Posts Tagged ‘x-fi’

You have purchased X-Fi Titanium HD. Installed the card in your PCI-E slot. Connected your headphone / speaker to the card. Booted up the computer. Installed the supplied X-Fi Titanium HD’s driver and ….. open up the slick Creative Audio Console….. but ….the THX icon at your Audio Console is not there?

Oh Crap! You are screwed because all the glories of THX TrueStudio Pro (which is also one of the signature to this awesome card) is missing.

If you do not install Audio Console, your Audio Control Panel should be like the picture below.
Oh wait! Before you go berserk and pulling your hair frustratedly, please note that THX TrueStudio Pro is only available in ENTERTAINMENT MODE! So, don’t expect to have this thing if you use Game or Audio creation mode…
So, why the hell is this thing happen? Here are the possibilities:
  1. Your old dedicated audio card is previous generation X-Fi (happen to me : X-Fi Platinum). You failed to uninstall the old drivers completely.
  2. You did not disable your integrated audio chip.
  3. You did disable the integrated audio chip but failed to uninstall the driver completely.
Quick and dirty solution:
  1. Install the card and the driver in clean state OS. In other word, format your computer and re-install everything. Super big chances it will work.
Messy solution:
  1. Remove the cards
  2. Install the card in different PCI-E Slot.
    • X-Fi Titanium HD uses PCI-E x1 header. It can be installed in either the short PCI-E slot (x1 version) or the long one (x4,x8,x16 version)
  3. Uninstall all X-Fi’s drivers and software.
  4. Disable integrated audio chipset and remove all the related drivers.
  5. Clean your registry (backup first). It is up to you to use what product to fix and clean your registry’s garbage.
  6. Reboot
  7. Install the drivers and applications from the supplied CD.
  8. Update them.
  9. Reboot and Pray.
Honestly, I used the ‘Quick and dirty solution’ since it was suggested by the Creative’s staff. However, not everyone can afford to reformat their computer hence some lucky users capable to fix this problem by using the ‘Messy Solution’.
Good luck.

Some say, Foobar + Noise Sharpener produce amazing audio output (read: for non-purist) which I personally will not argue. Only if you can live with Foobar ugly GUI for today standard. Some just happy with Windows Media Player or any player that can play their music collection. Some still use one of the oldest MP3 player which is Winamp.

Recently due to nostalgic reason, I download and install Winamp 5. What can I say is Winamp produce an OKish audio output out of the box but the overall package is hard to beat. The choice of plug-in practically unlimited. Tonight, while browsing winamp plug-in page, I stumble upon AudioProc 1.8. This DSP got 5 star from Winamp community which indirectly encourage me to try it.

I am really surprise with AudioProc 1.8 capability. I use ‘Enhance’ preset and my pair of ears thanks me 99999 times already. Seriously, if you are a Winamp user or wiling to use Winamp as your audio player, you should give this plug-in a shot. 99% of the chance, it will blow you out 😀

It is hard to describe how well this plug-in enhance my thousands of MP3 collection listening experience. But suffice to say, this nifty plug-in made me spend USD40 and never regret even for 1 second. For the record, I rarely take out my credit card and do online purchase due to bad currency exchange (1USD = RM3.50 where fresh graduate engineer roughly made RM2000 a month). Furthermore, 40 US Dollar is quite expensive for Malaysian average worker (including me heh). But…what the hell…at least it is cheaper than a set of high end hardware amp and DSP 🙂

Link:

http://www.winamp.com/plugin/audioproc-broadcast-audio-processor/221887

http://www.audioproc.ca/index.php?page=P_AudioProc

PS : Is it better than Foobar + Noise Sharpener?. Well, my personal answer is HELL YEAH! Don’t take my word. Let your ears be the judge 🙂

Recently I replaced my Vista with Windows Seven build 7077 and pretty happy with it except on how my SoundBlaster X-Fi Platinum output. Yeah, I know this is not seven fault but more on creative buggy beta driver.

So, in order to listen my mp3 collection as they was in their prime time, I installed WinXP in my other hard disk and update its driver as usual. I was amazed how good my mp3 sound in xp compare to seven lol but what I am going to share today is not related to xp or normal entertainment mode in x-fi but X-Fi Audio Creation Mode + Clock setting + Bit Match setting + Foobar with Noise Sharpening DSP.

I found out that, my music (mp3) sound much waaaaaaaaaayyyy better in audio creation mode when :

  • Clock = 96 kHz
  • Bit Match = ON
  • and….Foobar + Noise Sharpener

acm

96khz bitmatch

The music sound clearer (voice), warmer and more vivid (instrument). I compared with Entertainment mode (with or without crystalizer) and I notice that some of the instruments that I never heard in Entertainment Mode clearly highlighted in Audio Creation Mode (96 kHz and BitMatch activated).

But, the drawback of BitMatch activated is there are no equalizer and crystalizer. So, I compensate this one with Foobar Noise sharpener plugin and equilizer dsp plugin.

Result : Hours of smile and amazement. (never thought that my mp3 could sound this way).

For those who has X-Fi sound card, you may try to play your music collection from Audion Creation mode and experiment yourself.

Link for Foobar : HERE

Link for Noise Sharpener : HERE

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Instruction on how to use Foobar Noise Sharpener.

  1. Extract the zip file
  2. Copy foo_dsp_delta.dll and paste it in C:\Program Files\foobar2000\components
  3. Open Foobar2000 => File => Preference => Playback => DSP Manager and put “Noise Sharpening” on the Active DSP list. Make sure its at the top.
  4. On Noise Sharpening settings, slide the bar to 50-125%. (Whatever sounds reasonable, I personally use 75 percent)
  5. Play any audio file and notice the increased clarity. Activate it and deactivate it while its playing over and over to see the difference.

ns

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To enjoy the power of x-fi ASIO, download ASIO (for x-fi) plug-in and copy/paste it into foobar component folder.

After that, from Preference –> Playback –> Output (set to either 24bit or 32 bit) and at ASIO virtual device, click Add (Creative ASIO).

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Additional Reading :

http://www.overclock.net/sound-cards-computer-audio/226541-guide-setting-up-z5500-x-fi.html

How to setup foobar theme : http://www.neowin.net/forum/lofiversion/index.php/t576549.html

Another good setup : http://www.overclock.net/3202137-post9.html

X-Fi + Vista Start Kickin’

Posted: August 7, 2008 in Hardware, Software
Tags: ,

Recently, Creative release latest driver for their SoundBlaster X-Fi for Vista and Windows XP.

http://support.creative.com/Products/Products.aspx?catid=1&catName=Sound+Blaster

Surprisingly, these new drivers really kicking. I mean it.

Previously, I curse Windows Vista because it make my SoundBlaster X-Fi Platinum seem overprice. Lack of punch and treble. However, after update my x-fi soundcard with this latest driver, immediately I could tell the different. (more…)

X-Fi vs integrated sound chip

Posted: May 28, 2008 in Hardware
Tags: ,

SoundBlaster X-Fi vs on-board sound chip (like Azalia or SoundStorm) for example.

Should you invest couple of hundreds of ringgit to a dedicated sound card? Well, the answer lies to this question : “Should you invest several hundreds ringgit for a dedicated graphic card?”. The answer may be yes or no, depend on the user.

Most gamers only care about their frame rate. Thus, state of the art 3D Card is a must. At least GeForce9600 GT at this moment (which you can afford roughly RM500 per card). Compare to intergrated vga chipset, yes, the different like a Perodua Kancil Vs Lamborgini Gallardo. Too obvious. Some games which cant be played before, now can be played at max resolution with all the bell and whistle.

But for soundcard…..errr

Ask your ears and ask your speaker or headphone. Do you really care what your ears listen too. Do you really care a deep base ‘thud’ instead of ‘thong’. Do you really care to have total control to fine tune your sound output. And do you really have a good pair of speaker or headphone.

What ever the answer is, your game, MP3, video or even anime, will run find with the cheapest intergrated soundchip. Don’t worry. But the sound will be flat and mediocre. Deep solid low frequency base and crystal clear high frequency treble and chiming sound…can be forget about.

As for me, my personal experience, I can’t run away from intergrated soundchip. Tell me what motherboard doesnt provide intregrated soundchip nowadays (even the high end one). So, I could always compare the sound output from those cheap chip vs Creative SoundBlaster Live Player, Creative SoundBlaster Audigy and the Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Platinum. Both cost me RM220, RM 280 and RM720 (at their prime time).

I use a pair of Grardo SR80, Philips SHP2700 and Zalman 5.0 Headphone as the transducer to translate sound from electrical signal to soundwave. Grado can, absolutely the best among 3, no doubt. But, the other headphone is used to simulate real world user who use sub RM200 headphone for their own listening experience. As for the speaker, I need to trust not so transparent Altec Lansing AM4100 4.1 speaker.

And I could say the different is really obvious. You have to listen to believe. There is no point you buy a good, or even an expensive set of speaker but using the intregrated audio chip. Your speaker or headphone only able to produce the sound as good as what signal it get from the chip. With intergrated audiochip, my headphone or speaker (espcially the very transparent grado headphone), reveal the sound was too flat, mix up and a lot of instrument disappear. The bass sound like ‘tong’ instead of solid ‘thud’. The treble, almost not exist. The voice, not so clear. It like i listen to FM Radio instead of CD player.

And for gaming experience, SoundBlaster X-Fi (note, windows xp only), really show the true talent of latest game sound technology. You could sense where the bullet is coming, sometime I even feel the bullet cross my head, actual location of my enemy (their foodstep or sound of their weapon reloading), or other car engine noise which try to overtake me, surround ambient sound which reflect to my character movement, EAX 5.0 HD and ground shattering explosive sound effect. It’s not about EAX or reverb effect only, but sound placement which integrated audiochip lack of processing power to process it in real time, no matter what claim they made (5.1, 7.1…heh my arse). Yeah…and this cheap soundchipset will tax your CPU too…as it lack dedicated sound processor.

With SoundBlaster X-Fi too, I could tweak the sound on hardware level. The equalizer, Crystalizer, 24 bit DAC engine, sounds module and all the effect will appear in real time. There is no silly software DSP to play with…well I never ever like DSP software to enhance my music experience coz it sound so fake. X-Fi could handle sound tweaking as good as you adjust your expensive car stereo cross fader, equalizer etc.

Watching DVD with DTS never feel so good with X-Fi. Once you setup a proper set of speaker, let say 5.1 speaker, couple with X-Fi, you will never ever want to watch movie using those cheap intergrated soundchip. The realism and aura of sound is so different. I could feel every single angle of sound effect using x-fi, and expect flat and boring stereo x2 sound from integrated chip.

And trust me, even using the Philips SHP2700 (cost me RM85) married with X-Fi will reveal the true power of dedicated sound card. Imagine if you use RM1000 headphone or RM 200 set of speaker. You will be stunned.

Listen to believe…don’t read spec..but listen for yourself.

PS : However, if you use RM20 speaker of headphone, save yourself from being fool. There is no need a dedicated and expensive soundcard if your speaker is not able to produce all the sound tone.