When someone talks about ways to enhance your gaming experience, we typically focus on faster graphics cards and high resolution monitors. Over the years, this has typically been the only way to dramatically enhance the way games were played. However, with the launch of Doom3 roughly a year ago, the gaming world soon realized that there was much more than graphics in an ideal gaming experience. For the first time, developers focused a significant amount of attention towards the sound effects in the game. The end result was a title whose sounds were as dramatic and intense as its graphics. Gamers were hooked and were anxious to have this new level of realism in all their games.
Although the main reason many of us buy the latest and greatest hardware is to have a better overall gaming experience, we also have some other uses for our systems that help us justify the hardware costs. From music collections to DVD libraries, most PC's these days are a personal multimedia theater. A focus on better audio hardware can have a profound effect on how songs will sound and DVD's will be watched. Subtle tones in songs can now be heard and special effects in movies can be much more pronounced and enveloping. Provided you're using high quality speakers, an upgrade to a new sound card can do wonders for nearly every aspect of your daily PC use.
Creative Labs has always been a leader in consumer sound cards with their hugely successful Soundblaster products. From the original Soundblaster through the Audigy2 family, Creative has done a fair job of adding new features and functionality to each new product launch. In keeping with tradition, Creative Labs has done the same with the launch of the new Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeMusic. However, with this launch they attempted to go one step further beyond new features and functionality and add higher performance to the mix. With up to 64MB of on-board memory (X-Ram) and a ton of gaming-specific features, Creative claims that this new family of sound cards can actually give gamers a higher average framerate than when using their traditional integrated audio solutions. With such a robust set of features and claims, we were more than a bit anxious to get one of these cards installed and witness its performance first-hand.
24-Bit 7.1 PCI Audio Accelerator
•Maximum Recording Depth: 24 bit
•Maximum Recording Rate: 96 kHz
•Maximum Playback Depth: 24 bit
•Maximum Playback Rate: 192 kHz
•Amplified 2.0 V RMS output
Audio Quality (All Channels)
•Frequency Response: 10Hz to 24kHz,
•Signal to Noise Ratio: 109 dB, A-weighted (Typical)
•Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.004% (Typical)
Quality Connectivity Features
(All 24-bit/96kHz resolution)
•FlexiJack (3-in-1 function, Digital I/O, Line In, and Mic) via 3.5mm mini jack
•Line level out (Front, Rear, Side, Center, Sub) via 3.5mm mini jacks
•Auxiliary in (via 4-pin Molex)
•AD-Link for X-FI I/O console (upgrade)
Minimum System Requirements
•One available PCI 2.1 slot
•Pentium III class 1GHz MHz or faster processor
•Intel, AMD or 100% compatible motherboard chipset
•256 MB system RAM
•CD-ROM/CD-RW/ or CD/DVD-ROM for driver installation
•DX9-compliant GPU w/ 32MB
•600MB free hard drive space
Operating Systems Supported
•Microsoft Windows XP
•General MIDI compatible
•Plug & Play
•PCI 2.2 compliant
•EAX Advanced HD 5.0 game compatibility
•Microsoft DirectSound(R), DirectSound 3D and derivatives
•X-Fi 24-bit Crystalizer™ enhances MP3s and movies
•X-Fi CMSS-3D allows you to upgrade your MP3 music and movies into surround sound
•SuperRip™ allows you to rip your CDs into Xtreme Fidelity quality
•EAX ADVANCED HD™ 5.0 delivers incredibly realistic gaming audio
X-Fi 24-bit Crystalizer™ enhances MP3s and movies to sound better than they do on their original CD or DVD.
X-Fi CMSS-3D allows you to Upgrade your MP3 music and movies into surround sound with headphones or multichannel speakers.
SuperRip™ allows you to rip your CDs into Xtreme Fidelity quality.
Experience incredible audio with THX certified quality and unbeatable movie sound with DTS-ES™ and Dolby(R) Digital EX decoding!
EAXADVANCED HD™ 5.0 delivers incredibly realistic gaming audio!
X-Fi CMSS-3D delivers an amazingly realistic surround sound experience with headphones.
Features like 128 voice support, EAX MacroFX, EAX PurePath and Environment FlexiFX set a new standard for EAX and realism available in gaming audio.
Audio Creation Mode
The Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor features a near transparent SRC engine that converts to and from any resolution at 136dB THD+N, and also provides digital-matched recording capabilities in resolutions from 44.1kHz to 96kHz.
You'll also get support for ASIO recordings with latency as low as one millisecond, up to eight different hardware effects, 24-bit SoundFont(R) sampling, and 3DMIDI for amazing flexibility and recording results.