Friday, March 12th 2010

Creative Announces Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD and USB Sound Blaster X-Fi HD Audio

Creative Technology Ltd. today announced the PCI-E Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD and USB Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD, setting the gold standard for PC audio with the first discrete audio card and USB digital audio system to include THX TruStudio PC audio technology.

"The Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD and Sound Blaster X-Fi HD provide the highest quality audio playback of any sound products we have ever introduced, over a period of time where we have sold more than 400 million Sound Blaster cards," said Steve Erickson, Vice President and General Manager of Audio and Video at Creative. "We are thrilled to announce that our newest additions to the Sound Blaster line include THX TruStudio PC audio technology, bringing together two of the most respected names in sound quality to provide an unparalleled audio experience on the PC."
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD
The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD is powered by the second-generation Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor for PCI Express slots. The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD combines captivating industrial design with audiophile grade Digital to Analog Converters (DACs) and components to produce a 122dB signal-to-noise ratio, the highest SNR ever produced by a Creative sound card. A replaceable Op-amp is also a distinguishing feature allowing users to customise audio output with colouration that is refined to their personal tastes.

Additional product specifications include:
  • RCA Line Out for audio playback up to 122dB, 24-bit/96kHz Digital-to-Analog Converters (DAC)
  • RCA Line Input for recording up to 118dB, 24-bit 96kHZ Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADC)
  • 0.001% Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise (THD+N)
  • Headphone output for audio listening up to 115dB 33 Ohms, and 117dB, 330 Ohms, at 24bit/96kHz
  • Replaceable Op-amps
  • Hardware-accelerated 3D positional audio and EAX 5.0 effects that provide a truly immersive experience with headphones and speakers
  • Dolby Digital and DTS encoding enables one-step single-cable connection to home entertainment systems
  • TOS-link optical-in/out
  • 1/8" microphone-in
  • 1/8" headphone jack
  • Creative ALchemy to restore EAX and surround sound that is otherwise lost in DirectSound game titles running under Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • ASIO recording support with latency as low as one millisecond with minimal CPU load
  • Works with Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HDDesigned as a high definition USB audio solution for notebooks and desktops, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD USB digital audio system features audiophile-grade recording and playback. It is the only USB digital audio system that includes an analogue phono input, as well as standard audio inputs, enabling users to effortlessly convert analogue audio from their record albums or cassette tapes into MP3, AAC, FLAC and other digital formats. The systems comes with Media Toolbox, a comprehensive software package, including an advanced noise reduction programme that easily remove unwanted clicks, crackles, hums, pops, rumble and other sound imperfections from the tracks after they have been recorded, substantially improving the audio quality for playback.

The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD USB digital audio system also features THX TruStudio PC, bringing the same great audio experience found in live performances, films, and recording studios to laptop and desktop PCs.

Additional product specifications include:
  • RCA Line Out for audio playback up to 114dB, 24-bit/96kHz Digital-to-Analog Converters (DAC)
  • RCA/Phono Line Input for recording up to 108dB, 24-bit 96kHZ Analog-to-Digital Converters
  • TOS-link optical-in/out
  • Gold-plated 1/4" microphone-in
  • Gold-plated 1/4" headphone jack
  • USB-bus powered, no external power supply required
  • Creative ALchemy to restore EAX and surround sound that is otherwise lost in DirectSound game titles running under Windows Vista and Windows 7
  • Works with Windows Vista and Windows 7 operating systems
THX TruStudio PCTHX TruStudio PC is specially designed to bring the same great audio experience found in live performances, films, and recording studios to the PC. THX TruStudio PC provides groundbreaking PC audio technologies, the result of collaborative research and development from Creative and THX. Together, these technologies deliver the fullest audio experience for music, movies and games, while remaining true to the source and intention of the artistes who created it. THX TruStudio PC includes:

THX TruStudio PC Surround
THX TruStudio PC Surround provides immersion control to enhance the natural sense of audio depth and spaciousness by creating virtual surround sound channels. Stereo content or multichannel content played over stereo speakers and headphones will sound as if it is coming from all sides while voices remain centred in front and original balance and timbre is preserved.

THX TruStudio PC Crystalizer
THX TruStudio PC Crystalizer restores the natural dynamic range that is lost when iTunes and MP3 music get compressed. This makes the music sound as good as the artiste originally intended, and adds an enhanced level of realism for movies and games.

THX TruStudio PC Speaker
THX TruStudio PC Speaker fills in the missing low frequency tones and gives the extra impact for a better entertainment experience. Consumers no longer have to tolerate lack of bass in speakers built into notebook PCs, 2.0 speakers or headphones, as THX TruStudio PC Speaker technology dramatically improves the sound experience without a subwoofer.

THX TruStudio PC Dialog Plus
THX TruStudio PC Dialog Plus enhances the voices in movies for clearer dialogue, allowing the listener to hear the dialogue over the rest of the soundtrack and over ambient noise in the listening environment.

THX TruStudio PC Smart Volume
THX TruStudio PC Smart Volume addresses the problem of abrupt volume level changes during playback and between songs by automatically and continuously measuring volume, and intelligently applying gain and attenuation to compensate for those changes.

Pricing and Availability
The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD and Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD will be available at The CREATIVE Stores at International Business Park and Marina Square, the online store at sg.store.creative.com and authorised dealers in Singapore from March 2010 onwards at the suggested retail prices of S$299.00 and S$149.00 respectively.
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124 Comments on Creative Announces Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD and USB Sound Blaster X-Fi HD Audio

#1
EarlZ
None of the soundcards that people compare with are even close to perfect, why bother bitching and moan about it ?
Posted on Reply
#2
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
EarlZ said:
None of the soundcards that people compare with are even close to perfect, why bother bitching and moan about it ?
correct none of the cards are perfect but each of the cards dominates & totally rules what field they specialize in

Xonar - For Music & Movies - Sound amazing even on the lower end cards such as a DX

XFi - For Gaming (no card can beat an XFi when it comes to gaming. but like everyone says. EAX is dead/dying so theres no telling how long they will hold that crown for)

so its upto you how you want to see it.

IMHO if Asus started putting more effort into their soundcard department - their cards would totally run rings around XFi's - but such as it is none of their staff visit the forums, so trying to give some consumer related feedback to them is going to be difficult unless you go through support channels which i had heard a some good things & also bad things about.

If Asus really put some effort in - they could totally wipe the XFi in games.
Posted on Reply
#3
imperialreign
pjladyfox said:
This coming from the person who has the little Creative sticker in the bottom of every post. Note here that you're the one that came out swinging on this one not me claiming that I said something I did not and then went on your little "Creative can do no wrong" tirade accusing those of us who have had nothing but issues as crackpots or liars. :wtf:

The sad part about this entire exchange between the two of us is if you had condenced the last two paragraphs of this post into your inital reply, instead of resorting to "Creative can do no wrong" speech, things never really would have gotten this far. Heck, I would have THANKED YOU for the information and we could have moved onwards.
If my posts came across the wrong way, then I apologize - I tend to have a very "straight forward" approach with my posts . . .

It's not that I don't believe people have occasional problems, I know for a fact they will . . . no matter what audio card they decide to purchase. The equipment itself is very picky and sensitive; TBH, it's easier today to deal with issues, than it was 10-15 years ago.

What tends to grate me, though, is simply when people start accusing a hardware manufacturer for their problems, and many times their accusations come with little knowledge of what's going on. It's hatred and bashing being fueled by ignorance. Sad as it is, audio hardware is probably one of the least understood pieces of hardware in one's system . . . but, considering how few people grasp audio hardware, there's even more that simply believe it should just work when installed - and they run across other's "bashing" posts, and pick up the same setiments . . . even if they've never used that brand of hardware . . .

Big reason, IMHO, why there are so many Creative "bashing" threads out there. It doesn't typically get bad here at TPU, but, every news thread (like this one) is like a magnet for those types of comments . . .

I try not to come across like I'm "attacking" or singling anyone out, but that can be hard to do sometimes, especially considering my general posting style . . . again, I didn't intend to come across the wrong way, my apologies.
Again, I never said that other companies were innocent of the problem which is why I'm not using a C-Media sound card in my gaming system. I got fed up with the money grubbing over an issue that should have been fixed after it was first found under Vista. Onboard audio, while not ideal, at least works every single time I use it without a hiccup or complaint.

That would most likely explain why the onboard Realtek audio, while not the best, tends to work more often than the $200+ dollar sound card I've got sitting in a box that I'm trying to get rid of since I'm tired of dealing with it.
Well, other hardware manufacturers have let things continue on as well, although Creative tend to do it a bit more (considering their larger line of hardware offering) . . . it's sad, and a PITA for the un-informed consuer, but not much we can do about it (aside from staying informed).

The reason the onboard always works perfectly without hiccups has to do with how it's intergrated - both at the hardware level, and the drivers with the OS. Because of it's intergaration with the motherboard, the OS can simply access it, the chipset drivers come a lot into play as well. The whole means of hardware access becomes even more muddied once Vista and OS7 come into play . . . but, the kernel design is a big reason why onboard solutions haven't had the same issues as dedicated cards with Vista and OS7, i.e. the lack of multi-channel output, intermittent switching from multi-channel to 2-channel, poor down and upmixing, etc.

It's frustrating for us that are heavy into audio, because we know it's not an issue with the audio hardware itself, but the majority of the time steming from the limitations of the OS. The average user, though, doesn't know this, nor realize it.
For my part, if I came off in a way that you took offense to that was not my intention and was rather me just venting over what appeared to be yet another money grab IMHO by Creative. However, that said, you really need to dial back on your rhetoric where you give the impression that everyone should bow at the altar of Creative and that they can do no wrong since that is VERY far from the truth and you admitted as such yourself.

At this point, I think I've pretty much said my peace about all of this. This is going to be one of those situations where I'm just going to have to agree to disagree with you and leave it at that.

Peace?
By all means - I've never been one to hold a grudge against others, most of the regulars can easily tell you that. Although I do like a good debate, I try to keep things as level headed as possible (hard to do sometimes :p).

Again, I apologize if I can across a bit too aggressive - it's not that I'm that pro-Creative, I have no problems recommending competing hardware to other users when it would better suit their needs . . . hell, I fully recognize Creative's support can be a bit lacking at times - that's the whole reason why I had started the X-Fi Support thread here . . . they have their pros and cons; it's simply that too many users are mis-informed or don't have enough knowledge to draw proper conclusions, and there's already too much skewed info being spread (quite a lot in this thread alone), which only further adds to the confusion.

Hopefully, some of the info I've passed along, though, has not fallen on deaf ears - it'd be nice to think that perhaps other users have found some of the info helpful or informative.

Either way, best of luck with whatever audio solution you do decide to go with in the future, and as always, I'm willing to answer any audio related questions, no matter what hardware you use. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#4
simlariver
Creative sound card used to be great when hardware acceleration was the way to go and EAX was the only surround sound processing technology worth looking at. Heck, it was designed specifically for gaming.

But now, Creative is just the shadow of a formerly glorious company that capitalize on previously relevant technology and reputation, even tho they are no longer offering anything else that bloated pub-infested drivers and gimmic made-up technologies. (THX TruStudio PC Crystalizer ????? it's what, 6-8 years old technology re-branded again ? They really used to ship great hardware, but now, they looks like they reduced the engineering department by 5 times and boosted the PR department 10 fold.

I know some people have problems with competing technologies (asus and other c-media based cards) but I can't help but point that most of those people might just have a code-18 problem*.

Seriously, don't buy that creative crap. I am kinda a xonar fanboy and a creative hater, but that doesn't mean I am wrong and my point is not valid, does it ?

* The problem is located 18 inches in front of the screen.
Posted on Reply
#5
Wile E
Power User
simlariver said:
Creative sound card used to be great when hardware acceleration was the way to go and EAX was the only surround sound processing technology worth looking at. Heck, it was designed specifically for gaming.

But now, Creative is just the shadow of a formerly glorious company that capitalize on previously relevant technology and reputation, even tho they are no longer offering anything else that bloated pub-infested drivers and gimmic made-up technologies. (THX TruStudio PC Crystalizer ????? it's what, 6-8 years old technology re-branded again ? They really used to ship great hardware, but now, they looks like they reduced the engineering department by 5 times and boosted the PR department 10 fold.

I know some people have problems with competing technologies (asus and other c-media based cards) but I can't help but point that most of those people might just have a code-18 problem*.

Seriously, don't buy that creative crap. I am kinda a xonar fanboy and a creative hater, but that doesn't mean I am wrong and my point is not valid, does it ?

* The problem is located 18 inches in front of the screen.
Yeah, it kinda does, actually.
Posted on Reply
#6
EarlZ
FreedomEclipse said:
correct none of the cards are perfect but each of the cards dominates & totally rules what field they specialize in

Xonar - For Music & Movies - Sound amazing even on the lower end cards such as a DX

XFi - For Gaming (no card can beat an XFi when it comes to gaming. but like everyone says. EAX is dead/dying so theres no telling how long they will hold that crown for)

so its upto you how you want to see it.

IMHO if Asus started putting more effort into their soundcard department - their cards would totally run rings around XFi's - but such as it is none of their staff visit the forums, so trying to give some consumer related feedback to them is going to be difficult unless you go through support channels which i had heard a some good things & also bad things about.

If Asus really put some effort in - they could totally wipe the XFi in games.
I would be very much interested in seeing Asus beat Creative in their own game even to the point that creative might shutdown its sound card department.. Im not really an Asus fan but a competition on the market would be nice!
Posted on Reply
#7
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
EarlZ said:
I would be very much interested in seeing Asus beat Creative in their own game even to the point that creative might shutdown its sound card department.. Im not really an Asus fan but a competition on the market would be nice!
I dont think Creative would be pushed that far back to shutdown their department. theyve been in the game far far far too long to even think about doing that. & like you said competition is good right? & Creative is the big dog of PC Audio & Asus has emerged as a direct competitor as they are bigger then most other manufacturers who do PC Audio. theres quite a few smaller companies that dabble in the field but their main focus is on other parts of the market.


.:EDIT:.

Just wait until EAX is dropped by studios in favour of OpenAL - then the real games will start because Creative will have to come up with a new gameplan because EAX is no longer a selling point for their cards.
Posted on Reply
#8
Robert-The-Rambler
C'mon Now

FreedomEclipse said:
I dont think Creative would be pushed that far back to shutdown their department. theyve been in the game far far far too long to even think about doing that. & like you said competition is good right? & Creative is the big dog of PC Audio & Asus has emerged as a direct competitor as they are bigger then most other manufacturers who do PC Audio. theres quite a few smaller companies that dabble in the field but their main focus is on other parts of the market.


.:EDIT:.

Just wait until EAX is dropped by studios in favour of OpenAL - then the real games will start because Creative will have to come up with a new gameplan because EAX is no longer a selling point for their cards.
Creative Labs is the company who has pushed the OpenAL initiative for Vista and 7 since they need it to make their hardware work the best. They want OpenAL and they have embraced it. OpenAL helps EAX actually work. :)
Posted on Reply
#9
ToTTenTranz
Robert-The-Rambler said:
Creative Labs is the company who has pushed the OpenAL initiative for Vista and 7 since they need it to make their hardware work the best. They want OpenAL and they have embraced it. OpenAL helps EAX actually work. :)
What he said.

Creative would actually rejoice at the sight of every game using OpenAL for sound libraries instead of DirectX. OpenAL supports audio acceleration hardware, DirectX doesn't.
Posted on Reply
#10
RejZoR
FreedomEclipse said:
correct none of the cards are perfect but each of the cards dominates & totally rules what field they specialize in

Xonar - For Music & Movies - Sound amazing even on the lower end cards such as a DX

XFi - For Gaming (no card can beat an XFi when it comes to gaming. but like everyone says. EAX is dead/dying so theres no telling how long they will hold that crown for)

so its upto you how you want to see it.

IMHO if Asus started putting more effort into their soundcard department - their cards would totally run rings around XFi's - but such as it is none of their staff visit the forums, so trying to give some consumer related feedback to them is going to be difficult unless you go through support channels which i had heard a some good things & also bad things about.

If Asus really put some effort in - they could totally wipe the XFi in games.
Why do ppl think everything revolves around EAX ? CMSS works in every game, even those that use proprietary audio engines and haven't even heard of EAX. It bumps up the way how 360° degree spin renders the audio that is static. Or when you're stationary and sound revolves around you. With CMSS, 3D sound positioning is just staggering. And then there are MacroFX and Elevation filter, enhancing the way you hear close sounds and the way they sound when they are above/below you or when they are behind you. This also works in every game. Cars passing you by never sound this incredible, rockets flying near your head. And Elevation filter gives you ability to better define whether your enemy is below or above you. This gives you perfectly legal improvement in gaming if you can properly define where your enemies are without need to use wallhacks and other similar stuff. I remember the days when i was playing in a clan and was constantly accused of using wallhacks. Where in reality, i was just paying lots of attention to sounds and could prepare myself even before they run around the corner. Because i could hear their footsteps a kilometer away...

EAX just adds value to all this. If you hear some sounds coming from a sewer and you know there is one up ahead, you'll be able to prepare sooner for enemies. Same goes if sound is restricted by walls, you can again notice the difference in reverberation and read where the sound is happening inside the game environment. Sound is a thing that everyone take for granted but not many actually take time to immerse themself on this level of gaming. Ok, so they hear gun fire, but they don't seem to care where it is coming from and how exactly it sounds (and what that means for you).
Posted on Reply
#11
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
RejZoR said:
Why do ppl think everything revolves around EAX ? CMSS works in every game, even those that use proprietary audio engines and haven't even heard of EAX. It bumps up the way how 360° degree spin renders the audio that is static. Or when you're stationary and sound revolves around you. With CMSS, 3D sound positioning is just staggering. And then there are MacroFX and Elevation filter, enhancing the way you hear close sounds and the way they sound when they are above/below you or when they are behind you. This also works in every game. Cars passing you by never sound this incredible, rockets flying near your head. And Elevation filter gives you ability to better define whether your enemy is below or above you. This gives you perfectly legal improvement in gaming if you can properly define where your enemies are without need to use wallhacks and other similar stuff. I remember the days when i was playing in a clan and was constantly accused of using wallhacks. Where in reality, i was just paying lots of attention to sounds and could prepare myself even before they run around the corner. Because i could hear their footsteps a kilometer away...

EAX just adds value to all this. If you hear some sounds coming from a sewer and you know there is one up ahead, you'll be able to prepare sooner for enemies. Same goes if sound is restricted by walls, you can again notice the difference in reverberation and read where the sound is happening inside the game environment. Sound is a thing that everyone take for granted but not many actually take time to immerse themself on this level of gaming. Ok, so they hear gun fire, but they don't seem to care where it is coming from and how exactly it sounds (and what that means for you).
I didnt understand a word of this, I cant tell if your taking a poke at me or praising me. asking why people think EAX revolves around gaming then talking about EAX like its some sorta addiction????
Posted on Reply
#12
RejZoR
Addiction? How would it feel if your real living room would sound like a sewer and a stadium like a living room? That's what EAX is to games. It makes the world you're in believable and well, correct. But as i said, most of ppl take sound in games for granted and later on spit over EAX like it's some gimmick. Maybe it was back in the early days when it was just a basic reverberation engine (but was also the first of it's kind and that made it interesting), but EAX is not just that for quite some time. You have to play few proper EAX 4.0 HD games or EAX 5.0 to really appreciate what EAX has to offer. And you have to listen for real, not just listen like most ppl do.
You'll see how detailed and rich sound really is and how much you're actually missing by not using EAX.

And it's funny when you're talking of dropping EAX in favor of OpenAL. Creative Labs developed OpenAL as open audio standard. EAX 4.0 HD and above runs on OpenAL only and OpenAL isn't an audio library by itself, EAX however is, with reverberation, sound reflection, distortions and so on. So if you want a game to support EAX 4.0 or later, it has to work on OpenAL. You don't seem to fully understand the whole audio thing...
Besides as someone above said, OpenAL is like Direct3D or OpenGL to graphic cards. An accelerated audio subsystem, far superior to DirectSound or any other subsystem. Only issue is that EAX above version 2.0 is exclusive to Creative Labs cards (or 3rd party powered by X-Fi chips).
Posted on Reply
#13
eidairaman1
explain why Vista and 7 Require alchemy then
Posted on Reply
#14
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
RejZoR said:
Addiction? How would it feel if your real living room would sound like a sewer and a stadium like a living room?
Id love it - I have owned 3 Creative cards since & they have been great until they either died of got sold off

RejZoR said:
You have to play few proper EAX 4.0 HD games or EAX 5.0 to really appreciate what EAX has to offer. And you have to listen for real, not just listen like most ppl do.
You'll see how detailed and rich sound really is and how much you're actually missing by not using EAX.
have you tried using a Xonar for gaming?? they sound more amazing then creatives when the DS3DGX engine decides to work. also the parts such as the opamps & other stuff are generally alot better then that of creatives. a Xonar paired with a set of Logitech Z5500 = Win


RejZoR said:
And it's funny when you're talking of dropping EAX in favor of OpenAL. Creative Labs developed OpenAL as open audio standard. EAX 4.0 HD and above runs on OpenAL only and OpenAL isn't an audio library by itself, EAX however is, with reverberation, sound reflection, distortions and so on. So if you want a game to support EAX 4.0 or later, it has to work on OpenAL. You don't seem to fully understand the whole audio thing...
your right - I dont understand it much other then waning support for EAX. So I admit & apologise for my mistakes of not researching first before commenting.


RejZoR said:
Only issue is that EAX above version 2.0 is exclusive to Creative Labs cards (or 3rd party powered by X-Fi chips).
& thats why EAX is being dropped - studios dont want to pay licensing fees & royalties etc etc etc to Creative.

------

Just because i dont run a Creative card doesnt mean i cant be immirsed in sound when it comes to gaming. Xonars Support EAX 2.0 but emulate high versions of EAX albeit with some teething issues but I assure you it still sounds awesome when it decides to work.

Have you tried a Xonar?? If not I really recommend that you give the DX, D2X a go. they are also great for movies & music.
Posted on Reply
#15
Wile E
Power User
eidairaman1 said:
explain why Vista and 7 Require alchemy then
Because it's for converting the old DirectX EAX calls to OpenAL, so we get hardware acceleration. DirectX doesn't allow direct access to the audio DSP in Vista and 7 anymore, thus the reason OpenAL and ALchemy came to be.

FreedomEclipse said:
Id love it - I have owned 3 Creative cards since & they have been great until they either died of got sold off



have you tried using a Xonar for gaming?? they sound more amazing then creatives when the DS3DGX engine decides to work. also the parts such as the opamps & other stuff are generally alot better then that of creatives. a Xonar paired with a set of Logitech Z5500 = Win




your right - I dont understand it much other then waning support for EAX. So I admit & apologise for my mistakes of not researching first before commenting.




& thats why EAX is being dropped - studios dont want to pay licensing fees & royalties etc etc etc to Creative.

------

Just because i dont run a Creative card doesnt mean i cant be immirsed in sound when it comes to gaming. Xonars Support EAX 2.0 but emulate high versions of EAX albeit with some teething issues but I assure you it still sounds awesome when it decides to work.

Have you tried a Xonar?? If not I really recommend that you give the DX, D2X a go. they are also great for movies & music.
Check out some of the Guru3d reviews of sound cards, the X-Fi based cards use far less cpu to do the same amount of work.
Posted on Reply
#16
R_1
pr0n Inspector said:
ATI "soundcards" are purely digital.
So, buy an audio receiver. It will sound a lot better than SB.
Posted on Reply
#17
ToTTenTranz
R_1 said:
So, buy an audio receiver. It will sound a lot better than SB.
lol, of course. Everyone should just get a 7.1 HDMI receiver and a set of analog speakers just to have sound in their PCs.


Ridiculous.
Posted on Reply
#18
pjladyfox
imperialreign said:
If my posts came across the wrong way, then I apologize - I tend to have a very "straight forward" approach with my posts . . .

It's not that I don't believe people have occasional problems, I know for a fact they will . . . no matter what audio card they decide to purchase. The equipment itself is very picky and sensitive; TBH, it's easier today to deal with issues, than it was 10-15 years ago.

What tends to grate me, though, is simply when people start accusing a hardware manufacturer for their problems, and many times their accusations come with little knowledge of what's going on. It's hatred and bashing being fueled by ignorance. Sad as it is, audio hardware is probably one of the least understood pieces of hardware in one's system . . . but, considering how few people grasp audio hardware, there's even more that simply believe it should just work when installed - and they run across other's "bashing" posts, and pick up the same sentiments . . . even if they've never used that brand of hardware . . .

Big reason, IMHO, why there are so many Creative "bashing" threads out there. It doesn't typically get bad here at TPU, but, every news thread (like this one) is like a magnet for those types of comments . . .

I try not to come across like I'm "attacking" or singling anyone out, but that can be hard to do sometimes, especially considering my general posting style . . . again, I didn't intend to come across the wrong way, my apologies.
I can fully understand your frustration and respect it since I'm pretty much the same way. It's one of the reasons why I tend not to get into most conversations unless I've had some personal experience with the subject matter.

In this case, you are probably one of the few that I've ever dealt with on this subject that seems to have more knowledge than most which is why I had my initial suspicions that you were part of Creative either from a support or other aspect. And I'm sure it's that impression, along with your approach, which triggered my "too close for missiles, switching to guns" reaction.

You are right in that sound cards today are MUCH easier to deal with than the first Ad Lib or Sound Blaster was. However, at least with the earlier cards once you got them fixed they tended to stay that way and you had a lot more control over the environment that they were functioning in. Today, it's almost like going back to the early days of sound where nothing really works quite right and hours are lost trying to fix a mirad of problems that never existed before. :banghead:

imperialreign said:
Well, other hardware manufacturers have let things continue on as well, although Creative tend to do it a bit more (considering their larger line of hardware offering) . . . it's sad, and a PITA for the un-informed consuer, but not much we can do about it (aside from staying informed).

The reason the onboard always works perfectly without hiccups has to do with how it's integrated - both at the hardware level, and the drivers with the OS. Because of it's integration with the motherboard, the OS can simply access it, the chipset drivers come a lot into play as well. The whole means of hardware access becomes even more muddied once Vista and OS7 come into play . . . but, the kernel design is a big reason why onboard solutions haven't had the same issues as dedicated cards with Vista and OS7, i.e. the lack of multi-channel output, intermittent switching from multi-channel to 2-channel, poor down and upmixing, etc.

It's frustrating for us that are heavy into audio, because we know it's not an issue with the audio hardware itself, but the majority of the time stemming from the limitations of the OS. The average user, though, doesn't know this, nor realize it.
Tue on all counts and, in this particular case, there is a lot of shared blame to go around on this. Back when Microsoft first announced Vista they made it pretty clear that DirectSound was going to go away as part of their goal to remove driver instability as an issue. The fact that Creative, C-Media, and Realtek all just kind of seemingly stuck their collective heads in the sand until it was too late made a bad situation even worse.

So, here we are, four years after the disappearance of DirectSound and we STILL do not have a decent sound card that supports OpenAL via hardware beyond the cobbled X-Fi series. Much less one that removes the other miriad of issues tied to older DirectSound games not working correctly. :(

imperialreign said:
By all means - I've never been one to hold a grudge against others, most of the regulars can easily tell you that. Although I do like a good debate, I try to keep things as level headed as possible (hard to do sometimes :p).

Again, I apologize if I can across a bit too aggressive - it's not that I'm that pro-Creative, I have no problems recommending competing hardware to other users when it would better suit their needs . . . hell, I fully recognize Creative's support can be a bit lacking at times - that's the whole reason why I had started the X-Fi Support thread here . . . they have their pros and cons; it's simply that too many users are mis-informed or don't have enough knowledge to draw proper conclusions, and there's already too much skewed info being spread (quite a lot in this thread alone), which only further adds to the confusion.

Hopefully, some of the info I've passed along, though, has not fallen on deaf ears - it'd be nice to think that perhaps other users have found some of the info helpful or informative.

Either way, best of luck with whatever audio solution you do decide to go with in the future, and as always, I'm willing to answer any audio related questions, no matter what hardware you use. :toast:
Oh, rest assured the last couple of posts that you have made on this topic have been VERY enlightening to me in regards to this topic. The only fustration I have right now is that now that I know more about how and what is involved in a lot of the issues I was dealing with on the X-Fi appear to be no closer to being solved than they were 3 years ago. If one company could design a soundcard that fully supported OpenAL in hardware, was able to emulate DirectSound either via software or other means, and did not hit the PCI-bus so hard to the point of saturating the bus (mainly for those older systems that do not have PCI-Express) I'd be the first one in line to plop down $200+ for it.

Until then, I'm going to have to give the Xonar DX or older C-Media 8770 sound cards like the HT Omega a closer look since I'm really getting tired of the humming I hear in my headphones from EM noise.
Posted on Reply
#19
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Wile E said:
Because it's for converting the old DirectX EAX calls to OpenAL, so we get hardware acceleration. DirectX doesn't allow direct access to the audio DSP in Vista and 7 anymore, thus the reason OpenAL and ALchemy came to be.

Check out some of the Guru3d reviews of sound cards, the X-Fi based cards use far less cpu to do the same amount of work.
I noes thats why I said the XFi was better for gaming earlier on in this post but if you got a top of the range CPU it shouldnt be a problem
Posted on Reply
#20
imperialreign
Wile E said:
Because it's for converting the old DirectX EAX calls to OpenAL, so we get hardware acceleration.
And the sad part is - the vast majority of the EAX calls through ver 5.0HD are present in the OpenAL API . . . for free. Even oddball things such as X-RAM access and usage . . .

Now if game devs would just get off their lazy tails and quite worrying about "polishing" those visuals, and institute some better audio . . .
Check out some of the Guru3d reviews of sound cards, the X-Fi based cards use far less cpu to do the same amount of work.
Agreed, and the general user can also "bench" their own hardware with RMAA. The native PCI-E Titanium series (and a couple of newer Auzen X-Fi cards) are extremelly impressive.




pjladyfox said:
I can fully understand your frustration and respect it since I'm pretty much the same way. It's one of the reasons why I tend not to get into most conversations unless I've had some personal experience with the subject matter.

In this case, you are probably one of the few that I've ever dealt with on this subject that seems to have more knowledge than most which is why I had my initial suspicions that you were part of Creative either from a support or other aspect. And I'm sure it's that impression, along with your approach, which triggered my "too close for missiles, switching to guns" reaction.
s'all good :toast:
You are right in that sound cards today are MUCH easier to deal with than the first Ad Lib or Sound Blaster was. However, at least with the earlier cards once you got them fixed they tended to stay that way and you had a lot more control over the environment that they were functioning in. Today, it's almost like going back to the early days of sound where nothing really works quite right and hours are lost trying to fix a mirad of problems that never existed before. :banghead:
Agreed.

One of the most frustrating issues today is the lack of BIOS options on OEM systems . . . and it's typically the OEM systems that seem to have the most problems, regardless of manufacturer.

Even still, the more accessible BIOS options available to those who do custom builds are by-far better . . . but the one key BIOS "tune" for PCI audio hardware is disappearing more and more often - the ability to adjust PCI latency.

There are some other BIOS tweaks that help, but PCI latency tends to always have the most impact . . . as long as the card in question is a PCI card.
Tue on all counts and, in this particular case, there is a lot of shared blame to go around on this. Back when Microsoft first announced Vista they made it pretty clear that DirectSound was going to go away as part of their goal to remove driver instability as an issue. The fact that Creative, C-Media, and Realtek all just kind of seemingly stuck their collective heads in the sand until it was too late made a bad situation even worse.

So, here we are, four years after the disappearance of DirectSound and we STILL do not have a decent sound card that supports OpenAL via hardware beyond the cobbled X-Fi series. Much less one that removes the other miriad of issues tied to older DirectSound games not working correctly. :(
Actually, when MS was first beginning work on Vista, they did plan to have DirectSound. They were actually working closely with both Creative and nVidia to incorporate an improved version for hardware access and other low-level chores. For whatever reason, late into the game, nVidia backed out, and soon after MS dropped the project altogether - I've yet to hear what happened, and who was at fault for this EPIC FAIL - and MS went ahead without DirectSound. They used the lame BS excuse that they were cutting the feature because the majority of system crashes in XP were due to software trying to access the audio kernel (reason I say BS is because I've never seen an audio-related BSoD in XP, and have never seen anyone else complain of a BSoD that turned out to be audio related). Either way, it left Creative with about 6 months to completely re-write their early Vista drivers, for an OS design they were not originally designing for. Big reason why their Vista beta drivers didn't release until about 1 month before Vista's release.

And I defi agree on the OAL point - Only Creative and Auzen properly support the API. ASUS, HT, C-Media and every other audio manufacturer need to get off their arse and start getting involved with the project. The only thing ASUS has been doing with OAL is using it to gain "backdoor" access for EAX3+ support (their "EAX" software operates nearly the same as Creative's ALchemy).
Oh, rest assured the last couple of posts that you have made on this topic have been VERY enlightening to me in regards to this topic. The only fustration I have right now is that now that I know more about how and what is involved in a lot of the issues I was dealing with on the X-Fi appear to be no closer to being solved than they were 3 years ago. If one company could design a soundcard that fully supported OpenAL in hardware, was able to emulate DirectSound either via software or other means, and did not hit the PCI-bus so hard to the point of saturating the bus (mainly for those older systems that do not have PCI-Express) I'd be the first one in line to plop down $200+ for it.

Until then, I'm going to have to give the Xonar DX or older C-Media 8770 sound cards like the HT Omega a closer look since I'm really getting tired of the humming I hear in my headphones from EM noise.
Yeah, and even for those cards that do support OAL perfectly fine - there's also issues on the software side . . . some media programs are still having issues in Vista . . . and we need to see more software dev support with OAL as well.

TBH, I'm glad the audio industry is moving to PCI-E, as that has really cleared up a lot of audio clipping problems related to the PCI BUS, and the fact that most modern hardware is extremelly heavy on the SYS BUS. The increased bandwidth with PCI-E allows the card to send and recieve more info per clock cycle, and that's a major bonus with some processing heavy audio cards.

But, we need to see more audio manufacturers start going to native PCIE, instead of relying on the translators. As I believe I mentioned in an earlier post, it adds latency to the audio processing stream, and that's not exactly something you want in regards to audio. TBH, I've kinda felt it's a bit of a joke from all the audio manufacturers . . . everyone has gotten wrapped up with the SNR war, and keep stouting they have the best audio quality - but are using poor design architecture (even Creative were guilty of this with their first PCIE card).


BTW - if you're experiencing a lot of EMI noise, you could attempt some DIY fixes. It's a hard noise to get rid of, but there are some things that might clean it up - if the noise is being induced from the local environment . . . if the card is picking up noise via the SYS BUS, there's not too much you can do :ohwell:
Posted on Reply
#21
RejZoR
FreedomEclipse said:
Id love it - I have owned 3 Creative cards since & they have been great until they either died of got sold off



have you tried using a Xonar for gaming?? they sound more amazing then creatives when the DS3DGX engine decides to work. also the parts such as the opamps & other stuff are generally alot better then that of creatives. a Xonar paired with a set of Logitech Z5500 = Win




your right - I dont understand it much other then waning support for EAX. So I admit & apologise for my mistakes of not researching first before commenting.




& thats why EAX is being dropped - studios dont want to pay licensing fees & royalties etc etc etc to Creative.

------

Just because i dont run a Creative card doesnt mean i cant be immirsed in sound when it comes to gaming. Xonars Support EAX 2.0 but emulate high versions of EAX albeit with some teething issues but I assure you it still sounds awesome when it decides to work.

Have you tried a Xonar?? If not I really recommend that you give the DX, D2X a go. they are also great for movies & music.
I have the ASUS Xonar Essence STX paired with Altec Lansing MX5021... so, yes i know how they sound when they work right and i also know it can be total pain in the rear. Lots of times sounds get stuck and they don't stop looping until you leave the area and come back again. Latest games that i played and this happened were Heavy Metal FAKK2, Painkiller and Red Ocean.
Lots of times also happens that 3D positioning is a total mess and you can't tell it where enemies really are. For this part, ALchemy worked better in older games even though you had to copy 2 files by hand. But it worked and you could even tweak it a bit. It was a perfection that worked properly in each and every game. Unlike GX2 which most often crashes the game after long periods of gaming for no apparent reason.

As for the EAX being dropped, it's not all about royalties and lots of newer games have it.
It's just that not many cheaper sound card makers decide to have Creative tech since they make their own stuff (like Realtek). But there are also vendors like Auzentech who aren't Creative, yet they offer same functionality as Creative soundcards. Lots of games also use proprietary reverberation engines that run in software (and are not nearly as sophisticated as EAX 4.0 or better). But that's how it is.
Posted on Reply
#22
R_1
ToTTenTranz said:
lol, of course. Everyone should just get a 7.1 HDMI receiver and a set of analog speakers just to have sound in their PCs.


Ridiculous.
Well, not everyone should get HDMI receiver, but only those who are wiling to spend +300$ on audio part of their PCs. Will ask you a question : what kind of DSP can we find in ASUS Xonar Essence STX? Is it a very inexpensive C-Media chip? May tell you that similar C-Media revisions can be found on 12 year old audio card for 10$ (new) or integrated in some ancient PIII motherboards. All the sound magic is happening in ASUS Xonar-s analog part. This is the place where HDMI receiver excels.
Posted on Reply
#23
RejZoR
Xonar Essence STX is using ASUS AV100 audio chip which is essentially a C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788.
Posted on Reply
#24
Unregistered
RejZoR said:
You can laugh all you want but it DOES make quite some difference. And you have to decide what's your top priority. For gaming, X-Fi is still hard to beat. All the small gizmos and gadgeds that make 3D sound positioning a true masterpiece experience. But it sounds kinda flat for music. On the other hand, ASUS Xonar STX offers superior music quality, but has quite some problems with games. Sure, when it works, it's great. But when it doesn't, it's just bad.
I've had Xtreme Music and i was quite satisfied with it. No driver issues (i used only Console Launcher and drivers, no other crap) and it worked perfectly on all systems. So, if i decide for X-Fi HD gaming experience for some reason, i'd pick it up without much thinking. But since i don't play that much games anymore i'll stick with STX.
Agree. Don't forget tho, that without a good speaker system, you will probably feel no difference between the onboard sound and an X-FI. And when I mean a good 5.1 system I don't mean the relative cheap ones for PC...

ToTTenTranz said:
What he said.

Creative would actually rejoice at the sight of every game using OpenAL for sound libraries instead of DirectX. OpenAL supports audio acceleration hardware, DirectX doesn't.
OpenAL seems to be the go now, and it's actually much better. No more Alchemy crap. just run the game and that's it.

btw, did anyone notice how rich and different is the sound in DiRT with hardware acc.??? You actually feel like you're driving. Best OpenAL game release in years.
#25
ToTTenTranz
R_1 said:
Well, not everyone should get HDMI receiver, but only those who are wiling to spend +300$ on audio part of their PCs. Will ask you a question : what kind of DSP can we find in ASUS Xonar Essence STX? Is it a very inexpensive C-Media chip? May tell you that similar C-Media revisions can be found on 12 year old audio card for 10$ (new) or integrated in some ancient PIII motherboards. All the sound magic is happening in ASUS Xonar-s analog part. This is the place where HDMI receiver excels.
Dude... you're saying complete nonsense. The "sound magic is happening in Asus Xonar's analog part"? And then you say "this is the place where HDMI receiver excels"?

HDMI -> digital, not analog.

Besides, high-end soundcards (X-Fi Prelude and others) have very high-quality DACs, even comparing to mid-range (~400€) receivers.
What they don't have is a matching amplification circuit, of course. Sound cards are made to connect to powered speakers or ear/headphones.
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