I'm looking for people who have gone from an Xtreme Audio card or similar to a Titanium HD, and can tell me what experience they had.
A month ago I swapped out my Razer Carcharias gaming headset with a Sound Blaster Tactic3D Sigma headset, and was amazed by the difference. I then swapped from on-board Realtek HD sound to a Creative X-fi Xtreme Audio, and I was even more amazed. Since the cheap sound card was basically just a tryout on whether dedicated sound would have any improvements or not, I'm now wondering what a card like the Titanium HD would do.
I've been hooked on the card for a long time, and looked on similar cards like the Asus Xonar Essence STX, but if I'm upgrading it'd be the TiHD. Are there any sound experts out there who can tell me if I'll see any improvements with an upgrade like that? Price tag has a huge difference, but I wonder if the quality in sound will have so too. Anyone knows?
As written I've only got an SB Tactic3D Sigma headset, so better headphones or speakers might be required to really hear the difference between the cards.
You have to know that both are for different use. The X-Fi Xtreme is for use with a full-fledge 7.1 or 8.1 computer sound system, and the TitaniumHD would be useful for home theaters using RCA connectors. Also the titanium is completely encased which protects it even more against distortion from other computer components.
The simple X-Fi Xtreme is excellent for most people.
1: The ExtremeAudio is a CRAP soundcard. Its nothing more then a re-branded Audigy 2, hence why its driver support is so historically bad.
2: The ExtremeMusic isn't much better. Same with the ExtremeGamer. They were "meh" when no other cards were on the market, but both are now totally obsolete. Wouldn't even consider one ahead of the ASUS Xonar D1/DX or HT Omega Striker.
3: Of all the high-end soundcards that ship with an Amp built in, I have the Titanium HD next to last, just ahead of the Auzentech Forte [which is what, 4 years old now?]. I rate the HT Omega Claro XT, ASUS Xonar ST(X), and ASUS Xonar Xense ahead of the Titanium HD.
I read about the Auzentech Forte, and that'd suite well if I had a 7.1 system I guess. I don't have speakers and will have never have, and since I'm gonna be using it primarily for gaming I was told to go for the TiHD and it's gaming features.
Also, I'm not a 100% happy with the sound card. Although I was given extremely high value for money it didn't quite made it for me. It was a bit of a hazzle to get through all the software and driver installation, but nothing really to cry about. My mic is picking up a lot of background noise, and it wasn't doing that when I had it on-board. I also had problems with the sound in Bad Company 2. It had so much echo in the game and I could literally hear every single explosive going off, and I had to play around with settings in the game and stuff to make it work. At the end I'm very happy, but if a TiHD could fix all that by just changing to it I'd do it.
I have ordered it, and I'll report back here to state the difference in case other people like me would ever have the same question.
I bought the TiHD and got it working after 3 days! It turned out I got a lot more trouble than first expected. However, I'm going to start out with the good news and then the bad.
The TiHD is a significant upgrade from the Xtreme Audio. Music sound quality is more clear and the bass is more stable with more depth. One of the first things I noticed was when I played Killing Floor and was on fire. The fire sounds more like real fire now, and the blood splatter sounds awesome. Sounds like you can hear every tiny bid of blood hitting the floor it's crazy. Also Bad Company 2 was a better experience with slightly better pinpoint. My mic voice is crystal clear and picks up less background noise, and it's easier to hear mates above explosions compared to the Xtreme Audio. If I had to compare the upgrade in sound and money from on-board to Xtreme Audio, and from Xtreme Audio to the Titanium HD - I'd say there's more value for money going from on-board to Xtreme.
Xtreme Audio was only 1/4 of the price of the TiHD and offered a magnificant change, and the TiHD just tunes the details a bit. Good sound can make my day as it's easier to get drawn into things then, so I'd prefer the TiHD any time.
I would however not recommend the card to anyone looking to upgrade from an Xtreme Audio card or similar. I would not recommend you to mess around with software or drivers with any Xtreme card. Many more people than just me have run into;
*****There are no supported audio device available. You need to close the application. Click OK to close the application now.*****
when trying to launch the Creative Console Launcher. I literally spend days on trying to solve this. I ran over the installation all over again and again with different methods. I tried with the CD in the package, I tried the latest drivers and software from the website, I tried to re-insert the sound card several times, I tried to sweep the drivers with Sweep Driver 3.0 and removed all registry entries, folders and files with my Revo Uninstaller Pro, I tried to repair and defragment the registry database with no luck.
Although I asked Creative Labs customer support for help I decided to try and re-install the OS despite knowing I'd spend more than a day on it. It worked, finally. Seems there must have been a ton of remnants left over from the Xtreme card somehow interfering. The ordeal was such a hassle I would not recommend the TiHD as an upgrade over any Xtreme card if you're running Windows 7 64bit like me. I would have chosen a different brand by miles had I known I'd run into all this. I would not recommend messing around with Xtreme card drivers either because people seem to encounter the very same problem by doing so. Believe me I am not the only one who went through this.
And as it turns out I still have a problem with their software. Three words. Oh, my, god! The Creative Alchemy software which I need can't even be installed because of unsupported audio it says. Much like the old "There are no supported audio device available.". The program is on the CD that was along, but I read on the website that I should by no means be using the CD unless it's labeled with Win 7 - and it's not. I went on the internet to try and download it, but that's not exactly easy. It does not exist under drivers on the website. Only the console launcher and the newest driver do. There are many different versions floating the internet, and I tried a few of them, but it says it can't find the supported stuff for the program and will exit setup - much like before.
Despite reading I shouldn't use the CD I decided to try and install Creative Alchemy manually from the CD, but it will not allow me to do that. I then tried to install it via the wizard setup (CD) and unchecked all the stuff I don't need except Alchemy. On the next screen it asks me which mode I want to start my sound with. Entertainment, gaming or audio creation, and since I just got it all working after so much trouble I am just too afraid to complete the installation of Alchemy that way. I'm afraid to mess things up because I just got it working, and I got most of my personal OS settings back, so a new re-install of the OS would not be worth it. Maybe Alchemy is not meant for the HD? I can't read it's supported by Alchemy anywhere on the net, but why then is it included on the CD? Or maybe it's simply not needed for the card?
I send those questions to their support. Hopefully I'll get some answers soon.
Long story short; upgrade from Xtreme to TiHD on Win 7 is a no-go. Upgrade from a different brand or on a complete fresh system is a yes.