Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeMusic

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Benchmarks - RMAA

The RMAA suite is designed for testing quality of analog and digital paths of any audio devices, be it a sound card, an MP3 player, a consumer CD/DVD player or an acoustic set. The results are obtained by playing and recording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms.

Rightmark Audio Analyzer 5.5
Audio Testing

For these tests, we compared the Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeMusic to our test system's onboard Intel High-Definition audio. Here, a high-quality loopback audio cable was used to connect the inputs and outputs so we could measure the effective quality of the audio signal each card produced.

Unfortunately, we were forced to limit testing to a maximum of 24bit / 96kHz instead of 24bit / 192kHz. Although the card can effectively output at these levels, the X-Fi XtremeMusic is unable to record signals beyond 24bit / 96kHz.  This is because the Audigy 2 is unable to record signals beyond 24bit / 96kHz. 

General Summary:

This section covers a general summary of the entire testing process that we preformed on both of the soundcards. The in-depth coverage of specific tests, with available graphs, is located in further sections.

Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeMusic - Summary

Test Setting

24bit/96kHz

 Frequency Response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.41, -0.54 Good
 Noise Level, dB (A): -100.4 Excellent
 Dynamic Range, dB (A): 100.7 Excellent
 THD, %: 0.0019 Excellent
 IMD, %: 0.0075 Excellent
 Stereo Crosstalk, dB: -96.5 Excellent
 General Performance: Excellent

 

Integrated Intel High-Definition Audio - Summary

Test Setting

24bit/9kHz

 Frequency Response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.19, -0.64 Good
 Noise Level, dB (A): -89.6 Good
 Dynamic Range, dB (A): 85.3 Good
 THD, %: 0.027 Good
 IMD, %: 0.273 Average
 Stereo Crosstalk, dB: -68.4 Good
 General Performance: Good


Comparing the results, we find the X-Fi XtremeMusic performing extremely well as it scores an "Excellent" mark for general performance. The card received top marks across the board with the exception of a single test. Scoring a "Good" for Stereo Crosstalk was a bit surprising though it is entirely likely that a higher quality patch cable would have benefited the test. Similarly surprising, the integrated audio solution earned a "good" mark for general performance. Granted, it was no match for the discrete audio card but it did fair well as a free addition versus the X-Fi hefty price tag.

Frequency Response:

Frequency response is defined as "a measure of the effectiveness of an instrument to transmit signals applied to it in terms of their incidence."  To simplify the definition, it is the ability of the soundcard to process signals without changing the relative loudness or adding distortion. Consequently, the smaller the difference between the lowest and highest value, the better the sound quality.

     

Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeMusic - Frequency Range

Test Setting

24bit/96kHz

  Response
From 20 Hz to 20 kHz, dB: -0.39, +0.03
From 40 Hz to 15 kHz, dB -0.10, +0.03

The X-Fi XtremeMusic has a fine showing in this test turning in some very respectable scores. The slight variances on the plots is likely due to the standard quality audio patch cable used for testing. This serves as a blatant case for spending extra money on high quality cables to obtain the highest possible performance from your sound card.

Integrated Intel High Definition - Frequency Range

Test Setting

24bit/96kHz

  Response
From 20 Hz to 20 kHz, dB: -2.38, +0.19
From 40 Hz to 15 kHz, dB -0.64, +0.19

The Intel onboard audio performs fairly well here, though it clearly has trouble keeping pace with the X-Fi XtremeMusic. One step into testing and Creative's new chipset is already flexing its muscles.

Tags:  music, X-Fi, sound, Xtreme, XT, eme

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