Tuesday, December 11th 2018

Creative to Launch Audiophile-grade Sound Card: Sound BlasterX AE-9

Creative have been relatively dark in the soundcard front, a business for which they were mainly recognized not that many years ago. The company is looking to cater to the highest-end of music listeners with the impending introduction of their Sound BlasterX AE-9 sound card, though. At $300 a pop, these will pack serious hardware for audiophiles. While the audio processing chip remains the same 3D Sound Core as used in Creative's gaming-focussed AE-5 and AE-5 Pure, for the AE-9, Creative opted for an external DAC - thus removing any digital noises or interference from your system's electronics.

The replaceable operational amplifiers are a given, then, since we're talking about a crowd of users that wants to be able to experiment and tinker with sound processing on their audio sources. The operational amplifiers can be tinkered with as well, aiding in reaching that desired tuning. As for outputs, Optical in and out, standard 3.5mm jacks for rear, center, and sub, as well as RCA stereo out make out the card's rear connectors. And lo and behold - there's a dedicated 6-pin power connector for the card so as to power all of that sound wizardry.
Creative said the card is rated at a 129 dB signal-to-noise ratio and uses an ESS Sabre 32 digital analog converter - a known quantity in terms of quality. Creative's XAMP, which amplifies each stereo channel of headphones out separately, is also present. The breakout box, which houses the external DAC, supports both TRS and XLR connectors for microphones and 48-volt phantom power. There's a switch for what looks like dedicated profiles for high impedance headphones, and support for SBX in a physical button, which lets users control any 3D virtualization technology on the spot.
Source: PC World
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37 Comments on Creative to Launch Audiophile-grade Sound Card: Sound BlasterX AE-9

#1
kastriot
Creative lost his way long time ago it's pitty really.
Posted on Reply
#2
GinoLatino
Even for less than that money you can get some REAL Audiophile soundcard...
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#3
Crazy zookeepster
For me the question is, for those who have good headsets with a good onboard audio solution (120dB SNR plus), do you pick up the coil whine from your graphics card in your audio? Or any other electronical noise?
Posted on Reply
#4
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
kastriot said:
Creative lost his way long time ago it's pitty really.
blame Microsoft killing off hardware accelerated sound. Not to mention the lack of competition and innovation in that part of the market and a majority of the public not going out of their way to jump on the surround sound train.

Rise in headphone usage prompting the boom in external DACs/Amp purchase and usage. there is very little reason for someone to upgrade their soundcard these days if they have a good one.

If they are into audio recording/production there are better options available but Audigy 2 ZS Platinum with or the ZXR should cover those areas just fine.

Same thing more or less happened to Asus. They came out to compete with Creative but once DirectSound/Hardware acceleration died and Creative went into a coma. They stopped pushing the market.

At least Creative have tried to keep up with the way people set up their audio by releasing their own external amps and dacs though. Asus also tried with their Xonar Essence One but those fell out of production years ago.

hardware accelerated sound was such a big thing for gaming.

How Creative nearly brought back great PC audio, and then f**k*d it all up.
Posted on Reply
#5
mouacyk
Not Linux-friendly, still no native driver to this day for SBZ.
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#6
CheapMeat
I still want it. Dunno, even without true sound hardware acceleration (bastards), I still have a soft spot for soundcards and just PCIe cards in general. The fidelity DAC and amp part isn't that interesting. Can't explain it but still like them.
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#7
bpgt64
kastriot said:
Creative lost his way long time ago it's pitty really.
What would you recommend? Looking for an external AMP/Soundcard type combo myself. I also do some streaming, there is a second PC involved with that, so I am also looking to maybe duplicate output to another system.
Posted on Reply
#8
npp
bpgt64 said:
What would you recommend? Looking for an external AMP/Soundcard type combo myself. I also do some streaming, there is a second PC involved with that, so I am also looking to maybe duplicate output to another system.
Pick any from this list that suits your budget and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll get rock solid drivers and none of the SB “sound enhancements” crap. As you will find out, 300 bucks can buy you much more connectivity than you’ll find in the SB, plus performance that matches the claimed specs. I highly doubt SB can pull off 129db SNR, even in the audio band only and A-weighted.
Posted on Reply
#9
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
bpgt64 said:
What would you recommend? Looking for an external AMP/Soundcard type combo myself. I also do some streaming, there is a second PC involved with that, so I am also looking to maybe duplicate output to another system.
Creative X7 -- Just know that it costs a lot of money... lots and lots of money but quite a lot of people in the head-hifi community thinks its worth the price
Posted on Reply
#10
Blueberries
Let's hope they've refreshed their drivers and choose not to include any software this time

I do like that they opted for a 6-pin power instead of something goofy like a male molex (looking at you ASUS).
Posted on Reply
#11
OGoc
There is room to grow... ray tracing audio. Real echo's in a canyon for example.

Although, to argue with my own statement: this could probably be offloaded to under used CPU/GPU cores.
Posted on Reply
#12
Blueberries
OGoc said:
There is room to grow... ray tracing audio. Real echo's in a canyon for example.

Although, to argue with my own statement: this could probably be offloaded to under used CPU/GPU cores.
GPUs already do this
Posted on Reply
#13
Ferrum Master
npp said:
Pick any from this list that suits your budget and you won’t be disappointed. You’ll get rock solid drivers and none of the SB “sound enhancements” crap. As you will find out, 300 bucks can buy you much more connectivity than you’ll find in the SB, plus performance that matches the claimed specs. I highly doubt SB can pull off 129db SNR, even in the audio band only and A-weighted.
Creative cards all do their advertised SNR. Very strictly.

I have checked it myself and quit talking nonsense.

You may talk anything, but Creative electronics design team know their stuff pretty well. Also summing all the parts on board that card, the BOM really nears 200$ to make something similar yourself.
Posted on Reply
#14
ebivan
But why the power connector? The card wont draw more than 75W (and even that is a lot fo a headphone amp and some op amps) and it can get that from pcie. I guess its just for show...
Posted on Reply
#15
francisw19
Crazy zookeepster said:
For me the question is, for those who have good headsets with a good onboard audio solution (120dB SNR plus), do you pick up the coil whine from your graphics card in your audio? Or any other electronical noise?
All good here - Asus Maximus X Hero on-board audio with Audio Technica M50x headphones. It hasn't given me a reason to upgrade to anything else, really.
Posted on Reply
#16
Ferrum Master
ebivan said:
it can get that from pcie.
Are you nuts? That sized PCIE provides 6W max for the 12V line, it is not enough to even charge a phone.

The choice of the cable is actually pretty normal. The SATA molex usually combined with many connectors on the cable and would look like an arse. The 6pin connectors comes usually spare with any PC, as SLI/CFX users are not that much these days, and a user having 300$ Sound Card for sure will have a decent PSU too... so it is quite obvious.
Posted on Reply
#17
djisas
I still swear by my Xfi Fatal1ty champion, i bought a Fiio DAC just recently and the sound quality is inferior to the Creative's front panel audio output...
Given that it's a PCI card with all sort of driver issues, i need an upgrade, not many 7.1 options in the market...
Posted on Reply
#18
Blueberries
ebivan said:
But why the power connector? The card wont draw more than 75W (and even that is a lot fo a headphone amp and some op amps) and it can get that from pcie. I guess its just for show...
Less to do with power draw and more to do with a clean signal. Power from the motherboard is very "noisy."
Posted on Reply
#19
Legacy-ZA
Okay Creative; where is the XLR output and input then? :)
Posted on Reply
#21
Mistral
So, in other words, just buy an AV receiver instead?
Posted on Reply
#22
hellrazor
Crazy zookeepster said:
For me the question is, for those who have good headsets with a good onboard audio solution (120dB SNR plus), do you pick up the coil whine from your graphics card in your audio? Or any other electronical noise?
My old Dell used to pick up interference from the mouse, but that was a decade or so ago.
Posted on Reply
#23
FreedomEclipse
~Technological Technocrat~
Mistral said:
So, in other words, just buy an AV receiver instead?
if you have the space and the money yes. There are cheaper options though... if you go on Amazon and look for a speaker DAC/AMP that is made by a company called NOBsound. They make some great external DACs that can power speakers as well as headphones.


I bought myself a secondhand Yamaha AV and its made a huge difference over my old Logitech Z5500's
Posted on Reply
#24
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
Always prefer an extrernal DAC connected to an AMP...
Posted on Reply
#25
Bansaku
" At $300 a pop, these will pack serious hardware for audiophiles. "

At $300 a pop true audiophiles will only laugh at the lunacy Creative put forth! Speaking of which: Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...cough...hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha... :rockout:
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