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Auzentech's new Prelude 7.1 to feature Creative Labs X-Fi audio processor

Auzentech this week announced the first third-party sound card featuring Creative Labs’ X-Fi audio processor. The upcoming Auzentech Prelude 7.1 couples Creative Labs’ EAX 5.0 with Dolby Digital Live multi-channel audio encoding technologies. Auzentech promises Dolby Digital Live encoding under Windows Vista with the Prelude 7.1.
    
Details of the Prelude 7.1 remain scarce, as the product isn’t scheduled to launch until next month. Creative Labs’ X-Fi initially launched with hardware acceleration, however, the latest X-Fi XtremeAudio lacks hardware acceleration, even while carrying the X-Fi name. It is unknown which X-Fi audio processor the Prelude 7.1 integrates.

Creative Labs has had troubles enabling hardware acceleration for EAX audio technologies under Microsoft’s Universal Audio Architecture, or UAA, under Windows Vista. Creative Labs found a work around for UAA with its ALchemy OpenAL wrapper.

"We’re excited to provide Auzentech with our award-winning X-Fi audio chipset and technology to provide an outstanding audio experience for Auzentech’s customers,” Steve Erickson said, vice president, Creative Labs Audio Division.

Expect Auzentech to unleash the Prelude 7.1 at the end of next month.


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Drivers?
By Hoser McMoose on 4/18/2007 5:30:00 PM , Rating: 4
Hopefully they'll be able to use anything OTHER than Creative Labs drivers!

I've never encountered a company that's been so consistently incompetent at writing drivers as Creative Labs! Way back when I had a SB Pro their drivers would lock up my system regularly any time they played a sound at the same time that another DMA device was in use. And that was back in the Windows 3.1 days!

Similar problems (lock-ups and blue screens, as well as the infamous problems with Creative's creative interpretation of the PCI specs that prevented them from working right with VIA chipsets) with a SB16 in Win98 and an SB Live! in Win2K. I finally swore off the company after 3 attempts. I'm looking to buy a new sound card now and I still see people complaining about crappy CL drivers!




RE: Drivers?
By cubdukat on 4/18/2007 6:01:54 PM , Rating: 2
Creative really must be feeling the heat now, if they're willing to let someone use their chipset. Guess the threat of extinction will do that to you.

I've been looking for a good enough reason to toss my Audigy 2 ZS out, and it looks like this is it. Hopefully this will be the solution to the EAX/Vista problem.

Anyone know if the Prelude will support DTS Connect as well?


RE: Drivers?
By sotti on 4/18/2007 6:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
DTS Connect is listed in the press release.


RE: Drivers?
By Anh Huynh on 4/18/2007 7:13:18 PM , Rating: 3
No it isn't.

The PR states "Santa Clara, CA -April 16, 2007: Auzentech, Inc. (www.auzentech.com), developer of the world's first Dolby® Digital Live and DTS® Connect PCI sound card, announces today a new sound card series based on the Creative X-FI™ chipset."

It says they're the first company to release a sound card capable of DTS Connect, however when it talks about the Prelude 7.1,, it only mentions DDL.


RE: Drivers?
By Aquila76 on 4/18/2007 10:19:07 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It will fully support EAX 5.0 and have the same expandability as the Auzen X-Meridian™ 7.1.


The X-Meridian supports DTS Connect; it stands to reason this one will as well.


RE: Drivers?
By Anh Huynh on 4/19/2007 12:35:21 AM , Rating: 3
Dolby Digital Live is the only encoding that the card will have for sure. I spoke to the Auzentech PR guy and he said DTS: Connect has a 50/50 chance of making it, they're working on licensing.


RE: Drivers?
By UNCjigga on 4/19/2007 1:25:59 PM , Rating: 2
Why isn't there any software-based solution to support DDL or DTS Connect encoding on existing soundcards? Aren't modern CPUs up to the task? Or what about a GPU-accelerated solution? It peeves me that my HTPC has SPDIF out but I can only get multichannel audio from DVDs, xvid rips with AC3, or SACD/DVD audio. If I want multichannel audio from games, I have to hook up 6 extra cables and the back of my PC becomes a mess.


RE: Drivers?
By clemedia on 4/18/2007 11:26:56 PM , Rating: 2
I really hope it supports DTS connect. Although DDL is better than nothing. I really need Digital output, and PCM isn't going to cut it.


RE: Drivers?
By imaheadcase on 4/18/2007 6:42:46 PM , Rating: 2
They said from the start they were going to sell X-FI chips to competitors. Its not a big surprise.


RE: Drivers?
By Spivonious on 4/19/2007 9:35:35 AM , Rating: 2
The EAX/Vista problem is Microsoft's fault. EAX used DirectSound and MS took DirectSound out of Vista. EAX will never work again in Vista. I think Creative is being very resourceful in making the OpenAL wrappers for older games. I also don't think they're being slow in driver development; they just got a late start. Rewriting the sound drivers from scratch is a bit of work.

Have you ever programmed a production application?


RE: Drivers?
By Anh Huynh on 4/19/2007 10:00:47 AM , Rating: 2
No, its CL fault for not working with Microsoft on the new audio stack. All the other audio manufacturers contributed to UAA, CL decided to do their own thing because they couldn't skew the standard in their favor.


RE: Drivers?
By carage on 4/19/2007 11:06:26 AM , Rating: 2
It's not the first time M$ did something like this with Vista. M$ also screwed over the entire anti-virus/internet security industry.


RE: Drivers?
By bigboxes on 4/18/2007 6:04:25 PM , Rating: 3
Wah, wah, wah. I've been using Creative since Win98 and I've never had a problem with their products. It was some off-brand that gave me fits with their drivers w/Win98. I think that they have a lot of bloatware, but their soundcards work just great.


RE: Drivers?
By sotti on 4/18/2007 6:20:36 PM , Rating: 3
actually creative drivers have sucked for quite sometime.

I used to run dual CPUs back in the day (bp6 rest in peace), and creatives win2K driver would crap out on any EAX game, I used to have to change my hardware abstraction layer from ACPI multi to ACPI single just to play diablo2.

Their support for Vista has been horrible.

CL is really a bad company these days.


RE: Drivers?
By sxr7171 on 4/18/2007 6:36:45 PM , Rating: 2
These days? It's been that way since the mid 90s. Nowadays with integrated sound getting so good, there is no reason to spend $100-200 on those cards. Multicore processing should take care of CPU hit without H/W acceleration.


RE: Drivers?
By imaheadcase on 4/18/2007 6:44:12 PM , Rating: 3
You would think that, but sound tests still show hardware soundcard is still better than onboard. Esp since apps are USING both cores now..


RE: Drivers?
By GlassHouse69 on 4/18/2007 9:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
exactly!

no longer can those claims of "running my virus scan while playing half life" be made.

play a game like stalker and all of your cores will be maxing out at times. 4 cores might be able to do it... but why?? last year alone, 3-10% reduction in cpu usage for using a creative vs other brands showing little or no % difference. that was during k8 testing too, not like they were slow machines.


RE: Drivers?
By GlassHouse69 on 4/18/2007 8:58:03 PM , Rating: 1
I agree.

Creative massively offloads the sound processing from the cpu. no other sound card does the same. thats the most important part of a card and I have not seen one review of any other card that does that like creative does.

audigy 2 zs is a fantastic card! x-fi is really kinda extra and useless if you have a cheap 2 zs. i even get my firewire port that way :) Asrock doesnt really give firewire ports.

Vista is so lame that it killed its own beast, directsound. who the heck needs better or different sound? It's all the same for a game or for listening to music. compatibility with older programs is really annoying.


RE: Drivers?
By dgingeri on 4/19/2007 10:52:37 AM , Rating: 2
I've had an Audigy 2zs for quite a while now, but I have had nothing but problems with it since day 1. I've tried replacing it with various things, but they have all come up short as well. I could detail at least a dozen problems with it that CL simply refuses to acknowledge, let alone fix. As soon as the next series of cards was out the door, they quit updating the drivers on the Audigy series.

The biggest problem with them is I had to hack the drivers out of the software package to get them to install without all the bloatware that caused most of those problems. It still will not handle more than 4 hardware voices, despite their claims of handling 32.

With their bloatware, I would get crash after crash, but without I don't get the functionality.

CL has been a total failure of a tech company for over 10 years. However, nobody else has stepped up to compete with them. I've posted on their forums all the problems I've had, only to be totally ignored. They are so totally arrogant that they thing they are above fixing their own problems.


RE: Drivers?
By GlassHouse69 on 4/19/2007 11:29:22 AM , Rating: 2
your computer or your wallet really sux

or, you do not know how to adjust your machine.

notice something in your retail games purchased after 1995: they all are made to work with creative specifically. hm... they are the standard for the industry for gaming... hmm... been so since windows became 32 bit.... hm...
could it be...

YOU?!


RE: Drivers?
By Hydrofirex on 4/18/2007 9:26:08 PM , Rating: 2
Second the bloat-ware!

HfX


RE: Drivers?
By kmiller1700 on 4/19/2007 1:47:22 AM , Rating: 2
my SB LIVE! card works fine with XP and 2000 Pro. not to mention Ubuntu/Kubuntu

soo...maybe it was a human error?


RE: Drivers?
By R3MF on 4/19/2007 4:40:42 AM , Rating: 2
i doubt it would be PCIe, as that would appear to require a new chip due to these latency issues with the bus.

where is my linux driver? i am waiting to drop £80 on the extreme gamer, but not until i get a linux driver.


RE: Drivers?
By someguy123 on 4/19/2007 5:18:36 AM , Rating: 2
creative is slow -or sometimes not even willing- at developing driver fixes for windows, much less linux. for the people who've never faced problems with creative cards, its because you lucked out didn't purchase something in your computer that conflicted with the poorly made drivers.

honestly, creative selling their chip to other company doesn't surprise me. what does surprise me is that another company would use the x-fi chipset. i mean, what else can you do besides fixing the drivers? i guess the addition of Dolby features might intrigue some, but it's basicly the same as any other x-fi card.


RE: Drivers?
By Ebbyman on 4/19/2007 9:39:16 AM , Rating: 3
I am hoping that Auzentech will work on Creative drivers and at least improve them. The last update for the x-fi was in October I think. BF2142 is apparently designed for the x-fi but when I installed my x-fi and played the game, the game crashes more often during orbital stikes and lots of activity. I think the card cannot handle all the data. The game rarely crashed for me using my Audigy 2 or on-board sound on my new system before I bought the x-fi. However, tweaked right, the x-fi does sound darn good, which is the shame.

I think Creative is selling the chips to lower its costs and improve its margins. In the end, they will still have control over who they give them to and probably the pricing (of the chips). Auzentech is a private company and probably can deal with slightly lower margins (I imagine that the x-fi chips will not be cheap). Creative on the other hand needs to deal with public investors expectations for top line and cash flow growth. It makes no sense that Creative would threaten their own position for the sake of increasing competition


RE: Drivers?
By Mitch101 on 4/19/2007 1:24:31 PM , Rating: 2
You dont own any Hauppauge products then.

Thier driver and software support is worse because they claim they will fix problems only to try charging you for the upgrade to their buggy software which is equally as buggy as the previous version. But that cost you at least $30.00 to find that out.


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