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Creative Returns with SB X-Fi Titanium HD

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 47 comments

Creative is making a comeback with its new "audiophile" card.

Creative is set to launch an audio card sporting "audiophile grade" components and the E-MU 20K2 audio processor (aka the "X-Fi chip") possibly this year. The announcement came back in January during CES 2010, deemed as the first discrete audio card and USB digital audio system to include THX TruStudio PC audio technology. Since then, the card has been kept under wraps, however Creative's comeback soundcard isn't exactly vaporware, as a sample card is currently making its rounds.

For this PCIe card, Creative has ditched the polka-dotted cover seen with the Titanium Fatal1ty card with a tinted, slick version branding the Creative and THX logos. The device doesn't really look like a sound card until your rotate it around to see the gold-plated connections on the back: microphone input, headphone output, RCA output Left and Right, and RCA input Left (or Optical In) and Right (or Optical Out).

On a PCB level, Creative is no longer using electrolytic Jamicon and OST capacitors, but rather has moved on to use surface mount device (SMD) capacitors. By taking this route, Creative uses very few through-hole solder joints (that's a good thing--the less solder, the better). A hands-on preview noted that the X-Fi Titanium HD also has well-defined areas for its audio paths, however the design indicates that Creative initially planned to power the card via a 4-Pin Molex, but eventually ditched the idea.

"The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD is powered by the second-generation Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor for PCI Express slots," Creative said back in January. "The Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD combines captivating industrial design with audiophile grade Digital to Analog Converters (DACs) and components to produce a 122dB signal-to-noise ratio, the highest SNR ever produced by a Creative sound card. A replaceable Op-amp is also a distinguishing feature allowing users to customize audio output with coloration that is refined to their personal tastes."

Although the vanilla version of Creative's Sound Blaster Titanium HD is already on the market, the X-Fi version is slated to be priced at $99.99 USD, however no shipping date was specified. The pricing also seems a bit off, so stay tuned as Creative delivers official dates and pricing sometime soon.

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  • 26 Hide
    Computer_Lots , May 11, 2010 6:37 PM
    I'm surprised they're still in business. On-board audio has gotten so much better that there isn't really a big demand for discreet audio anymore except for audio recording and other big name companies like Lexicon make much better stuff than Creative.

    I remember when a PC build always consisted of a 3COM LAN card, US Robotics Modem and a Sound Blaster sound card of some kind. Now, all 3 of those companies have almost disappeared. Not to mention the S3 or Trident video cards that I used.
  • 25 Hide
    dupaman , May 11, 2010 6:19 PM
    Until they iron out all the glitches in their bloatware drivers and give me full as-advertised functionality in Win7 x64 with my X-Fi Plat (ie:without the random occasional channel mapping swaps, or intermittent crackles/popping sounds in previous OSes), Creative can go fuck themselves.
  • 20 Hide
    drutort , May 11, 2010 6:30 PM
    I cant believe i need to run some hacked driver for the digital surround sound to work, it doesnt make sense, but I had to do that to finally get win7 to run with digital out and 5.1 its quite sad...

    and why are there drivers so bloated, its a sound card for crying out-loud...
Other Comments
  • 25 Hide
    dupaman , May 11, 2010 6:19 PM
    Until they iron out all the glitches in their bloatware drivers and give me full as-advertised functionality in Win7 x64 with my X-Fi Plat (ie:without the random occasional channel mapping swaps, or intermittent crackles/popping sounds in previous OSes), Creative can go fuck themselves.
  • 20 Hide
    drutort , May 11, 2010 6:30 PM
    I cant believe i need to run some hacked driver for the digital surround sound to work, it doesnt make sense, but I had to do that to finally get win7 to run with digital out and 5.1 its quite sad...

    and why are there drivers so bloated, its a sound card for crying out-loud...
  • 16 Hide
    warlordsagan , May 11, 2010 6:37 PM
    Maybe creative could make a comeback and fix the shoddy drivers they've made the last 4 years.
  • 26 Hide
    Computer_Lots , May 11, 2010 6:37 PM
    I'm surprised they're still in business. On-board audio has gotten so much better that there isn't really a big demand for discreet audio anymore except for audio recording and other big name companies like Lexicon make much better stuff than Creative.

    I remember when a PC build always consisted of a 3COM LAN card, US Robotics Modem and a Sound Blaster sound card of some kind. Now, all 3 of those companies have almost disappeared. Not to mention the S3 or Trident video cards that I used.
  • 2 Hide
    NivenFres , May 11, 2010 6:50 PM
    The elimination of hardware acceleration through DirectSound starting in Vista didn't help their cause either. Unless the game uses OpenAL or their DirectX -> OpenAL translation driver (which doesn't work for all games anyway), you're not getting the benefit of having that much audio hardware.
  • 0 Hide
    peanutsrevenge , May 11, 2010 6:50 PM
    Computer_LotsI remember when a PC build always consisted of a 3COM LAN card, US Robotics Modem and a Sound Blaster sound card of some kind. Now, all 3 of those companies have almost disappeared. Not to mention the S3 or Trident video cards that I used.


    You started to make me feel old, until I remember when I got my first sound card and Wolfenstein didn't have to use PC speaker!


    I do wonder how it went so wrong for Creative, I still believe in discrete sound cards for FAR better audio than onboard, but with all the driver issues, I CBA!
  • 5 Hide
    gwolfman , May 11, 2010 6:54 PM
    What about DTS-HD and DD TrueHD support!?!
  • 15 Hide
    extremepcs , May 11, 2010 6:55 PM
    Anyone else remember those POS all-in-one sound card/modem/CD-ROM controller cards? Wow those were FUN to configure under DOS and Win 3.11 :) 
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2010 7:02 PM
    Shameless plug:

    Daniel_K's drivers bring new life to current and older Creative cards. (I still have my SB Audigy one of my older gaming rigs & it works beautifully with these drivers) I highly recommend them if you haven't tried them already. You can find his drivers via his posts on Creative's forums. Username: daniel_k

    Also, to completely uninstall Creative's bs drivers, I recommend a small utility called Nasty File Remover. Use it after you perform the normal uninstall & reboot.

    Enjoy!!
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 11, 2010 7:04 PM
    I used to keep up with the latest Creative sound cards, but I haven't purchase one since I bought my old Audigy Platinum several years ago. The numerous connectors on the Live/Audigy Drive were useful for connecting external audio sources, headphones, or my MIDI keyboard. Now I just use the on-board Realtek's optical out with Dolby Digital Live and a USB MIDI adapter. Sure, I don't get EAX, but that doesn't bother me too much. EAX has been buggy since its inception anyway.
  • 2 Hide
    gsacks , May 11, 2010 7:09 PM
    There is no such thing as optical in/out through an RCA jack. I assume that is supposed to be digital coax in/out.
  • 2 Hide
    michaelahess , May 11, 2010 7:12 PM
    I miss my GUS..... :-(
  • 1 Hide
    maestintaolius , May 11, 2010 7:34 PM
    Computer_LotsI'm surprised they're still in business. On-board audio has gotten so much better that there isn't really a big demand for discreet audio anymore except for audio recording and other big name companies like Lexicon make much better stuff than Creative.I remember when a PC build always consisted of a 3COM LAN card, US Robotics Modem and a Sound Blaster sound card of some kind. Now, all 3 of those companies have almost disappeared. Not to mention the S3 or Trident video cards that I used.

    Amen brother. You just had to have the SB Pro or SB16 (granted, you're choice was pretty much limited to SB, SB Pro, SB16 or an Ad Lib card) to get the proper xwing/tie fighter/wolf3d/doom experience.

    I had to wrestle with tradition to finally drop putting a sound card in my wife's computer. The onboard audio does just fine. I have a fata1ity plat in my rig (its about 3 years old now). While I really do like the optical in/out and the other features of the front panel, the crappy drivers pushed me over to foregoing a sound card in my wife's machine and just using the onboard. The onboard really has come a long way since that crappy onboard yamaha opl3 that was on my 266 Dell P2 (the last prebuilt desktop I've ever owned). I had been wondering if dropping my pci platinum and going to a pci-x would solve some of the sound loop problems I get in things like L4D2, but based on the comments here it sounds like creative is still sucking in the driver dept. Much to my annoyance, I do have a bit of brand loyalty - that SB Pro from years back really was a phenomenal change to my gaming experience and there's a bit of nostalgia there, I also like my Zen Vision which actually does work pretty slick with the SB utilities and card.
  • 0 Hide
    waethorn , May 11, 2010 7:55 PM
    Bring back the WaveBlaster header!!!

    I have a DB50XG that kills Roland's shitty GS soundset.
  • 10 Hide
    milkman172 , May 11, 2010 8:06 PM
    Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Never Again creative, never again.

    (Snap/crackle/pop no not cereal just my sound card.)
  • 11 Hide
    ubergeek , May 11, 2010 8:08 PM
    Sorry SB. You have not sold me anything since the Audigy 2 days. Onboard is mainstream and I am now using my Video adapter with built in sound and HDMI into my Audio reciever. Where is your HDMI support?
  • 8 Hide
    figgus , May 11, 2010 8:18 PM
    My last Creative card was a first gen SB Live! that made tons of horrid noises, used every IRQ it could, ate memory and CPU, and pretty much failed to generate a more compelling experience than the first enthusiast onboard sound options.

    Creative died a long time ago, they just haven't realized it yet.
  • 2 Hide
    cib24 , May 11, 2010 8:21 PM
    I will stick with the Auzentech X-Fi Forte, thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    waethorn , May 11, 2010 8:34 PM
    michaelahessI miss my GUS..... :-(

    I had a GUS too. The original one was probably the best because of the hardware mixer.

    Windows 95 killed the GUS when Gravis decided not to make DirectSound-compatible drivers (probably due to the fact that DS expects to do software mixing, when the GUS wanted to do all that work with it's superior audio processor). The follow-ups (GUS PnP, GUS Max, etc.) were crap, and they didn't do justice to the demo scene.
  • 0 Hide
    waethorn , May 11, 2010 8:35 PM
    GUS Rulez!!!1!!1

    2nd Reality FTW
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