Soundblaster XtremeAudio PCI-Express

Posted on January 18, 2008
Author: Sean Potter
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Windows Installation & Usage

Installation was fairly simple as with most software these days. The installation prompt came up shortly after I inserted the driver CD, and asked which programs to install. I opted only for the X-Fi driver and configuration utilitiesm as I'm not a fan of Creative's media player.

A quick reboot is required after installation, and then your soundcard is ready to use. This card auto-detects any jacks plugged into it, and you will not be able to configure the speaker ouput in the Creative audio console without having a jack(s) plugged in.

The Creative Audio Console is a fantastic tool for configuring your soundcard, and feels intuitive enough while using it. From the console, you're able to configure outputs and outputs, adjust the equalizer, and add all sorts of effects through EAX.

Also featured here is the X-Fi Crystalizer, which promises to "Revitalize your downloaded music and movies: Restore the details and vibrance your music and movies lost during compression". It doesn't replace or repair damaged music, but rather adds sound in based on it's own analysis. It may take away some hum, or in some cases, add more to it.

Regardless of whether or not you use Crystalizer, the sound coming from the XtremeAudio is nothing short of fantastic. I'm not quite an audiophile yet, but there is a noticable improvement in sound quality over the Audigy.

Also bundled in the software package is Creative's ALchemy. ALchemy was created to allow some legacy games that utilized 3D or hardware-accelerated sound to work work properly under Vista. Microsoft changed DirectSound in Vista, so 3D sound and effects remained broken. ALchemy corrects these issues, restoring surround sound, EAX, and hardware acceleration to many games.

ALchemy has a very simple user interface which lists detected games compatible with it and which games are allowed to use ALchemy itself. You can add and subtract from this list as you wish. If a game isn't detected, but is a game that relies on EAX and the like, you can add it yourself manually.

Now, let's look at how the PCI-Express XtremeAudio affects gaming and desktop usage.

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