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Creative Labs USB Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Audio System SB1090

4.1 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews
| 7 answered questions

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  • Cinematic surround sound from DVD movies Watch your DVDs in cinematic surround sound with PowerDVD software
  • Realistic sound effects in games Bullets whiz past your head. Explosions shake the room.
  • Slip on your headphones and X-Fi CMSS-3D technology moves the sound away from your ears and into the space around you.
  • X-Fi Crystalizer technology restores the detail and vibrance to your compressed music and movies.
  • Expand your stereo music and movies into surround sound with X-Fi CMSS-3D technology. Voices are centered in front of you.
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Technical Details

  • Minimum RAM: 256 MB

Product Description

Product Description

Adding the USB Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 sound card is the easiest way to make your music and movies sound their best. X-Fi Technology restores details and vibrance your music and movies lost during compression, making them richer and fuller, and expands stereo into surround sound with headphones or speakers. Plus it includes PowerDVD software via free download for the ultimate PC movie entertainment experience.

From the Manufacturer

Designed for use with desktop and laptop computers, the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 USB 2.0 Audio System gives your music and movies Xtreme Fidelity. By using a USB 2.0 connection, the X-Fi Surround 5.1 can be connected to virtually any computer. The system delivers full cinematic surround sound, 3-D audio, and realistic environmental effects to your music, movies, and games.

callout box top
Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1
At a Glance:
  • USB 2.0 interface for easy setup and connections
  • X-Fi CMSS-3D creates nine virtual speakers when using stereo headphones
  • X-Fi Crystalizer restores lost detail in compressed music and audio
  • Realistic gaming effects with EAX ADVANCED HD
  • THX-certified for great cinematic surround-sound experience
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product image

A USB 2.0 interface makes connecting the X-Fi Surround 5.1 a breeze. View larger.
Versatile USB 2.0 Connection for Easy Setup
The Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 connects to your computer via a USB 2.0 connection, including any laptop, desktop, or notebook computer. You don't have to worry about opening up your computer's external casing, and you can even use the X-Fi Surround 5.1 with multiple computers. For exceptional audio, simply connect the system to an available USB port and you're all set.

Positional 3-D Audio
Whether you're using headphones or speakers, Creative's X-Fi CMSS-3D technology delivers outstanding surround sound. When used with a pair of headphones, X-Fi CMSS-3D creates nine virtual speakers for exceptional surround effects, letting you feel like you're sitting in the best seat of a movie theater. You'll get an advantage during games, too, with the ability to locate enemies by sound before they see you.

When used with multichannel speakers, you'll be able to hear exactly where the audio cues are--even between speakers. Voices will be right in front of you and ambient sound will surround you, just like a live performance. CMSS-3D works with both desktop stereo speakers and full surround speaker systems.

X-Fi Crystalizer Restores Lost Details
X-Fi Crystalizer technology restores the audio detail that is lost in compressed audio files so you'll regain vibrancy and clarity in your music and movies. Highs and lows that were lost are enhanced, so whether you're listening to cymbal crashes or wailing guitars, you'll hear the music as it was meant to be heard.

Realistic Sound Effects for Gaming
With support for EAX ADVANCED HD technology, the X-Fi Surround 5.1 delivers rich environmental effects for an especially immersive gaming experience. You'll hear bullets whizzing by your head and experience explosions that seem to shake the whole room.

And if you're using Windows Vista, Creative ALchemy technology restores surround sound to DirectSound3D games for an exceptional gaming experience.

Intense Cinematic Sound for Movies
The X-Fi Surround 5.1 delivers THX-certified surround sound for a cinematic experience right at your computer. Cyberlink PowerDVD software is included (via free download) and supports DTS and Dolby Digital-EX decoding for an unmatched DVD movie-watching experience.

System Requirements
Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, or XP (Professional x64 Edition, Service Pack 2 or Media Center Edition); Intel Pentium 4 1.6 GHz, AMD Athlon XP 2000+, or equivalent processor; available USB port (USB 2.0 recommended); 256 MB RAM (512MB RAM for Windows Vista); 600 MB of free hard disk space; CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive; headphones or amplified speakers; internet connection to download PowerDVD software.

What's in the Box
USB Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 sound card, USB cable, installation CD, Quick Start leaflet, and stereo RCA to 1/8 jack adapter

Creative Sound Blaster Sound Cards (External)
Looking for internal sound cards from Creative?
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Sound Blaster
X-Fi Go!
Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1
General Info:
Connection TypeUSBUSB 2.0
SNR for Playback>= 96dB100dB
Speaker/Headphone SupportStereoStereo to 5.1
Music and Movies:
24-bit Sound Qualitycheck markcheck mark
X-Fi Crystalizercheck markcheck mark
X-Fi CMSS-3Dcheck markcheck mark
THX Certified
Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect (Win Vista Only) Encoder
DTS & Dolby Digital Decoding via free PowerDVD Downloadcheck markcheck mark
EAX SupportEAX 4.0EAX 4.0
X-Fi CMSS-3D Headphone Surroundcheck markcheck mark
Hardware Accelerated for Better Performancecheck markcheck mark
Hardware OpenAL and DirectSound3D Support

Product Information

Product Dimensions 8.9 x 2.4 x 6.3 inches
Item Weight 1 pounds
Shipping Weight 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
Item model number 70SB10900000
Customer Reviews
4.1 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
Best Sellers Rank #119 in Electronics > Computers & Accessories > Computer Components > Internal Sound Cards
Date first available at Amazon.com July 7, 2004

Warranty & Support

Product Warranty: For warranty information about this product, please click here


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Customer Questions & Answers

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Under 'Creative audio control panel,' be certain that 'high speed' (2.0) is checked, and not 'full speed' (1.1). This may or may not solve lag and other commonly cited audio issues. That said,

I do not like this sound card. In fact, it's not really a sound card at all. More truthfully, it is a (large) software suite connected to a big volume knob. As far as I can tell, and from what I have read and seen in task manager), all of the real work is done with your computer. Well, this shouldn't be too much of a problem on modern machines, right? I mean, aren't the days of needing external chips to alleviate workload on the CPU long gone and irrelevant?

Maybe. But the fact is that I feel that I could have attained the same, cheap audio tricks via any number of winamp plug-ins, equalizers, et al. What I wanted was a superior external DAC than the noise coming from my onboard RealTek 'high definition' audio. The truth is that I can tell no difference between the two outputs until I turn on the effects of the x-fi, which are really annoying to a music purist. They produce listener fatigue and unwelcome distortion (music was not meant to be heard in simulated surround, and 'crystalizer' can get downright 'screechy').
The simulated surround or EAX is fine for watching movies and playing games, though. But if you are primarily a music buff and have decent speakers, I advise looking elsewhere.

There is good news, though. While Creative has a history of not supporting older cards on a newer OS, there is a functioning beta driver for Windows 7 already at their site. You won't be experiencing what thousands of people did when trying to use their XP cards on Vista, etc. However, the overall performance of the card is sluggish both on my XP install and my Win 7 beta.
Read more ›
9 Comments 86 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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It is important to note that this sound device is not for everyone and it is less ideal for surround sound users than those of us just looking for high quality stereo. The sound quality is tremendous for 2 channel sound and generally reliable to a point. You have to understand the limitations of using a USB sound device. YOU MUST have a powerful enough CPU to process the sound information and because of the fact that it uses the USB connection whatever else shares that bandwidth like a wireless USB network adapter will impact the audio with possible hiccups and crackle when transferring large amounts of data.

In 2 channel mode at 24 bit 96khz when coupled with a quad core processor your chances of the best quality audio experience are greatest. Even with my Phenom II 920 @ 2.8ghz during downloads from STEAM transferring my games with my wireless USB network adapter at a 135 mbps connection leads to crackle when listening to music at the same time. USB only has so much bandwidth and using 5.1 surround only lets its limitations become more prominent.
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I purchased this Creative Labs X-Fi 5.1 external sound card to watch movies on my new laptop based on Creatives reputation, past creative products and the reviews that I read here.

The good:
Playing music is awesome. Mp3 files trully do sound great.

The bad:
The previous reviewers must not have been running Windows Vista. (I'm running the 64 bit version). After plugging the card into my USB port, installing the the software, and plugging in my Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speaker system, I sat down to watch a movie. There is a terrible sound lag that makes watching a movie seem like you're watching a baddly dubbed foriegn film. The actors speak and the action happens before you hear the sound. I have tried to reinstall the software and drivers numerous times and the only way to correct the sound lag is uninstall the Creative software and drivers and go back to the Vista drivers. Unfortunately without Creatives drivers you loose the mp3 fuctions that make the music sound so good. Also, when using creatives software / sound card my cpu is really being worked hard sometimes up to 100% cpu usage when watching a dvd (it averages about 30 - 40% with music and nothing else running). I'm running a 2.0 ghz dual core processor with 4 gigs of ram???

I contacted Creative support over a week ago and have yet to get a reply. I am very unhappy with this sound card and with Creatives customer service. If you want to read more about the sound lag just check out creatives public forum, theres over 9 pages about this issue.

I've heard that if youre running Windows XP there is no lag. So if you are running XP or just want to listen to music this might be right for you. If your running Vista don't waste your money. Creative should not advertise that this is Vista compatable until they figure out this lag issue!!!
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Too bad so many people have to read the Vista review at the top of this page to get their first opinion of this little fellow. I have Windows 7 Pro 64-bit and this product works just fine (and is certified for both Win 7 32/64-bit by Microsoft). I plugged it an and Win 7 installed it without needing the driver disk...a really good sign out of the box.

I was planning on just using it as a cheap sound solution because I didn't want to buy a $150+ card that supported 64-bit. I'm not a gamer and only have two speakers and headphones. Totally quiet and transparent sound with an open 3D clarity over headphones. Best $50 I've spent in a long while. That I can drop my hand to the unit and instantly crank the volume up and down (no more mouse!)is a big plus.

2015 UPDATE- 3 STARS NOW: mine is still going strong but I found something odd. I'm using it to sample audio from old record albums to convert to 44.1khz 24-bit files. But no matter what format I've chose in any control panel it only outputs in 48khz. To test it I connected the X-fi to a Win 7 64 laptop and ran an optical cable to my receiver. No matter what I selected it would only output 48 or 96khz.

May not seem like a bit deal but I'm mastering audio and want 44.1k 24-bit... not a video format. I've noticed that the other USB desktop devices all advertise 48-96khz as well. I wouldn't be surprised if DAC chips are cheaper the fewer formats they support.
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