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Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD PCIe Sound Card powered by THX TruStudio Pro
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Average Customer Review:
( 168 customer reviews )
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56 of 62 found the following review helpful:
The best SoundBlaster card to date / Better alternativesFeb 13, 2011
By G. Ifland
After reading several positive web reviews of this card, I decided to purchase it and see how it compares to my current ASUS Xonar Essence ST Headphone 7.1-Channel Audio Card for Audiophiles. (It should be noted that the Xonar Essence ST is a PCI card that I believe is out of production, but still available for purchase. It has been replaced by the ASUS Xonar Essence STX Virtual 7.1 Channels PCI Express Interface 124 dB SNR / Headphone AMP Card which, like the Titanium HD, is PCI-E based.) Both cards are advertised as geared towards "audiophiles" and manufactured with high-end components. They are designed to primarily support headphones and/or analog stereo 2.0/2.1 speakers. They do not come standard with analog outputs for 5.1/7.1 speakers, but do support multi-channel digital output via optical TOSLINK. The Xonar Essence ST also supports digital output via a coaxial connection and an optional Xonar HDav Multi-ch Extension card to provide analog output supporting up to 7.1 channels is available. Both cards include built-in headphone amps, but the one in the Xonar Essence ST/STX is more robust. The SoundBlaster Titanium HD employs the venerable X-Fi chipset and supports all versions of creative's EAX feature - if you do a lot of PC gaming, this card may be your best option. The Xonar Essence ST does provide good surround sound support via Dolby ProLogic IIx and limited EAX support via DirectSound 3D game extensions.
This is purely a subjective review - it is based soley on my personal impressions as received through my ears - your preferences/impressions may be different. I primarily listen to music and play the occasional game, so I'm most concerned with high quality sound. My speakers are Klipsch ProMedia 2.1. Both cards installed easily and I experienced no issues with installing the related software/drivers. For the Titanium HD, I left everything at its default setting in the Entertainment module - no equalization, environmental or tone adjustments. Let me start by saying the Titanium HD is the best-sounding SoundBlaster card ever made. For music, the highs were crisp, mid-range just slightly muffled, the bass very solid, but not overpowering and the positioning stellar. I could easily discerne each instrument. The overall soundstage was very good. For gaming, you simply cannot beat SoundBlaster for EAX and positional audio in the games that support it. With the Xonar Essence ST, for music - the highs were slightly better, the mid-range better, the bass excellent and positioning equally good. The overall soundstage of the Xonar Essence ST was simply better to my ears. (Please note: for a head to head comparison, you need to select the "Hi-Fi" DSP Mode in the Xonar software which clears all effects to make the analog output quality as high as possible.) For gaming, using the "GX" or "Game" DSP Modes provided excellent positional audio, though not quite to the level of the SoundBlaster card.
Overall, I prefer my existing ASUS Xonar Essence ST (and the SoundBlaster will be returned). For music, it outperforms the SoundBlaster Titanium HD - granted, not by a lot. The H6 Multi-Channel Extension Card is also a plus for the Xonar Essence ST. For gaming, I have to give the edge to the SoundBlaster Titanium HD - that said, there are cheaper SoundBlaster cards designed specifically for gaming. In summary, you won't be disappointed with either card. If you are a frequent gamer and use headphones or 2.0/2.1 analog speakers, get the Soundblaster. If you are in to music and an occasional gamer, I highly recommend the ASUS Xonar Essence ST/STX.
26 of 27 found the following review helpful:
Forget about built-in PC sound.Nov 24, 2010
By Z. Rousedower
Just got this a few hours ago and am loving it. I've only tested it with the Westone 3 earphones. The bass is incredible as is the rest of the soundstage. Finally my pc sounds better than my iAudio 7 player! Before I was always astonished that the built-in sound on Acer PCs and Clevo laptops were not as good as the iAudio. The installation of the SB card was easy once I figured how to get the damn expansion slot panel off from the back of my Acer. The SB card is not positioned perfectly in the back but it is plugged in to the short PCIe slot and works. I made sure to remove the existing drivers before using the setup disk to install the drivers and software without a hitch on my Windows 7 64-bit system. In the future I will get some long RCA cables (maybe toslink as well)and connect them to my Pioneer receiver.
Just got a 35ft dual plug M/M RCA cable and hooked up the line outs to a Pioneer Elite receiver. Turns out you have to unplug the headphone plug directly at the headphone jack (on the SB card) in order for the line out jacks to output a signal. That was a bummer. Nonetheless, the sound coming from the 5.1 speaker setup is finally room shaking.
Finally got a 35 ft Toslink cable with a Toslink Mini Adapter to connect to the "optical in" of the Titanium HD card. This will allow me to switch between the faraway A/V receiver and my nearby earphones without having to unplug anything in the back. So I am no longer using the dual RCA plugs. Sound is automatically encoded with Dolby Digital Live but one can change to DTS Connect as well. My receiver shows that it is receiving a Dolby Digital signal! Note that the only way to control the digital sound volume is through whatever program you are using for music (e.g. Grooveshark, Youtube, Foobar, VLC Player, etc.) or the receiver remote/front panel. Neither the Windows7 nor the Creative Console volume control will adjust the digital output (but it can be muted with these). Actually if I use the THX TruStudio section I can boost the volume by using the "Smart Volume" control but I cannot lower it below the default volume I had the receiver on. Also, while the digital signal is being output to the receiver the analog signal is also output to the earphones unless I mute it.
So far I am digging this setup!
-I recommend Foobar with the WASAPI component for listening to your lossless music collection.
Right now I am listening to KPBS-FM RADIO classical music. Very nice!
I have been using the sound card with a pair of Sennheiser HD800 headphones and they make a great pair. For reference I am using 21.8 feet of total cord length to connect to the Titanium XFI HD. The card has no problem driving the HD800s (300 ohm nominal impedence).
23 of 25 found the following review helpful:
High quality DAC for music playbackNov 20, 2010
By J. Martinez
This card is one of the best to play back your digital music from your computer through a receiver and nice speakers. Headphone listening is also well executed. This is by far the best sound card Creative has ever made for music playback. The DAC (Digital to Analog converter) on this card is high quality and is the same DAC (Burr-Brown PCM1794) used in some very expensive and high end CD players (Cary Audio Design CD 306 and Halcro EC800). Be sure to use the analog RCA outputs to see the benefit. Of course this is good for games too but music playback is where this card really shines. If you just play games then the previous versions of X-fi cards should be enough for you. If high quality music playback is important to you get this card. Creative obviously needed to up the ante to create something that people would want to buy if they already own an X-fi card and they did it here.
6 of 6 found the following review helpful:
Non-technial reviewDec 05, 2011
The card was easy to install. I have a sound bar connected to a Denon receiver and Difinity subwoofer. For audio, I was using the Realtek soundcard built-in to my motherboard. The sound was okay, but I knew that it could be a little better. After reading many reviews on sound cards, I narrowed the field to the Creative Labs X-fi Titanium HD and the Asus Xonar Essence STX. Both cards are loaded with high-end components. I chose the Titanium HD because it was on sale last week (not quite Cyber Monday, but a deal is a deal) and I do not regret the purchase.
Installing the card took about 15 minutes. I searched the Internet to find out if there are any installation pitfalls before opening the box and my search took most of the time. STEPS: Shutoff the computer, unplug the computer, open the computer case, insert the card into a slot, close the computer, plug in the computer, turn on the computer, install the software from the CD that came with the card, connect to the Internet and use the Creative Labs Auto-update program that installs from the CD and play a movie or music that you've played on your computer before.
Dr. Who suddenly had crystal-clear footsteps as he ran down the hallway, Star Wars the Old Republic (beta tester) suddenly roared to life. I could clearly hear the difference between walking on stone versus squishing through mud. Suddenly my sound bar and subwoofer really came to life and my little loft man-cave rumbled with the power of my audio equipment. I got tingles realizing that I really had gotten a good deal on my speakers. My movies, music and games sound a thousand times (sorry engineers) better! I am wowed every time I played something and realized how much I had been settling for mediocre audio. I started playing songs, and videos and games just to hear the difference. Now to dig up my Transformers Blu Ray.
A caveat here is that if you have audio files that are low quality then the problems in those files will be evident when using this card because it brings out all the details whether good or bad.
The most amazing experience so far with this sound set up was looking at the wall of Alduin in Skyrim. I could hear the sound of the wind coming through a hole in the ceiling, I could hear water dripping and then a dragon swooshed by overhead, and I could tell which direction it headed. I ran through the door where it sounded like the dragon was going and there it was! It turned, did a dragon shout, and I was sweating as the audio encircled me with flapping wings and the rumbling of the earth as the dragon's mass struck the earth. The walls rumbled and I did a dragon shout and there was a booming echo, which I felt; my subwoofer had not thrown sound like this before. Fireballs made my desk rattle and after the fight, I changed the volume to a more neighbor-friendly setting. While writing this I was inspired to install Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and revisit my experience there. As Patrick Stewart started his narrative, I knew I had a new experience to explore.
There are a few quirks though, like THX audio defaulting to playing through my left monitor instead of through the receiver. If you have one monitor and are not using a mini HDMI cable to connect to your video card then this might not apply to you.
I have also experienced a renaissance with my Sennheiser headphones because they sound fantastic with this card. I had felt disappointed about my headphones because the audio was weak and the surround was mediocre, but not anymore. I have stopped shopping for replacements because these are terrific. This is a great card and at least for now it will be hard to find something better for the money.
Update: My best audio experience with this new card so far is now the Samsung Demon HD - Blu-Ray Sound 7.1 ch on Youtube.
15 of 19 found the following review helpful:
Stay Away if you are using dual video cards using SLIApr 08, 2012
By Damian Chappell
Stupid me bought this card without visiting the forums and doing more thorough research. Needed to solve a problem and now I've gone and created another one for myself.
The entire range of X-FI cards suffer from terrible, terrible noise if you are running SLI video cards. The noise gets really annoying whenever the hard drive is working or when you do thinks like mouse over link text on a webpage.
It is an issue that Creative acknowledge on their support forums but have not listed any fixed that work for most of the people who have this issue. The forum listing is this: [...]
If you know what Creative is like, the fact that this is even posted on their forums means it is a pretty widespread issue.
From my non technical perspective it seems as if the cards are very temperamental to activity on the PCI bus - i notice that the Asus Xonar cards require external power and maybe the creative cards are trying to draw too much power from the bus or something.
This is an issue that effects all X-FI cards so if I was running dual video cards in SLI I would recommend the Asus Xonar series.
Note: I have both the Asus Xonar DX2 and the Titanium X-FI. I bought the Titanium because I moved to Windows 8 Preview and Asus do not have drivers that work under Windows 8 at this time. I have since found out that there are 3rd party drivers available for Xonar cards and Windows 8. It turns out you need 3rd Party drivers to get the X-FI cards to run under Windows 8 as well.
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