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Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic B-Stock
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Average Customer Review:
( 61 customer reviews )
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 66 found the following review helpful:
Met my needs just fineNov 23, 2005
If you are looking for superior sound from your computer this is the card to get. I expect a lot from my soundcards since I do composing, music production, listen to iTunes and even a little gaming too. Previously I had been using the very excellent M-Audio Audiophile 2496. The M-Audio had a few drawbacks to it but nothing that I couldn't work around. However, I decided to upgrade. I looked at the stats of several cards from Turtle Beach and M-Audio but on paper they didn't compare with this card. After installation I gave it a test drive. On playing music from iTunes I noticed a much cleaner sound than my previous card. I didn't bother to use the silly "Crystallizer." If you read about what it actually does, it essentially distorts the sound. This card doesn't need any tricks like that and I can't recommend using it. I think it was just marketing hype. Also, I've listened to music for the last few days I didn't notice any fatigue on my part - the sound was truly better. Next I opened up Cubase (a music sequencing program) and did an audio mixdown of one of my pieces, the quality was equal to a bit better than the original. Ripping from CD to iTunes, I didn't notice any difference in quality. The secret is likely the 5 million transitors. I also will once again enjoy the compatibility with nearly all software programs. If I need it I have access to 24 bit sound fonts, a microphone port and some other do-dads. There were a few downsides. The largest of which was the software installation which took way too long - 40 minutes on my Pentium 4 with 2 GB of RAM. I also objected to having to remove shortcuts from AOL placed in my start menu and Favorites by the installation program. You have to use the install disc and you are not given the option of just installing drivers. I took a small chance (because I had 14 days to return it) on the card because I have read countless negative reviews about Creative products over the last few years. Its nice to see them putting out a quality product once more. I didn't purchase the more expensive big brothers because I didn't need their features. I cannot comment on technical support because fortunately I didn't need to contact them. I highly recommend this card because of its quality and price.
17 of 18 found the following review helpful:
Great sound but not the quantum leap I was expectingJan 09, 2006
I upgraded to this card from a SoundBlaster Live! Value that I bought when that was the thing to have (meaning...a long time ago). After reading all the literature and reviews I was probably expecting too much but for games, which is why I bought it, it's not that much better than my old card. It definitely is better though and it does sound great. I've used it in Call of Duty 2 and in Battlefield 2. Everything is cleaner, crisper and has more punch than before. BF2 supports this card specifically and the weapons fire really shines in this title. The crack of the rifle shots is fabulous. As well, all of the ambient sounds seem more realistic and more immersive.
I was most eager to try out the 3D headphone capabilities but have not been all that impressed with it. I've not tried it with a movie (which has encoded surround channels) but movies aren't why I bought this card. The much touted headphone surround has been dissappointing. Again, the reviews I've read have made quite a fuss over this feature and since I purchased based in large part on the promise of a viable headphone surround, I'm a bit put off. Not enough to not recommend it though. I will add that I'm using a set of mid-grade over the ear headphones from Sony and not a pair of cheapie ear buds. Hopefully as more games come out that support the specific features of the unit this will improve.
To sum up, if you need a new sound card I think this is the one to get. You'll be future proofed for a while and get great sound in the bargain. If you're upgrading from a existing card that you're already satisfied with then I don't know if the high cost of this one is worth it. If I'd had the chance to try it out before plunking down the cash, I probably would have passed and put the money towards a shiney new video card instead. I'm still happy with it though as it does sound fabulous and gives games an extra bit of punch.
38 of 45 found the following review helpful:
Not bad... but a big problem IF...Oct 27, 2005
By Lantana Al
I like this card. I would give it 4 or 5 stars if not for the fact that YOU CAN'T HOOK UP A MICROPHONE AND DIGITAL SPEAKERS AT THE SAME TIME! Using the digital out port means you can't have a microphone input or line-in input. Very inconvenient. Otherwise, I've been happy with this card. I suppose I should have gotten the next model up or I should get a good USB microphone. But for a $100+ sound card, you ought to be able to have digital speakers and a microphone hooked up at the same time.
13 of 14 found the following review helpful:
This X-Fi card is amazingDec 19, 2005
By Linda D. Rozar
This card was recommended to me by a friend who knows that I love good sound but haven't been satisfied with my computer sound system lately. I had the Soundblaster Live! card with Klipsch 5.1 speakers. It was great sound in my last house that had vaulted ceilings and wide open spaces, but now I have a 12' x 15' den, and I thought the loss of "big sound" was because of the size of my room. My friend's room is about the same size as mine, but his older Klipsch system sounded much better than mine. All he had was a better sound card (and not even the X-Fi). I decided to buy the card.
In the meantime, my Klipsch 5.1 speakers died, which I've read is happening to a lot of people. I ended up buying both the X-Fi card and another set of speakers (this time Logitech 5500s). My husband (bless his heart) had inherited my Klipsch 4.1s when he bought me the 5.1s, which were now dead. When we installed the new X-Fi card, we listened to music on the 4.1s before changing to the Logitech 5500s. What a difference in the sound quality! My Klipsch 5.1s must have been dying a slow death over the last year, because the 4.1s sounded terrific!
I had a hard time believing that the X-Fi would make this much difference, but I'm blown away. The EAX console lets you change the sound from a feel of a jazz club to a theater to an opera house to an amphitheater, etc. This little room now has sound like I had at the former residence - big, spacious surround sound.
As for all the other bells and whistles, I'll eventually explore them but they're just bonuses for me. I'm just an audiophile with a sensitive and discerning ear, so I can't comment on the recording studio quality hardware and capabilities, which are apparently extensive. If you just want to make a major upgrade of your sound quality, I very highly recommended this card. It's well worth the cost.
7 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Some information you might want to know -Dec 21, 2006
By Scott Jones
I just got this card after reading several good and bad reviews about the X-Fi line of cards. Knowing the issues, I have not yet opted to install the bundled software - so I cannot review that, but I would like to recommend to any potential owner of this card:
You might not want to use the bundled install disk at all.
I got this card to replace a SoundBlaster Audigy SE. I uninstalled all the Creative software first, then uninstalled the Audigy device driver from the Hardware Manager.
I downloaded the latest driver bundle from Creative for this card. It is an October release (Web release 4) and it IS WHQL certified (for WinXPsp2 at least). Awesome!
I powered down the system and removed the Audigy SE/Installed the X-Fi ExtremeMusic into a slot that was known to have its own, unshared IRQ.
Powered system up, cancelled Windows attempt to install drivers, and clicked the driver bundle package I had downloaded from Creative.
Install went completely 100% error free - no weird messages - perfect.
This card has been just amazing for my games. Really amazing where it counts, because I have an older system. This card has extended the usable life of my already 6 year old system by at least another year or two.
Check this out:
I went from stuttering frames at 800x600 in UT2004 with SB Audigy SE
Liquid smooth gameplay at 1280x1024 with SB X-Fi ExtremeMusic!! WOW!!
BTW use '3D Audio' setting over 'HW 3d +EAX' for best FPS.
Far Cry is smoother for sure, the SE would hitch during the opening demo, the X-Fi was smooth.
MAN O MAN you should see what this card did for 'Medal of Honor Pacific Assault'. MOHPA was unplayable with the Audigy SE due to extreme game choppiness and hitchy interruptions. The X-Fi has made this game liquid smooth and playable!!
Gigabyte GA-7DXR mobo
BFG Geforce 6800 GSOC
768 MB PC2100 RAM
SoundBlaster X-Fi ExtremeMusic (formerly SB Audigy SE)
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