The Bottom Line
- Support for 7.1 Speaker Systems
- Very Low CPU Usage Due to Strong Audio Processor
- Excellent Surround Emulation for Stereo Headphone Speakers
- Problems With Installation Software
- No Connectors for PC Case Audio Cables
- Creative X-Fi Audio Processor
- 8-Channel (7.1) Speaker Support
- 24-Bit Crystalizer
- CMSS-3D Processing
- Creative EAX Advanced HD 5.0
- 24-Bit 96KHz 7.1 Support and 24-Bit 192KHz Stereo
- ASIO 2.0 Support
- 109dB Signal-to-Noise Ratio
- 0.004% Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise @ 1kHz
- PCI 2.1 Compatible
Guide Review - Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Music
9/30/05 The Xtreme Music is the least expensive of the X-Fi series of audio cards, but it has the same audio processor used by the entire line. The main difference is that it lacks any additional connector block and remote control unit. For the majority of audio users this is just fine as they simply hook their PC up to speakers or headphones.
There are a lot of features for the X-Fi processor that are an improvement over the older Audigy series of cards. One of the most notable is support for the various sampling rates unlike the fixed 48KHz of the previous generation. With the SRC engine for the processor, the X-Fi can dynamically scale itself to a wide range of audio sampling rates without any loss in quality.
Headphone users will be particularly pleased with the X-Fi's CMSS-3D headphone mode that simulates 5.1 surround in standard stereo headphones. For the most part this feature does an excellent job simulating location although it tends to have problems with vertical positioning. The CMSS-3D feature can also expand a stereo audio source to a more full sounding surround mix.
Movie buffs will also be pleased with the DTS-ES and Dolby Digital-EX support for 8-speaker surround sound.
There are a few distractions to making it an excellent card. Most notably was a problem with the setup program that will likely be corrected in future versions from Creative. In addition, the card lacks any internal header for audio jacks found in most PC cases.