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Creative Sound Cards


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Any opinions /comments on Creative's sound cards and related items?

 

For several years I've been using a Sound Blaster Audigy 2S(PCMCIA) in my laptop (Compaq V2410US, circa 2006 WinXP). In Advanced mode it is supposed to be outputting 24bit/96Khz with ASIO V.2.0. I have a pair of Audioengine 2's plugged into the card and my music is on a WD Passport external drive in both WAV and FLAC formats, controlled through Media Monkey. I don't use any of the Sound Blaster processing software.

 

A few years back either TAS or Stereophile reviewed a similar card from Echo Digital in a MacBook.

 

Any thoughts on the PCMCIA interface vs. USB vs. Firewire?

 

Arthur E. Petersen, Jr.

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My first experiment with computer audio was the Xmod. The only thing I still use is the little draw string bag they supplied with it. It actually sounded worse than the mini's headphone output when the Sound Blaster "enhancement" processing was bypassed. With SB processing on you had the choice of a tin-can (no pun intended) reverb effect for the surround sound emulation, or a treble and bass boost for what they called the X-Fi Crystalizer, like a very poor man's aural exciter.

 

Of course this doesn't mean their other products are equally poor, and it could well be that it's more suited to gaming and low bit rate mp3s. Or maybe I'm just being an audio snob.

 

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The item I'm talking about is not an Xmod product which by my interpretation of Creative's info is intended to "enhance" the sound of low bit rate mp3's, primarily iTunes and WMA files. IMHO such "enhancements" make bad files sound worse.

 

My question was regarding the "straight" throughput of an older Sound Blaster PCMCIA card. To my ears there is an improvement in sound quality over plugging in to the line out or headphone out of my laptop. Also does a slot loaded card avoid the XP kernel mixer issue?

 

The Echo card I referred to was the Indigo IO (positively reviewed in The Stereophile in 2004), long out of production, replaced by the Indigo IOx. I have no experience with either product.

 

Regarding Creative's boards in general, reviewers love'em or hate'em; there's no middle ground.

 

Arthur E. Petersen, Jr.

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