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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

X-Fi Review

Kaboom! Or something like that. Yes, after several hours of scratching my head, uninstalling drivers, reinstalling drivers, hitting random objects in the room, one blue screen, opening my computer, unhooking, hooking, unhooking again, and hooking again... I finally got my new x-fi working. And trust me, once I did, I was thinking that this better darn well be worth it!! Lucky for me, it totally was. The sound on my Audigy was good and I really didn't think I would notice that big of a difference moving to an x-fi. But the minute I heard the WinXP login chime, I knew this was much better. The highs were sharper, the lows were more defined and the mids were right where they should be. I immediately loaded up iTunes and starting playing some music while the x-fi control panel was up.

First I tried the "24-bit Crystalizer." This was something I was both excited and worried about. I mean, even though the processing power of the x-fi chip rivals that of a slightly older desktop processor, the idea that it could "up-mix" music in real time to 24-bit quality was something to laugh at. Until I actually turned it on. Without a single delay, without a split second of distortion, the audio became even more dynamic sounding. It's difficult for a audio-noob like me to explain, but it all seemed to.. punch more without being overblown (like the "sound enhancer" itunes offers).

The next "test" was for the hardware EQ (controlled by software of course) and the CMSS-3D. The hardware EQ reacts instantly to adjustments, with no hint of distortion. The presets available are accurate, but limited. As for CMSS-3D, it's neat to hear stereo music in "simulated" 5.1. Some sound actually do seem to travel from rear to front and from front to rear, while some simply stay in location. Vocals tend to come from the center channel more often than not. It's pretty impressive given that it's been a gimmick for such a long time. It's still a gimmick for the most part, but it will do until multi-channel audio becomes the norm.

In games I have noticed a slight increase in framerate, but a huge increase in quality and stability. I never realized how much my poor Audigy struggled with Advanced HD until now. Surround in soooo much better and far more believable. The whispers coming from random locations in FEAR are far more frightening. Which brings me to another thing... this has onboard DTS decoding as well as Dolby Digital. And that's not all.. oh no, this board is THX certified and completely customizable. I can adjust all of the THX settings for speaker distance, volume comp, and even the speaker's angle relative to the user! I totally give the x-fi two totally crooked thumbs up (and this isn't even one of the versions with onboard ram).(The other thumb is on the camera)
Currently Listening To: Nobou Uematsu - Divinity II - Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children - 2005


Anonymous steven said...

Awesome. I'll have to add that to my list of hardware for when I build my dream PC :P

6:14 PM  

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