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Audigy 4 vs. X-Fi

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  • Sound Cards
  • Components
Last response: in Components
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Which would you buy?

Total: 44 votes (1 blank vote)

  • Audigy 4 w/ remote ($78)
  • 17 %
  • X-Fi XTreme Music ($115)
  • 84 %
March 6, 2006 3:03:25 PM

I know this is really an opinion question, but I'll ask it anyway...

More about : audigy

March 6, 2006 10:46:05 PM

Is this the Audigy 4 Pro or the regular Audigy 4? The regular Audigy 4 is a rebadged Audigy 2 ZS btw.
March 7, 2006 10:59:23 AM

At that price, I'd assume it'd have to be the regular one... not the pro.
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May 26, 2006 6:07:53 PM

I could be wrong here, and will be flamed if I am, quite certainly... I understood that the DACs in the Xi-Fi X.M. are the SAME as those in the Audigy 2ZS ...if the Audigy 4 is the same as the 2ZS... then if A = B and B = C, then A=C ? Of course with the Xi-Fi X.M. you get the (somewhat) more mature software and the CMSS3D Headphone dohicky, which from what I've read, is quite popular (and why I actually purchased the card (upgrade from a Live!).

...I'll find out tonight since I have a just-purchased Xi-Fi Plat. in m'Miata. I understand that the DACs in the Xi-Fi Platinum, Fata1ity and, Elite Pro are of a different flavor than that offered by the Xtreme Music.

Depending on what you really intend to do with the card (Music vs. Movies vs. Games...or a mixture) ...you may find yourself happier with the Xi-Fi series (unless you really need that fire-wire port on the Audigy) ...as the Xi-Fi do have a better S/N ratio.

...as I understand it, which may not be very well....
May 26, 2006 6:27:53 PM

I'm happy with my Audigy 2. I don't believe in paying $115 or more for a sound card. I play games, I don't listen to opera. Even if I did, still couldn't tell the difference. And for people who buy the Xi-Fi because "you get better framerates", you're retarded. You're talking what? 2-3 fps difference? I'd rather spend the money elsewhere that makes a bigger impact like a faster CPU or better GPU.

If you use all the features of the Xi-Fi fine but if you're just playing games, its a waste of money. But then thats what people excel at....
May 26, 2006 6:54:12 PM

Nothing I can find validates the claim that there is any difference in the various X-Fi models' DACs.

http://gear.ign.com/articles/640/640032p1.html

http://www.creative.com/products/welcome.asp?category=1...

After reading the second link, it does appear that the X-Fi Elite Pro is different than the other 3 cards... it has a lower THD as well as a higher SNR.

Minus the X-Ram on the Fatality, the 3 lower priced X-Fi's are the same card... with the Fatality and the Platinum both having the break-out box with the Xtreme Music being the bare card.
May 26, 2006 6:54:28 PM

Buy an Audigy Fatal1ty edition :)  hehehe I like mine but yeah they do cost an arm a leg and your first born child :)  (still worth it becouse you get to keep both ears !!!!) The remote controll is kinda cool but I can only see myself using it if I had my PC next to my TV like a media center... I do however like the front panel box and I use it daily :)  So my recomendation is that either one is better then built in sound. I had an Audigy 1 and upgraded to the X-Fi so I skipped the Audigy 2 and Audigy 4. Hmmmm since I never have used an Audigy 4 I can only recomend the X-Fi and even then its not the same model I have :( 
May 26, 2006 7:13:27 PM

Do you need the remote? If not get the X-FI; it's more powerful, newer and has a cooler name. :lol:  Plus has newer sound features the older cards don't have.
May 26, 2006 10:25:45 PM

Quote:
I could be wrong here, and will be flamed if I am, quite certainly... I understood that the DACs in the Xi-Fi X.M. are the SAME as those in the Audigy 2ZS ...if the Audigy 4 is the same as the 2ZS... then if A = B and B = C, then A=C ? Of course with the Xi-Fi X.M. you get the (somewhat) more mature software and the CMSS3D Headphone dohicky, which from what I've read, is quite popular (and why I actually purchased the card (upgrade from a Live!).


The difference between Creative cards (besides some ancillary external hardware) is generally software based sound effects (higher versions of EAX for example, more appliable effects on the EAX console, etc). Most people don't hack drivers for a living so a lot of these features are limited to specific models.

All of this is simply done to justify the price differential. This is no different than video cards being downclocked or pipes being sealed via BIOS in the video industry (and lower tolerance RAM in general, but the cores are the same).
May 27, 2006 2:36:53 PM

After installing the X-Fi Plat. last evening I can definately say with the 24-bit Crystalizer and CMSS3D enabled my MP3s and AACs sounded really good via the headphones. ...night and day between this card and the SB Live! Value I migrated from.

Doesn't the Audigy 4, however, have CMSS3D as well. I'm curious to hear what a nice set of 2.1s would sound like via the X-Fi. ...but the sound via the headphones made the purchase worthwhile IMHO.
May 27, 2006 3:32:36 PM

I got the X-Fi platinum in my new computer for a few reasons. First, though a bit expensive, I feel that buying the latest technology will help it live longer in the future. Buying something that is years old only means that it will loose support faster, and then you have to upgrade to what you should have bought in the first place. Sure, there are some initial bugs to work through, but that always seems one of the prices of progress.

Second, perhaps more important, I like to listen to lots of music. Better sound cards usually help produce better music. I also want to use all the extra ports on the separate panel to import recordings from my ancient stereo, getting those old vinyl records transferred to CD's, or even DVD's.
May 27, 2006 3:51:30 PM

Definitly go for an X-Fi. I finally got around to installing my new card, and the sound quality is certainly an inprovement. Everything so much clearer, and things just really do sound better.

You need to hear it to belive it.

Also, as I foundout via these forums and experiance, if you have an Audigy 2 or higher drivebay, then you can hook that up to the X-Fi no problem. You'll lose the firewire on the front, as the X-Fi doesnt have an internal header for the cable, but other than that, it works flawlessly. I havent tried the remote yet, but I dont really use it, so no loss there either.
May 27, 2006 4:32:57 PM

I'd get whatever the newest card is, but I'd also wait for it to go on sale and would go for the lowest end version of the X-FI. There's virtually no good reason to spend extra money on the higher end SB cards.

Creative cards are good at one thing, and one thing alone: Games.

For music creation or home recording, they're not good choices (no matter what Tomshardware may have said in the past).

For home recording/music I'd start with m-audio. I'm fairly certain they make better cards than Creative for home theater as well, but I prefer a stand alone decoder.
May 28, 2006 8:35:15 PM

This is the 3rd or 4th time I've read in these forums how good the cards from M-Audio are and how they render the Creative cards nearly useless when it comes to music creation and listening.

Hmmm... If the M-Audio cards sound that much better than the X-Fi and offer the utility that you get in the Xi-Fi Platinum and above (in terms of the I/O panel) I'd be very interested to hear more about them.

I can say that perhaps I've "low-fi" ears, but I'm rather impressed at the combination of the Xi-Fi and Itrique L3800s. ...not the best, but by no means the worst...and as I'm in an apartment, their bass output seems prodigous enough for my budget-driven ears.
May 28, 2006 9:10:11 PM

Quote:
This is the 3rd or 4th time I've read in these forums how good the cards from M-Audio are and how they render the Creative cards nearly useless when it comes to music creation and listening.

Hmmm... If the M-Audio cards sound that much better than the X-Fi and offer the utility that you get in the Xi-Fi Platinum and above (in terms of the I/O panel) I'd be very interested to hear more about them.

I can say that perhaps I've "low-fi" ears, but I'm rather impressed at the combination of the Xi-Fi and Itrique L3800s. ...not the best, but by no means the worst...and as I'm in an apartment, their bass output seems prodigous enough for my budget-driven ears.


AFAIK, M-Audio does not have the break out box that goes in a slot in your computer. It does have an external box on some models. I don't recall which models. I have an SB with breakout box and I've never found it very useful. Yes it has a Head Phone jack on the front, but whether I plug the phones in the front or the back didn't matter much. It has midi, but I don't do midi and if I did, I'd buy a card designed specifically for midi. It has Optical Digital I/O, but the output is not silent and even if it was, all SB cards resample all digital input, thus you can never get an exact copy of the input. In the end, it's a good gaming card, that does some other things so-so. What's more, if I was using it as a AC3 decoder, I'd rather have my outputs in the back, and frankly I'd much rather have SPDIF Coax connectors than optical (my m-audio has both if ever I need optical).

If gaming is your primary use, get the SB. By all accounts, m-audio is not as good as the SB at that task. If your primary use is recording, it is not a good solution.

I'm not telling you to dump your card. But if Rodney is buying a card primarilly for recording or even home theater, m-audio is a better choice and the price is about the same.
May 28, 2006 10:25:54 PM

Im very pleased with my X-Fi Extreme Music sound card. Has lots of features and I loved especially the Game Mode as it gives me nice heart pounding, clear, crisps sound while in gaming sessions. But I haven't owned the Audigy 4 nor experience it. All I can say is you can't go wrong with the X-Fi.
May 28, 2006 11:45:07 PM

Given the sound quality that I'm currently enjoying I've gotz (a little American Ghetto for ya) ...to agree with Chuck...the X-Fi is putting out really enjoyable sound. I'm so surprised about the difference that it with its 24-bit Crystalizer has made. Even with this low-end Creative iTrique L3800s...its really enjoyable sound. $350 that was well spent.

This is re-enforcing though that object that your speakers are really the key to good sound. ...but the X-Fi delivers quality input to them...whatever they may be.
May 29, 2006 6:42:28 AM

Quote:
Given the sound quality that I'm currently enjoying I've gotz (a little American Ghetto for ya) ...to agree with Chuck...the X-Fi is putting out really enjoyable sound. I'm so surprised about the difference that it with its 24-bit Crystalizer has made. Even with this low-end Creative iTrique L3800s...its really enjoyable sound. $350 that was well spent.

This is re-enforcing though that object that your speakers are really the key to good sound. ...but the X-Fi delivers quality input to them...whatever they may be.


If you read the reviews on the X-Fi, it shows that the Crystalizer is just an EQ with tipped highs and lows. While it does serve to sort of "fix" the limitations of speakers with suboptimal frequency response curves, there are two problems with this "solution. One, is that it's just a aribtrary EQ and has totally different effects depending on the speaker. Second, heavy EQing (making a loudspeaker perform beyond its normal limits) causes high amounts of IMD (high frequency) distortion.

It's not "even with the iTigue L3800s" it sounds good. This sort of solution is meant to directly address speakers that aren't neutral (accurate). If you were to play the Crystalizer with accurate loudspeakers, and the individual had normal hearing, the tipped lows and highs would almost guarantee listener fatigue.

And thus, the PC sound industry is a bit of a dichotomy. You have companies like Creative selling $400 soundcards that are designed to be paired with suboptimal speakers, and you have PC speaker designers building speakers for cosmetic reasons, and thus totally fail as speakers.

If you were trying to get a good bang for your buck with HT speakers, you'd generally approach this completely the opposite way. You'd spend most of your money on good, accurate speakers (at least 95% of the source of distortion*), and put in much less stock in electronics (which have a heavily diminishing, $ for $ returns).

*A sample example: The SVS SBS-01 $220/pair bookshelves were measured at around 4.3% THD (average, not peak or minimum) at 110db. The amp used was listed at 0.07% THD at clipping (although this is mostly an industry average number used, most amps today measure far below that). In this case, the loudspeakers are contributing 98.4% of the THD. This is a laymen's example, and is not meant to be exact science, but just for you to get the idea of where your money would go to most use.

The software effects that come with varying PC soundcards can certainly help "certain" problems, but the actual $ for $ utility as you can see, is rather low, especially considering the market we are talking about--PC speakers. The SVS SBS-01 is a *very* accurate loudspeaker, listed at 60-20KHz at +/-1.8db. The variation from neutral frequency range for PC speakers in comparison to the SBSs (certainly not the holy grail of speakers by any measure)--example here, Logitech Z-5500s--is 380% wider (as measured by Audioholics anyway). In this case, the utility differential between upgrading your speakers vs upgrading electronics is even wider than in the Home Theater speaker example.
May 29, 2006 10:11:08 AM

Aaaah, my ignorance on this was quite bliss...and embarrasing, as well. I knew it was too good to be true. So today I'll turn off the 24-bit Crystalizer and truly listen to these speakers. ...and re-evaluate the iTrigue L3800's. I'll try to remember that I'm listening to budget low-fi speakers.

A listening test I've not done... is to compare the X-Fi to the SB Live! ...with the same source material and un-equalized settings. I have a curious suspicion that there'd not be very much subjective difference.

I guess my new project over the next few months will be how to get the most accurate sound for music from this dedicated PC for under $600. It sounds like I might do best to go analog out from the X-Fi to a descent stereo reciever (remember, I'm on a budget so a pre-amp/amp is likely not affordable) ...to descent 2.1 system (?). I'll do some research and see what can be had for $500...maybe even $600.
May 29, 2006 12:09:42 PM

I have Audigy 4 and I did notice EAX was improved compared to my aging SB Live 5.1 card.

But that said most of time I listen to music in normal stereo and the bass and general dynamics seem better on my old SB Live
There’s a lack of warmth that’s missing in the Audigy (say what you may).

I suspect Marketing over hypes the gains to be had with the X-Fi, considering the Audigy should have been miles better than the 5 year old SB Live it wasn’t. The Audigy 4 though good was an upgrade only "truly" needed to future proof (I hope) my self for Vista’s release as previous beta didn't include the Live’s driver.

This was also the similar case when I went from my AWE 64 to the SB live, ISA being phased out so I had to get a PCI card, but musically SB Live was not much better.

In the UK the base the X-Fi doesn’t come with a remote the base Audigy 4 does.

So to almost pay double the price for X-Fi, I just wouldn’t do it.
Save the money and buy into some AMD marketing an upgrade to an X2 as I did.
May 29, 2006 10:08:03 PM

lloydie_p, I have to disagree with you a little.

The X-Fi's hardware is easily superior to the Audigy 4, especially for gaming. While starting @ $130 is debatable as a bargain, you do get more mature software to match the X-Fi's strong DSP abilities. The Audigy 4 is likely great for music as well, but when making a purchase now I'd recommend giving strong thought to spending the extra $52 on a X-Fi, especially if the card is being purchased with gaming in mind. That's just my opinion.

For more information about X-Fi (and how its related to the Audigy 4 check here: http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1850381,00.a...
May 30, 2006 1:53:39 AM

Quote:

I guess my new project over the next few months will be how to get the most accurate sound for music from this dedicated PC for under $600. It sounds like I might do best to go analog out from the X-Fi to a descent stereo reciever (remember, I'm on a budget so a pre-amp/amp is likely not affordable) ...


There are couple of good names (aka, companies that don't sell underpowered amp units) in the receiver section. H&K and Pioneer tend to come out top in the analog section.

The most popular receiver lately has been the Panasonic SA-XR57/55. It's a "digital" amp (Class-D, uses high frequency ("inaudible") switching which allows signal processing without DAC-ADC processes). For stereo it's quite a gem, and uses dual-amps (per channel). It measured at 93W/channel in stereo mode at 8ohms, and maintained 93% of the current down to 4ohms and 88% at 2ohms. The Class-D nature of the amp means very low noise levels (0.03% THD with digital input, and 0.04% THD with analog input at clipping; these are similar numbers put up by the Denon 3806, which is closer to $1000, and isn't dual-amp). The 55's retailed at $230, and the 57s should come down to that price eventually, although it seems early low supply and high demand has them closer to $350.

Quote:
to descent 2.1 system (?). I'll do some research and see what can be had for $500...maybe even $600.


Some suggestions.

(1) If this is going to be in a bookshelf (enclosed rear end), I would suggest the acoustic suspension (non-ported) SVS SBS-01s for $220/pair. You can check them at out www.svsound.com. The same SVS that sells world class subwoofers (along with Hsu Research). The SBS-01s are plain black have a 1" soft dome and a 5.25" poly cone, along with the sealed enclosure means bass may be a bit lacking (although...not compared to PC speakers).

(2) A 2.1 set for $400? www.av123.com sells the X-series X-LS ($200) and the X-sub ($200). The X-LS is a ported bookshelf with real wood veneer, a 1" soft dome and a 6.5" midrange cone based on the $800 GR A/V-1 bookshelf kit. Thanks to the higher volume of AV123 products (compared to Do it Yourself), the AV123 only pays $110 for the X-LS drivers. That's the beauty of internet direct speakers. 55% of the cost alone is in the drivers. The bookshelf is listed at 60-27KHz +/-1.8db (according to Audioholics measurements). The X-sub is flat to 28hz (+/- 3db).

(3) My personal speakers, the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SEs. (www.ascendspeakers.com). They are a bit more expensive, and it would be far harder to fit 2.1+amp into a $600 budget, so it's just a higher priced option I'm putting out as a comparative example. They are $350/pair, and are built with SEAs 1" soft dome tweeters and 6.5" polygel (kevlar+carbonfiber+poly) composite drivers. They measure 60-20KHz +/- 1.1db. Obviously, if your starting point are the $200 SBSes or X-LSs, this is not the most massive upgrade, but 1.4db tighter accuracy is nothing to sniff at, as human hearing is sensitive down to 0.1db increments.

The aforementioned $220 Logitech Z-5500s are measured at 200-20KHz (I assume the bass was way too inaccurate to fit into the measuring window) +/-4.95db, merely for reference, via Audioholics.

None of these are retail brands. Retail brands of course, can't touch internet direct speakers for accuracy, but are more available (on the floor in stores). All of these speakers have 30 day return policies (although you have to pay one-way shipping--to your home. It's ~$16 to test these speakers basically).

Just a few suggestions. If you would prefer retail, I would say Energy is the most neutral brand (the C-3s can be had from $250-$500 retail).
May 31, 2006 8:50:46 PM

So we sign and get "free" X-Fi Elite Pros from Creative within 7 business days? Heck, that's enough motivation for me.

8O
!