Software - Test Setup
The Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeMusic features a unique architecture that has user selectable modes to access particular features and functionality. Overall performance for a given application will be dictated through the selection of either Gaming, Entertainment, or Audio Creation Mode.
Entertainment Mode uses several key new features to enhance the overall experience. A new 24-bit Crystalizer performs a two-step quality enhancement on the audio. The system first upconverts the audio to 24-bit/96Hz quality and then remasters and selectively enhances the signal. X-Fi CMSS-3D is a new technology which remixes the audio into surround sound which is then suited to your speaker configuration. Lastly, the card's SuperRip technology allows users to rip audio CD's to Creative's "Xtreme Fidelity" levels for the optimum audio quality. Support for DVD-Audio playback as well as Dolby Digital ES and DTS-EX standards ensure the most robust entertainment experience possible on a PC.
Gaming Mode relies upon a totally redesigned game audio processing engine to supposedly provide up to a 15% increase in performance compared to other audio solutions, without sacrificing any features or functionality. Creative's new EAX HD 5.0 provides a vast array of features to certain games which enhances the overall gaming experience. Lastly, X-Fi CMSS-3D makes another appearance and again converts the audio into a surround sound audio signal. Overall, games are supposedly more intense and immersive.
Audio Creation Mode calls upon the X-Fi processor's SRC engine which can convert at any resolution at 136dB THD+N. The engine also supports digital matched recording capabilities from 44.1kHz to 96kHz. There is also a host of other features ranging from full ASIO recording support, support for 3D spatialization for Midi, to 24-bit SoundFont sampling. Although well beyond the scope of most conventional consumers, this mode will surely attract the attention of those looking to do their own audio recording from home.
Testing for these audio solutions was conducted according to the specifications provided by the benchmark vendor whenever possible. In the case of the RightMark Audio Analyzer benchmark, the audio settings for the X-Fi XtremeMusic were configured according to Creative's user guide for RMAA.