Home > Computer Hardware, Personal > Creative X-Fi sound cards

Creative X-Fi sound cards

I have a Creative X-Fi in my computer at home. It is the Fatal1ty FPS model, one of the original 4 models that came out late 2005. I bought mine towards the end of 2006, and have only finally been able to make use of it earlier this year after my computer was built.

I wanted a proper sound card from the get go, for gaming and clear sound. Having worked with a ton of different onboard sound cards, and hearing the muddy and ineffective sound, I knew a dedicated card was my best bet. Creative was basically the only company offering a sound card for gaming, and that’s why I went with them. At the time, the Audigy Preluce didn’t exist, or I may have considered that card instead.

I kept reading the Creative forums, and noticed that there were many complaints about snapping, crackling and popping, otherwsie known as SCP. It initially seemed to be an issue with motherboards using the Nvidia Nforce 4 chipset, but eventually it appeared on other platforms as well. People tried every solution under the sun, but there wasn’t a proper fix to sort the issue out. Creative also didn’t help matters by appearing not to care, and having the drivers for Windows XP stagnate.

I used the drivers off the original CD, and then used the August 2006 drivers. Generally it ran fine, but I did unfortunately notice some SCP at times during desktop use, and in a few games, most notably Medal of Honour Pacific Assault. Other games ran crystal clear.

I tried using the drivers they released in Feb this year, but it had an issue where I would lose all my surround channels in “Game Mode”, so I reverted back to the older drivers. I recently downloaded their new drivers for end of July, along with the new Audio Console, and it seems to work well enough. I will have to test it on Medal of Honour again, and see if I get any SCP still. I have my card hooked up to my Sony 6.2 channel home theatre system, and I can easily notice SCP. I hate hearing it.

Based on what I’ve read on the forums, there’s a cautious thumbs up by the users for sound quality of the driver. There’s also the possibility that they may enable Dolby Digital Live on the series, for a small fee of US $5. Time will tell, but I’d be interested in that to help reduce cable clutter, though I’m not sure how it would work with EAX.

I think part of the sudden surge in drivers and development is due to a firestorm that broke out earlier this year when a user called daniel_k got taken to task for releasing modded Audigy drivers for Vista that actually worked, where Creative’s originals did not. There was a huge internet backlash, and perhaps that made the execs at Creative take note.

In a way, it’s sad to see the way that they have fallen, as once upon a time, Creative was the only name for performance sound cards and other devices. Some bad business decisions have cost them though, along with some stupid mistakes in how they work with their customers. I can only hope that they have learnt, and will try to make some sort of a recovery.

I will write another post soon about my experiences with EAX.

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  1. August 7, 2008 at 14:35
  2. August 7, 2008 at 20:21

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