Friday, September 2nd 2011

Creative Rolls Out Sound Blaster SoundCore 3D 'Quad-Core' PCIe Sound Cards

Alongside the Recon3D external audio device for PC, Mac, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, Creative announced its latest line of PCI-Express sound cards. It's curtains for the X-Fi generation of sound cards that led Creative's pack through the second half of the last decade. Creative's newest sound card technology is called Sound Core3D. Unlike with X-Fi which continued the tradition of high-performance native (hardware) audio processing by making use of RISC processors on the card such as the CA20K series, with Sound Core3D "quad-core", the focus finally shifted to the set of DSPs (digital signal processors).

The "quad-core" moniker doesn't refer to there being four processing cores on the sound card, but a set of four DSPs, not necessarily hardware-accelerated, that work to give out the best audio. Two main DSP sets include Creative CrystalVoice and THX TruStudio Pro. THX TruStudio Pro is a DSP set that we're familiar with, some modern sound cards feature it, some motherboard vendors even pack it with their onboard HD audio solutions. THX TruStudio Pro provides THX TruStudio Pro Crystalizer, which works to improve clarity of lossy compressed audio, TruStudio Pro Surround creates a virtual 360 degree surround space that is touted to be better than the countless earlier attempts by various companies, at virtual surround. Smart Volume is a volume stabilizer that keeps in check abrupt volume spikes in games. Dialog Plus controls the mid frequencies to ensure the clearest voice dialog in games (cut-scenes or multiplayer voice chat). Lastly, Pro Bass is a bass compensation feature that works to restore lossy bass.
The CrystalVoice DSP is another DSP that improves in-game voice chatter. Acoustic Echo Cancellation eliminates echos and talkback. Noise Reduction works to suppress background noise, sending through only the player's voice. Smart Volume stabilizes volume. FX allows users to morph their voice to remain anonymous.

Microsoft Windows NT 6 kernel, used in operating systems since Windows Vista and Server 2008, saw a relocation of the audio stack, that effectively made hardware audio processing useless, because there's no direct access to hardware using DirectSound. There still is the third-party OpenAL API, but it is greatly limited and doesn't keep up with the latest sound resolutions. For Creative to stay competitive in the sound card industry, it has to do what its younger competitors such as ASUS, Auzentech (to an extant), and HT Omega realized long back, which is focusing on high signal-to-noise ratio (sound fidelity), and DSPs. Today's system processors by Intel and AMD are fast enough to process several DSP layers without impacting on system performance.

Creative's new sound cards include the Sound Blaster Sound Core3D (base model), Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional and Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion. The SB Core3D is the base model, its PCB doesn't have any fancy EMI shield. It uses a simple PCI-Express audio processor that does away with most of the RISC processor components of the CA20K series audio processors. There's a rounded-square fancy-looking object in the middle that screams "SoundCore 3D". I suspect it's an EMI shield for the DAC under it. It features common HDA front-panel output, Fatal1ty Champion front-panel IO capability, and a common-looking set of 7.1 channel analog jacks next to TOSLINK digital input and output connectors.

The Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional ups the ante with a groovy looking EMI shield for the entire PCB, a red LED lighting, and a polycarbonate window. This card comes with a beam microphone that helps with the CrystalVoice technology. The Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion takes it a notch further with a front panel that fits into the 5.25"/3.5" exposed drive-bay, and provides some connectivity such as headphone out, volume control, and DSP control.
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69 Comments on Creative Rolls Out Sound Blaster SoundCore 3D 'Quad-Core' PCIe Sound Cards

#1
[H]@RD5TUFF
Maban said:
I doubt it's for drives.
Only devices I have ever known to come with a port for it.
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#2
Maban
[H]@RD5TUFF said:
Only devices I have ever known to come with a port for it.
Drives connect to a sound card with what, two wires? Don't you think twelve would be a bit overkill if it was for that?
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#3
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
MAYBE

its to hook it up to a break-out-box of some sort that creative have in the works??
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#4
[H]@RD5TUFF
FreedomEclipse said:
MAYBE

its to hook it up to a break-out-box of some sort that creative have in the works??
perhaps, I just hope they have made their drivers and software has been desuckified.
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#5
Jstn7477
I gave up on sound cards long ago and just use the onboard codecs on my motherboards. I don't have the fancy speakers or headphones to justify them, and nothing really uses EAX these days anyway. Sound cards in my situation are about as useful as the first generation Ageia PhysX PCI cards.
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#6
Ferrum Master
Excuse me, but this card looks like shit and cheap nonsense from creative again...

As Electronics engineer, why in hell these guys made such card like in there... Getting all crazy with power supply part, shielding, PCB layout, good DAC, CLC filters, chokes and the end analogue buffer stage with op amps. Don't you think there is crap going out the PC supply and EMI noises from various devices are making PC as worst sound source ever. Let us be reasonable and not talk about silver cables and golden caps, it is also nonsense and religion, but proper low ESR caps, copper shields and decent opamp circuit is a must have.

It is OK if you use SPDIF it is digital, then on the other side, why do you need a dedicated card at all?

I can not see the use of this card at all... the whole description stinks... I am using Win 8 betas, and have already problems with my Titanium MS changed something in the sound layer, it will be again - few years till they make a working driver... pardon they didn't, PAX driver was the one who cleaned up after them... My other Auzentech X-Meridian works like champ with it plain beta form even longhorn times, but it never caused my problems.

Concerning about resolution... yes openAL doesn't support multichannel 24bit and bitperfect playback... but who cares, we have kernel streaming and ASIO still... But with sound, it cannot not get screwed up as its worst chain in the whole route... Sound material i.e. source still hasn't stepped in 24bits properly outside studio, and people who use them wont be buying such card... And gamers? Personally I don't care if my explosion or rifle sounds with more crap ahem ~harmonics... ;)

Just searched a bit... I didn't now onkyo made a new card with X-Fi, like Auzentech... Another Creative done properly:
http://www.jp.onkyo.com/pcaudio/pciedigitalaudioboard/se300pcie/gallery.htm


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#7
Spaceman Spiff
After having so much fun with creative's driver's....and moving to the absolute euphoria of another brand, no amount of 'cores' will make my wallet open for creative again.
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#8
otaku_ex
I'll open my wallet only if I see an Auzentech or onkyo card with the new creative chip. Creative should stop assembling their cards, it will be much better if they only focus on new chips, drivers and X-Fi mb.

Edit: Return of gigaworks speaker systems seems imposible at this time.
Posted on Reply
#9
Maban
For anyone wondering, the Onkyo in the link is an Asia-only model. Don't get your hopes up.
Posted on Reply
#10
otaku_ex
Maban said:
For anyone wondering, the Onkyo in the link is an Asia-only model. Don't get your hopes up.
unless drivers are only in japanese or chinese, then it won't be a problem.
Posted on Reply
#11
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Maban said:
For anyone wondering, the Onkyo in the link is an Asia-only model. Don't get your hopes up.
Thats strange. because I swear i ordered parts to fix my friends laptop from a dude in China on a site called ebay.

Asia only??? There are ways of getting things OUT of Asia and by that i dont mean being wrapped in a condom and shoved down your stomach.
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#12
erocker
Lack of capacitors is disturbing.
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#13
Ferrum Master
FreedomEclipse said:
Thats strange. because I swear i ordered parts to fix my friends laptop from a dude in China on a site called ebay.

Asia only??? There are ways of getting things OUT of Asia and by that i dont mean being wrapped in a condom and shoved down your stomach.
As it seems you're right... one listed in ebay, directly from Japan. Price may be steep, but if you compare these prices with professional audio equipment... it is very cheap :D

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Onkyo-SE-300PCIE-7-1ch-Digital-Audio-Board-Sound-Card-/360388473975?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e8d3b477
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#14
TheMailMan78
Big Member
erocker said:
Lack of capacitors is disturbing.
Posted on Reply
#15
Maban
Ferrum Master said:
As it seems you're right... one listed in ebay, directly from Japan. Price may be steep, but if you compare these prices with professional audio equipment... it is very cheap :D

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Onkyo-SE-300PCIE-7-1ch-Digital-Audio-Board-Sound-Card-/360388473975?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53e8d3b477
Honestly, I hadn't thought of ebay. I never shop there. I can't find the Titanium Professional Audio on there though which I would have gotten if it were available here.
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#19
Maban
Those are Fatal1ty cards. The one I'm referring to is not.
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#20
swaaye
I don't understand how people are having problems with Creative's drivers. My X-Fi has been fine for as long as I've owned it (2008?), and I even have the Audigy cards working great in Vista+ these days. Hell all you need to do is go to their site and download their driver pack if that's all you want. No "bloatware" whatsoever. Every app is available separately.

But really there isn't much point to hardware acceleration anymore. Part of that is caused by the majority only having Realtek (et al) dumb codecs. Part of it is probably the consoles (no audio DSPs anymore). Part of it is the fact that no other sound card company has bothered to produce a 3D audio accelerator for nearly a decade now. Still, you do get some nice stuff with Creative like nice up/downmixing (headphone downmix is superb), soundfont support, EAX/DS3D for old games thru Alchemy, cleaner audio than onboard, etc...

I think the shown card is the new X-Fi Xtreme Audio. That's to say that it's a software solution that relies on their X-Fi MB-style software. Maybe there's a more beefy product coming down the road.
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#21
Ferrum Master
Maban said:
Nope, I mean exactly what I said. SB0888 http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=54548
As wiki says, and I also thought it like that it is... the only difference from Fatal1ty Champion is the silver colored mark and no I/O box... the hardware part is the same... so search for X-Fi Titanium Fatality on ebay.

Or get yourself a proper Auzentech or Xonar :), you won't regret it. I own exactly the same card as you seek of... nothing stellar. Although I've hardmodded it overall, replaced opamps and caps. There were problems with systems with lot of RAM, of course openAL didn't work on x64 system etc :D, but with latest PAX drivers works OK at last.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_Blaster_X-Fi
Posted on Reply
#22
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Maban said:
Those are Fatal1ty cards. The one I'm referring to is not.
THIS is the SB0888

the card is distributed in Japan only. digging deeper. People say its just the same as the Fata1ity card except no fata1ity logo etc etc.

Its like the XFi Titanium with the I/O shield on. -- their the exact same cards anyway
Posted on Reply
#23
Maban
The fact that it's not Fatal1ty branded is why I want it. But let's not get into that.
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#25
xBruce88x
so far the only game i've had a lot of issues with wit a creative card was Halo CE on pc, but that was quite a while ago. any time i would use hardware acceleration with the card along with EAX effects it would studded like crazy, even on a pc (at the time) that had 4x the requirements for the game.

i haven't used a creative card in a while though. I usually stick to onboard audio as it seems the software driven stuff with the beta "sound back" software works fine with EAX games. (i.e. an ALC889/888 based sound chip)

I may give these a go later, if they don't work well i'll just ebay it and pick up an asus card or the like.
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