23 February, 2008

Looks like my luck has turned ;P

Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio

Turns out my Digital I/O Module-purchase wasn't a total loss. Just caught a glimpse of an article describing the OSS driver (Open Sound System) working on some of the X-Fi series soundcards. As I went deeper into X-Fi support research, being intrigued by this news, I found that the ALSA project (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) already had a module in-code that is supposed to support the Xtreme Audio version of the X-Fi cards, module "ca0106", the Creative developer describing the module on the open source website of Creative, had not tested the module himself. And, after reading some technical specs of the card, I realized it had an I/O port! Woohoo! Finally! Optical and coaxial SPDIF input and output! ;D

Allright, I'm aware of the fact that this card is a spin-off on the Audigy-chip, and supposedly "half-supported in ALSA, but not mentioned in ALSA support-pages". But further research into this comment revealed that the ALSA project had fixed playback bugs in their new alsa-1.0.15 branch. Despite these negative remarks, I'm going for this card, firstly because it's based on the last Audigy-chip (of which I am perfectly content with), it's not too expensive and it incorporates the Digital I/O port needed for my Digital I/O Module.

If I'd opted for the version above this card, I would have to fork out double the price just for the addition of the X-Fi chip with it's sound crystalizer and EAX Advanced HD capabilities.

As i'm using this card strictly for home cinema viewing and music purposes, I'm not really that concerned about perfect latency or near-noticable distortion reduction.

As I see it, if a source has shit quality, it will sound like shit, no matter how many DSPs (Digital Sound Processor(s)) you pass the source through. And since I'm now using optical SPDIF sources, sound distortion is a non-effect (the superb' wonderful thing about optics compared to copper wiring when it comes to audio, or maybe all transmission purposes I guess).

One thing I came to think about, is the analogue jack-connections I use to connect my VCR-equipment to my computer with, but then again, I could always run a dual-soundcard setup and just patch the stereo-ouput of the Audigy 2 SZ to the X-Fi Xtreme Audio, or maybe even setup an SPDIF bridge internally between the two cards to get complete digital resampling of all my sound-inputs ;P I love cross-connecting equipment.


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