Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Is the X-fi Music worth it?

Last response: in Components
Share
February 1, 2006 7:42:36 PM

The mobo that I'm planning on getting already contains 8-channel Realtek mobo-integrated audio. All of the X-fi series by Creative are 8-channel. I was wondering if the performance will be that great of an increase in gaming, especially with headphones and 5.1 speakers.

More about : music worth

February 1, 2006 7:50:58 PM

Over integrated audio it would be a benefit, but over another soundcard such as an Audigy 2 ZS you'd notice no difference.
February 1, 2006 7:53:37 PM

Onboard sounds always sucks unless your motherboard has an SB Audigy or X-Fi on board (there are VERY few boards with onboard SB chipsets - I can think of about 2 right now - they are very hard to find).

Even an old SB Live would be way better than onboard sound.

SB Live $10-$35 online
SB Audigy2 about $45 online IIRC.

Good luck!
Related resources
February 1, 2006 7:56:53 PM

Which do you think is better when it comes to performance to price ratio? The Audigy2 ZS Gamer or the X-fi music? I wanna get the Xfi music because it doesn't have that control panel you put in the 5.25 inch bay, which may or may not pose problems with my case door's closing.
February 1, 2006 8:43:12 PM

Then I would agree the X-Fi is probably a better choice.

The older SB cards are quite good too and much less expensive.
February 1, 2006 8:59:43 PM

just bought a creative audigy2 zs 2 days ago. i'm quite happy with it, and i did notice a difference in sound quality from onboard. didn't come with a front 5.25" bay control panel either, just the card.
February 1, 2006 9:30:50 PM

Well I own both the creative X-Fi Xtreme music and an Audigy 2 ZS and the difference in sound quality is unnoticeable. I use a 5.1 Creative surround sound system too, so you'd think there'd be a difference. On the performance aspect; my F.E.A.R. framerates did not budge. But for the extra software features of the X-Fi and potential for better sound quality on future games, I guess I'd still recommend it.(Plus they give you this really cool sticker for your case!)
February 2, 2006 1:17:56 AM

Quote:
Well I own both the creative X-Fi Xtreme music and an Audigy 2 ZS and the difference in sound quality is unnoticeable. I use a 5.1 Creative surround sound system too, so you'd think there'd be a difference. On the performance aspect; my F.E.A.R. framerates did not budge. But for the extra software features of the X-Fi and potential for better sound quality on future games, I guess I'd still recommend it.(Plus they give you this really cool sticker for your case!)


Like what kind of software? Any wave editors and such?
February 2, 2006 1:31:09 AM

Well CMSS 3D headphone and Crystalizer to help out overworked one-way speakers (for those masochists who like to spend $30 on speakers and $400 on a sound card).

All of the features can be hacked to work on earlier edition Audigies, since they are all software based and not hardware based, although like the aforementioned people, some people just like paying a lot of money for marketting and/or convenience.

As for X-RAM...which is hardware based...whose gonna say software developers are gonna make any effort for a couple hundred owners of a specific soundcard? We may never see any X-RAM optimization.
February 2, 2006 3:21:54 PM

Try out the onboard and if you dont like it then get a card and see if its worth it.
I use onboard on my main computer and a SB live on my older computer and cant tell any major difference. Using logitec z530s 5.1 speakers.
Im usually too busy fraggin people to notice.
February 2, 2006 4:01:23 PM

Well .. Unlike a few posts ive read here i have to say i DID hear a BIG diff between my old Audigy2 gamer and my new Xfi Fatality ..

Its my understanding the hardware for all the Xfi are pretty much the same save the front panel and then the Xram with the fatality .. both of which are totally un neccassary atm .. i just got it to "start at the top" so to speak..

The improvments im hearing are In spatial audio and DVD movie playback.. The improvement in my MP3 playback is quite noticable as well.. Much warmer lows and a lot less noise at extreme volumes..
If the software is indeed hackable to use for playback on older creative cards than i think thats kewl.. but i have no time , nor desire to mess with an api that is not "broken" .. too much hassle for me ..

Im using The logitech Z5500 speaker set {was with teh audigy first} and i can tell you in my humble opinoin that Xfi Rulez.. period.. For a budget i would say teh xfi music is the way to go .. {if you can call it that .. its still a pretty pricey card}
I did not see any framrate increase in any games but i DID notice the diff in FEAR when i enabled max sounds .. i was getting some pops and cpu lags when i did it with the audigy .. so at least that much was clear.. to me anyways..

FYI for those who wonder My specs are Asus A8N sli deluxe /939 Xp3500@2.2Ghz, 2x 1024 sticks of OCZ one 6800 Ultra , 2 raid arrays {2x maxtor drives spanned for each}
The Xfi Fatality , Lg Drives for DVd and DVD burn all powered by an Antec Truepower 550 Watt PSU
February 3, 2006 2:13:58 PM

Quote:
Well I own both the creative X-Fi Xtreme music and an Audigy 2 ZS and the difference in sound quality is unnoticeable. I use a 5.1 Creative surround sound system too, so you'd think there'd be a difference. On the performance aspect; my F.E.A.R. framerates did not budge. But for the extra software features of the X-Fi and potential for better sound quality on future games, I guess I'd still recommend it.(Plus they give you this really cool sticker for your case!)


You didn't notice a difference? What? It's like night and day... using the Crystaliser improves my MP3 playback. Maybe you're using a cheaper speaker set. I'd recomend going to Klipsh or Logitech speakers.. might notice the difference then.

Also Battlefield2 sounds completely different... when you're on top of one of those "T" shaped rigs snipping.. you hear the wind, and when someone is shooting at you.. you hear the bullets ricochet on teh metal.. pretty intense stuff.

Quote:
As for X-RAM...which is hardware based...whose gonna say software developers are gonna make any effort for a couple hundred owners of a specific soundcard? We may never see any X-RAM optimization.


Software developpers have already begun optimizing there titles. They always go with Creative when it comes to sound because Creative knows no equals in the gaming department. Yes, XRAM will be utilised... this I swear.


Quote:
All of the features can be hacked to work on earlier edition Audigies, since they are all software based and not hardware based, although like the aforementioned people, some people just like paying a lot of money for marketting and/or convenience.


Umm, it can process 40,000 MIPS. This means that as games take advantage of the newer features (including XRAM) the CPU usage and FPS hit will remain quite low. Games that are said to be raking advantage are F.E.A.R, BF2, Unreal3, Unreal Tournament 2007 and MANY MANY more (pretty much all EA titles).
February 3, 2006 2:47:59 PM

From what I've seen in reviews and such, the X-Fi is indeed a card that is pretty much a must have. The main thing I wonder though, is the drivebay box fromthe original Audigy series compatible with the X-Fi? If so, it would make an attractive upgrade for me, seeing as I currently have an Audigy 2 with the breakout bay.

If anyone has any info on this, I'd be greatful.
February 4, 2006 8:52:31 AM

Elmo, here you can familiarize yourself with the "Crystalizer." It's not very difficult to see where it got its name, its a "smily-face"/West-Coast-Sound equalizer preset.

http://techreport.com/reviews/2005q4/soundblaster-x-fi/...





An equalizer is a volume dial on a frequency range with a set db slope rolloff. Equalizing is usually used to fix perceived problems with a speakers frequency response, because it is *not naturally* capable of producing those frequencies at a flat SPL. This is a "quick-fix" scheme that results in large amounts of distortion, so with a more revealing, accurate speaker, the Crystalizer will sound WORSE, not better. Creative's marketting slogan essnetially to make poor mp3s (~128kbps) sound like CD quality! Obviously all it really is an EQ, rather than some magical detail recovery scheme from compression. A good speaker will sound bad with a bad source...distortion from heavy EQing will make it sound worse still. A cheap, veiled speaker thats forgiving/hiding the low quality recording, then EQed to a flatter response, is likely to sound better, but not on *all* sources, because some music types which lean toward a certain frequency range will be overcompesated, and thus will sound *harsh* or *bright*. Obviously the Crystalizer cannot be used as a one-size-fits all scheme, nor should it be in any audio enthusiasts vocabulary for "fixing" your sound. Getting better speakers are, not trading FR for distortion.

CableTwitch- I wouldn't bet on the drivebays being compatible with each other, but you could try if you had extra cash and just wanted to experiment.

Regardless of the economic situations, I can't deny your word of X-RAM utilization...you are too convincing ;) 

Most of those 40,000 MIPs...well it's actually 10,000 MIPs, but I'm sure a cat just got your tongue and you still have the last word in economics--go to hardware resampling of input sources to 48KHz. Instead of getting a native 44.1KHz sampler. See? This is a roundabout way of fixing a problem with a *big* solution, where an easy one would have sufficed. This is when the marketing department gets too involved in features rather then the engineers. In the end. the higher costs (of design futility) are passed to the user.
February 9, 2006 3:14:17 PM

X-Fi.. you notice the difference over even an Audigy2ZS... definatly worth it IMHO (If the money isn't a huge sacrifice of course).
February 9, 2006 4:10:40 PM

Quote:
Umm, it can process 40,000 MIPS. This means that as games take advantage of the newer features (including XRAM) the CPU usage and FPS hit will remain quite low. Games that are said to be raking advantage are F.E.A.R, BF2, Unreal3, Unreal Tournament 2007 and MANY MANY more (pretty much all EA titles).


Elmo, you have just made my day/week/month/year!!! I am a HUGE UT fan, that is about all i ever play. I was there on the day UT2003 was released getting the first copy i could, and same thing with UT2004. I was afraid that was the end of the line. Now you have given me hope. I am most thankful to you for letting me know that UT2007 is on its way!
February 10, 2006 4:08:33 PM

XtremeMusic doesn't have X-Ram, you need the insanely expensive Fatal1ty or Elite for that.

I upgraded from a SB Live 5.1 to the XtremeMusic and I was blown away.

I used to digitally output AC3 and DTS to my Home Theater Reciever, but now I use analog 5.1 output becuase the X-FI produces better sound.

I don't think X-RAM is worth the nearly $200 extra you have to pay for it, but new games are definately going to be written with the X-FI in mind.
February 13, 2006 4:13:40 PM

astrallite, it's more then an equalizer preset. It resamples your MP3's on the fly to 24-bit, 96-kHz. Makes them sound clearer... it actually makes a difference of course not true 24bit (as you're limited by the original recording) but they do indeed sound better. Best to turn off during games though.

And the X-fi is over 10,000MIPS.... true not 40,000MIPS (made a mistake there). But that's still 24times more power then an Audigy2 ZS (400MIPS).
February 13, 2006 4:39:52 PM

I have it in my rig and it sound really fantastic. The sound is very clear and crisp, I specially love the game mode of this card. I don't have a 3D headphone for gaming and I could really tell where the sound is coming from playing games like the BF2. It also performs well with music and movies in entertainment mode.
February 14, 2006 9:50:56 AM

Quote:
astrallite, it's more then an equalizer preset. It resamples your MP3's on the fly to 24-bit, 96-kHz. Makes them sound clearer... it actually makes a difference of course not true 24bit (as you're limited by the original recording) but they do indeed sound better. Best to turn off during games though.

And the X-fi is over 10,000MIPS.... true not 40,000MIPS (made a mistake there). But that's still 24times more power then an Audigy2 ZS (400MIPS).


How does it sound better? You answered your own question...the original source is 16bit/44.1KHz and not true 24bit. how are you going to get any more detail, if its sampling essentially 16bit/44.1KHz data and extrapolating it to a wider bandwidth of empty bits?

When you take something that's 16-bit/44.1KHz, and upsample to 24bit/96KHz, all you do is push the total bandwidth from 22.05KHz (20-22.05KHz usually) out to 48KHz. People with real loudspeakers like bookshelves and floorstanders would appreciate this, certainly, because the 22.05KHz digital filter creates a harsh ringing that's even more apparent on aluminum-based tweeters, and you are pushing the filter out to 48KHz, which should for all practical purposes be inaudible. If you are running computer speakers, this isn't even a problem since those speakers aren't capable of outputting that kind of resolution (beyond 13KHz for most, perhaps 16-18KHz for tweeter-midrange PC speakers ).

So it oversamples and EQs it. Yes, it's more than "just EQing," my mistake. It's not a lot whole lot more than than "just EQing" though. And on the flip side you get a massive surge of intermodulation distortion, which you WILL hear on high resolution speakers. IM distortion is high frequency ringing, much like poor spectral decay (afterimage/ghosting of frequencies) and negative feedback on 1970s amplifiers. You know, if you "upsample" to 96KHz to push the digital filter out to avoid this ringing, only to reintroduce it due to distortion, it seems like a pointless exercise after all.

Yes and the X-Fi has a lot more "MIPs." For better 48KHz resampling. Does this magic 10,000 number also make ice cream?
February 14, 2006 4:20:31 PM

Quote:
Yes and the X-Fi has a lot more "MIPs." For better 48KHz resampling. Does this magic 10,000 number also make ice cream?


I sense sarcasm.

I take it from reading this entire thread that most people agree that yes the X-Fi is worth upgrading too if you are an audiophile, or are in the market for a new card. But otherwise if you have an audigy 2 or 4 or something like that. Then the answer is general seems to be no, its not worth the money yet. Would this be correct?
February 14, 2006 11:00:31 PM

Quote:

I take it from reading this entire thread that most people agree that yes the X-Fi is worth upgrading too if you are an audiophile, or are in the market for a new card. But otherwise if you have an audigy 2 or 4 or something like that. Then the answer is general seems to be no, its not worth the money yet. Would this be correct?


Would you upgrade to an X-Fi from the Audigy 2/4 because you are an "audiophile?" No, I don't think that's a good reason, by the same token I wouldn't vote for a Republican automatically just because (postulating here) I am a Republican.

I would upgrade to the X-Fi under specific conditions though (postulating again). Those conditions would include but not limited to:

1) Having an analog-only multimedia speaker set, because the X-Fi does not including 7.1 digital passthrough. (Although this isn't really a reason to upgrade if you had the A2/4s).

2) If I had speakers that weren't very accurate (say some $50 X-530s) and could benefit from the Crystalizer, because the added distortion is minor to the distortion the speaker already exhibits

3) If I had a large source of low bitrate mp3s (~128kbps) and don't figure to ever redownload them and thus use the Crystalizer as a "quick fix"; but may have to turn it off occasionally as the Crystalzer will overcompensate high frequencies on already compressed/bright recordings, and sound harsh.

4) If I wanted X-RAM functionality (particularly if I thought this might come into use later)--for the Platinums of course.

5) If I thought all those 10,000 MIPs did a better job resampling all sources to 48KHz than the Audigy 2/4, and I had a ton of money to spend and didn't care where it went. While this is a compromise anyway (who wants their sources resampled at such a low bitrate? It's gonna cause a lot of IMD distortion--real "upsampling" must occur at 2x the original frequency bandwidth to avoid IMD distortion). I suppose if you had a very resolving speaker you might hear the difference between "regular resampling artifacts" and "really bad resampling."

6) I really, really think EAX5 is cool, and need to upgrade from EAX4. Maybe those exaggerated echoes and room-transition-audio-mixing has improved. (To me this seems not that important, but maybe to you).

These are some of the reasons I can think of. "Audiophile" reasons might include better resampling, but the DACs aren't really any more resolving from the previous generations. For $20 you could pick up an outboard DAC that would put the X-Fi Platinums to shame.
February 18, 2006 11:46:07 PM

Hmm just took a gander at the graphs...

the IMD peak at 50-70hz is +10db with the Crystalizer on. That's 200% distortion!; it's twice as loud as the input audio source.

At 7KHz there's a -15db (33% distortion) peak.

And on average it's 0.4% IMD, or 16 times higher than without the Crystalizer. But the peaks are the real problem. You are listening to distortion rather than the music...banzai!
February 19, 2006 12:53:49 AM

Actually, no. I own a Creative 5.1 speaker set I payed a decent amount for.
With the crystalizer enabled Music is much better, however music is not what I purchased a new "High performance" soundcard for.
February 20, 2006 1:06:11 PM

I don't think astrallite knows what he's talking about. He's quite funny, almost acting like he works for a competitor..lol. (He might actually work for one) or he's some sort of VIA, Realtek etc fanboy.

Either way, the 10,000 MIPS processing number is a number geared towards gamers. astralite if you don't know how a sound card that can process more information quicker benefits a gamer then I suggest you go post on kiddieland.com. Nice place for newbs.

More processing power, the more features you can turn on and the higher the sound quality you can use as a sample in games (24bit sound like BF2) without a large performance hit (since it's all processed on the fly, by the X-Fi APU).

That's what 10,000MIPS means, it means you can get better sounding audio to run in games with all of teh bells and whitles turned on without hindering performance too much.

As far as the sound Quality, the X-Fi has shown, time after time, site after site, test after test.. that it is not only the best consumer level sound card.. but the best sound card period (even over highend audiophile cards currently available on the market). It's one Achilles heal is drivers. (but this is from a past experience viewpoint). I have yet to have any driver related issues with my X-Fi but that's not to say I won't encounter any.

Quit the fanboy crap, and the mis-information.. thank you.
February 20, 2006 9:25:18 PM

Quote:

Umm, it can process 40,000 MIPS. This means that as games take advantage of the newer features (including XRAM) the CPU usage and FPS hit will remain quite low. Games that are said to be raking advantage are F.E.A.R, BF2, Unreal3, Unreal Tournament 2007 and MANY MANY more (pretty much all EA titles).

Only Battlefield2 is an EA title. :roll:
Let's also consider that the new Lord of the Rings game is EA's first shader model 3.0 title.
February 20, 2006 10:30:38 PM

Quote:
I don't think astrallite knows what he's talking about. He's quite funny, almost acting like he works for a competitor..lol. (He might actually work for one) or he's some sort of VIA, Realtek etc fanboy.

Either way, the 10,000 MIPS processing number is a number geared towards gamers. astralite if you don't know how a sound card that can process more information quicker benefits a gamer then I suggest you go
post on kiddieland.com. Nice place for newbs.

More processing power, the more features you can turn on and the higher the sound quality you can use as a sample in games (24bit sound like BF2) without a large performance hit (since it's all processed on the fly, by the X-Fi APU).

That's what 10,000MIPS means, it means you can get better sounding audio to run in games with all of teh bells and whitles turned on without hindering performance too much.

As far as the sound Quality, the X-Fi has shown, time after time, site after site, test after test.. that it is not only the best consumer level sound card.. but the best sound card period (even over highend audiophile cards currently available on the market). It's one Achilles heal is drivers. (but this is from a past experience viewpoint). I have yet to have any driver related issues with my X-Fi but that's not to say I won't encounter any.

Quit the fanboy crap, and the mis-information.. thank you.


Elmo, I'm glad you've resorted to name calling, after I've provided factual evidence to your own misinformation over and over again. I'm not going to lower myself to name calling because it's bad etiquitte, and when I'm wrong, I accept it, rather than parroting insults are people.

If you think I have a problem with the X-Fi, or Creative, you are wrong, or just changing the subject. Several times on this thread you brought up misidentified or misinformed concepts about Creative features like the Crystalizer, EAX, resampling, and the breakdown of MIPs. I don't have a problem with you (as much as you might believe otherwise from my quiped responses), or with what you purchase. I am trying to help *you* clear up misidenitifcation of concepts, because other people read this thread, hoping to learn from "old hands" who've been hobby gaming for years, and learning misinformation is no gain for anyone. If that salts your pride, tell me not to patronize you or something. But to change the subject to say I am working for the opposition, or I dislike Creative or the X-Fi, is just not true. I admit, at this time the product is *not for me,* however.

Here is the breakout of the "MIPs" as provided by Creative:



Function........MIPS....Percentage
SRC:............7310....70.7%
Filter:...........200.......1.9%
Mixer:...........1210.....11.7%
Tank:............440......4.3%
DSP:.............1180.....11.4%

Do you know what SRC is? Here's a clue: "Sample rate conversion."
February 20, 2006 11:25:46 PM

you need to list your speakers...
February 22, 2006 7:21:39 PM

It really depends on what you want to do, if you just want to listen to awesome music and you have a good pair of speakers, i would suggest a real set of fishers or somthing not any crapy PC speakers(its pretty easy to hook your stereo up to the computer if you cant do this then idk what to tell you), THEN i would go with the X-Fi

As of now i would not buy anything except the extream music version. thing is its a really great card but right now its a very small amount of people who will actualy use it if your recording great if you love music and youve got nice speakers great, get the extream music.

As far as gamers go, id sit back on your audidgy 2 for another year or so.
The way i look at it game developers have got alot of new things to get used to right now is an EXTREAMLY evolving time for developing a game youve got dual core processors, Ageia's physics API's are coming out, next generation consoles and now creative has released new API's. thats a hard hit, and directX10 is right down the road, oh yeah and managed direct X and C#.

SO as far as a gamer goes i would wait it out for the next generation of X-Fi cards with more X-Ram and pci express support
February 25, 2006 8:20:17 PM

I have to say thank you to everyone for posting on this topic as I have found it to be very helpful reading it. It always helps to get the opinions of the people that live with the product day in and day out.
May 9, 2006 4:56:30 AM

Ok I'm going on an all out rant here (sorry guys) but I just have to complain about this thing.

I recently bought an Audigy X-fi platinum since it was on sale and now i'm not so sure about it after reading this thread and my experiences so far.

For one it seemed a good deal at the time X-fi hype and stuff that i fell for... so i bought it thinking it would be a good investment...WRONG

I'm am absolutly hating this thing right now. The remote is crap and its IR so it only works so far from where my computer sits in the room. I tried everything to get it to work with winamp and I just got fed up with all this crap and runarounds and I wasn't getting anywhere.

Another thing is i have this dang ribbon cable in the middle of my case now that restricts airflow(i haven't exactly organized it) but still i don't think i can do much with it at this point in time.

As for the panel i have one comment WTF!!! who is going to attatch everything to the front of their comp other than the headphones? (at least for the average consumer not some audio editing guru even though there are better cards)

Right now I am just fed up with it and here is my advice to people...get an audigy 2zs (which is about the same right?) and use the money saved to buy a decent RF remote or IR remote, your preference, and if you want optical out go with a different card, there are so good options out there besides the audigy's

Hope you have better finding then me, oh an by the way i made this decision after like having it for 2days, so i'm going to return it.
!