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Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 (Source: Auzentech)
The first third-party X-Fi based sound card will have Dolby Digital Live and DTS:Interactive

Auzentech has posted detailed specifications of the upcoming X-Fi Prelude 7.1 sound card. The Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 is the first third party sound card based on the Creative Labs X-Fi sound processor.

Auzentech pairs the Creative Labs X-Fi CA20K audio processor with AKM digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital convertors. Auzentech employs four AKM AK4396VF DACs on X-Fi Prelude 7.1. The DACs boast 24-bit resolutions and 192 KHz sampling rates with a 120dB stereo signal-to-noise ratio. An AKM AK5394AVS ADC takes care of audio input duties. The ADC features 24-bit resolution and 192 KHz sampling rates.

The X-Fi Prelude 7.1 features a single user-replaceable front-channel OPAMP. Auzentech installs a National LM4562NA OPAMP with a rated 0.00003% total harmonic distortion levels on the X-Fi Prelude 7.1. The other six channels feature TI OPA2134 SoundPlus OPAMPs. The TI OPAMPs are not replaceable.

The new X-Fi Prelude 7.1 takes advantage of all X-Fi sound processor features including EAX Advanced HD 5.0, CMSS-3D, X-Fi Crystalizer and SoundFonts. Auzentech also installs 64MB of X-RAM on the X-Fi Prelude 7.1.

Eventually the Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 will feature multi-channel audio encoding technologies. Auzentech plans to add Dolby Digital Live support in Q4’2007 for Windows Vista and XP. DTS Interactive and DTS NEO:PC support is planned for Q1’2008 for Windows Vista and XP operating systems.


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Ummm...
By umeng2002 on 6/13/2007 1:47:22 PM , Rating: 2
Why isn't DDL and DTS encoders working now? They better deliver on that. I won't even consider one until they get that part operational.




RE: Ummm...
By omnicronx on 6/13/2007 1:58:55 PM , Rating: 2
because they already have 3 other cards that do that ;) theres only so much you can do with ddl and dts live cards to improve them heh.. i guess theyve just realized where the money is at and jumped onboard the creative bandwagon


RE: Ummm...
By umeng2002 on 6/13/2007 2:23:00 PM , Rating: 2
none of those cards offer anything over EAX 2.0. My surround sound system doesn't have surround analog inputs.


RE: Ummm...
By omnicronx on 6/13/2007 2:31:27 PM , Rating: 1
? so what is your point then heh.. why are you whining for digital outputs then.. they will never have over EAX2.. DDL and DTS live are digital connections and will never be available through analogue


RE: Ummm...
By Lakku on 6/13/2007 3:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you know what you are talking about. There's probably a good reason it's going to take a few months. The cards do EAX 2 over the DDL connections now, so they probably have to figure out how to do EAX 5.0 over the digital connection, OR, creative told them they couldn't support it till that time. Most likely reason? Because Creative has an X-Fi 2 or something up it's sleeve and doesn't want as direct of competition so soon. Just think about it a bit before you post.


RE: Ummm...
By umeng2002 on 6/13/2007 5:12:49 PM , Rating: 5
You guys are morons. All EAX x.x does is create more realistic audio in games. Once all that info is calculated (by the sound card), it simply has to be output. You can do that with 6 (or more) analog jacks in the back of the card, or you can encode those multiple channel LPCM signals into a Dolby Digital or DTS stream and send to a receiver that way.

The digital S/PDIF spec doesn't have enough bandwidth to send all channels digtally, so they have to be compressed via Dolby Digital or DTS encoders (like going from WAV to mp3).

Not all surround receivers have 5.1 (or greater) analog inputs (like mine). So the only way to enjoy the EAX 5 in something more than stereo is to have the sound encoded into Dolby Digital or DTS.

Since you sound like you don't know what you're talking about, Dolby Digital and DTS are nothing more than a way to compress multiple audio channels to save bandwidth (again, like going from WAV to mp3). It can have EAX 1/2/3/4/5/x produced audio, a movie soundtrack, or whatever.


RE: Ummm...
By B166ER on 6/13/2007 6:14:27 PM , Rating: 2
WINNER!


RE: Ummm...
By DragonMaster0 on 6/13/2007 6:36:51 PM , Rating: 2
Why no DDL or DTSC now?
Other Auzentech cards use a C-Media sound controller, which is able to encode DD and DTS in hardware, so it was an easy job for Auzentech, the encoding was done in hardware.

Now, the Prelude still doesn't have DDL or DTS Connect because the X-Fi chip doesn't support that kind of encoding, and Auzentech has to write a software encoder. I asked Auzentech's support last week, and they said live compression is going to be done in software, so yeah, it sucks, but that's caused by the use of the X-Fi chip itself.

Also, it seems that they're going to use Creative's cheesy drivers : software screenshots on the product's page look 100% Creative.

http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_prelud...

So, really, all that card is going to have is an improved analog stage, and free software compression included. No support for the X-Fi front bay the support said.

Analog or Digital?
Auzentech's D/A stage is probably better than most digital receivers'. Also, using the analog stage is the only way to get uncompressed multichannel sound, except with HDMI which is still not widely used.

The analog signal is probably going to be better than anything else, as long as you go with the standard RadioShack-branded cables at least. No, noise is NOT going to be a problem : it's not going to be noisier than the D/A stage in your amp, probably just better. A sound card is not a tape head.

Also, using the analog inputs on a receiver bypasses it's DSP, which is better in the case of a soundcard. You don't want the signal to be processed twice.

The signal path with a SPDIF cable for multichannel:
CPU -> Controller(Processing) -> Digital Compression -> SPDIF Link PC-Receiver -> DSP(Decompression + Processing) -> I2S Link -> D/A converters -> Analog buffer -> Power Amp -> Speakers

Analog:
CPU -> Controller(Processing) -> I2S Link -> D/A converters -> Analog buffer -> Analog Link PC-Receiver -> Analog buffer -> Power Amp -> Speakers

With analog you skip compression, processing and signal conversion. There is going to be a minimal and probably inaudible difference (for unbiased people) due to the longer analog path, but if say using a compressed format through SPDIF is better than uncompressed analog because the BestBuy guy told you so, you would probably not hear a difference.

I personally say that the analog outputs are better in this card's case. However, I'd prefer a SPDIF connection vs a noisy Realtek codec, etc. anytime. The D/A and buffer stages are some of the most important parts for the sound, but motherboard codecs and cheapo receivers often have bad stuff in these places. Auzentech, Razer and high-end Creative cards address these problems and should be better than average Joe's $400 receiver.


RE: Ummm...
By omnicronx on 6/13/2007 7:51:50 PM , Rating: 1
if bestbuy says so .. it must be true..

quote:
Auzentech, Razer and high-end Creative cards address these problems and should be better than average Joe's $400 receiver.

HA!!!

for how smart that your whole post i dont know why you would make a statement like that .. if i were to listen to a cd via spdif from my receiver it would blow any analogue soundcard out of the water. I will admit many receivers have sub par D/A converters, but please dont tell me creative is putting more expensive parts in their soundcards then most audio companies put in their receivers, thats just nonesense. If you want amazing analogue sound that will blow your digital sound away, you will be paying many times more than a creative card will ever sell for.

you can give me all the technical proof you want, but until you listen to both you will never know..


RE: Ummm...
By DragonMaster0 on 6/13/2007 9:32:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
but please dont tell me creative is putting more expensive parts in their soundcards then most audio companies put in their receivers


I don't say Creative puts better stuff on their cards than receivers, they put codecs, but some receivers got codecs too. The only way to get "decent" Creative stuff is to get, like I said, the "high-end" cards (The most expensive X-Fi uses separate DACs)

Well, maybe I should have said $300 or $250 receiver instead of $400, I forgot that their price keeps going lower.

quote:
If you want amazing analogue sound that will blow your digital sound away, you will be paying many times more than a creative card will ever sell for.

I agree if we're talking about cassette or LP, but sound cards, even with the analog outputs are still a digital source. The DACs on the sound card are just at a greater distance from the power amps than the receiver's own are, that's what is supposed to make the analog outputs worse than a compressed 18-bit max signal through a single wire.

Knowing a lot of average CD players and receivers, playing a CD in DAE mode through a card like a C-Media based Auzentech would probably sound better than the receiver's own DAC.

However, a normal Creative card's output stage doesn't go much further than a motherboard audio with a bonus being a 7805 regulator and a capacitor filtering the power so we don't hear data streams in the sound.

I don't know any analog sound cards by the way...


RE: Ummm...
By omnicronx on 6/14/2007 8:57:54 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The DACs on the sound card are just at a greater distance from the power amps than the receiver's own are, that's what is supposed to make the analog outputs worse than a compressed 18-bit max signal through a single wire.


never thought about that... good post


RE: Ummm...
By MGSsancho on 6/14/2007 4:11:02 AM , Rating: 2
I agree with you totally. since my comp is in a different room, i ran an optical cable under my house. but im pretty sure this sound card has matter DACs then my Onkyo 804 receiver. I paid more than double $400 for mt A/V receiver. im lucky i have analog inputs into the back. but in my limitations, i have to use digital >.< however if i ever decided to make HTPC in my tv room, I am going analogue all the way.

Again I agree with you, analog all the way. but i am glad they are putting in great parts in there. so matter what you use, it will be good sound coming out. I wish there can be a new optical spec. hmmm maybe use real fiber and nit fishing string. oh well I can dream


RE: Ummm...
By DragonMaster0 on 6/14/2007 10:48:39 AM , Rating: 2
When you go with $1000 receivers I don't know if there's much difference, but you do skip the compression, which is the nice part of it. Yes, at very long distances, analog doesn't work(well), but we have to think that a coaxial connection wouldn't do much better. (There, fiber is a pretty good solution)

There are different optical specs, but they are quite uncommon. ADAT Lightpipe can carry 24/48kHz 8-channel audio, and MADI can do 32 24/96 channels over fiber or coax cable.

HDMI is supposed to get uncomporessed multichannel sound one day AFAIK, but it would probably not work for you because of the distance... Isn't there a future standard comparable to HDMI which is going with optical lines?

You might be able to get what you need in a few years, but you will need component upgrades, unless someone comes with an affordable standalone multichannel DAC that could use the multichannel inputs.

Talking about standalone DACs, using an Auzentech card with the X-Tension DIN card would work for you, but your setup would be quite complex:
-The Auzentech cards compatible with the X-Tension DIN have four stereo 24/96 SPDIF channels, making 7.1 on four signals. If you get or build 4x TTL to Optical adapters, use four optical cables and get four stereo DACs connected on your receiver's multichannel analog IN, you could get uncompressed 24/96, but at some price...


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