports of volume controls.) To allow the Zx to encode multi-channel digital bitstreams, Creative has endowed the card with Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect support.

The daddy of the bunch is the Sound Blaster ZxR, which surprisingly lacks a Fatal1ty tie-in. Instead, you get all the goodness of the Zx along with higher quality components and sockets for swappable op-amps. The ZxR’s DACs have an SNR rating of 127 decibels, says the official press release, and the ADCs are rated for 123 decibels. The ZxR also comes with a daughter card that offers additional ports. Total cost: $250.

Naturally, all the new Sound Blasters support Creative’s SBX Pro Studio software. SBX features a Crystalizer function that adds a little oomph to music encoded with lossy compression, a Surround mode for speaker virtualization, and a few other widgets that aren’t quite as interesting. Expect to see the Sound Blaster Z on shelves as early as October, with the Zx and ZxR following in December. Looks like we may need to gear up for some more blind listening tests.

Comments closed
    • Dr_b_
    • 7 years ago

    My favorite feature in the creative drivers is the SVM, which evens out low/hi volumes, its great for games. It increases the volumes of sounds which are often subtle and muted so you dont have to crank up your volume and then go deaf when normal or high volume effects are encountered.

    Are there any other audio cards out there which support that?

    • swaaye
    • 7 years ago

    By the way, if anyone is just looking to get EAX support for old games, Creative has a decent software suite called X-FI MB2 which has most of the features of a full DSP driven X-Fi card. It is probably what ships in the drivers of their cheap budget cards that don’t have DSP processing. It also comes with notebooks and motherboards sometimes. It’s all of $25 and will run on top of Realtek codecs for example.
    [url<]http://us.store.creative.com/Sound-Blaster-XFi-MB2-Download-only/M/B006GK73K8.htm[/url<]

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      [facepalm]

      Creative could be making tons of money on the low-end and could easily compete against ASUS’s solutions with this. If they allow this software suite be available to more wider channels instead of being OEM-only. The suits at Creative are too dense to see that software is the future of mainstream audio, since DACs on most motherboards are decent enough and CPUs are more than powerful enough to effortlessly handle the load.

      That link is just reselling the OEM packaging that came with some OEM Desktop/Laptop.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      Not a fan of EAX, but yeah, this looks interesting. Thanks! πŸ™‚

      • Kaleid
      • 7 years ago

      I bought my extrememusic used for 15 dollars. Try ebay instead for better audio in general..

    • quincunx
    • 7 years ago

    For the price points these are sitting at, I think my next purchase is going to be a BitHead. It’ll work out better with an ITX build that can’t fit a sound card.

    [url<]http://www.headphone.com/headphone-amps/amplifiers/headroom-total-bithead.php[/url<]

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      I’d recommend a [url=http://www.amazon.com/NuForce-uDAC-2-Black-Digital-Converter/dp/B003Y5FRNS<]NuForce uDAC-2[/url<] over the BitHead. From user comparison, the original uDAC had a better DAC, but inferior headphone amp section than the BitHead. Apparently the inferior amp has been improved in the uDAC-2. Plus, the uDAC-2 is $30 cheaper.. Or if you want to go a little better, the [url=http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB16/NFB16EN.htm<]NB-16[/url<] or [url=http://audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB15/NFB15EN.htm<]NB-15[/url<] (the NB-15 has a better DAC section and a couple more features, but no built in battery, making it less portable - but not an issue if always using with a PC) by Audio-gd. I've bought from them before. They're legit and offer some of the best bang for buck around for DACs/headphone amps.

        • Kaleid
        • 7 years ago

        uDAC2 is crap:
        [url<]http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/nuforce-udac-2-drama.html[/url<]

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          Interesting article. It will make me rethink recommending the uDAC-2. I’ve only heard an original uDAC and thought it was decent enough for the $100 asking price – but then I only auditioned with 40 ohm loads and up. The recommendation for the uDAC-2 is based on recommendations from others who have compared it to other low end DACs (including the BitHead mentioned in the OP).

          That said, I think the blog post is a little alarmist. And I’m not really sure what comparing a $100 DAC to a many hundreds of dollars Benchmark DAC1 is accomplishing… Most of the “huge massive” problems one might encounter with the uDAC (unbalanced volume at low amplification and the 0dbfs issue) seem to be largely mitigated by simply lowering the line volume level a bit on the PC. And as far as the impedance issue goes, I’m not sure why you’d need to use a headphone amplifier with low impedance ear buds anyway. But I’m not making excuses for NuForce. They seem to have been caught with a few inexcusable issues here.

          And, despite these issues, at the end of the day, it could just be, that for most setups, the sound signature of the uDAC with it’s higher impedance design may sound pretty good relative to what most people paying $100 for a USB DAC may be used to. I’m not aware of DAC/headphone amp combos in this price range that are not compromised in some way. Which is why I included the Audio-gd gear in my post as a less compromised alternative.

          [i<]Edit:[/i<] Just out of curiosity, how do you know your XtremeMusic wouldn't test to be equally as crap?

    • d34thly
    • 7 years ago

    The audigy and x-fi cards in the past were great but Core3D sounds like mud (and now I know many people on this forum have crap hearing). I purchased the Creative Core3D Recon external sound card for $135 on amazon in January when it first became available. The thing is BIG with lots of options and pukey blue led lighting to boot. Unfortunately, none of the equalizer or sound options do any good to make this card worth any money. I tried using it for 6 months. I was sooo relieved to go back to the free sound card that came with my Sennheiser 163D (it’s the size of my thumb and has zero options besides how many channels). I don’t know what happened to Creative, but they apparently went deaf as a company because the Core3D sound doesn’t sound remotely good at all.

      • Kaleid
      • 7 years ago

      I think they noticed the reviews, and this is why the Z series are coming out. Core3d is not for audiophiles, the frequency response isn’t linear for instance. Hopefully the Z series are as neutral as possible.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 7 years ago

    Recon3D/SoundCore = big bag of meh.

    It’s ironic that the previous hardware X-Fi solution is a better chip, meaning that the earlier base model X-Fi Titanium PCIe is a better card than anything Creative’s now selling with the Recon3D chip, and it can probably be found for less.

    Kind of like me looking at the Z77 chipset mainboards when I have a Z68 one, or Ivy Bridge when I have a Sandy Bridge; I can’t think of a good reason to upgrade.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      Honestly, I don’t understand how the Sound Core3D is a quad core chip. It’s pretty slick marketing though.

    • kitsura
    • 7 years ago

    My last card will be the X-fi Elite Pro. There is 0 support of any sort for issues of any kinds and driver support is non-exsistant. My next card will be an Asus one.

      • Kaleid
      • 7 years ago

      Good luck. My guess is you’ll have even more driver problems.
      I suggest you read this excellent comparison.
      [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=82983&p=1131230&hilit=kaleid+extrememusic#p1131302[/url<] In my view Asus are highly overrated...but they make very good mobos.

    • deinabog
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve experienced some driver issues with certain Creative sound cards in the past but nothing that was a show-stopper. This line-up looks good although I wouldn’t buy the ZxR since it’s too expensive and looks like it’s made for serious audio creation and editing. The Sound Blaster Z is a card I can get behind; it’s got the same hardware and software feature set as its bigger brothers but it’s priced to move at $99 dollars. With a lower price at Newegg I’m sure this card will be the one to get.

    Since I’m planning to upgrade both my boxes early next year I’ll grab two of the Zs and add them to the mix. It’s good to see that rumors of the death of the discrete audio card have been greatly exaggerated.

    • moose17145
    • 7 years ago

    Hope TR can do a review on one/some of these cards.

    As i stated in the comments on the latest review of the asus sound cards, hopefully the next review features a comparison of the new cards to the older x-fi line up. Sure these are pci-e and most of the x-fis were pci… but as i read the comments it looks like a fair number of people are still running the x-fi series. I know I’m still running my x-fi xtremeMusic i got way back in the day. Still seems to work great too.

    Maybe i am just lucky with creative cards, because i have never had any show stopping issues with them. Yea they botched the early vista drivers… i wasnt really affected though. Stuck with xp pro until my psu blew and took my mobo of that old system. Switched to vista when i built my current i7-920 system. Was able to get a legal copy of vista 64 bit for 30 bucks (which i also needed since i never liked 64 bit xp much.. seemed to have lots of issues, and my system had way more than 4 gigs of ram… so 32i bit was out of the question). By the time i hoped on the vista bandwagon creative had apparently ironed the issues with their drivers. Now running windows 7 pro and still no issues with my x-fi.

    Oh and before someone says i should play the lottery then… my luck apparently only extends mostly to the creative sound card realm. Tried playing the lotto a few times/tried the scratch off thing… never once won a single dime back. Pretty sure i would have had more fun and better luck just putting a dollar bill on the ground and burning it. At least id get to see something on fire that way.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    I know a lot of people here are having problems with Creative drivers. I’ve had many Sound Blasters since the SB Pro.

    1. Sound Blaster Pro (2.0) : 1993 – 1997
    2. Sound Blaster 16 (Vibra) : 1997 – 1999
    3. Sound Blaster Live! : 1999 – 2004

    … I used an Analog Devices integrated audio codec from 2004 to 2006

    4. Sound Blaster Audigy SE : 2006 – 2007

    … Realtek ALC888 audio from 2007 – 2009

    5. Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium : 2009 – present

    I just realized, I’ve relied mostly on Creative products for most of the last 19 years. I don’t do hardcore audio stuff with my cards like ASIO or anything like that. But the thing is, I don’t really recall having problems with my Sound Blasters. For what I use them for, Creative’s drivers do just fine. I admit the X-Fi control panel is pretty sluggish, but I just turn off EAX, CMSS-3D and Crystalizer once and forget about it.

    EDIT – Hey guys, remember Dr. Sbaitso? That was pretty cool back then. πŸ™‚

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      Yea, me too – started with SB Pro 2.0 (which I still have!), then something else (don’t remember what was that), then SB Live! (which I still have), then Audigy 2 (which I gave away to someone else), after Vista happened – I was mostly using on-board codecs, now I’m using another Creative card again (Recon3D)… Never had a SINGLE issue with their hardware or drivers (they were quite “bloated”, though, but the installation for Recon3D is pretty small), though I only used them for sound playback. Maybe I should try buying lottery tickets more often πŸ˜‰

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Creative used to be awesome back in pre-Live! era.

      Sound Blasters and AWE family work like a charm and you could change the IRQ and addressing via jumper like most ISA cards. IRQ 7 was usually a safe bet since it was typically used by LPT1 and you didn’t print stuff while you were gaming. πŸ˜‰

      It went downhill with Live! era and beyond. Live! cards work alright for the most part expect the drivers were bloated as hell and you better not have lost that installation disc or you were stuck downloading 30-40MB installation package on dial-up (broadband was still an expensive luxury).

      Creative get a ton of flak when it strong-arm Aureal with frivolous lawsuits and bought their IP for the cheap when Aureal threw in the towel.

      Audigy cards work fine as long as it wasn’t sharing with other devices on the PCI bus. Via chipset made it worse since it they didn’t follow the PCI spec until later and Audigy cards hated it.

      By the time X-Fi roll around, discrete audio was on its way out for the masses when integrated audio started to become decent and provide DTS/DD support. Game industry was moving onto software 3D audio solutions since CPUs have become powerful enough to effortlessly handle the overhead.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        I think they’re still quite awesome. It’s just that most folks today get all the sound quality they’d care about (especially if they’re only using cheap speakers) from audio codecs that are practically free. I observe that a lot of folks are happy as long as they hear their music or game.

        • hansmuff
        • 7 years ago

        I would argue that the X-Fi line is the best, until they watered it down by taking Audigy hardware and calling it X-Fi on some of the lower end ones.

        I too have a long, long Creative history. SB Pro 2.0, 16, AWE 32, Live!, Audigy 2, X-Fi XtremeMusic.

        Not one of them disappointed me.

        But what I’m seeing now with the Recon3D and this new offering, well, those disappoint me deeply.

        • swaaye
        • 7 years ago

        I think you might have a touch of confused nostalgia going on for Creative’s noisy old ISA cards with buggy daughtercard headers and a horrid MPU-401 emulation TSR. There were some cheaper alternatives to Creative back then that were much more interesting (Ensoniq comes to mind).

      • BobbinThreadbare
      • 7 years ago

      Without EAX whats the point of buying creative?

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        Everything typically sounds better with the X-Fi compared to my integrated audio (Realtek ALC889, which is on my current mobo… and no, ALC889 is not a typo). For listening to music I don’t really want my audio to sound artificial like the card adds some sort of trick on it. Back when I just got my X-Fi, yeah, I played around with EAX, but I found I could live without it lately. For gaming, games normally have their own audio mechanism as you know, which frees them from the clutches of EAX/Creative. I found that using EAX just results in exaggerated sound effects in my games. For movies, I’m not sure I really notice a big difference with all the X-Fi’s tricks turned off, but perhaps it’s only because I rarely watch movies on my PC and thus rarely have the opportunity to put much attention into it.

        So to sum up, in most cases the X-Fi trumps the Realtek even without the hat tricks, and that’s what I bought it for.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 7 years ago

          There are plenty of discrete cards that both sound better and are cheaper than Creative.

            • ronch
            • 7 years ago

            Such as the Asus Xonar models, I’m sure you’d say. But I suppose folks like me just stick with Creative because I’ve been using Creative for the longest time and haven’t really encountered any major problems with them.

            • Kaleid
            • 7 years ago

            I was curious so I tried Xonar XD. Did not like it. Enabling hardware audio crashed many many games, even 3dmark2003.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        Without EAX what’s the point of buying a sound card at all?

        Just because a company is known for something doesn’t mean that’s all they are.

          • Kaleid
          • 7 years ago

          Better EQ, better positional audio, better dynamic limiter, improved stability (infact no problems at all). Some of these things are very good late at night when watching a movie.. so that I don’t wake up the whole house.

          The VIA HD onboard that I have on my Asus p55 mobo has a crashing controlpanel and once it has crashed it won’t start again without re-installing it. And the EQ is too bad in the bas area, too few options.

          So I purchased an used Extremegamer for 15 dollars. Money very well spent.

      • LoneWolf15
      • 7 years ago

      My first was the Soundblaster 1.5 -non-pro. Just having speech rocked back then.

      Who else remembers .CMF files? =)

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        No, I don’t remember .CMF files. I don’t remember tinkering with them. But I do remember setting the jumpers on my Pro 2.0. That was pretty fun. I miss playing with jumpers, even on mobos to set the multipliers, voltages, bus speeds, etc. Everything’s too plug ‘n’ play nowadays, not that it’s a bad thing though.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 7 years ago

        I remember editing my autoexec so the sound card would use the right IRQ, and I think every few weeks it would just decide it didn’t like it and I would have to change it again.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      Not sure why you’d toggle off EAX or CMSS-3D. EAX makes games sound better and CMSS-3D is 3D virtualization for smaller speaker configurations, which works quite well… In other words, it’s how you get surround sound out of headphones.

        • Kaleid
        • 7 years ago

        CMSS-3D shouldn’t be on by default. It makes music and a lot of audio sound worse (probably a reason many prefer other soundcards, just because of this setting!). But it is brilliant when gaming with headphones. Haven’t tried for movies yet though.

    • yammerpickle2
    • 7 years ago

    I have a Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio card that is collecting dust. In Win XP it sounded great with my 7.1 system. I gave it up after horrible frustrating driver support when I moved to Win 7. I still miss the audio quality, but enjoy the ease of my integrated motherboard. I’d have to go with the 250 dollar one to get optical digital out, and for that you can buy a very nice set of headphones or speakers, or maybe even a complete new motherboard. Sorry, Creative, your drivers are junk, and it makes your hardware basically worthless especially with Win 8 around the corner.

      • south side sammy
      • 7 years ago

      alchemy drivers.

    • Scorpiuscat
    • 7 years ago

    I have never owned a Creative card that I did not have driver problems with, I ditched discrete audio cards for the first time to give on-b oard audio a try and while I can tell the audio is not quite as good, I have had zero problems.

    I have no confidence that Creative can deliver without the same old tired driver problems.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    Creative’s mainstream discrete audio division is dying.

    I’m still surprise that Creative still hasn’t shutdown the division and move into their more lucrative media player, professional and speaker divisions.

    Decent integrated audio (supports DTS/DD passthrough) and modern/multi-core CPUs have killed discrete audio for the masses.

    The only reason to get discrete audio is either for legacy 3D audio support or fidelity (provided that you have actual Hi-Fi speakers/headphones).

    ASUS low-end provides legacy audio support for under $49 which undercuts Creative’s cheapest offer unless you grab an Audigy on cheap from ebay and load-up the latest unofficial drivers (works fine under Vista/7). That’s assuming that your system still has a PCI slot. If you going to go PCIe, ASUS is only affordable option for 3D audio support at this time.

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      That’s the thing. Creative is way overpriced for what they’re giving you. Especially when you read the reviews of the Recon line.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        Not really. Creative gives you far better hardware and software features for games, while other companies give you a generic c-media chip with just the basics. If all you want is quality stereo with no additional processing, then yeah I can see your point, but most people who buy Creative’s products want a gaming experience that nobody else comes close to matching, eax or not. GS3d doesn’t work as well, nor is it stable. I’ll stick with what I know works and sounds better.

          • yammerpickle2
          • 7 years ago

          I agree the hardware is good, but software? Creative’s WIN 7 drivers are supper buggy. Now I admit I’ve had the card out for a year or two, but I don’t think they fixed the drivers since then.

            • Kaleid
            • 7 years ago

            I have zero software problems, it’s only with Vista x64 that the drivers for a long time didn’t work.

            But I have had trouble massively with Asus, onboard, Terratac and M-audio. I’ll avoid them all and hope that Creative can stay afloat.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            M-Audio made good hardware, but their drivers sucked and the cards were just different enough from the VIA Envy reference designs that the stock VIA drivers didn’t quite work right either. Worked OK in Linux though…

            • Kaleid
            • 7 years ago

            I had a M-Audio Revolution 7.1 and the sound wasn’t that great. It lacked dynamics… I think it managed only 93dB dynamic range in 16bit and that’s not even up to CD-standard which is 96dB.

            Yet these cards got rave reviews. No, the sound was flat.

            The EAX was horrid. Unfortunately only Creative provides in this area.

            • hansmuff
            • 7 years ago

            I have yet to encounter a problem. I don’t know but even on XP 64-bit, which was far from mainstream, I had functioning drivers that would not crash.

            You don’t have to install all their applications, either. I just install basic drivers and the control panel, and I don’t have any clutter, crashes or problems.

            • d0g_p00p
            • 7 years ago

            I just did a rebuild of my main machine (mobo died) last month, installed my 7+ year old X-Fi, installed the Creative drivers and am enjoying the audio just like i have for the last 7+ years using the same sound card.

            Creative’s Win7 drivers are perfectly fine.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        I felt the Recon3D PCIe was overpriced considering it’s $90 and not better than the X-Fi series. This, however, looks like a better deal. At $100, the Z is a flashy new card, has a fancy EMI shield if that’s what it is, and (at least in the SNR dept.) better specs. We’ll never know for sure how good it is until TR reviews it though.

        The Z’s pricing should put the Recon3D PCIe’s price in its proper place, I reckon.

      • moresmarterthanspock
      • 7 years ago

      I agree about fidelity. I have a Xonar Essence ST. SNR, headphone amp, blah blah, all great, but what about the DAC. I know the Xonar Essence has a top-of-the-line entry-level audiophile DAC. Even with high SNR ratings, I don’t think the Creative cards even come close. This could be a day-long debate. Kind of like Bose vs. something else half the price. Bose sounds ok to an untrained ear, but are way over-equalized to compensate for being bad speakers to begin with. Take a look at some professional sound cards from RME Hammerfall. SNR isn’t everything. [url<]http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_hdsp_9632.php[/url<]

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        TitaniumHD

        • just brew it!
        • 7 years ago

        Just trying to wrap my head around the phrase “top-of-the-line entry-level” here…

          • moresmarterthanspock
          • 7 years ago

          I’m suppose I could compare it to a class system income bracket. Lower class. Middle-class. Upper-middle class. Upper-Class, and Elite. I would put the Xonar Essence ST somewhere between Upper Middle-Class and Upper-Class. That’s why I say top-of-the-line entry-level.

      • Ashbringer
      • 7 years ago

      Doesn’t help that most of their cheap sound cards are just re-branded Sound Blaster Audigy’s. Which used to be re-branded Sound Blaster Lives.

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        Not exactly,

        There’s a number of differences between the cheap sound cards and genuine Audigys, despite being based on the same DSP chip.

        1.) Doesn’t support DD/DTS passthought
        2.) Inferior DAC and capacitor quality
        3.) Inferior EAX support via the drivers unless you flash the EPROM to make the rebranded into a real “Audigy” as far as the computer is concerned.
        4.) No connector for the front-panel audio jacks or Audigy’s bay
        5.) No 1394a connector

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 7 years ago

    After Creative’s poor handling of the Vista launch, who would be foolish enough to buy a new card from them before Windows 8?

      • HisDivineOrder
      • 7 years ago

      Haha, I forgot about that. Yeah, they did really screw the pooch on that one.

      • insulin_junkie72
      • 7 years ago

      From what I’ve seen from my Xonar, I’m not exactly looking forward to Asus’ handling of the new OS release, either. *

      Amusingly, Asus getting into the soundcard biz has seemingly done wonders for Creative’s rep. As this thread indicates, there’s still a lot of disdain for Creative, but pre-Asus, virtually everyone hated Creative.

      Asus’ drivers have accomplished the near-impossible.

      * I thought it was bad enough that under Win7, the drivers couldn’t handle basic advertised functionality like autodetecting headphones plugged in the front panel and switching back when unplugged. Under Win8, I couldn’t even manually switch front panel/back at all (although I believe someone wrote a script one could launch to switch).

    • just brew it!
    • 7 years ago

    I’ve owned a number of Creative cards over the years, going all the way back to the original Soundblaster 16, up through the X-Fi. Yeah, there have been driver glitches here and there, and I have no frikkin’ clue why Crystalizer was ever invented (let alone why it continues to exist in their new products); but on the whole I’ve been a satisfied customer.

    Back in the days when onboard audio was abysmally bad, Creative was a reasonable choice for upgrading your sound, and the best choice if gaming was the primary use of your system.

    These days I tend to just stick with onboard unless I plan to do any recording through the line in. Onboard audio quality has improved quite a bit over the past ~10 years.

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      Soundblaster 16 is not really “going all the way back” πŸ˜‰ Here’s what was inside my PC:
      [url<]http://i.imgur.com/wvneN.jpg[/url<]

    • MaMuS
    • 7 years ago

    I would just never recommend buying these cards for it’s miraculous features. Consider only buying for the high quality analog output or headphone amps.

    Spending this amount of money for a Dolby/DTS lossy (mp3 quality) on the fly compression just to drive optical/spdif output is crazy, even more so when HDMI can carry 192khz/24bits multichannel PCM effortlessly.

    The equalizer is also about as weak as any other standard HDA/integrated sound eq. It might not be possible on windows, but routing all your audio trough a nice “Mastering” parametric EQ can deliver much better results. With standard EQs you end overpowering frequencies you didn’t mean to while driving up that 60hz or 100hz slider.

    These virtual headphone surround solutions are pretty much hit or miss, it might sound decent for some people while it just sounds weired for almost everyone else. Although the only solution I’ve ever come around this is to find a database of Head Related (Binaural) Impulse Response filters ([url=http://recherche.ircam.fr/equipes/salles/listen/index.html<]like this one[/url<]) where they take many different people, put a very small microphone inside their ears and record an impulse coming from specific directions into both binaural microphones. This recording registers every little delay and deformation sound takes while traveling the subject "surroundings". Then you can apply this binaural impulse response using a convolution engine for a specific channel, to make it actually come from x direction. Using this method you can try each impulse set and see which one best matches your body (mostly your ear) and maybe tweak it a bit with an EQ. I've made a pretty cool setup with Jack, jconvolver and pulseaudio, but that's way too complicated for any user that wants a "just works" solution... And there is still the famous "Crystallizer" that won't do much better than a simple EQ...

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    Weird to see Creative cards here with all the hate for them. It’d be interesting to see what TRs take is on them, although I don’t have high hopes from what I’ve heard.

      • Madman
      • 7 years ago

      I wouldn’t say I hate them, because they have very good hardware, and when you look on the paper, they are automatic first choice.

      But they don’t work, I’m hoping that there will be new driver release, and they will stop being a problem, because while they work (5min – 3hours if you’re lucky), they are the best.

      Easy to use equalizers, bunch of connectivity, high quality output. But then you plug it in…

      I’m not hating, I’m hoping, and the hopes are diminishing with each day. πŸ™

        • chΒ΅ck
        • 7 years ago

        They have well-spec’d parts, but the execution isn’t that great. It’s like pumping 85/15 gas/corn ethanol into a nice car :(.

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        I’m not talking about Creative in general, but their new lineup of cards based on the Soundcore3D. Just would like to confirm if what I’ve heard is true or not (which isn’t good).

        I’ve never heard about a stability window like that.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        I think the hardware is all good. Most folks complain about the drivers. Perhaps Creative should just outsource it? It’ll obviously be more expensive for them though, unless they’re overpaying their software people.

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      Why not try it yourself, instead of relying on someone else’s subjective opinion? Amazon has good return policy – buy it here, try it out of a couple of weeks, see if your motherboard and other hardware aren’t causing issues for this card, try out the software features (like the new surround sound emulation), etc. If you won’t like it or will have some kind of issues – return it back to Amazon for full refund… Then (optionally) bitch and moan on every internets forum about Creative being “teh suxorz”, it’s still a “trendy” thing to do πŸ˜‰

        • Madman
        • 7 years ago

        I don’t have to do that with Nvidia GPUs, or Intel CPUs, or many other things, why should Creative be an exception?

        Moreover, returns get complicated if you don’t live in US. Taxing, packaging, duty charges, etc.

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          I wasn’t talking to you πŸ˜›

        • Bensam123
        • 7 years ago

        I’ve been doing this… I’ve tried the THD and the Xonar DX (which I was quite disappointed in)… I will be doing the XFi Forte next… I didn’t have any problems with the TitaniumHD and found it superior in pretty much every way to the Xonar DX, not talking purely about sound quality.

        I really shouldn’t need to be doing this though, that’s why I visit TR.

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          X-Fi Forte? This card is discontinued now, right? Why bother with it, then? Just wait for new SoundBlaster Z and try one of them out… From my own experience with Recon3D you shouldn’t have any problems with drivers, and Creative should provide better driver support considering it will be a current model, plus the sound quality should be pretty good due to better DACs… You will, of course, lose the EAX support but since no new game will ever use it, is it really THAT important?

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Forte isn’t discontinued…

            Once again I visit TR so I don’t need to test all the hardware myself.

      • can-a-tuna
      • 7 years ago

      Agreed. Creative is still the biggest player in discrete sounds and at least I haven’t had any major issues with their drivers. In general, sound cards to me are still interesting topic.

    • DarkUltra
    • 7 years ago

    Does any of these soundcards include hdmi output? It would be nice with digital multichannel out plus my receivers room correction and dynamic loudness eq does not work with analog pre-in.

    Today i use a auzentech x-fi hometheater hd and can has 7.1 ds3d in older games. Yum. Btw battlefield 3 is the first game I have tried that has good dynamic range so the audio is almost like the audio in a cinema. You really ahould try it with a hifi setup.

    • Madman
    • 7 years ago

    Creative has amazing hardware – digital/optical/coax outs, powerful processors good ADC/DACs, onboard RAM, and pretty good idea about what should good audio software look like.

    Unfortunately, over 10 years of using multiple Creative products on multiple hardware configurations, exactly 0 worked without issues, and exactly 0 worked without major issues, and exactly 0 worked without showstoper issues. With a common faulty component – drivers.

      • Krogoth
      • 7 years ago

      Creative hardware works great, but it has very fine tolerances.

      The cards have to be seated in just right or it will not work at all. The card itself needs unfettered access to PCI bus or you will have issues. (This is the source of the infamous cracking and Via PCI issues).

        • moresmarterthanspock
        • 7 years ago

        So that’s why my old Audigy used to crackle? I just thought it was a faulty card. LOL! I even had the Via chipset.

          • Krogoth
          • 7 years ago

          Creative cards require almost unfettered access to PCI bus to work properly. They never play nicely with other devices on the PCI bus. Parallel SCSI owner learn this the hard way. In my personal experience, Creative cards are only PCI devices that had problems with IRQ and I/O addressing. PCI was supposed to eliminate this lingering issue from the ISA days.

          Via problems came from that fact that Via didn’t follow PCI spec to the letter and used a different IRQ range which Creative cards hated. (constant BSODs and cracking).

            • dragosmp
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t know if it was only that, drivers used to be a problem also for me and other tenths of people on a forum that took my advice. My Intel P45 board crackled w/ the Audigy 24bit with the default drivers and “auto” IRQ allocation, but there were these daniel_k modded drivers that were priceless. Not only these drivers added features on cards as old as a Live! (Crystalizer, etc), but coupled with some tinkering with the IRQs, everything worked well.

        • Madman
        • 7 years ago

        I never had a VIA board. Crackling was on nForce2, nForce4 and Intel P45 IIRC.

          • l33t-g4m3r
          • 7 years ago

          I remember hearing about a specific nf4 asus? board that had screwy pci timings and was exacerbated by SLI. There supposedly was a bios fix eventually released. I had a DFI NF4 with my creative card, still do, and never had any problems. Intel and other high quality boards never had issues. The VIA problems were back with the original Athlons / p3 and this effected EVERYONE, including vortex cards. I remember programs like WPCREDIT and vlatency offering workarounds.
          [url<]http://www.georgebreese.com/net/software/[/url<] [quote<]1.1 What is this patch? This is a driver for Windows. It is intended to stabilize computers that have VIA chipsets. 1.2 Why do I need this patch? Do I need it at all? If your computer has any VIA chipset made between 1997 and 2001, and if your computer has any of the following problems, then you might need this driver. Files copied from one IDE hard disk drive to another are corrupted The computer stops ("freezes", "hangs", "locks up"), or makes unusual noises when playing sounds, especially to a Creative-brand sound card The computer stops, or files are corrupted, when copying to or from an IDE DVD, CDROM, or CDRW drive Sounds played by the computer are distorted or have a "crackling" noise, especially sounds from a Creative-brand or Aureal-brand sound card The computer stops when playing 3D graphics or games, especially on an ATI Radeon series video card If you have none of these problems, then you do not need this patch.[/quote<] The crackling problems were from boards not implementing PCI correctly, and or overclocking that screwed with the bus speed. Even if you had these problems, you could for the most part fix it if you semi knew what you were doing. The majority of the creative bashfest was just misplaced anger and stupidity about what the problem really was. Not to say creative didn't have some responsibility for the problems. They handled customer complaints poorly, were incredibly slow and negligent to investigate, and combined with driver bugs and slow updates infuriated the users. Vista was a complete disaster, and beta drivers often had time limitations that would expire and force people to downgrade to a non-working driver. There were problems using over 4GB ram, and Vista drivers removed features that had previously existed in XP. One of many reasons I stuck with XP-64 instead of Vista, and there were no issues with XP-64, unlike what the lying FUD whiners would constantly say. User frustration peaked when DanielK fixed creatives drivers for them, which was really creative forcing audigy owners to upgrade to the X-FI by deliberately releasing broken drivers. After a huge backlash Creative finally fixed the drivers and gave audigy owners a free upgrade to alchemy, and started supporting DDL on the xfi with an extra upgrade. This is around the time I bought my prelude to replace my Xmusic, and I haven't found the need to upgrade since. The Xmusic is even still seeing use in the spare pc using DK's drivers. I know what the score is, I lurked the creative forums during the peak of the controversy, and I'm not going to complain because there always was a fix available if you looked. The FUD heads were mostly ego-tripping jerks who were either too stupid or unwilling to attempt fixing anything. Needless to say they still manifest themselves as the blind haters we have today.

    • south side sammy
    • 7 years ago

    I doubt any of you care but here’s the card…..

    [url<]http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=creative%20labs%20gamer&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CFkQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fus.store.creative.com%2FSound-Blaster-XFi-XtremeGamer%2FM%2FB000J1F1BI.htm&ei=DFgtUKKKJYfv0gHAz4CABQ&usg=AFQjCNEaDzQNhJ_IuQXppu1yPRvU6kElrg[/url<]

    • deathBOB
    • 7 years ago

    Creative: Not Even Once

    • JohnC
    • 7 years ago

    Heh, I guess there’s no good reason to buy Recon3D cards right now – “Sound Blaster Z” has the same features (only instead of letters “THX” Creative is now using “SBX” for the description of sound effects/modes), plus free microphone and better DACs for almost the same price (Recon3D is about $80 on Amazon right now)… Although they can probably drop the Recon3D’s price further to make it compete with lower priced offerings from Asus…

    • bcronce
    • 7 years ago

    Yay, more BSODs, because that’s what Creative drivers are good for.

    I’ve hated Creative ever since they used their legal muscle to strong-arm Aureal into bankruptcy, buy up their tech and sit on it.

      • squeeb
      • 7 years ago

      Yea was a damn shame what happened to Aureal. I got a Xonar DGX after TR’s review the other day and I’m quite happy with it.

      • Kaleid
      • 7 years ago

      BSOD. That’s my Nvidia experience.

        • swaaye
        • 7 years ago

        nForce4 was sure trouble for me.

      • swaaye
      • 7 years ago

      Really I can’t recall a BSOD from a Creative driver. Maybe back when they were trying to get WDM right (Win2K days) ?

      • diable
      • 7 years ago

      I was waiting for someone to mention this. This happen almost 15 years ago, let it go man, let it go

    • derFunkenstein
    • 7 years ago

    Screw this hocus-pocus. Get an audio interface with a decent pre-amp (Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, maybe?) and a $90 Shure SM58 (or if you prefer to not eat your microphones, get any of a gazillion $90 condensers – I have an Audio Technica AT2020). That’ll make Skype sound as good as it ever will.

    • Chrispy_
    • 7 years ago

    I’m sure the driver package will be a poorly-coded, bloated, ad-infested mess that insists on phoning home for updates hourly and runs forty background services, but that array microphone and associated NR and echo-cancelling gubbins seems pretty appealing.

    TR-flavoured review would be all kinds of awesome, especially since I trust you guys to provide a technical review without going into audiophile degenerative rhettoric like most pompous audio sites tend to.

      • Ryu Connor
      • 7 years ago

      Creative supports the UAA standard on the newer cards.

      Meaning you never have to install their drivers to get the card to work. You will get all the standard input and output out of the box using the Microsoft HD Audio driver.

      UAA support should in premise make it easier for the card to work out of the box in Linux as well.

        • JohnC
        • 7 years ago

        Yeap. When I installed my Recon3D, I immediately got sound even before installing Creative’s drivers. People who only use stereo speakers/headphones and don’t care about surround sound modes don’t even have to use Creative’s drivers.

          • Chrispy_
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]People who only use stereo speakers/headphones and don't care about surround sound modes don't even have to use [i<]discrete soundcards[/i<].[/quote<] FTFY πŸ˜‰ I know that the small percentage of headphone audiophiles will probably still appreciate the better DAC's and higher SNR on a discrete soundcard, but most people who buy a discrete soundcard want the features, and probably don't own speakers/headphones with enough fidelity to apreciate the better SNR of a discrete card. I'm generalising ofc; Take with a pinch of salt etc.

            • Airmantharp
            • 7 years ago

            I agree with you, but personally, I just want the better DACs and proper headphone driving. Games have better surround rendering than the sound card’s drivers could ever accomplish.

      • ClickClick5
      • 7 years ago

      I have the Recon3D. I have yet to notice ads, and 100% of the issues people whine about. Snag the latest drivers from their site, install, and use. Ta-da

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      lol, have you actually compared the mess you get with a Xonar card to Creatives?

      I’ve never actually understood why people call Creative audio suite ‘bloated’. 300Mb for a driver package with features that actually do something and are easy to use when we’re in the 3TB HD range and people through a tizzy. You don’t even NEED to install all the components, like the audio player. There is no adware or malware that installs with the packages (what driver package have you installed that puts ads on your computer?). I’ve never had Creatives driver suite slow down my computer either which is implied by being ‘bloated’.

        • Krogoth
        • 7 years ago

        It is bad memories from the Live! era where the drivers were bloated as hell and0 prone to crash on 9x. Good luck trying to download them in the event that you lose your installation CD. This is back when broadband was an expensive luxury and most of the world was still on dial-up.

        • Chrispy_
        • 7 years ago

        To be fair I haven’t used the Xonars at all.

        My memories of Creative are the abysmal bundles of junk that were mandatory if you wanted to use the soundcard features during the early 64-bit days. ALChemy was a disaster back then and I remember a lot of unwanted services, auto-update & registration popups integrated into the drivers and (worst of all) adverts and trialware.

          • diable
          • 7 years ago

          Wow, your rant/post was based on a card released damn near 14 years ago, smh. Thing have change, Greybeard

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Stigmas last forever.

            • Chrispy_
            • 7 years ago

            Creative didn’t even release working 64-bit W7 drivers for my Audigy2 until six months after release. and I’m pretty sure my X-Fi’s aren’t 14 years old.

            I was a user of current-gen Creative cards for over 15 years. My beard may be grey but I would prefer to remember that it reflects a level of experience that you whippersnappers don’t have πŸ˜‰

            As Bensam says, Stigmas last forever, and Creative has stigma for VERY GOOD REASON.

            • Kaleid
            • 7 years ago

            Audio in general is not something that many work hard with, it’s not like graphic cards which improve and improve and improve. And most have very poor audio equipment to begin with so they won’t notice onboard difference with a better discreet soundcard.

            However, I would like to point people to this:
            [url<]https://techreport.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=82983&p=1131230&hilit=kaleid+extrememusic#p1131302[/url<] Which compares Creative with Asus who so many praise. That praise is undeserved because it works...worse.

      • Kaleid
      • 7 years ago

      Ads? Phoning? I been a Creative user since Live! and have never experienced anything like that.

    • south side sammy
    • 7 years ago

    I’m not infatuated……. those were the specific cards. but anyways…………..

    Fatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1tyFatal1ty……………

    WOW, I feel better. How’s about you ?

      • jackbomb
      • 7 years ago

      You’re nuts.

        • south side sammy
        • 7 years ago

        AAAaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………………….

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          So that’s sammy as in Serious Sam then?

      • Grigory
      • 7 years ago

      I didn’t even know this fatal one nonsense was still going on. My interest dropped drastically when I came across that bit in the article.

      • DeadOfKnight
      • 7 years ago

      Unsuccessful troll is unsuccessful. There’s no point in baiting here with this, nobody cares.

      Keep spending your money on this badge; I’m sure it will make you 1337.

    • slaimus
    • 7 years ago

    As expensive as they are, it is really not that much since a sound card carries over much better than other components. I am still using my SoundBlaster Live using the kX driver on a recent build, and my 7 years old X-Fi Platinum is still working fine on my gaming box. The sound quality of the Live is still noticeably better than the Realtek onboard chip.

    It is only when we go all digital that discrete sound cards no longer matter. If you already have that type of setup, then the onboard sound is just as good.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      What do you mean “when we go all digital”? You have to get the stream of “0s and 1s” into a physically transducible wave form in order for your ears to hear it.

      The DAC and analog output stage is going to exist whether it be soldered to the motherboard, on an add in sound card, an external receiver, inside USB headphones/speakers…

      We are not computers. All digital doesn’t work for humans.

        • slaimus
        • 7 years ago

        All digital from the computer, as in having SPDIF or HDMI out only.

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          But what’s the difference whether the DAC and analog output stage is in the computer or somewhere else? There are sound cards with better analog stages than what you’d find in most lower end home theater receivers and those that come with home theater-in-a-box sold at box stores… And just how good do you think the analog stages are in the computer speaker sets that have digital inputs (ie, logitech XXX)?

          And sometimes a decent sound card just makes the most sense. For example, if gaming at your computer with headphones. You can spend a lot of money on an external DAC and headphone amplifier, sure, but for most people a good compromise in this scenario is a decent sound card.

          Edit: I guess my point is that we will never “go all digital” whether inside the computer or elsewhere. There will always be a market, albeit perhaps a shrinking one, or PC sound cards.

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 7 years ago

    Sounds nice, but I haven’t seen reviews and I’m not looking for a new card. Perhaps when boards stop having pci slots.

    • egon
    • 7 years ago

    No mention of Dolby Headphone in the press release. Do Creative’s cards usually feature it?

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      What’s “Dolby Headphone”? You mean the virtual surround sound for headphones? These cards have it, it’s just called differently – “SBX Surround”, part of “SBX Pro Studio” featureset. Recon3D cards also have same exact thing, only it is called “Surround” and it is part of “THX TruStudio Pro” featureset. I dunno why Creative changed the names, but these work the same way…

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      From personal experience CMSS-3D is quite a bit better solution to Dolby Headphones… They have their own in house audio virtualization baked up unless the Recon3Ds remove it, which may be the case as Core3D is just a cheap remedy for them to start scraping the bottom of the bin with compared to the X-Fi

    • WillBach
    • 7 years ago

    Geoff, could you please add a subheading to articles about Creative? Something along the line of “hasn’t died in a fire yet” so we don’t get our hopes up while we read through.

    • ronch
    • 7 years ago

    Not sure if the Sound Core3D is the real deal. Perhaps Creative simply had to use it more properly than it did with the Recon3D cards. More than anything else I think the cards look [u<]very cool[/u<]. I might grab the Z or Zx even if my X-Fi Titanium is still working very well just so I can have it. As for the ZxR, it's about time Creative stepped up its game against audiophile-quality sound card manufacturers such as HT Omega etc. Swappable op-amps! Not sure, but has there ever been a Creative sound card that had this feature before this? Finally... [quote<]Sound Blaster ZxR, which surprisingly lacks a Fatal1ty tie-in[/quote<] Frankly I find Creative's use of Fatal1ty as an endorser of its products really lame. Like, who really gives a hoot if my sound card was tested and approved by this guy? It would probably mean something if Jackie Chan was the endorser, but Fatal1ty? Nothing against Fatal1ty, mind you. Someone at Creative finally had some sense and dropped the marketing crap. Geoff, I hope you guys review this card. Buy it if you have to! πŸ˜€

      • south side sammy
      • 7 years ago

      and what makes you think I was endorsing somebody ? just stated the facts. Those happen to be 3 of the Creative cards I own……… and are amongst the best I have used. And have had great longevity. ……. ( price point wise in relation to the thread ) .

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        Those cards will work just as well without the Fatal1ty moniker.

        ….

        [quote<]and what makes you think I was endorsing somebody?[/quote<] My earlier post was not meant to be a reply to a post that you may have on this topic. You must have assumed so.

          • south side sammy
          • 7 years ago

          I’m sorry you’re insulted. get over it !

            • ludi
            • 7 years ago

            Far as I can tell, he was just making some observations. The person who seems personally invested in the topic seems to be mostly you.

            • ronch
            • 7 years ago

            Never felt insulted here. I know you love your Fatal1ties, but don’t turn red defending them.

            • south side sammy
            • 7 years ago

            some people just aren’t worth it. We can all guess why you’re here.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      I wouldn’t bother upgrading to a SoundCore3D if you have a second gen X-Fi. You’re pretty much at the pinnacle of sound for computers right now, unless you get a TitaniumHD, but that doesn’t support more then stereo unless you use the digital out.

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        These new cards using the Sound Core3D seem to be better, at least in the SNR department. It almost seems as though the first Recon3D cards were just quickly mashed together to get something on the market fast, considering how little is going on on the PCB. Either those early cards drop in price significantly or just get phased out.

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          I believe Recon3D models will just drop in price… Creative needs something to compete in $50-market.

            • ronch
            • 7 years ago

            If you ask me, I think Creative can expand and reclaim its presence on the PC audio landscape by offering something like Realtek codecs for cheap. They pretty much ceded that market to Realtek and other codec suppliers by insisting that they only provide higher end audio solutions.

            What they should have done during the onset of onboard audio, is that they should have quickly entered the codec market (even if they’ll only earn peanuts per codec) at that time. They could have supplied logo stickers to motherboard manufacturers who use their codec saying “Powered by Sound Blaster” or something, then on their audio console application they could probably advertise their higher end sound cards. That way, people continue to be exposed to their name and products instead of them being relegated to the sound card category menu at tigerdirect.com or Newegg.com.

            Oh well. It’s a bit too late for that now. Us kids who grew up in the 80’s will have no trouble remembering them, but I’d wager most of today’s kids don’t even give a hoot about them at all, being satisfied with integrated audio.

            • JohnC
            • 7 years ago

            They can still advertise this way even without using their own codecs – for example, on some “gamer” motherboards from Asus I remember seeing the “Creative X-Fi” stickers covering the non-Creative audio codecs (Creative was licensing their software with all the sound effects to Asus to use on certain motherboards) πŸ˜‰

            • ronch
            • 7 years ago

            But aren’t those boards using a Creative audio controller? I think there are high end boards that utilize an X-Fi audio controller. Not sure which codec they use though… probably non-Creative as I’m not aware of Creative producing their own codec. Heck, they use Cirrus Logic codecs (or DACs) even on their sound cards, albeit with better SNR specs than Realtek ones. But the thing is, Creative only has any sort of presence on the highest end boards like the ‘gamer’ boards you mentioned.

            • just brew it!
            • 7 years ago

            Yup, I imagine what happened here is that the marketing people wouldn’t let them do that. By the time they figured out that onboard audio solutions had improved to the point where VIA, Realtek, etc. were eating them alive it was too late. It’s pretty hard to compete with something that sounds “good enough” to the majority of users and comes “free” with the motherboard.

      • just brew it!
      • 7 years ago

      [quote<]It would probably mean something if Jackie Chan was the endorser,[/quote<] Umm... because Jackie Chan is an expert on audio quality?

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        I was just kinda being sarcastic. πŸ™‚

      • JohnC
      • 7 years ago

      Yeap, the “Fatal1ty” name was really overused and has became irrelevant long time ago… Sure, that dude used to win lots of prizes in Q3A and Painkiller, but he wasn’t the first one, people before him also won large amount of $$$ (like that Korean kid who won Carmack’s Ferrari 328 GTS back in 1997 and other prizes as well), also many people already don’t know who the “Fatal1ty” guy is and which ancient games he played (go to [url<]http://www.twitch.tv[/url<] or [url<]http://www.own3d.tv[/url<], try to find the people who still stream Q3A or Painkiller)... Nowadays Creative should call their cards a "SoloMid edition" or something more relevant πŸ˜‰

        • south side sammy
        • 7 years ago

        actually the fatil1ty sound cards were the ONLY “Fatal1ty ” products I ever purchased. Never fell into the Fatal1ty” trap……… mostly because the products with his name on them weren’t something i would buy for myself regardless of the name on them. The sound cards were $50 under what everybody else wanted and the first one was $70 for the entire card. All were very good purchases from where I sit. If you people have something you don’t like about Wendel, find his blog.

        But seeing how long ago the Fatal1ty branding has been gone and the cards are still going shows longevity. And the only Creative product I ever had trouble with was that gamer listed somewhere below.

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          [quote<]If you people[/quote<] What do you mean "you people"? o_0

            • south side sammy
            • 7 years ago

            stop, now you’re sounding like one of those lawyers from the dream team…. LOL………. I ain’t bitin’

    • south side sammy
    • 7 years ago

    I have 3 X-fi Titanium Fatal1ty sound cards. ALL have had no problems what-so-ever. Pretty darn good quality from my stand point.

    I have had gamer cards and they all failed…….. guess buying the low end stuff gives you what you pay for.

      • yogibbear
      • 7 years ago

      My onboard audio has never had any problems…

        • ronch
        • 7 years ago

        What brand of codec do you use?

        • south side sammy
        • 7 years ago

        on board sound sucks in comparison to having a decent sound card. don’t know how people can say it doesn’t………. unless they don’t know the difference.

          • LastQuestion
          • 7 years ago

          Ya, people are crazy if they’re saying onboard is comparable to a good soundcard/DAC/Amp.

          • cynan
          • 7 years ago

          Well, if the sound card doesn’t have a Fatal1ty sticker on it, then what’s the point? May as well just stick with on board in that case, eh sammy m’boy?

            • south side sammy
            • 7 years ago

            who’s nuts now ?

            • cynan
            • 7 years ago

            Can’t we both be?

            After all, no shortage of crackpots on them there internets…

            • south side sammy
            • 7 years ago

            No, but “can’t we all just get along” ? and knock off with the “crazy” shit already. you sound really stupid!

          • ronch
          • 7 years ago

          I appreciate both integrated audio and discrete sound cards. Good discrete sound cards (i.e. not those cheap PPA or Sabrent cards using low-end C-media or VIA chips) offer audibly superior sound quality but you do pay for them. Integrated HD Audio obviously doesn’t sound as good, but hey, they’re practically free. For the money, you can’t deny the value people get from on board audio.

          Also, integrated audio means people will still have access to good sound quality instead of the beeps and boops of the old “PC Speaker” if they don’t want to spend $100 on a discrete sound card. I think that’s important, more than anything else.

      • MFergus
      • 7 years ago

      Fatal1ty branded sound card IS a gamer card

        • south side sammy
        • 7 years ago

        point being ?

          • bcronce
          • 7 years ago

          “I have 3 X-fi Titanium Fatal1ty sound cards. ALL have had no problems what-so-ever. ” can bet re-written as

          “My three gamer cards have not no problems! […] I have had gamer cards and they all failed”

          Contradicting yourself never makes for a good argument.

            • south side sammy
            • 7 years ago

            here’s what I said…….. it’s you mixing things .. on purpose for what reason ?

            “I have 3 X-fi Titanium Fatal1ty sound cards. ALL have had no problems what-so-ever. Pretty darn good quality from my stand point.

            I have had gamer cards and they all failed…….. guess buying the low end stuff gives you what you pay for.”

            they used to have a card called the “gamer” card. total garbage/didn’t last long. had a heat sink on it. don’t have the box but the and this is all I could find on the number………… but it was called the gamer and had that on the original box.

            Creative Labs SB0730 X-Fi Sound Card

      • Madman
      • 7 years ago

      I have one Fatal1ty card, it’s nothing but problems.

        • DeadOfKnight
        • 7 years ago

        Yeah, I bought one myself awhile back thinking the Xram was something useful. Turns out it was useless for all the games I played. It’s just a re-badged X-Fi Titanium with a pretty shroud, that’s it. Seems to be the story with all the Fatal1ty-branded components, save the ASRock mobos, which seem to be tailored to suit Fatal1ty himself and no one else. At least ASUS has unique offerings in their RoG line of components with useful features, albeit a bit pricey and still more than most people will ever use. Still, I would recommend RoG gear for someone with deep pockets long before I’d ever recommend the Fatal1ty crap.

          • ronch
          • 7 years ago

          I think XRAM is just a marketing gimmick. The EMU20K1/K2 DSPs probably simply needed some amount of RAM to do its work, and Creative jumped on the opportunity to hype it with the XRAM moniker. I’m also using an X-Fi (Titanium) with a Hynix DRAM chip next to the EMU20K2 DSP. Can’t say I was ever given any access to it manually, but I don’t really give a care as long as it sounded great.

    • PenGun
    • 7 years ago

    Never, ever buy anything from Creative. I thought that was common knowledge.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      I find my X-Fi Titanium pretty good actually. i just switch off CMSS-3D, EAX and Crystalizer, which only ruin my audio.

        • ClickClick5
        • 7 years ago

        Same with my old X-Fi XtremeGamer and my current Recon3D.

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          Yea, I have 0 issues with my Recon3D and the latest Creative’ drivers. The “Creative drivers sux” meme became outdated long time ago…

        • Madman
        • 7 years ago

        You must be using it as a cup-holder or a design element nailed to a drywall.

        Creative cards don’t work, they never did, and I tried more than 5 of them over 10 years and in multiple configurations. None of them worked without major problems. Occasional restart and full driver reinstall on EVERY boot is what I have to do to get X-Fi working on my PC right now.

          • JohnC
          • 7 years ago

          No need to show off your own stupidity or your inability to properly install a piece of hardware, it will only make other people laugh at you πŸ˜‰ Creative sold over 400 million sound cards, they would have never achieved this number if “none of them worked without major problems”. If you’re simply trying to troll – at least do it in more “creative” way, without using the ancient and irrelevant “Creative drivers sux” meme.

            • Madman
            • 7 years ago

            You take a card out of anti-static bag, slide it into a slot, bolt it to a chassis. Boot into freshly installed OS. Install drivers. There is a sound.

            Then after 5 minutes sound interruptions appear, so the card is probably installed incorrectly, reboot, it works for an hour or so, after 5 reboots the sound is gone completely, I guess it’s badly installed card again. Reinstall drivers, sound is back. Right, the bolt was overtightened! Of course, how did I missed that!!!

            Call Creative tech support – blablabla – reinstall. Format C:, new Windows install autoupdate, no extra software, 4, 5 boots everything is fine, then again, hissing sound, sound interruptions, and after reboot, sound disappears completely. Sometimes switching between modes game/entertainment, help, sometimes it doesn’t, depending on driver version.

            Sure it’s the friggin bolt! You have to buy one made from titanium! How I never thought of that?! Thank you for the advice, I was building computers wrong for years!

            You’re a troll.

            If you don’t believe me that Creative and trouble go hand to hand, check their support forums. Pages of complaints without solutions. Best of which seems to be using unofficial drivers, which again, only sometimes help.

            And moreover, I have been reinstalling tons of GPUs, CPUs, RAM, all of which worked. It’s only Creative cards I have no clue how to plug in in those multi-way-plug-in PCI slots.

            • chΒ΅ck
            • 7 years ago

            my x-fi surround 5.1 usb works fine. It’s easy to mod too.

            • south side sammy
            • 7 years ago

            I don’t know about “some” people but I disable my on board sound, hit F10/enter and let reboot into BIOS and shut machine down. Then I install the sound card/reboot to desktop and let windows do it’s thing by finding the card/say no/install drivers from manufacturers site. reboot. voila…. we got sound……. same thing with HDMI sound. both camps install those with the graphics drivers unless told not to. Multiple sound drivers wreak havoc on some desktops. the unsuspecting pull their hair out trying to find what the fault is.

            • Madman
            • 7 years ago

            I had even physically disabled the onboard with jumper, I tried side by side installation with two sound cards, choosing one or the other as default.

            In every single configuration the Creative cards break after some time. And it’s drivers fault. Unsynced CP and Creative CP, forgetting how many speakers there are, forgeting digital sample rate, hissing, interruptions, disappearing sound, malfunctioning modes, like “game” mode, which just sits quiet, and receiver never gets any DTS stream through optics. And so on.

            Well, maybe because I’m using digital pass-through via optical or mini-din, via or without DTS encoding, maybe it’s untested scenario for Creative.

            • Bensam123
            • 7 years ago

            Yeah… that sounds like you’re using a first gen X-Fi PCI. Those issues with the control panel not being saved is a bug that appeared over time, which is remedied with driver sweeper and DanielKs pack. The crackling and popping you’re speaking of is also part of the first lineup.

            If you use the optical line WITHOUT DDL or DTS you have to select it in the driver control panel so the device is used as your primary audio device. Did you try testing it in sound in the control panel? It’s a physically different output.

            Sorta looks like your five cards are really just one.

            • Madman
            • 7 years ago

            Currently Xi-Fi is the one with all of the problems. But I had problems with Live!, Audigy, Audigy somefancy ed., Audigy 2, and now X-Fi. Maybe I had Audigy4 too, can’t remember now, but all of these cards had weird CP resets, hissing, crackling which occurred after some time. None of them was trouble free.

            And I used them on PII350 on 440BX, Athlon 2500+M on Chaintech mobo, Athlon 2500+M on Asrock mobo, E6300 on ASUS mobo, E6300 on Intel mobo. On different Windows versions, different GPU configs, etc.

            The only common dominator is a Creative sound card.

            • Madman
            • 7 years ago

            Here is one example about people complaining about Creative + SSD. Fails similarly on my PC even without an SSD.

            [url<]http://forums.creative.com/showthread.php?t=567821[/url<] Also, there is no problem with X-Fi under Linux, with Linux drivers.

            • south side sammy
            • 7 years ago

            the only problem I ever had with mine was the burn spot on the back. something got toasted. end of card. shame, had really nice sound to it. never had conflicts.

          • Bensam123
          • 7 years ago

          Yay hyperbole… I’m sure after the first four you decided a fifth was in order because they didn’t sour your attitude towards them.

          This just sounds like you’re retyping what other people say.

          Why do you need to do a full reinstall and reboot with your current X-Fi?

          Personally the only trouble (besides the famed compatability crackling and popping thing, which is a hardware issue from the first gen of X-Fis) is if a driver install doesn’t go smoothly. This can simply be remedied by uninstalling the drivers and running driver sweeper if things get messed up. That only happened after having my first gen X-Fi for like eight years. DanielKs support pack fixed a lot of that though.

          I had no such issues while using the Titanium HD recently though.

            • Madman
            • 7 years ago

            I need a card that has a good hardware, and can output 5.1 over digital mini din or optical cable.

            Not much of a choice really…

          • ronch
          • 7 years ago

          I’m sorry to hear about your bad experience with Creative products. I usually do a complete reformat and reinstall of the OS every time I add new hardware. I think that helps.

        • Kaleid
        • 7 years ago

        EAX does nothing for music, so that can be enabled. CMSS-3d is terrific for games but crystalizer I never use.

      • Bensam123
      • 7 years ago

      I don’t think you’ve compared them to the recent game in years. Things aren’t nearly as rosie as people make them out to be on the other side for all the issues Creative has.

      • RhysAndrews
      • 7 years ago

      I have an X-Fi XtremeMusic. It has lasted me 5 years and has not had a *single problem* despite extremely heavy use.

      Previous to that, I had a SoundBlaster Live! 5.1 which also had no problems and lasted about 3 years before we got a new computer.

      Everything I’ve ever purchased from Creative, actually, have lasted a very long time and been completely flawless imo. I had 2 MP3 players from them. One lasted 6 years and only stopped working because I dropped it in a puddle of water.

        • hansmuff
        • 7 years ago

        Same with me. I know it’s all the rage to beat on Creative, but people crying over BSODs are ridiculous. Do they dog NVIDIA over BSODs as well?

        That said, I really find the Recon3D and this new offering to be lacking. The Recon3D is a step backwards in terms of hardware capabilities, compared to even the X-Fi XtremeMusic. And this new offering changes nothing in that department.

        Good thing I still have PCI slots. If I were in a position to have to buy a new PCI-Express card, I’d find a refurb X-Fi (well, not the crappy XtremeAudio or Gamer) or go for one of the fancier Asus cards.

      • can-a-tuna
      • 7 years ago

      Why not? You think Radeon drivers are crap too?

        • Meadows
        • 7 years ago

        Okay Geoff, sound the ban bells.

    • south side sammy
    • 7 years ago

    SSS approved.

      • destroy.all.monsters
      • 7 years ago

      I’m just glad your name isn’t kommunist killer klown.

        • l33t-g4m3r
        • 7 years ago

        That’s reserved for SSK.

        edit for meadows:
        It makes sense because SSK is a communist troll/clown, which is pretty damn obvious and he admits it. You don’t make sense.

          • Meadows
          • 7 years ago

          That doesn’t even make sense.

    • DancinJack
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<]for headphones with impedances up to 600 Ξ©[/quote<] That's impressive, but isn't that a bit overkill? Even most high end headphones don't get that high. Semi-Pro work I guess. [quote<]SBX features a Crystalizer function that adds a little oomph[/quote<] Ugh.

      • Mourmain
      • 7 years ago

      No,… “oomph”.

      Jeez, pay attention.

      • ronch
      • 7 years ago

      I just turn off Crystalizer. I can certainly live without it. Oh yeah, and EAX and CMSS-3D too.

      • cynan
      • 7 years ago

      There are a few consumer phones that get up that high. The most popular is probably the Beyerdynamic DT 880s.

      I think a couple of the Sennheisers come close, like the HD 600/650s which are around 300 ohms

      I believe the headphone amp chips in most if not all of the Asus and HT Omega cards are rated for up to 600 Ohms as well. It would kind of be shooting themselves in the foot to come out with a headphone amp that is inferior in this regard considering competitors have already implemented this years ago.

      • DarkUltra
      • 7 years ago

      Crystalizer ruins your audio:
      [url<]https://techreport.com/articles.x/8884/3[/url<] If it had just resampled and interpolated the 16bit 44khz into 24bit 96khz it would be OK, but I guess marketing pulled the longest straw this time.

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