More Than A SoundBlaster

The Cards

Creative Labs - Sound Blaster Live! Platinum 5.1

The Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! Platinum 5.1, or the SBLP, as I like to call it, is fast becoming one of the most popular sound cards of all time. The Sound Blaster Live! Platinum is available in a variety of configurations and packages to suit almost any consumer taste.

Although we only look at the SBLP in this review, it should be noted that all of the "Live!" Sound Blaster series cards are based on this board. The major differences are with the software bundle and the included extra features such as the Live! Drive with IR support. It is possible to purchase a Sound Blaster Live! and upgrade it with the Live! Drive. However, here is a point I can't stress enough: make sure that you get a card that is upgradeable, because from what I am told, while some of the OEM or white box cards have the Live! Drive IR connector on the card, the Live! Drive connector is disabled.

Purchasing just an upgradeable Sound Blaster Live! and upgrading it later will not save you any money; in fact it might cost you more in the end when shipping is added in to the cost. This option does lessen the initial cost of the Sound Blaster Live! and does provide future expandability that many sound cards lack. As far as performance, we didn't see any performance difference between Sound Blaster Live! cards with the Live! Drive and cards without the Live! Drive. So, this is something to take into consideration before you make your purchase.

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Data Transfer SpecificationPCI 2.1 Bus Mastering
Audio Processor (DSP)EMU10K1 DSP
Audio Standards CompatibilityMicrosoft DirectSound, Microsoft DirectSound 3D, EAX 1.0, EAX 2.0, and A3D 1.0
Legacy DOS SupportYes, Legacy DOS/Sound Blaster Support
Wavetable Synthesizer64-voice hardware polyphony - 64 hardware and 1024 PCI wave-table synthesis - Uses SoundFont technology for user-definable wave-table sample sets; includes 2 MB, 4 MB and 8 MB sets.
External Connector ConfigurationOn the card bracket: Analog/Digital Output, Analog Line In, Mic, Speaker/Headphones Output, Rear Output, Joystick/Midi - On Live! Drive 5.25" bay device: Optical TOSLINK S/PDIF In & Out, RCA S/PDIF In & Out, 1/4" Headphones Jack, Headphone Volume Control, 1/4" Line In/Mic In Jack, RCA Auxiliary In, Infrared Receiver, Midi In/Out, and Line In/Mic In Switch/with Mic Gain Control.
Operating Systems SupportedWindows 95/98/ME/NT 4/2000, DOS
Status Of Windows XP DriversNative Basic Live! Support - Advanced Driver Support for XP in development.
Special FeaturesLive! Drive IR and Infrared Remote Control, Real Time Digital Effects
Software Included With The CardAudio HQ, MiniDisc Center, Launcher with Live! Task, Keytar, Mixer/Surround Mixer, Rythmania, Creative PlayCenter 2, Creative WaveStudio, Creative MediaRing Talk, Creative Recorder, Sound Blaster Live! Tour, Live! Ware Demonstration, SoundFont Sample Banks, MV3 Sample Clip, Steinberg's Cubasis VST, WaveLab Lite, ReCycle Lite, Mixman Studio, PixMaker, PixScreen, Kool Karaoke, Parody Parrot, Game Commander SE, MDK2, Deus Ex, Thief II: The Metal Age, and Unreal Tournament.
Suggested Retail Price - US$199 US