Tuesday, July 9th 2019

Creative Formally Launches the Sound Blaster AE-7 and AE-9 Audiophile Sound Cards

Creative Technology Ltd continues its legacy of revolutionizing audio with the launch of its most advanced PCI-e sound cards ever - the Sound Blaster AE-9 and Sound Blaster AE-7. Built with only the most premium components, and complemented with the latest technologies from Creative, these sound cards are designed to define a new performance standard in this class for the ultimate PC entertainment experience.

Up till 1989, the only sounds coming out of the PC were mere beeps. The same year, Sound Blaster was born, and PC audio was transformed forever. Since then, over 400 million Sound Blasters have been sold; and the Sound Blaster brand has become synonymous with the term sound card and high-quality PC audio - first for gaming, and then movies and music. With experience and expertise refined over three decades of audio innovation, Sound Blaster has continued to reinvent itself with the development of digital audio processing technologies. Each new innovation served to redefine what the ultimate audio experience really means, such as when it evolved beyond the PC in the form of external sound cards for platforms like gaming and entertainment consoles.
"The Sound Blaster philosophy is simple yet demanding. With every new product, we aim to break new ground in four key areas: technology, performance, function and platform. In our 30th year, we will make greater strides than ever before in redefining the Sound Blaster experience. The AE series, which represents our biggest leap in PCI-e sound card innovation yet, is just the beginning. Later this quarter, we will be introducing our latest addition to the "X" series of multi-channel audio external sound cards; it will be the first Sound Blaster product featuring Super X-Fi, our game-changing and award-winning headphone holography technology. And in the next quarter, we will unveil our latest products under the "G" banner of gaming-focused sound cards with better console compatibility and ease of use than before. Simply put, Sound Blaster makes great sound, and never stops making it sound greater," said Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative.

Sound Blaster AE-9: In a Class of Its Own
Sound Blaster AE-9 is Creative"s flagship PCI-e sound card, and it more than delivers on its promise to gratify the needs of pro-gamers and pro-audio users. It uses audiophile-grade components such as the top-of-the-range ESS 9038 SABRE-class reference DAC that delivers up to 129 dB DNR, PCM 32-bit 384 kHz sampling, DSD64 playback of lossless audio with ultra-low distortion and jitter elimination, and boasts Nichicon Fine-Gold capacitors, WIMA film/foil audio capacitors and swappable op-amps.

What really makes Sound Blaster AE-9 stand out against the competition is its CleanLine Technology, a new breakthrough in filtering a microphone path for clear and uncompromised voice communication. This latest technology features specially-designed circuitry and components which eliminates voltage rail issues and isolates unwanted noise caused by power supply ripple from high-performance GPUs. Sound Blaster AE-9 is the first ever to integrate this technology in its core, allowing users to forgo the need for a desktop mixer while still enjoying the benefits of having one.

Sound Blaster AE-7: Next-in-line, Yet Still an Audio Beast
It may seem to sport slightly "lesser" specs compared to the Sound Blaster AE-9, yet Sound Blaster AE-7 is very much a powerful sound card in its own right, being equipped with a hi-res ESS SABRE-class 9018 DAC that boasts up to 127 dB DNR, with 32-bit 384 kHz sampling and DSD64 playback. Audio clarity is the order of the day, with a THD of 0.0001% which represents an upgrade over its predecessor Sound BlasterX AE-5, and also the competition. At its price point, Sound Blaster AE-7 presents an excellent value proposition.

Common Features for Sound Blaster AE-9 and Sound Blaster AE-7
  • The Best Sound Blaster Processing Yet: Enjoy the full spectrum of Sound Blaster audio customization and enhanced audio realism with immersive 5.1 and 7.1 surround virtualization along with Dolby Digital Live encoding and DTS Connect encoding.
  • Award-winning Headphone Amplification: The custom-designed, award-winning fully discrete Xamp headphone amplifier with push-pull design ensures each audio channel is individually amplified to deliver a whole new level of pristine audio fidelity in an authentic, unaltered lossless model.
  • All-new Audio Control Module (ACM): Both sound cards feature ACMs built with user-friendliness in mind. Sound Blaster AE-9's ACM stands out with a display unit for direct and easy volume control, a headphone selector switch supporting different types of headphone impedance, a multi-function microphone input port with +48V Phantom power and a built-in amplifier.
  • New and Streamlined Software Interface: The newly designed Sound Blaster Command software sports a revamped user-friendly interface which drives Creative's signature Sound Blaster Acoustic Engine through achieving more audio control customizations with lesser clicks.
Upgrade Promo for Sound Blaster Users
As a gesture of appreciation for their support over the last 30 years, Creative is offering an exclusive promotion to its fans - the opportunity to upgrade from their old sound cards with an attractive 15% discount off the latest Sound Blaster products. This promotion will be valid for all upcoming Sound Blaster products launched between now and the end of the year.

Pricing and Availability
Sound Blaster AE-9 (on pre-order) and Sound Blaster AE-7 are priced at SGD439 and SGD299 respectively, and are available at Creative.com.

For more information, visit the product pages of the Sound Blaster AE-9 and Sound Blaster AE-7.
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62 Comments on Creative Formally Launches the Sound Blaster AE-7 and AE-9 Audiophile Sound Cards

#1
lexluthermiester
Oh hell yeah! I want the gold one! :clap: :rockout:

EDIT; And they have Win 7 support! Very cool Creative. :toast:
Posted on Reply
#2
z1n0x
"Audiophile" sound cards in 2019. :laugh:

PC>USB DAC>AMP>Studio monitors

Congratulations, you just got the best PC audio there is and didn't fall for nonsensical marketing.
Posted on Reply
#3
Chloe Price
z1n0x, post: 4078044, member: 188730"
"Audiophile" sound cards in 2019. :laugh:

PC>USB DAC>AMP>Studio monitors

Congratulations, you just got the best PC audio there is and didn't fall for nonsensical marketing.
Umm isn't a DAC simply an USB sound card?
Posted on Reply
#4
lexluthermiester
Chloe Price, post: 4078047, member: 123719"
Umm isn't a DAC simply an USB sound card?
Effectively, yes. And some of them are very good. What z1n0x doesn't realize is that dedicated sound cards come with nuanced refinements that set them above and beyond the USB crowd.
Posted on Reply
#5
TheLostSwede
$329 for a sound card, or a CPU, hmmm..?

I understand these use some higher end components, but Creative must be mad if they think they'll sell a bunch of these.
Posted on Reply
#6
Divide Overflow
Components are great, but Creative drivers? :shadedshu:
Posted on Reply
#7
Camm
I really just want the DSP rather than sound quality. I already have a Schiit Jotunheim. Ah well.
Posted on Reply
#8
Chloe Price
Divide Overflow, post: 4078064, member: 69232"
Components are great, but Creative drivers? :shadedshu:
Creative drivers have been good for a while IMO. No problems here with many systems where I've used a Sound Blaster.
Posted on Reply
#9
INSTG8R
My Custom Title
Chloe Price, post: 4078071, member: 123719"
Creative drivers have been good for a while IMO. No problems here with many systems where I've used a Sound Blaster.
Agreed. I’ve pretty much always had a creative card in my PC and my current SBZX is utterly hassle free. My previous X-Fi Fatality had a few hiccups but nothing Daniel K couldn’t fix. The AE-7 definitely has my attention.
Posted on Reply
#12
lexluthermiester
Divide Overflow, post: 4078064, member: 69232"
Components are great, but Creative drivers? :shadedshu:
Umm..
Chloe Price, post: 4078071, member: 123719"
Creative drivers have been good for a while IMO. No problems here with many systems where I've used a Sound Blaster.
This. I have rarely had problems with Creative drivers. The only major problem I can remember is trying to install Creatives standard drivers with a Dell/HP custom X-Fi. Otherwise this is a very tired and over-exaggerated complaint.

TheLostSwede, post: 4078085, member: 3382"
The AE-9 is apparently US$329, or not. It's $349...
Ah ok, thought you were responding to my comment...
Posted on Reply
#13
TheLostSwede
lexluthermiester, post: 4078088, member: 134537"
Ah ok, thought you were responding to my comment...
Ah, sorry, no. I was simply musing at the crazy price a sound card is going for these days. Then again, I guess the old X-Fi Elite Pro was $399 when that launched...
I had one, although it was not a card I paid for. Crap drivers, but based on the comments above, that's no longer the case.

Creative threw a great press event at the Porsche factory when they launched the X-Fi cards, one of the most memorable press events I ever attended. My boss at the time was so pissed he couldn't go...
Posted on Reply
#14
lexluthermiester
TheLostSwede, post: 4078095, member: 3382"
Ah, sorry, no. I was simply musing at the crazy price a sound card is going for these days. Then again, I guess the old X-Fi Elite Pro was $399 when that launched...
I had one, although it was not a card I paid for. Crap drivers, but based on the comments above, that's no longer the case.
If you think about it, it's really not all that bad. I remember paying $189 for my AWE64 Gold BITD, and it was on sale. That was 1997. Fast forward 22 years and adjust for inflation the price is actually a better value given that you get more for the money. Even the SB Live5.1 was $220 in 1999(when I bought one, it came out in late 1998).
Posted on Reply
#15
TheLostSwede
lexluthermiester, post: 4078100, member: 134537"
If you think about it, it's really not all that bad. I remember paying $189 for my AWE64 Gold BITD, and that was on sale. That was 1997. Fast forward 22 years and adjust for inflation the price is actually a better value given that you get more for the money. Even the SB Live5.1 was $220.
Well, it depends on where you live and how much you earn. Inflation isn't the same for everyone. Where I live, the average salary is no more than US$1,300 a month.
Many nearby countries are far worse.
But yes, from a Western perspective I guess it's not too bad, but compared to what other components you can get for $350 for a computer, it seems a bit off. I guess Creative likes to make 100% margins on their hardware and always has. Not too much competition around these days either.
Posted on Reply
#16
lexluthermiester
TheLostSwede, post: 4078102, member: 3382"
Well, it depends on where you live and how much you earn. Inflation isn't the same for everyone. Where I live, the average salary is no more than US$1,300 a month.
Many nearby countries are far worse.
Fair enough. Good point. I keep forgetting how easy we North Americans have things in many ways.
TheLostSwede, post: 4078102, member: 3382"
But yes, from a Western perspective I guess it's not too bad, but compared to what other components you can get for $350 for a computer, it seems a bit off. I guess Creative likes to make 100% margins on their hardware and always has. Not too much competition around these days either.
I don't know what the used market is like in Taiwan, but if money is tight, I'd recommend a SB-Z or SB-Recon(Sound Core3D). Great cards that can generally be had for a good price.
Posted on Reply
#17
TheLostSwede
Oh, I'm not living on local salary, I couldn't afford this as a hobby if it was the case...
I also have a few friends that gives me a few bits from time to time, which helps.
Creative products are insanely overpriced here.
The SB-Z is $120 new here https://24h.pchome.com.tw/store/DSAJ46
Not much of a second hand market, or it could be because I can't read the local language and it's done on this weird "BBS" system the locals use...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PTT_Bulletin_Board_System
Posted on Reply
#18
lexluthermiester
TheLostSwede, post: 4078108, member: 3382"
Oh, I'm not living on local salary, I couldn't afford this as a hobby if it was the case...
I also have a few friends that gives me a few bits from time to time, which helps.
Creative products are insanely overpriced here.
The SB-Z is $120 new here https://24h.pchome.com.tw/store/DSAJ46
Not much of a second hand market, or it could be because I can't read the local language and it's done on this weird "BBS" system the locals use...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PTT_Bulletin_Board_System
What about AliExpress? They deliver to your area don't they?
I did find this, which is a good card and still better than any onboard sound, about $76 shipped;
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Creative-Sound-Blaster-SB0880-High-Quality-PCI-E-Sound-Cards-Music-Movie-Games-Original-Desktop-Computer/32884936819.html

EDIT: There's also this one which I include in most of the PC's I build and it is very nice;
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Creative-Sound-Blaster-Audigy-FX-PCIe-5-1-Sound-Card-with-High-Performance-Headphone-Amp/32969538194.html
Posted on Reply
#19
TheLostSwede
lexluthermiester, post: 4078125, member: 134537"
What about AliExpress? They deliver to your area don't they?
I did find this, which is a good card and still better than any onboard sound, about $76 shipped;
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Creative-Sound-Blaster-SB0880-High-Quality-PCI-E-Sound-Cards-Music-Movie-Games-Original-Desktop-Computer/32884936819.html

EDIT: There's also this one which I include in most of the PC's I build and it is very nice;
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Creative-Sound-Blaster-Audigy-FX-PCIe-5-1-Sound-Card-with-High-Performance-Headphone-Amp/32969538194.html
Sorry, but I'd rather order from Amazon then, as I don't trust AliExpress. Amazon delivers most things here, although not as much as they used to.
We'll see what the ESS DAC does on my new board first.
Posted on Reply
#20
CheapMeat
On the product page they write:
Hardware Accelerated Audio
The addition of AE-7 to your PC rig basically means one thing — you're adding in a dedicated quad-core processor designed with one goal in mind — to deliver incredibly pristine and enhanced sound on your PC without overstressing your CPU. Sound Blaster handles audio processing on the card itself, freeing up your CPU to handle other tasks.
Sound hardware acceleration is what I really want in terms of a reason for adding another card onto a board. The dac and amp, fidelity stuff isn't that interesting in 2019 because we're already there in terms of 'pretty good'. But I don't think Windows 10 even has proper sound hardware acceleration in terms of allowing the card to take over more of the work load; they got rid of that a long time ago. Games really don't bother anymore either with most opting for 2 or 3 standard CPU software emulation suites, especially built into the game engines. So the acceleration we get is just some very minor stuff. Their product page even mentions them, as if something really special, ugh. I wish sound cards had more of a role in modern computing, especially when spending that kind of money for something 99% of gaming boards and/or external adapters already do just great or even better. I'm not even sure who even buys these at this point as a need. I'm an enthusiast, so I do get it though, I just like hardware. But I miss when ray-tracing like sound, like with EAX and other aspects truly meant more and wasn't just brushed aside. Any time a sound card comes out it's just the same fidelity type of talk, eh. But even if we didn't talk about that or EAX, etc, there's so many other things a card could do to cut down on say audio latency or manage audio systems or even stream from the card itself or so many other possibilities to add more value. Check out all the I/O controllers on their sound bar; how about put more of that on a card? Just more at least that what we're getting now for $200+.

Posted on Reply
#21
TheLostSwede
CheapMeat, post: 4078141, member: 174204"
On the product page they write:



Sound hardware acceleration is what I really want. The dac and amp, fidelity stuff isn't that interesting in 2019 because we're already there in terms of 'pretty good'. But I don't think Windows 10 even has proper sound hardware acceleration in terms of allowing the card to take over more of the work load; they got rid of that a long time ago. Games really don't bother anymore either with most opting for CPU software emulation, especially built into the game engines. So the acceleration we get is just some very minor stuff. I wish sound cards had more of a role, such as other addon cards have more of a role. I miss when ray-tracing like sound, like with EAX but it's all just brushed aside. Any time a sound card comes out it's just the same fidelity type of talk, eh. But even if we didn't talk about it in these terms, there's so many other things a card could do to cut down on say audio latency or manage audio systems or even stream from the card itself or so many other possibilities to add more value. Check out all the I/O controllers on their sound bar:


Aureal was much better than EAX, sorry to say. Although Creative now owns Aureals IP so...
But yeah, you have a point, we've actually gone backwards when it comes to sound card technology.
Posted on Reply
#22
INSTG8R
My Custom Title
TheLostSwede, post: 4078143, member: 3382"
Aureal was much better than EAX, sorry to say. Although Creative now owns Aureals IP so...
But yeah, you have a point, we've actually gone backwards when it comes to sound card technology.
Yeah X-Fi even had RAM back when hardware acceleration was a genuine thing, now it’s kinda convoluted. I game in 5.1 and as long that works(which it always does) I can’t complain, not really a fan of DSPs and fake effects anyway.
Posted on Reply
#23
Ferrum Master
WIMA film/foil audio capacitors ? From where @btarunr did you copy pasta that? Not that it matters, I fail to see them, also they don't have audio cap line, also I haven't met any really bad MKT or MKP either way...

I am with @TheLostSwede a bit more with this product. It is a product without real use.

The signs show that they botched the breakout box really bad, the rail noise suppression does not work, the MIC noise floor is horrid. But from professional point of use, it has working ASIO, using for DAW seems logical for some. The breakout box deserves nothing more than bashing, as it is aimed at amateur streamer crowd it is magnitudes worse than decade old solutions for balanced MIC's. Creative should have omitted it. I have to note, that they lack MIC designs as such even in the older EMU lineup. They sucked. Gosh, they are so weird to implement some INA217 or SSM2017 solution properly.

It is a first consumer card in a while that has optical 24/192 capture. Hope RIAA won't patch it off - again btw.

The card itself looks like a Creative card, their PCB design is usually sophistically superb. The BOM cost for this card is around 80-150$, I would agree that the thing is greatly overpriced for sure. The stillborn breakout box spoils the whole party. Well I will buy it still, as I had them all, just to dissect it really.

How to get that promo upgrade code? :shadedshu:
Posted on Reply
#24
Apocalypsee
Looks interesting, the AE-7 have discrete outputs (no opamps but use discrete transistor) like the AE-5, while the AE-9 uses opamps with similar layout like X-Fi Titanium HD (uses two dual-channel opamps for I/V stage and two single-channel opamps for buffer) but they downgraded the opamp quality (swapping the good LME49710 with generic NE5534 judging from the website page). The board looks busy with multiple DSP on board, hopefully one of them at least have hardware accelerated EAX as I still playing old EAX titles. Would love TPU to review it and see all the chip details.
Posted on Reply
#25
Tsukiyomi91
all depends on the use case actually. Yes gaming boards typically used high end solutions (e.g: ALC1220 or ASUS own modified S1220A) with similar enhancements found on high end sound cards. But for folks who have a mid tier board with not-so-great audio solutions + minor enhancements, a good sound card regardless of tier does way better.
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