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The card is shipping and almost ready for sale

Auzentech is prepared to unleash its X-Fi Prelude 7.1 next week. The company has already shipped the cards to distributors and retailers for a Monday or Tuesday launch, but the shipments need to clear customs before they are available for purchase.  

Consumers can purchase the X-Fi Prelude 7.1 next week from Auzentech’s online store, according to Auzentech  president Stephane Bae,. The card will also be available from Newegg in the US and NCIX in Canada, he added.

Auzentech’s X-Fi Prelude 7.1 is the first third-party sound card based on Creative Labs X-Fi CA20K audio processor. Auzentech one-ups Creative’s official offerings with AKM digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital convertors. The Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1 achieves a 120dB signal-to-noise ratio with 24-bit resolution and 192 KHz sampling rates. Additionally, the X-Fi Prelude 7.1 features a user-replaceable OPAMP for the front-channel audio output.

Unlike other Creative Labs X-Fi offerings, the X-Fi Prelude 7.1 will support Dolby Digital Live, DTS Interactive and DTS NEO:PC algorithms. However, Dolby Digital Live encoding support will not arrive until Q4 2007 with a driver update. DTS Interactive and DTS NEO:PC support will not arrive until Q1 2008. The X-Fi Prelude 7.1 also supports Creative audio technologies such as EAX Advanced HD 5.0, CMSS-3D, X-Fi Crystallizer and SoundFonts.
Expect to pay $199.99 when the card is available next week.



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Drivers
By Lonyo on 8/22/2007 3:47:43 PM , Rating: 3
Any idea of the driver situation for non-Creative X-Fi based cards?
If they are talking about driver updates for Dolby support, does this mean the drivers are non-Creative and done by whichever company is making the X-Fi based chip, or will it still use Creative's own X-Fi drivers?




RE: Drivers
By Spivonious on 8/22/2007 4:00:46 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to know this too. Creative still hasn't gotten the X-Fi fully functioning under Vista, so I'm curious if Auzentech is able to.


RE: Drivers
By AnnihilatorX on 8/22/2007 4:12:57 PM , Rating: 2
I heard that they will use X-Fi drivers because Creative was reluctant to release their driver source codes


RE: Drivers
By Missing Ghost on 8/22/2007 10:29:31 PM , Rating: 3
You don't need the source code of the creative driver to create a new one... just the documentation for the hardware is enough.


RE: Drivers
By Goty on 8/22/2007 6:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
If you think that's bad, consider the fact that they still don't work under Linux, either, and they've had since the inception of the product to develop those.


RE: Drivers
By FITCamaro on 8/22/2007 4:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
Just guessing but I would say this card would work with the official Xi-Fi drivers. But the extra options provided by this card would only be available using the drivers developed by Auzentech. Creative's cards don't support the extra featuers so obviously their driver won't.

But yes, the drivers are developed by Auzentech, not Creative. I'm sure they based their driver off the Creative one and merely added support for the extra features onto it.


RE: Drivers
By AstroCreep on 8/22/2007 4:03:00 PM , Rating: 2
That's what I'm curious about. I was under the impression that manufacturers who used the Creative chipset would just be using the Creative drivers (similar to how one would use ATI-made drivers for a VGA made by Asus with an ATI GPU).
I guess this may not be the case since this sound card will have features the 'regular' X-Fi won't. I'd guess the Dolby & DTS support are going to be provided by a 3rd party chip on the card?


RE: Drivers
By 3kliksphilip on 8/22/2007 4:08:15 PM , Rating: 2
I recently had terrible trouble finding drivers for my sister's LIVE pc. 2003 was the latest I managed to find. Still no sound, one reformat later and I resorted to the good old disc we got with it.

At least with sound cards they can't really 'improve' much (compared to graphics cards). A soundblaster Live is fine for most people. I have an X-fi, don't have any troubles with the drivers, but don't notice much difference other than being able to enable maximum quality sounds in games. Rome Total War sounds sweet, mind. Vista was the reason I bought an X-fi, now I hope to leave my sound card alone for a good 5 years. I wonder if they'll eventually make their own sound effects in games instead of using ready made ones?

Does anybody else think that dual slot GPUs could house a sound card of their own? It would free up my PCI slots and make installing drivers much easier.


RE: Drivers
By FITCamaro on 8/22/2007 4:44:35 PM , Rating: 3
While it would be nice if graphics cards eventually performed sound decoding, I doubt it will ever happen.

Most onboard sound chips are good enough these days and with dual core and quad core processors out there, the performance hit isn't noticeable.


RE: Drivers
By DragonMaster0 on 8/22/2007 6:14:41 PM , Rating: 2
The onboard sound controllers and codecs are pretty cheesy. It's just that now, CPUs can do the job they should do quite well. They don't even support hardware DirectSound. (The drivers make the software believe so, but in fact, the hardware mode is still redirected to the CPU.)

Just look at how much clipping and playback/record noise you get with these, it's often not that great compared even with the cheapest Creative cards.


RE: Drivers
By Aprime on 8/22/2007 6:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
Totally true, I'm trying to avoid integrated as much as I can now.


RE: Drivers
By 3kliksphilip on 8/25/2007 11:26:17 AM , Rating: 2
OHHH OHHHHHH!!!!

http://www.viperlair.com/reviews/video/his/2600pro

HIS Radeon HD 2600 PRO IceQ 512MB: Hi-Fi design, 5.1 Audio, Superior Cooling, DirectX 10, HD Playback - but can it keep up with the competition? Let's find out.

That was good timing!


RE: Drivers
By UNHchabo on 8/22/2007 4:09:22 PM , Rating: 2
I sure hope the drivers are 3rd-party...


RE: Drivers
By dice1111 on 8/23/2007 5:53:56 PM , Rating: 2
Here here...


RE: Drivers
By techfuzz on 8/22/2007 4:22:28 PM , Rating: 2
Based on their previous comments, I feel like Auzentech will be the ones releasing the drivers. Here is a comment made in regard to drivers and was in their previous press release:
quote:
The release date for the Auzen X-FI™ Prelude 7.1 has been revised twice before, most recently to allow for in-depth testing of both drivers and hardware.


RE: Drivers
By DragonMaster0 on 8/22/2007 6:08:22 PM , Rating: 2
I asked Auzentech about a few of these concerns a few months ago. The drivers are Creative's modified a little by Auzentech(Probably just the product IDs and what feature to enable or disable on the driver). The live DD and DTS will be encoded by software, since the X-Fi doesn't support it. This card will be also be able to play 24/192 in stereo only just like the X-Fi. It will not support the internal I/O drive. SPDIF is 24/96 max.

The big deal compared to an X-Fi card is the A/D, D/A and analog parts, as well as DDL and DTS Interactive software encoders included. It has the same features and drivers apart from that. I think that they should have used a DSP to do the encoding job instead of software. It shouldn't be too hard to take the four stereo I2S outputs to convert the sound to DD or DTS. The only thing is that Auzentech doesn't make use DSPs or custom chips. They simply take existing sound controllers and use their own hardware design. There's no software code to program for them.


why?
By omnicronx on 8/22/2007 4:14:51 PM , Rating: 2
Why would anyone buy this?
If you have a digital setup you get an normal auzentech card, if you have analogue setup you get a creative card. Are they really expecting to sell this on a mass scale?
The more expensive components are going to make little to no difference on an analogue setup (unless you are hardcore, and in that case you wouldnt be buying a creative based card anyways). Or you wanted it for the superior inputs, but one again you if you are into sound production you are not going to buy a creative based card...

Maybe its just me... am i crazy?




RE: why?
By The Jedi on 8/22/2007 5:26:34 PM , Rating: 2
No, you're right it's a little overhyped. Lossy digital vs. lossless analog.

Creative has their E-Mu brand for the pro's.


RE: why?
By Axbattler on 8/22/2007 7:56:31 PM , Rating: 2
The X-Fi Elite Pro is not too different from an EMU1212 with the X-Fi DSP: same DAC, and I recall, same op-amp.

It does cost a good deal more, but it is more convenient than running two sound cards and less costly than getting a cheaper X-Fi and using a decent DAC.

I wonder how the DAC on this card compares to the ones on the Elite Pro and the rest of the X-Fi line. The replaceable OPAMP should be of interest for headphone/2.0 speaker users.


RE: why?
By psychotix11 on 8/22/2007 5:27:29 PM , Rating: 2
If you want an x-fi but don't want a creative card?

I wouldn't buy a creative card, but I'd be tempted to pull the trigger on this one.


RE: why?
By umeng2002 on 8/22/2007 5:40:35 PM , Rating: 2
I want one, but not until the dolby digital live or DTS connect are working. Why? Because my 5.1 system doesn't have 6 channel analog inputs.

This is the only card with anything over EAX2.0 with digital surround. I could have gotten their other DDL cards or other DDL card from other manufacturers, but you'd only get EAX2.0 support at best.

In the future when I upgrade my surround sound system, I might use the analog outputs on this card instead of the lossy dolby digital or DTS. The other good thing is that this cards analog out are better than Creative's.

Also, they'll release an addon card for HDMI 1.3 which can stream 8 channels of uncompressed LPCM to an external DAC or receiver with that capability.

This is a no compromises card.


RE: why?
By ralck on 8/26/2007 1:56:08 PM , Rating: 2
The X-Meridian unofficially supports up to EAX5.


RE: why?
By BradCube on 8/22/2007 5:53:03 PM , Rating: 2
The only reason I would pick one up would be if they had their own regular driver releases that actually worked. I am yet to get an X-Fi working correctly under Vista 32-bit let alone 64-bit.


Vista....
By DanaGoyette on 8/23/2007 2:16:52 AM , Rating: 2
Soundfonts.... don't work under Vista (at least for my Audigy 2).

Dolby Digital and DTS decoding: worked in beta drivers, broken in old official drivers, fixed in Dell drivers, broken in new official drivers. And now, on newer cards, it's even broken in XP! Just copy two .SYS files from the Dell driver, and the function comes back. Not supported? Bull.

Microsoft enhancements: Not supported,but only takes a .reg file to enable.

If you want to see how Creative and Vista get along, look here:
http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board?boar...

No thanks, I'd rather have the C-Media chip, and pay for a software EAX5 engine usable for ALL sound cards. That's the only Creative thing I'd ever buy from now on. Too bad there are no notebook C-Media cards; also, the desktop X-Meridian has been discontinued.

Oh, and don't forget what you'll be hearing under Linux:
.....silence..... .....crickets chirping.... ...fan noise....
(i.e. there are no drivers at all.)




RE: Vista....
By Spivonious on 8/23/2007 9:41:10 AM , Rating: 2
I thought the whole point of Linux was that you can write your own drivers, since it's open-source?


RE: Vista....
By omnicronx on 8/23/2007 10:12:25 AM , Rating: 2
Hey technically theres nothing stopping you from writing your own drivers in windows either ;) but good luck. Drivers are not the easiest things to code, they have to be optimized correctly and chances of being able to write a driver from scratch is very small, you would need something from the manufacturer to base it on.


RE: Vista....
By DanaGoyette on 8/24/2007 11:26:30 AM , Rating: 2
Oh, and I forgot to mention:
The info about the working, but disabled, features was intended to demonstrate how Creative is artificially breaking previously-available functionality, and then lying about it, claiming that it "is not supported under Windows Vista".
For example, with newer drivers, "What U Hear" (i.e. Stereo Mix) recording is no longer available.

In addition, for Audigy cards, there's the whole "pay for ALchemy" debacle, where Creative lied that supporting the Audigy would reqire extra work -- once one forum member removed checks for EAX 4.0 and 5.0 (which is only supported under OpenAL, anyway), the X-Fi ALchemy works for Audigy, and even for newer SBLive! cards.

Creative also has not released Audigy drivers since March 9.
They have also released new Vista-compatible apps (such as the surround mixer, which is critical for getting line-level input) for the X-Fi, yet they refuse to do the same for the Audigy.

In my mind, Creative's name is now "Mud".


Typo
By Visk on 8/22/2007 5:50:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
However, Dolby Digital Live encoding support will not arrive until Q4 2007 with a driver update.


Should be

quote:
However, Dolby Digital Live encoding support will never arrive.




Check Auzen's Website
By Lyman42 on 8/22/2007 5:56:31 PM , Rating: 2
Auzuntech is definitely using Creative drivers for the product shipment, they show the Creative Console modes right on Prelude's page:

http://auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_prelude.ph...

This might change once they implement DD Live! in Q4.




Worth Buying?
By JanBooth on 8/24/2007 2:21:05 PM , Rating: 2
I have the X-Fi Elite Pro, and I am not very happy with it. I was wondering if this card would be worth buying; if the drivers are the same, will the digital benefits be worth it? I have a Logitech Z-5500 sound system, and I want to make use of it's digital surround sound option, and this card looks as if it will do that.
I think the card will be a good option, it is a lot cheaper than the Elite Pro, and it has better connectivity options. I would like your opinion.




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