Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not A Terrible Card, But Not Awesome Either... Until I Ran Its Sound Through ASIO, January 30, 2012
This review is from: Creative Labs SB0886 PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series Sound Card (Personal Computers)
For those installing this card with integrated onboard sound, be sure to follow the following instructions. Otherwise, your new sound card will not operate properly.

1) If your computer uses onboard sound, BEFORE you install your new card, go to Creative Lab's website & download the newest drivers for the "Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series" sound card to match your Operating System. Do not use drivers for a different version of Windows.
2) Next, under Control Panel>Device Manager>Sound,Video,&Game Controllers - uninstall all drivers associated with your PC's onboard sound card.
3) Next, restart your computer, go into the BIOS by pressing the DELETE key during start-up, & disable your PC's onboard sound. You will find the option to "disable" audio under the "Integrated Peripherals" tab in the BIOS menu.
4) Save this setting & exit the BIOS menu, boot up your computer again, & then shut it down completely.
5) Now, with the PC off & its power cable unhooked, physically install your new Creative Labs sound card.
6) Then, boot up your PC again, & install the newest drivers for the "Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series" card compatible with your own version of Windows.
7) Allow Creative Lab's drivers to install & update all of the accompanying sound software, & reboot as indicated. This software will allow you to adjust your sound card's audio quality.
8) Enjoy your PC's new sound.

Creative Labs only includes instructions with this card that tell you to physically uninstall your current sound card, which is fine, unless you have integrated onboard sound, in which case you cannot pull the card out, & will instead need to disable it in BIOS menu first (as shown above), in order for your new card to operate properly. If you are running Windows 7, I *highly* recommend going to the Support section of Creative Labs' website FIRST, & downloading the Windows 7 drivers for the "Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series" sound card. The Creative Labs CD says 2008 on the label, & these drivers may work for XP & Vista installations (though they may be outdated by now)...but for Win 7--you will need the Win 7 drivers from Creative's website, which are not currently included on the CD with this purchase.

I followed the instructions above, & this card perfectly installed to Win 7, with no issues, like a hot knife though butter.

I recently bought this sound card to replace the RealTek onboard sound in my Acer Predator PC Acer Predator AG3610-UR20P Gaming Desktop Computer. Fully installed, this is not a "fabulous" sound card - but it isn't a terrible one either. When it's first plugged in, without tweaking the sound using Creative Lab's software, it really doesn't sound too hot. If you use nothing but the card drivers themselves & none of the Creative Labs' "bloatware" to adjust its sound, you may not be impressed with it - & it's output may sound very hollow & flat. Once the sound settings are adjusted however, this card sounds much better, but it isn't truly awesome...

Part of the problem is the sound adjustment software itself. I suspect many customers may hear the initially flat sound, panic, & over-adjust their sound too much, using too many different sound options all together at the same time, which will create badly over-processed sound containing a ton of reverb, tinny sounds, pops, & hissing. Although Creative Labs offers many sound adjustment options in their software (maybe too many...) - you definitely will not want to use all of them all at once at high settings. Using more different sound settings at the same time may actually result in less sound quality, & more frustration. Go light on settings until you find out which ones really work best for you.

Subjectively, this card sounds somewhat better than the 16 bit integrated RealTek HD sound card my PC came with...but not as much as I'd hoped, for the price this card sells for. To be honest, card for card, once all the settings were tweaked...I got better quality sound out of the old Creative Labs card I bought in 2005 Creative Labs SB0570L4 Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card & installed to my last PC in Win XP. Also, my "Guild Wars" game was able to access the EAX settings in the 2005 SoundBlaster card, & this card, even though Alchemy indicates it is compatible with the game, cannot do so.

Overall, I'm not terribly unhappy with this card, not enough to return it...but I am not truly happy with it either. For me, the "Creative Labs SB0570L4 Sound Blaster Audigy" setup from 2005 had it right the first time regarding sound quality, & no matter how I adjust the settings for this card, this one misses the mark. I am going to try upgrading my "Altec Lansing VS2420 2.0 Music & Gaming Stereo Speaker System" next, to see if that improves matters.

2/2/12 Update:

I talked online with several other owners of this sound card, & did some intensive trouble shooting re persistent problematic sound quality issues. I discovered that I can obtain MUCH better sound quality by using the ASIO sound output feature of this card, in Creative Lab's "Audio Creation Mode", & playing it through the ASIO playback output feature in the "Foobar2000 Media Player" (freeware), instead of just using the "Windows Media Player" as I did before. This switch untangled & smoothed out the worst of my card's pervasive sound quality problems. As I understand it, this ASIO playback output feature allows you to configure alternate channel mappings for ASIO-enabled sound cards (ie. it re-maps the card's sound output into something more listenable).

Also, if I reduce my PC's volume level to at least 75% (some card owners even recommended 50%) - I get far less sound distortion through *any* media player I use. Unlike other sound cards I've owned, I get much better sound quality by cranking the speakers with this card, rather than than cranking Windows', Creative's, or my media player's volume. Backing volume down to even 80%, & then upping my speakers' volume, produced a marked improvement in sound distortion.

With these changes - this card now produces refined, beautiful sound as nice as my old Creative Labs SB0570L4 Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card through the same speakers. Since the audio quality of this card is really quite dependent on the software we run our music through - I've given it back 1 Star, for a total of 4 Stars. I couldn't give 5 Stars, because I believe the user should not have to "reinvent the wheel" on their own to get excellent sound out of a sound card (I didn't have to with the old 2005 Audigy - with a few tweaks, it just worked.) But it can be done, & with persistence, your sound quality can improve dramatically with the right settings & software.

For those wondering if you can use Creative Lab's "What U Hear" feature to directly record audio off the internet with this sound card, in Windows 7...the answer is YES. By re-enabling the "What U Hear" option in Win 7 under Sound> Recording Devices> What U Hear> this option becomes available for use under the Record options of Creative Lab's software. Captured audio files can be recorded in .wav or .wma format, at settings as high as 24 bit 96,000 kHz sampling depth & frequency.

3/27/12 Update:

Installing the ASIO plug-in available for Windows Media Player, & the most recent ASIO plug-in for the Foobar2000 media player, has done MUCH to increase my overall PC stability, & the stability of the Creative Labs sound card Console interface during use. Since installing & updating both ASIO plug-ins, I am experiencing *significantly* fewer crashes, when using Creative Labs sound software features. Now, everything is working together. And the crystal clear purity of ASIO audio output really shows what this sound card has to offer, at its very best.
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