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Creative X-Fi: A New World of Sound

The X-Fi Line, Continued

The next model up is the X-Fi Platinum, which has all the characteristics of the basic model - in fact, the PCI card looks identical - but adds an internal rack that fits into a 5¼" bay. The rack has a line/mic input with adjustable level using a 1/4" (6.35 mm) jack, a line input, digital optical and coaxial inputs and outputs, and a headphone jack with volume adjustment. MIDI connections using mini-DIN connectors are also provided, and adapters for standard MIDI connectors are supplied as well. An infrared remote controls all sound functions. All of these features make this model a good choice for amateurs who want a good range of connections and easy access to them.

The more specialized Fatal1ty FPS is very similar to the Platinum, including a PCI card and internal rack, but is aimed at hard-core gamers. It adds 64 MB of internal memory (X-RAM) to improve performance in games supporting this technology.

Finally, the top of the line, the X-Fi Elite Pro, comprises a PCI card and an external rack. The rack is fairly large and can be installed either flat or vertically using the provided support, and obviously also has a remote control. This is the model we mainly based our test on, and the one we'll go into detail about, because it has higher-quality converters and thus provides the best audio performance.

A remote control comes with all models except the basic XtremeMusic. It controls certain functions like the Crystalizer, EAX, CMSS-3D, and 3DMIDI, and also playing your files, and allows essential adjustments such as volume. On the rack of the Elite Pro, you can adjust the same functions with rotary controls, which can be practical; there are indicator lights showing their operation to avoid any ambiguity.

Creative Labs X-Fi Elite Pro
InterfacePCI
Circuit principalCA20K1 (X-Fi)
Max. sampling rate192 kHz
Quantification24 bits
ASIO24 bits/96 kHz
Inputs
CardMike/line/digital SP/DIF with adaptator, Molex line (internal)
RackHi-Z line, mike/line, phono/line, S/PDIF optical and coaxial
Outputs
Card8 cinch (7.1), 1 S/PDIF optical and coaxial (jack 3.5 mm)
Rack1 S/PDIF optical and coaxial, 1 adjustable headphone
DVD and cinema
StandardsDolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, S/PDIF output
ConfigurationUp to 7.1
DVD AudioYes
3D game sound
StandardsDS3D, A3D, Open AL, EAX 5.0
Configuration2 to 7.1
MIDI
Software synthesizerCreative SoundFounts 24 bits
I/OPrises Standard (DIN)