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Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1
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Average Customer Review:
( 117 customer reviews )
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84 of 90 found the following review helpful:
Change USB Speed Option to Solve Lags!May 03, 2009
Under 'Creative audio control panel,' be certain that 'high speed' (2.0) is checked, and not 'full speed' (1.1). This may or may not solve lag and other commonly cited audio issues. That said,
I do not like this sound card. In fact, it's not really a sound card at all. More truthfully, it is a (large) software suite connected to a big volume knob. As far as I can tell, and from what I have read and seen in task manager), all of the real work is done with your computer. Well, this shouldn't be too much of a problem on modern machines, right? I mean, aren't the days of needing external chips to alleviate workload on the CPU long gone and irrelevant?
Maybe. But the fact is that I feel that I could have attained the same, cheap audio tricks via any number of winamp plug-ins, equalizers, et al. What I wanted was a superior external DAC than the noise coming from my onboard RealTek 'high definition' audio. The truth is that I can tell no difference between the two outputs until I turn on the effects of the x-fi, which are really annoying to a music purist. They produce listener fatigue and unwelcome distortion (music was not meant to be heard in simulated surround, and 'crystalizer' can get downright 'screechy').
The simulated surround or EAX is fine for watching movies and playing games, though. But if you are primarily a music buff and have decent speakers, I advise looking elsewhere.
There is good news, though. While Creative has a history of not supporting older cards on a newer OS, there is a functioning beta driver for Windows 7 already at their site. You won't be experiencing what thousands of people did when trying to use their XP cards on Vista, etc. However, the overall performance of the card is sluggish both on my XP install and my Win 7 beta. Adjustments are cumbersome and opening the severe bloatware of sound options is unacceptably slow even on fairly well-equipped hardware. I'd consider this a fluke of my install, but on two separate disks, and with two different OSes (XP and 7)? No. It's just bloated.
I got this new for virtually nothing, but I'd still not buy it again because I can honestly achieve the same effects by using the EQ of the iTunes, Mediamonkey, etc. Again, this is nothing but a ton of sound software that happens to have a physical body. You can do better for not much more money. However, as a solution for a broken onboard chip / output jack, this is an economical solution. But even then I'd almost recommend one of those USB thumb drive-type cards as they won't take up unnecessary desktop space or clutter your install with a ton of software that, btw, takes 20 minutes to install).
If the x-fi surround were anything but a fancy software suite, I'd rate it higher. Sorry. Just trying to save someone the grief if they are looking for a music solution. That's what these reviews are for.
27 of 28 found the following review helpful:
Awesome If Used ProperlyAug 23, 2009
By R. T. Meisenholder
It is important to note that this sound device is not for everyone and it is less ideal for surround sound users than those of us just looking for high quality stereo. The sound quality is tremendous for 2 channel sound and generally reliable to a point. You have to understand the limitations of using a USB sound device. YOU MUST have a powerful enough CPU to process the sound information and because of the fact that it uses the USB connection whatever else shares that bandwidth like a wireless USB network adapter will impact the audio with possible hiccups and crackle when transferring large amounts of data.
In 2 channel mode at 24 bit 96khz when coupled with a quad core processor your chances of the best quality audio experience are greatest. Even with my Phenom II 920 @ 2.8ghz during downloads from STEAM transferring my games with my wireless USB network adapter at a 135 mbps connection leads to crackle when listening to music at the same time. USB only has so much bandwidth and using 5.1 surround only lets its limitations become more prominent.
49 of 59 found the following review helpful:
Waste of money if youre running Vista 32 or 64 bit!!Sep 18, 2008
I purchased this Creative Labs X-Fi 5.1 external sound card to watch movies on my new laptop based on Creatives reputation, past creative products and the reviews that I read here.
Playing music is awesome. Mp3 files trully do sound great.
The previous reviewers must not have been running Windows Vista. (I'm running the 64 bit version). After plugging the card into my USB port, installing the the software, and plugging in my Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speaker system, I sat down to watch a movie. There is a terrible sound lag that makes watching a movie seem like you're watching a baddly dubbed foriegn film. The actors speak and the action happens before you hear the sound. I have tried to reinstall the software and drivers numerous times and the only way to correct the sound lag is uninstall the Creative software and drivers and go back to the Vista drivers. Unfortunately without Creatives drivers you loose the mp3 fuctions that make the music sound so good. Also, when using creatives software / sound card my cpu is really being worked hard sometimes up to 100% cpu usage when watching a dvd (it averages about 30 - 40% with music and nothing else running). I'm running a 2.0 ghz dual core processor with 4 gigs of ram???
I contacted Creative support over a week ago and have yet to get a reply. I am very unhappy with this sound card and with Creatives customer service. If you want to read more about the sound lag just check out creatives public forum, theres over 9 pages about this issue.
I've heard that if youre running Windows XP there is no lag. So if you are running XP or just want to listen to music this might be right for you. If your running Vista don't waste your money. Creative should not advertise that this is Vista compatable until they figure out this lag issue!!!
7 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Way better than I expected...but!Nov 03, 2009
By The Bruce
Too bad so many people have to read the Vista review at the top of this page to get their first opinion of this little fellow. I have Windows 7 Pro 64-bit and this product works just fine (and is certified for both Win 7 32/64-bit by Microsoft). I plugged it an and Win 7 installed it without needing the driver disk...a really good sign out of the box.
I was planning on just using it as a cheap sound solution because I didn't want to buy a $150+ card that supported 64-bit. I'm not a gamer and only have two speakers and headphones. Totally quiet and transparent sound with an open 3D clarity over headphones. Best $50 I've spent in a long while. That I can drop my hand to the unit and instantly crank the volume up and down (no more mouse!)is a big plus.
2015 UPDATE- 3 STARS NOW: mine is still going strong but I found something odd. I'm using it to sample audio from old record albums to convert to 44.1khz 24-bit files. But no matter what format I've chose in any control panel it only outputs in 48khz. To test it I connected the X-fi to a Win 7 64 laptop and ran an optical cable to my receiver. No matter what I selected it would only output 48 or 96khz.
May not seem like a bit deal but I'm mastering audio and want 44.1k 24-bit... not a video format. I've noticed that the other USB desktop devices all advertise 48-96khz as well. I wouldn't be surprised if DAC chips are cheaper the fewer formats they support.
6 of 6 found the following review helpful:
Great if you scrap the softwareJun 20, 2010
Pros: Soundcard is fantastic
Cons: Software is dog bleep.
I just plugged this into the USB and it worked like a charm. I have a Windows 7 ultimate 64-bit computer hooked through my home theater and a 42 inch Vizio and it sounds better than a movie theater. When you initially install the soundcard, just let it go out and find the Microsoft drivers and you'll be good. The initial mistake I made was downloading the software that came with this. After I did, there was a serious delay between the video and audio, which was due to adding the creative drivers (which are crap!) I also had computer issues which I later discovered were due to drivers. I also had an issue with my restore point so I had to uninstall all the crap from the CD-ROM and the updates from the Creative website. I did keep PowerDVD 9 though, it works very well for watching movies.
Bottom Line: keep the hardware, lose the software.
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