X-Fi Beta Driver – SBXF_PCDRVBETA_US_2.18.0015

26 08 2011

Fixes? “X-Fi causing BSOD when using OpenAL with GroundWiz RTS Demo and Benchmark tool”. Omg. They must have been working overtime.

Driver Version 6.0.1.1376 dated 20th May 2011. Enjoy!

.

====================================================================
"DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTIES AND LIMITATION ON LIABILITY"
====================================================================

You are being provided a beta test version of a software product for
the sole purpose of enabling you to test the product in a wide 
variety of real-world situations prior to the product’s commercial
release (if any). Beta testers voluntarily agree to use software 
products still under development strictly in accordance with the 
attached end-user license agreement terms (including but not 
limited to no warranty and very limited liability on the part of 
Creative Technology Ltd and its subsidiaries ("Creative")) and to 
provide bug reports and other feedback to Creative.  
Any feedback provided by you may be used by Creative for any 
purpose whatsoever without the payment of compensation or other 
consideration.  All results derived from your participation in 
this beta test are confidential.

The beta software product contains pre-release code, may not 
be fully functional and may be substantially modified in 
further development.  You assume ALL risk associated with use.  
Creative can provide no assurance that it will ever produce 
or make available a general release version.

====================================================================
Sound Blaster Audigy and X-Fi Driver Readme File
July 2008
====================================================================
This document provides important information that supplements the 
Sound Blaster Audigy series and X-Fi series documentation.

--------
CONTENTS
--------

1.   INSTALLATION
1.1  Installation process not completing

=================================================================

1.   INSTALLATION
----------------------

1.1  Installation process not completing

If the Windows Security or Microsoft Digital Signature Warning 
dialog box appears, click the Install or Continue Anyway button. 
This dialog box may appear behind the installation screen and 
your computer may appear to be not responding. If so, press and 
hold the Alt key while pressing the Tab key to switch to this 
dialog box.

Copyright (c) 2008 Creative Technology Ltd. All rights reserved.
===============================================================
End of Readme File
===============================================================




Back Again…

2 04 2011

Well it’s been ages since the last NMGS update. Old followers know it’s quite traditional to take a blogging break from Christmas to Springtime. I hope you’re all doing well and your sound cards are all behaving well.

Over the next few weeks you can expect to see quite a few updates. Firstly, the Creative Support Forum is humming with excitement over 2011’s version of the daniel_k support packs. Many of you (myself included) are interested as to the software’s content. When asked “Where are you daniel_k?” he replied:

NOT GONE, YET.

I’m busy with my personal life.

Expect some updates in 2 weeks or so.

See ya,

Daniel

Great! I suspect there will be changes to the Auto Mode Changer, Dolby and dts encoders and of course that awful Creative Audio Console. daniel_k usually manages to tweak memory usage to improve performance too. The huge amounts of problems with microphone and system memory issues meant daniel_k had a herculean task ahead of him.

As soon as it’s available – it will be posted! Please stop filling up my inbox with requests. I AM STILL NOT daniel_k!!!  All bets are off. Especially the guy that bet $10 that corporate-ninjas from Singapore had finally found him.

We’ll also adding features to the site to cater for hand held browser users. In the 21st century – not everyone uses Internet Explorer. Expect some major changes in design, content and layout. Watch this space.

…and finally the Nintendo 3DS. Where do I start with that? Have you tried one yet? I am just in love with that little gizmo. I’ll try to finish off the hardware review over the weekend. Until then, I’ll be playing Pilot Wings Resort and Street Figher IV 3D. This 2D screen is making my eyes go funny.





Mission MV8 Floorstanding Speaker Review

15 11 2010

I’ve been in the market for a new pair of Hi-Fi speakers for a while. My neighbours have a tendency to slam doors late at night, and I’ve decided the best way to cope – is to drown them out with loud TV, games, movies and music. I needed something affordable, yet monstrous on volume.

While researching my next purchase, I decided I quite liked the look of the Mission MV8. Not many people realise, that Mission, Wharfedale, Audiolab, Castle, Luxman and Quad are all owned by the International Audio Group (IAG). You can usually expect good products from most of these manufacturers.

My first impressions of the Mission MV8 was that they looked the part. I googled a bit more and I found a couple of reasonable reviews on shopping comparison sites. The frequency responses seemed good for a speaker of it’s £200-£300 price range. This was looking like an interesting pair of speakers.

Frustratingly, I couldn’t find much information available anywhere on the internet. I visited a local retailer, and sampled the delights on offer. The first thing I noticed about the Mission MV8 was the size. They weren’t huge ugly boxes, like the cheaper but powerful Wharfedale XARUS 5000. They didn’t cost £600 like some weaker “posh audio” products. Yet, the Mission MV8 didn’t look cheap at all. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the build quality was better than some speakers that cost twice its price. I was quite impressed with this quality pair of entry-level Hi-Fi speakers. I reached in to the wallet, and arranged delivery.

Quite a few online retailers are selling this product, but a few list the specifications incorrectly. I’m here to correct these oversights, take a few photos – and reveal my opinion on the MV8. Don’t expect any graphs -I’m going to try and keep the audiophile jargon to a minimum.

First, let’s have a look at the true specifications taken from the Mission MV series data sheet.

MISSION MV8
Recommended amp power: 25 – 200w
Sensitivity: 91dB
Nominal impedance: 8Ω (4.6Ω minimum)
Magnetically shielded Yes
W x H x D: 188mm x 915mm (940mm with spikes) x 290mm
Frequency response: 35 – 20,000 Hz
Biwireable No
Connections: Binding posts (Pop-off caps reveal banana plug sockets)
Bass port Rear bass port
Drivers: LF/MF: 2 x 150mm Mission ‘Pyramid’ aramid polymer fibre/paper pulp woofer
HF: 25mm Viscous laminated dome tweeter
Inverted driver geometry for time alignment and Neodymium magnets
Supplied accessories: Removable front grilles, spike feet
Finish Available: Black or silver
Extras: Ferro-fluid cooled voice coils.

Here’s some photos of the speakers and packaging.



Testing

Everything else here in the test setup is relatively cheap. I’ve done this for two reasons; If the setup sounds good – the speakers are managing well with minimum requirements. The second reason? I’m not made of money – I’m a cheapskate.

I’m sure QE2 speaker cables, a more powerful amplifier and a £500 CD player would sound better. …but not everyone here is going to be using those types of components. I’m aiming for average, if not minimum capability test. Let’s face it, the speakers only cost £250. The speakers aren’t broken-in yet either, which I believe takes two hundred hours to achieve. Think of this review as a worst case scenario, with plenty of room for improvements.

All tests will be conducted in a 22’² room with wooden flooring. I’ll be sitting 4m away from the units, and testing with the amplifier set to -10dB. I’ll test PC audio formats, DAB and CD audio on the following components.

  • Receiver: Yamaha RX-V461DAB (6Ω optimal, 100w per channel)
  • CD Player: Cheap non descriptive model, via optical TosLink from eBay China.
  • Speaker Wires: Cheap bell wire, from Wilkinsons.
  • PC Audio: Creative X-Fi

First Test: CD Audio

Mr Ti2bs – My Love Hurts

I’ve heard this tune thousands of times. It’s one of my favourite Ti2bs tracks. Some fair bass, record pops and both male and female vocals. FDS, Mr. Ti2bs!

With the MV8 attached, I have a serious bass thumps. The vocals sound way more natural than before. Serena’s chorus sounds heavenly. The MV8 like this track too. OMG I love this tune.

Baby J feat. Rukus, Ty, Klashnekoff & Yogi – Let It Go

Another laid-back track here. Lots of varied vocals to be sampled on this track. There’s a bit of bass, hands clapping but not a great deal of instruments going on.

Wow. The bass is really intense now. Every time I’ve previously listened to this tune, it sounded quite heavy. Now the bass is punching out the windows. The vocals aren’t obscured and sound crisper than ever. The finger clicking sounds do sound a little raspy though. In general, very nice bass and vocal tone.

Janet Jackson – Got Til It’s Gone (Mellow Mix)

I’m not a fan of Janet Jackson, but this track is mellow. A very musical piece of music. There’s super high “fairy dust” sounds, bells and a wide range of percussion.

Now the MV8 really deliver here too. The bass is quite fantastic for starters. It’s quite a complex bass line, but it doesn’t distort or vibrate. My last set of speakers sounded too flimsy when confronted by bass this rich. Janet’s vocals are very clear too. The “fairy dust” sounds are a lot more high-pitched now. The speakers do a nice job of reproduction here – especially with the bell sounds. Again the fingers clicking and hands clapping sound a little too sharp.

Guild Wars Factions Soundtrack

Factions soundtrack is a classical symphony by top UK composer Jeremy Soule. It’s got a huge variety of instruments. Lots of strings, bells and some mighty deep bass.

Now playing this album through the Mission MV8 is quite a pleasant experience. The music sounds so rich, you could almost imagine the orchestra are in the same room as yourself. This has to be one of the best CD to show off the MV8’s soundstage potential. I’ve heard the Luxon Theme thousands of times, but never have I heard it with such a wide spectrum of sounds. It’s truly enthralling to listen to. Even the softer, calmer instruments delivered a stunning audio sensation. There was no blending of instruments – everything sounded clear and separate.

Second Test: DAB

Classic FM – I’m not a huge fan of most classical music, but the MV8 sound more like a live performance. The pure digital music was crystal clear both at low and high volume levels. The violins sounded perfect, don’t get me started on how good the woodwind sounded. I might have to listen to classical more often.

BBC 1Xtra – This broadcast provided loud bass, crystal clear vocals. Sadly Chipmunk was on at the time of testing. I promptly turned the radio off.

Third Test: PC

PC audio was quite lovely. Lossless and FLAC really did sound high quality. MP3 sounded fairly clean, with a bit of loss around the high-end of the sound spectrum. All this was to be expected from compressed music, but was still worth a play.

I couldn’t notice any difference between lossless and CD audio. Though I do have to say, “Crooked” sounded especially louder and more musical. The cowbells really stood out, compared to before. Midas Touch’s “Hold Back The Monster” provided more punch than the last time I heard it. I don’t remember half the instruments being so clear. Around 19 minutes in to the mix, the African drums really sounded authentic.

Fourth Test:

After 24 hours of loud music, I can conclude that the Mission MV8 were a terrific buy. They drown out everything, from the doorbell to the telephone. They’d be a good choice for social venues too if it weren’t for the flimsy grills. They could easily drown out a crowd of people in a bar or pub.

Some mid-range  audio really odd though. I played “Hell Yea” by Dead Prez. The “clapping” sounds were way too sharp at high volume. If you don’t mind tweaking  your graphic equalizer – these speakers are for you. I’ve found these speakers too sharp for the Hip-Hop I listen too, and I suspect that’s the problem. Perhaps it’s the recordings.

Classical music sounds fantastic though. The extreme sharpness really pays off with acoustic instrument reproduction. Drum & Bass generally sounds great too, due to serious bass driver power. The bass really shines from these units. Mine are situated too close to the wall, and near furniture. The deep sounds don’t suffer from distortion. I haven’t witnessed anything vibrate unnecessarily.

After 48 hours, the speakers are really portraying different versions of all my audio. The treble has calmed down. If I’m not mistaken, the audio seems to be getting better? I’m convinced it’s not placebo effect.

Even with G550 centre & surrounds, the MV8 boost my 5.1 audio. Oxygene sounds like a different album altogether. I can’t believe all the different sounds that I’ve never heard before. It’s stunning quality. HD video is a much nicer experience. I’ve been hearing so much that wasn’t there before. From just a two speaker upgrade is good work.

Oh shit. I want the centre & surround units now.

Conclusion

The MV8 are as good as I imagined them to be. I haven’t got the world’s best home cinema/Hi-Fi setup. Though, these speakers have improved the system by far. These tests demonstrated to me how much my amplifier was being bottlenecked by the previous 135W PMPO Gigaworks 500 speakers. They’re about twenty times larger, so this was to be expected. What I didn’t expect however, was the ability to surpass the 140w subwoofer too. If I had to sum up these speakers in one word, it would be bass.

The Mission MV8 haven’t got the mammoth capacity of the Wharfedale XARUS 5000. Yet the Mission MV8 still manage to punch out some good low-frequency sound. I imagine these speakers could easily be used without a subwoofer in a home theater environment. The bass drivers really deliver far more than I expected. Stick wet hands near the rear bass duct, and they will soon dry.

The midrange is crisp, perhaps a little on the light side. Nevertheless, the vocals are very pleasing in general. A little adjustment on the amplifier soon corrected the tone to my personal taste. Once the speakers have broken themselves in, I’m hoping this won’t be so much of an issue.

The tweeters are incredibly rich and are capable of reproducing some very high notes indeed. The classical music that I sampled revealed superb clarity of instruments. Bells and pipes especially sound fantastic.

If I had to find fault with the speakers, it would be the front plate design. The Mission MV8 used too much plastic for my personal liking. I’m not expecting them have the build quality of Bang & Olufsen for £250 – but less plastic would have been nice. It’s a very well made box, but I do prefer a solid wood cabinet. Vinyl coating isn’t usually very durable either. They might not be aesthetically appealing to everyone. You don’t need your eyes open to listen, though – do you?

Looks aside, the Mission MV8 really provided a higher quality soundstage than I expected for £250. They’re not the prettiest set of cans in the shop, but they’re possibly one of the best value. At the £200-£300 mark – they’re a winner. I can think of lots of reasons why.

I like the 150mm drivers, the speakers are able to fill most living rooms with ease. I also really enjoy hearing sounds on “old favourites” that were never there before. The clarity is simply spectacular and leaves me quite delighted with my purchase.

They’re growing on me more every day too.

Power:

Audio Reproduction:

Features:

Value for money:

Build Quality:

Pros

  • Stunning audio experience
  • Small footprint for a 200w unit
  • Sleek & modern design, that’s not ugly. IT’S NOT!
  • Good value for the £200-£300 price range.
  • Louder than a bomb
  • High-quality sound reproduction across all genres

Cons

  • Perhaps a little expensive for a floorstanding speaker of its size
  • Not aesthetically appealing to everyone.
  • Not biwirable
  • Grilles are flimsy

Goatie3Goatie1





Guru3D Driver Sweeper 2.5.0 Download Released

12 09 2010

An updated version of Guru3D Driver Sweeper is available for download. It offers many improvements on cleaning and removal. There’s also new documentation available. Great job Phyxion. Go grab it from Guru3D now!
Guru3D Driver Sweeper 2.5.0 Download Released

Driver Sweeper is very easy to use. You only have to select the drivers you want to clean up.
The best way to clean drivers is to first uninstall the drivers using the official uninstallers, reboot in Safe Mode and run Guru3D – Driver Sweeper. However, rebooting and not going into Safe Mode also works, but can cause some files not to be cleaned.

What can it be used for ?
The current supported drivers are NVIDIA (Display and Chipset), ATI (Display), Creative (Sound), Ageia (PhysX), MMouse and Realtek (Sound).

All the settings are saved in an ini file. Nothing is created in the registry, so it’s possible to use it as a portable program. Log files can be saved to the harddisk and viewed as well. You can find the logs under the Tools menu.

System requirements:
The Guru3D – Driver Sweeper is fully tested on Windows 2000, XP, Vista and Windows & 7 RC. Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are supported.

More info and revision history can be found here:

  • Official Guru3D – Driver Sweeper homepage click here.
  • Official Guru3D – Driver Sweeper forums click here.
  • Official Guru3D Download – Click here

New in this release:

  • Replaced cog icon with a new icon.
  • Character to seperate registry keys from registry values in the analyse list.
  • Some layout changes.
  • Increased default window size.
  • Update notifications, auto update has been removed.
  • Directory wildcard search for custom filters.
  • Added Norwegian translation. Thanks to Magnus Granås.
  • Added Arabic translation. Thanks to Awadh.

Updated:

  • Improved registry cleaning methods.
  • Improved directory cleaning methods.
  • Rewritten the readme file.
  • Rewritten the help file.
  • Internal libraries.
  • Improved Creative – Sound cleaning.
  • Thanks to Karol C. Improved ATi – Display cleaning.
  • Thanks to several people for supplying additional entries.
  • Improved NVIDIA – Display cleaning. Thanks to theGryphon.

Fixed:

  • Rare crash using backup.
  • %WinDir% variable not working properly.
  • Command Prompt after reboot in rare circumstances. Potential crash. Special thanks fly out to TwL for making this release possible.

DownloadClick here





Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Driver 2.17.0008

28 07 2010

Release date : 26 Jul 10
This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista® and Windows XP support for Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Titanium series of audio devices. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.
File Name : XFTI_PCDRV_LB_2_17_0008.exe

This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows® 7, Windows Vista® and Windows XP support for Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Titanium series of audio devices. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.

This download contains the driver and following application(s):

  • Creative Audio Control Panel

This download supports the following audio devices only:

  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty® Champion Series
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Professional Audio
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium

Added Features or Enhancements:

  • Improves the loading time of Audio Control Panel.
  • Enables selection of other microphones under the Microphone Effects tab of Audio Control Panel.

Fixes:
Resolves the following issues:

  • Microphone volume level is not saved in each Creative Console Launcher mode.
  • No sound is passed through S/PDIF output when playing back DVD movies using Windows Media® Player 12.
  • Buttons on the X-Fi I/O drive do not work in Windows XP.
  • Occasional unresponsiveness in Audio Control Panel when configuring the Flexijack.
  • Speaker Configuration in Audio Control Panel is not synchronized when Headphones option is selected in Game Mode or Audio Creation Mode.
  • System becomes unresponsive when shutting down Windows while DTS® Connect is enabled.

Known Issues:

  • Audio stutters during the opening video for certain game titles while Dolby Digital® Live is enabled. This issue occurs on certain hardware and OS configurations only. More details and a workaround are available here.

Requirements:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit, Windows 7 32-bit, Windows Vista 64-bit with Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows Vista 32-bit with SP1, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3), Windows XP Media Center Edition (MCE) 2005 or Windows XP MCE 2004
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium series audio devices listed above

Notes:

  • To install this driver
    1. Download the XFTI_PCDRV_LB_2_17_0008.exe file onto your local hard disk.
    2. Double-click the downloaded file.
    3. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Download:

->From Creative <-

->From Sendspace Mirror<-

File: XFTI_PCDRV_LB_2_17_0008.exe
CRC-32: 8267db7b
MD4: 53c1f197f0065dbe3e7268bdfc255324
MD5: eab9afb1da464427330c84ab87280d5d
SHA-1: b012310160359c31896a360f5b756c36624c9868





Creative X-Fi Driver 2.18.0015 – Windows 7 Only

16 06 2010

Creative have released a new driver for X-Fi owners. This driver only supports Windows 7. It’s an official Creative driver, so use it at your own risk.

Release date : 16 Jun 10
This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows® 7 support for Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ series of audio devices. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.
File Name : SBXF_PCDRV_LB_2_18_0015.exe

This download is a driver providing Microsoft® Windows® 7 support for Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ series of audio devices. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.

Take note of the following:

  • This download currently supports Windows 7 only. Support for Windows Vista and Windows XP will be available at a later date.

This download supports the following audio devices only:

  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty® Professional Series
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum Fatal1ty Champion Series
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi

Fixes:
Resolves the following issues:

  • System taking more than two minutes to shut down.
  • PowerDVD® DX 8.3 (Dell® version) not working properly.
  • Passthrough of Dolby®/DTS® audio to an external decoder not working with Windows Media Player 12.

Requirements:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit or Windows 7 32-bit
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi audio devices listed above

Notes:

  • Do not install this driver for Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio.
  • To install this driver
    1. Download the SBXF_PCDRV_LB_2_18_0015.exe file onto your local hard disk.
    2. Double-click the downloaded file.
    3. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Download: Official Creative





Meet the X-Fi SB0770

16 02 2010

I finally bit the bullet and grabbed an X-Fi to play with. I wanted to see how the sofware and CPU usage compared on my home rig. For those who don’t know, Audigy series and X-Fi drivers are built around a similar driver architecture and share common driver parts. So in theory, X-Fi should suffer with the same issues as Audigy.

That’s the theory, but with the Creative Labs soundcards I’ve owned previously they develop problems over time. Vista killed my Audigy 2. It was never the same after the loss of DirectSound. It developed all sorts of nasty issues that never surfaced under Windows XP.

Creative were slow to react. Audigy owners had to wait nearly 2 years after Vista’s launch before they could use basic features such as microphone, multi speaker, EAX etc. I never expected to buy another Creative soundcard. I wanted something half good to hook up to our Yamaha RX-V461DAB though. I really would have liked an Auzentech soundcard. They’re super expensive and quite difficult to get here in the UK. Baby goat food costs money, so I opted for yet another budget mid-range Creative solution.

I ordered a OEM Creative Labs Xtreme Music from an online store. They sent a rather odd-looking Xtreme Gamer instead. This isn’t any normal Xtreme Gamer though, it’s quite different from all the one’s I’ve seen before. I even had to make an entry on the Sound Blaster Product Index.

The card which I received was the SB0770, but I believe there’s a twin SB0772 model also. The card has no internal connections to connect to expansion devices such as the X-Fi front panel. Instead, this X-Fi resembles the budget-bin Xtreme Audio  PCB layout. I was quite worried when I saw the board shape. Xtreme Audio cards are total crap software solutions, and doesn’t even contain the genuine EMU20K1 chip. Thankfully, the SB0770 has a EMU20K1 and also has a companion CA0112 “Golden Gate” chip that allows switching from UAA to X-FI mode.

UAA audio hardware core

  • Supports 3 independent DMA playback stream:

– 4x stereo analog output hardware output channels.
– 1x stereo headphone hardware output channel.
– 1x stereo digital hardware output channel.
– I2C EERPOM support to

1) Re-configure the number of analog output exposed to OS.
2) Disable headphone and digital output channels.

  • Supports 5 independent DMA record stream:

– 1x stereo Line In
– 2x stereo MIC In (Front/read)
– 1x auxiliary IN
– 1x stereo SPDIF input.
– I2C EERPOM support to disable line in, MIC in or auxiliary in or SPDIF input.

  • Supports Microsoft ‘out-of-the-box’ HDA driver
  • Audio outputs

– All playback channels support 16 and 24 bit stereo format.
– I2S Output supports sampling rate of 44.1 KHz, 48 KHz, 96 KHz and 192 KHz.
– SPDIF digital output supports sample rate of 44.1 KHz, 48 KHz and 96 KHz.
– Each playback DMA stream’s sample rate and bit format are independent.
– SPDIF Output will play Non-PCM data when digital stream is enabled.

  • Audio inputs

– All recording channels support 16 and 24 bit stereoformat.
– Line In and MIC In support sampling rate of 48 KHz, 96 KHz and 192 KHz.
– SPDIF input supports sampling rate of 44.1 KHz, 48 KHz and 96 KHz.
– Each record DMA stream’s sample rate and bit format are independent.

  • 1x I2C interface with configurable via I2C EEPROM to control on-board DAC/ADC.
  • 2 GPOs to control on-board anti-pop circuit and muting of headphone and speaker output.
  • 11 GPI input for audio jack detection.

20k1 mode

  • 1x SPDIF input to I2S output format converter of 24-bit with sample rate 48KHz, 96 KHz and 192KHz.
  • 3x I2S input to SPDIF output format converter of 24-bit with sample rate of 44.1KHz, 48KHz, 96KHz and 192KHz.

Another official Creative confidential data sheet (lol?) reveals this card has been in production since before July 2007. It seems HP and Alienware all sold this card at some point. It looks quite budget, but it’s how it compares to the ear that counts.

aaaw aint it a little cutie?

Looking at the picture, you can see a couple of missing pins for internal SPDIF. You might also notice something quite nice on the bracket though. Such a pleasant surprise to see both optical-in and optical-out connections. I’m unsure of what use optical in will be for me, but the output is a huge bonus. No front panels, onboard sound or plug in converters needed here.

Instead of the internal pin connections for the X-Fi expansion bay, you’ll also notice a standard Front Panel HDAudio connector. I think it’s fair to say, this card offers a wider compatibility with PC multimedia flaps everywhere. It’s got everything for my Antec P180 case, at least.

So far the music has been pretty much the same high quality as on my old Audigy 2 Platinum soundcard. That’s not much of a surprise, as I use our receiver for digital-to-analogue conversions. I’d probably notice greater differences if I used the analogue leads – but I’m not interested in them (or the CMSS, SVM or Crystalizer features). I always hear more distortion than improvement with those features turned on. Besides, our Yamaha has a quality music enhancer for compressed music like MP3. The Yamaha does all of the work for music, so it wouldn’t be fair to compare music.

Games however really sound much more enthralling. The first game I tested the SB0770 on was Borderlands. The sound was 100% better. I especially liked the extra bass when shotguns were fired or grenades exploded. EAX enabled pinpoint accuracy too! It was  much clearer which direction the gunshot sounds were coming from. I tested Guild Wars (EAX 2/3) and Team Fortress 2 (ASIO) but there was no real noticable change from the Audigy. I would say they both sounded slightly better though. Perhaps someone can suggest a good EAX 5 title to evaluate? 🙂

EAX 5.0 offers several new [software] features:

  • 128 simultaneous voices processable in hardware and up to 4 effects on each
  • EAX Voice (processing of microphone input signal)
  • EAX PurePath (EAX Sound effects can originate from one speaker only)
  • Environment FlexiFX (four available effects slots per channel)
  • EAX MacroFX (realistic positional effects at close range)
  • Environment Occlusion (sound from adjacent environments can pass through walls)

Overall, I’m glad I upgraded to the SB0770 purely for the more stable software. I’m using the daniel_k X-Fi series Support Pack, needless to say. The DDL and DTS are working properly, without huge CPU usage. This makes it worthwhile alone for me on my aging E6550. My CPU usage used to skyrocket whenever I enabled DDL on the Audigy.

I can now play 5.1 in games, watch movies and listen to music through the same TOSLINK optical cable. Before I used to need two inputs on the receiver and the following leads coming from the PC.

  • Front Left/Right Cable Analogue
  • Rear Left/Right Cable Analogue
  • Center / Sub Analogue
  • Coaxial Digital (with frequent sound distortions and cut-outs)

Goodbye spaghetti wires!

Pretty much all the official software is working better on the X-Fi than the Audigy 2. My old Audigy Dolby Digital Live licence are valid on the X-Fi too which is another bonus. I did wonder if I would have to buy another pack for the X-Fi. Speaking of which, it hasn’t created any of the distortion sounds that can be heard on Audigy DDL either. My sound hasn’t cut-out once.

Performance:
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Price Rating:
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Features:
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Pros:

  • One TOSLINK cable does it all, without issues
  • Under £30 delivered – Cheapest EMU20K1
  • EAX 5 really does sound better than EAX 4
  • Better and almost fully working software, which is a nice change.
  • Onboard optical-in and optical-out sockets
  • Better connectivity to third-party front panels and cases, but no X-Fi front bay connection

Cons:

  • It’s made by Creative Labs. The software & drivers will accidently develop bugs after a couple more X-Fi driver releases
  • It’s quite hard to find in stores or online
  • No connectivity to X-Fi front bay, but standard fittings instead.

Goatie3Goatie1

Did I forget to mention you can buy for £29.99 delivered on ebay UK? People pay more than that for used XtremeAudio on there…