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New Wacom MobileStudio Pro Provides the Power Creative Professionals Need to Work Without Boundaries

Wacom announces the new Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16 to update its important category of high-end mobile creative pen computers to meet the growing demands of creative professionals. It gives artists, designers and engineers the power they need to run full versions of even the heaviest creative software applications and the freedom to work and create anywhere - on location, with clients, in art and design schools, while travelling, between projects and studios or simply as a standalone all-in-one solution to replace a desktop computer. Just like the Wacom Cintiq Pro pen displays and the Wacom Intuos Pro pen tablets, the Wacom MobileStudio Pro is part of Wacom's dedicated product line for creative professionals, who expect the best performance, pen precision, power and flexibility in the creative tools they use.

Windows 10 1903 Has a Nasty Audio Stutter Bug Microsoft Hasn't Managed to Fix

Windows 10 May 2019 Update (version 1903) is the pinnacle of neglect and contempt Microsoft has shown towards the all-important audio subsystem of the modern PC. With it, Redmond has one-upped its last big move against audio, by killing the DirectSound hardware pipeline and mongrelizing PC audio under Intel's lousy and fundamentally anti-competitive Azalia specification that solves common audio compatibility problems under a scorched-earth guiding principle - "kill any feature that could possibly lick our aftersales support budget, by dumping every aspect of audio onto a very restrictive host-signal processing (HSP) architecture, let people come up with their own soft DSPs, because CPUs can handle them." Windows 1903 proves how this approach wasn't a silver bullet against PC audio problems, and is fallible.

I've never owned a PC without a discrete sound card. My first "multimedia PC experience" was powered by a Creative kit that included a Sound Blaster PCI, an Infra-CDROM drive, a clip-on mic, and tiny stereo speaker boxes. ISA-based integrated audio solutions back then were bested by greeting cards. I've since made it a habit to buy a sound card every 5 or so years. No gleaming SNR numbers by Realtek can convince me that an integrated audio solution can best a $100 discrete sound-card, and I've owned plenty of motherboards over the years with the most premium Azalia implementations (be it the ALC889 or the modern ALC1220). My current machines feature an ASUS Xonar AE (a bang-for-the-buck ESS ES9023P implementation with a 150 Ω amp), and a Creative SB Recon 3D. Both cards implement the Azalia pipeline at some level, to survive operating with post-Vista Windows. The SB Recon 3D uses a chip that converts PCIe to the HDA bus; while the Xonar AE uses a PCIe to USB chip and a USB (Azalia) to I2S chip (essentially a USB headset laid out on a sound card with a high-quality analog side). Both cards are borked after the "upgrade" to Windows 10 May 2019 Update (1903), and two successive "Patch Tuesday" updates haven't managed to solve it.

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.

Creative Unveils World's First Super X-Fi Headphones

Creative Technology today announced the launch of the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed Creative SXFI AMP - the Creative SXFI AIR series. Comprising the SXFI AIR and SXFI AIR C, these are the very first headphones featuring built-in Super X-Fi technology, the game-changer which has captured the imagination of users by delivering the listening experience of a high-end multi-speaker system, simply through a pair of headphones.

"After the SXFI AMP, it was a natural next step to develop headphones with built-in Super X-Fi technology. With the SXFI AIR series, users can now enjoy the magic of headphone holography, complemented by the best of our headphone engineering. The SXFI AIR is meant to pave the way for the headphone industry to adopt Super X-Fi into all future headphones," said Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative Technology.

Creative E-MU Unveils Audiophile Headphones with User-replaceable Wood Enclosures

Creative's audiophile and studio brand E-MU unveiled two new around-the-ear monitors featuring user-replaceable wood enclosures. Headphones and monitors with wood enclosures are sought after for sounding more natural, with deeper lows and crisper mid-range; compared to most common headphones with ABS plastic enclosures. Among the two headphones launched are the heavier E-MU Teak and lightweight E-MU Walnut. The E-MU Teak features 50 mm neodynium drivers with bio-cellulose diaphragms, while the E-MU Walnut features smaller 40 mm drivers with the same quality of magnets and diaphragms as as the E-MU Teak.

The star attraction here is their enclosures, which are made of specialized single-origin woods - teak, walnut, rose, etc. The outer surface is polished for protection, while the inner one facing the driver is exposed. The enclosures ship in separate airtight, dehydrated jewel-cases. The E-MU Teak has an astounding frequency range of 5 Hz to 45 kHz, 106 dB sensitivity, and 25 Ω impedance. The E-MU Walnut, on the other hand, provides 10 Hz to 30 kHz frequency range, 103 dB sensitivity, and 30 Ω impedance. Both ship with 1.2-3 m long deoxygenated copper cables.

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 Announces Sound BlasterX H6 50mm USB Gaming Headset

Creative Technology Ltd announced today the release of the Sound BlasterX H6 gaming headset, which elevates both gaming and audio experiences to the next level.

Featuring an all-new design, the Sound BlasterX H6 packs massive performance with a plethora of enhanced features - including pro-tuned 50mm Neodymium drivers, breathable memory foam fabric mesh pads, detachable noise-reducing ClearComms microphone technology and RGB lighting.

Creative Announces Outlier ONE Plus Wireless IEM with Integrated Player

Creative Technology Ltd today announced the Creative Outlier ONE Plus. The all-new Bluetooth in-ears are the latest addition to the Outlier Series; which includes the Outlier One-included as one of the 'Best Bluetooth Earbuds of 2018' by tech review site SoundGuys.

The Creative Outlier ONE Plus maintains the superior sound quality, comfort and fit of Outlier ONE, but now is enhanced with Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity and a 4GB built-in MP3 player that allows you to play music directly - without cellular connection or your phone. Certified IPX4 sweat-proof for the toughest workouts with a long-lasting battery life of up to 10 hours, Outlier ONE Plus is the perfect plus for all activities.

Creative Unleashes the Sound Blaster K3+ Portable Mixing Board for Online Streamers

Creative Technology Ltd announced the Sound Blaster K3+ today. The compact and portable mixer is targeted at today's generation of online influencers and content creators, such as musicians, podcasters, live streamers, vloggers, and more. The K3+ captures the goodness of its predecessor, the Sound Blaster K3, while being enhanced further with additional features. Like its predecessor, Sound Blaster K3+ was developed in part by a number of broadcasters, singers, musicians, and audio engineers. Their feedback has allowed Creative to understand various recording needs, and has resulted in a practical, professional recording interface that boasts incredible connectivity options.

"We're proud to be part of that amazing journey in helping people to express themselves through the content they create," said Low Long Chye, General Manager of Creative. "The Sound Blaster K3+ is a full-fledged portable mixer with a wealth of features that allow any budding musician, comedian, live-streaming gamer or vlogger to customize their content and broadcast in amazing quality. And because it's so compact and easily powered via USB, they can broadcast live from almost anywhere with just a mobile phone, the book-sized K3+, and a USB powerbank."

Creative Reveals Their High-Performance Outlier Black Bluetooth Headphones

Creative Technology Ltd today announced the Creative Outlier Black. The high-performance Bluetooth headphones personify the perfect fusion of impressive audio performance and the stylish aesthetic of modern-day fashion.

Black, Bold, Beautiful
Unapologetically bold and inspired by the functional minimalist aesthetics found in today's streetwear apparel and sneaker collections, the Creative Outlier Black fits stylishly into the active urbanite's lifestyle: whether it's walking around town, working on a laptop at a cafe, running to catch a bus, or the daily urban commute on the subway. Exuding the powerful presence of a well-engineered piece of acoustic engineering, the Outlier Black makes a fashion statement without trying too hard.

Creative Unveils the Audiophile-Grade Aurvana Trio In-Ear Headphones

Creative Technology Ltd announced today the Aurvana Trio audiophile-grade in-ear headphones, the latest addition to its well-received Aurvana Series. The Aurvana Trio features a triple driver array that combines two precision balanced armature drivers with one dynamic bio-cellulose driver.
Aurvana Trio: Audiophile-Grade Hybrid Triple Driver In-Ear Headphones

The dual balanced armature module consists of a super tweeter that has been tuned to deliver detailed high-frequency playback, and a mid-range driver for natural vocals. The dynamic 10mm Bio-cellulose driver, on the other hand, is meticulously tuned to produce beautifully accurate and powerful bass. Bio-cellulose is an extremely fine natural fiber with high purity. Using cutting-edge biotechnology processes, this material is compressed to produce an ultra-thin diaphragm that is ideal for delivering sound velocity comparable to an aluminium or titanium diaphragm, while giving warm and delicate sound of paper ones.

Creative Announces the Zen-Inspired Creative Pebble Desktop Speakers

Creative Technology Ltd announced today the Creative Pebble. Shaped like a smooth pebble one would find in a Japanese rock garden, the orb shaped speaker takes its aesthetic design inspiration from elements in Zen architecture and design and would look perfect in today's modern homes and offices. Featuring a 45° elevated custom-tuned far-field driver solution that works with rear facing passive radiators, the Pebble delivers a personal listening experience that surprises with its degree of detail, immersiveness and depth for a speaker of its size.

Made to work seamlessly with a PC or laptop, the Pebble is powered by a single USB cable without the need for a power adapter. Pebble also features an easily accessible volume control button built into the front of the right speaker. The speaker is available in pure white and bold black.

Creative Launches Aurora Reactive SDK for Sound BlasterX Products

Creative Technology Ltd today announced that it would be launching the Aurora Reactive SDK. This tool would effectively convert the Aurora Reactive Lighting System found on Sound BlasterX products into an open platform, allowing developers the freedom to customize, animate and synchronize its lighting behavior. The 16.8 million color Aurora Reactive Lighting System is currently found on the Sound BlasterX Katana, Vanguard K08, Siege M04, AE-5, and Kratos S5.

The Aurora Reactive SDK is a system with APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that allow third party developers to program Creative's Sound BlasterX RGB-enabled hardware. The SDK will come complete with sample codes, an API library, and documentation to enable even novice programmers to get started.

Sound BlasterX Katana Now Supports USB Audio for Sony PS4, PS4 Pro, and PS4 Slim

Creative Technology Ltd today announced that its Award-Winning Under-Monitor Sound System, the Sound BlasterX Katana, now supports USB audio connectivity with all Sony PS4 console variants. The updated support allows PS4 users to enjoy cinematic audio performance via USB delivered by the Katana for all their gaming content, including popular titles such as Uncharted: The LostLegacy and Horizon: Zero Dawn, as well as highly anticipated upcoming titles such as Star Wars Battlefront 2, Call of Duty WWII, NBA 2K18 and Destiny 2.

On top of that, users will enjoy an enhanced in-game communication experience that allows them to enjoy a full suite of noise-reduction and voice morphing technologies made possible by Katana's built-in advanced Sound Blaster processor. Previously, Katana users could only connect to their PS4 via optical connection with a separate mic connection to the PS4's controller - all without the benefit of noise reduction and voice morphing enhancements. Also, users can look forward to accessing these technologies on-the-fly while Katana is connected to a PS4, from the convenience of an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, with an updated version of the Sound Blaster Connect App - which is slated to be released by end-October 2017 on the App Store and Google Play.

GIGABYTE Introduces Z370 Motherboards for 8th Gen Core

GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd, a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, has unveiled the new GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS motherboards based on the Intel Z370 chipset. These supercharged motherboards are equipped with a server-grade digital power design which fully support 8th generation Intel Core processors. Performance tuned, the Z370 AORUS Motherboards are compatible with memory modules rated for 4133MHz. With unique features like an ESS Sabre DAC, Smart Fan 5 and RGB Fusion, there's no doubt why gamers turn to AORUS for the ultimate gaming motherboard.

"Following Intel's release of the Z370 chipset platform, GIGABYTE has designed a new, groundbreaking motherboard," said Vincent Liu, Senior Associate Vice President of GIGABYTE's Motherboard Business Unit. "GIGABYTE Z370 AORUS motherboards are designed for gamers who value powerful, yet highly durable motherboards. With our new digital power design, not only will Z370 AORUS motherboards unleash the power of the 8th generation Intel Core processors' they will easily fulfill gamers' demands."

Creative Announces Sound BlasterX AE-5 Audiophile-grade Gaming Sound Card

Creative Technology Ltd today announced at E3 2017 the latest addition to its Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Series, the Sound BlasterX AE-5. E3 is the world's premier event for computer, video and mobile games and related products, making it the perfect place to debut the next era of PC audio.

The sound card features the world's best gaming headphone amplifier for PCs. The Sound BlasterX AE-5 delivers the ultimate audio performance with the full force of a 122 dB 32-bit / 384 kHz ESS Sabre DAC, a kick-ass custom-designed 600Ω discrete headphone amp, audiophile-grade components, and proprietary Sound Blaster audio enhancement technologies.

EVGA X299 DARK Motherboard Pictured

EVGA unveiled a formidable lineup of socket LGA2066 motherboards, based on Intel X299 Express chipset. One of the models which caught our eye is the X299 DARK. Designed for extreme overclocking, this board is halfway between ATX and E-ATX width. It draws power from an angled 24-pin ATX, an angled 6-pin PCIe, and two 8-pin EPS connectors, and conditions it for the CPU using a high-current 9-phase VRM. The CPU is wired to just four DDR4 DIMM slots, supporting quad-channel memory; and four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots. The fifth x16 slot which is electrical x4 and an open-ended x4 slot; which are wired to the PCH; make for the rest of the expansion.

Storage connectivity on the EVGA X299 DARK includes a 32 Gb/s M.2 slot, two 32 Gb/s U.2 ports, and eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports. USB connectivity includes two 10 Gb/s USB 3.1 (of which one is type-C), and eight USB 3.0 (six on the rear panel, two by headers). Networking includes 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.1 WLAN, a 10 GbE wired connection driven by an Intel i210-T1 controller, and a 1 GbE driven by an i219-V. The onboard audio features a Creative Sound Blaster DSP. This is one of the rare few board in which the I/O shroud extends into an integrated I/O shield, which could be useful for open-air benches.

ASRock X299 Fatal1ty Professional Gaming i9 and X299 Killer SLI/ac Detailed

ASRock showed off its premium gaming-grade X299 Fatal1ty Professional Gaming i9 and X299 Killer SLI/ac motherboards. The two boards are based on a common PCB, but differ with the former featuring 10 GbE network connectivity and Creative Sound Blaster Cinema audio DSP, while the latter lacks them. If you want the feature-set of the X299 Killer SLI/ac but the white+black color scheme isn't rubbing of on you, ASRock has you covered with the X299 Fatal1ty Gaming K6. Drawing power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, the boards employ a 14-phase VRM to condition power to the CPU, which is wired to eight DDR4 DIMM slots, and four PCI-Express 3.0 x16.

Storage connectivity on the boards includes three 32 Gb/s M.2 slots, and six SATA 6 Gb/s ports. Both boards further feature two USB 3.1 ports (of which one is type-C), about 8 USB 3.0 ports, and network connectivity that includes 802.11ac WLAN, Bluetooth 4.1, and at least one gigabit Ethernet connection driven by an Intel i219-V controller. The Fatal1ty Gaming i9 tops this with Aquantia AQC107 controller-driven 10 GbE. The two feature Aura Sync RGB headers.

Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation Update Brings Improved Performance to Ryzen

Some outlets are reporting that Stardock's Ashes of the Singularity is about to receive the much-referred-to patch that allows for improved performance on AMD's Ryzen line of processors. If you remember, rivers of ink flowed regarding AMD's Ryzen performance in gaming, with its monstrous, high-performance 8-core, 16-threaded design sometimes delivering performance below expectations. At the time, AMD clarified how Ryzen is a distinctive CPU architecture, similar yet fundamentally different from Intel's x86 implementation, promising upcoming patches from game developers that would allow Ryzen's architecture to truly deliver.

After Creative Assembly and Oxide Games vouched to improve Ryzen support, Oxide seems to be the first developer with a patch available (from version 25624 to 26118) that improves performance by up to 30%. Reportedly, it took the developers around 400 work-hours to improve the game code in respect to its execution on AMD hardware.

Creative Intros Tournament Edition Variants of its SoundBlasterX H7 and H5

Creative announced retail availability of new Tournament Edition variants of its SoundBlasterX H5 and SoundBlasterX H7 gaming headsets. The variants are characterized by large 50 mm drivers and cushioning designed for extended periods of gameplay (as in tournaments). Both are stereo headsets, but the H7 comes with a USB DAC that puts out virtual 7.1-channel audio, with support for 24-bit/96 kHz audio formats. The 50 mm drivers range between 20 Hz to 22 kHz, with 32Ω impedance, and 118 dB/mW sound-pressure sensitivity. The retractable microphone ranges between 100 Hz to 15 kHz, with 2.2Ω impedance. The company didn't reveal pricing.

Gigabyte Announces Its Aorus Z270-based Motherboard Lineup

Gigabyte announced six new Z270 motherboards as part of its Aorus product line - and all of them feature RGB LED lighting and swappable LED overlays. Apparently, Gigabyte opted for the standardization of their RGB Fusion LED lighting up and down their Aorus product line - all of the boards have at least two areas that are RGB LED backlit, including a space on the right edge beside the RAM slots. This RAM RGB lighting can be removed and replaced with different overlays according to the users' taste, and each motherboard is also equipped with a LED strip header. Dubbed the Z270X-Gaming 9, Z270X-Gaming 8, Z270X-Gaming 7 , Z270X-Gaming K7, Z270X-Gaming 5, and the Z270X-Gaming K5, these Gigabyte Aorus motherboards are quite well-rounded, as you can see after the break.

ASRock Announces its 200-series Chipset Motherboard Lineup

The leading global motherboard manufacturer, ASRock, is pleased to announce the launch of its Intel 200 series motherboard range. These new ASRock boards are the first to unleash the extreme performance of the latest 7th generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium and Celeron Socket 1151 processors - by providing all the advanced features necessary to make the most of their raw power. The ASRock range offers something for everyone with the Gaming series, Extreme series, high performance Pro series, and Killer series.

The design of ASRock's flagship Z270 SuperCarrier motherboard evokes the style and power of the world's mightiest warship, the supercarrier, with features that will blast the competition out of the water. The Z270 SuperCarrier's PCI-E Steel Slots provide ultimate graphics with 4-Way SLI and 4-Way CrossFireX, plus full NVIDIA Quadro SLI support. The advanced PCI-E Steel Slots packed with solid cover that prevents any signal interference with graphics cards. It also ensures the heavy graphics cards to be well-installed in the PCI-E slots safely. Two Thunderbolt 3 connectors with a 40Gb/s data rate are able to drive super high resolution displays up to 4K x 2K (4096 x 2304) at 60Hz, plus high speed external storage, and other advanced devices. The highly desirable reversible USB 3.1 Type-C interface delivers the breathtaking 10 Gb/s data transfer speeds and also supports USB PD 2.0 charging up to 12V@3A (36W).

ASRock Z270 Fatal1ty Motherboard Teased

Here are some of the first pictures of a production version of an ASRock Z270 Fatal1ty-branded motherboard. While there's no picture of the board in full, Expreview scored pictures of its key sections, including its CPU VRM area, showing us prominent "Z270" badging on a VRM heatsink, a Fatal1ty logo on the PCH heatsink and its print on the PCB; and an Intel Gigabit Ethernet on the rear I/O hood, and Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 logo on the audio area hood; all pointing to this being a production version.

The rear I/O picture reveals two gigabit Ethernet interfaces, provision for a WLAN card, four USB 3.1 ports (of which one is type-C), two USB 3.0 ports, 8-channel HD audio with a TOSLINK connector; and display outputs including DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI. Storage appears to include eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and at least one M.2 slot (with Intel Optane support out of the box). Not much else is revealed by these pictures. Intel 200-series chipset motherboards are expected to launch alongside 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processors, in January 2017.

GIGABYTE Launches the X170-Extreme ECC Motherboard

GIGABYTE unveiled a new high-end socket LGA1151 motherboard, the X170-Extreme ECC. Positioned as a workstation motherboard for the high-end desktop crowd, this board is based on Intel C236 chipset, and comes with support for Intel Xeon E3-1200 V5 processors in addition to 6th generation Core "Skylake" processors. It also supports DDR4 ECC memory, which partly lends it its name. Built in the standard ATX form-factor, the board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS power connectors. Expansion slots include two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (x8/x8 with both populated), a third PCI-Express 3.0 x16 (electrical gen 3.0 x4, wired to the PCH), and three other PCIe 3.0 x1 slots.

A star attraction here is GIGABYTE's choice of an Intel-made 2-port USB 3.1 controller, which connects to the PCH over PCI-Express 3.0 x4, compared to most other USB 3.1 controllers in the market, which connect over PCI-Express 3.0 x2. This ensures consistent 10 Gb/s bandwidth dedicated to each of the two ports, without any bandwidth loss to overhead. The board offers one each of type-A and type-C ports, wired to this controller. The board offers an additional four USB 3.0 ports from the chipset and a Renesas-made hub chip. Also on offer is a 40 Gb/s Thunderbolt 3 port, with DisplayPort 1.2 passthrough.

Creative Announces the iRoar Smart Speaker

Creative Technology Ltd today announced the Creative iRoar Intelligent Portable Bluetooth Speaker System. This compact multipurpose iRoar represents the next step in the evolution of portable speakers -- with its audio performance, expandability, intelligent audio processing, personalization and a collaborative open platform that allows for value-added third-party add-ons. And, it is twice as powerful as the original Sound Blaster Roar and has a huge 20-hour battery life. The Creative iRoar has been named a CES 2016 Innovation Awards Honoree product in the Home Audio/Video Components and Accessories category. The speaker will be showcased at CES 2016 -- the world's largest consumer electronics show.

At the heart of the Creative iRoar's intelligence is the powerful, flexible and programmable multi-core floating point SB-Axx1 processor. It is responsible for all the audio and voice enhancement, and proprietary effect processing, as well as an open platform that allows users to customize the behaviour of the speaker. The built-in processor also allows the iRoar to function as a high-end sound card.
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