X-Fi Fatality FPS SoundBlaster review

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EAX Advanced HD 4.0 & 5.0

For gaming of course it's important to know that it supports all EAX modes up-to EAX 4.0, which in many ways is similar to EAX 3.0. New features for EAX 4.0 over EAX 3.0

  • New Multi-EnvironmentTM technology renders multiple environment audio effects in real time.
  • Environment PanningTM makes it easy for gamers to track, with three-dimensional precision, the location and movement of sounds that usually represent enemies or team mates.
  • Environment ReflectionsTM offers localization of early reflections and echoes.
  • Environment FilteringTM accurately simulates the propagation of sound in both open and closed environments.
  • Environment MorphingTM allows for seamless transition from one environment to the next.

Now 4.0 already was rather nice, but with the X-FI series Creative introduces EAX 5.0.

EAX literally means Environmental Audio eXtensions and is a programming interface that allows game programmers to access some special features. So now, to exploit the full potential of the Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity Audio Processor they have developed a new version of EAX. The latest addition range is passing along a number of new features. Most impressively is a doubling in the voice count, EAX 5.0 can render 128 sources simultaneously in a 3D space with multi-channel map-reading.

Developers can also include interactive music to games. EAX ADVANCED HD 5.0 adds a dedicated bass feed for each of the 128 sources, so gaming audio becomes more cinematic as that's quite a sound palette to work with. Next you get Environment FlexiFX, which gives developers the freedom to use any of four simultaneous effects with any of the 128 voices.

It also has MacroFX for controlling proximity and occlusion effects. All of this is currently in its early stages, since the X-Fi's processing capacity has not yet been fully put to use, but major developments should be appearing soon. Finally EAX MacroFX allows EAX ADVANCED HD to simulate sounds passing very close to you!

EAX Voice, meanwhile, performs real-time processing of the voices of players as they talk into a mic - something called Microphone Environment FX - to render them in conformity with the virtual space they're in. It's a new way to achieve even more total immersion in the virtual world, which will truly show its potential in multi-player environments.
Click on any of the links below to get more info on EAX ADVANCED HD 5.0 features:

128 Voices - More Audio Detail Than Ever Before!
EAX® Voice - Get Inside The Game!
EAX® PurePath - Truly Cinematic Gaming Audio
Environment FlexiFX - Xtreme Gaming Audio!
EAX® MacroFX - Getting You Closer To Your Gaming Audio!
Environment Occlusion - OK, The Bad Guys Are Outside!

Copyright 2005 - Guru3D.com

An then there was X-Men X-RAM!

In the entire leisurely months long introduction of X-Fi it was obvious that some of the soundcards would be equipped with memory. I already noted in this article that the old SoundBlaster AWE32 could manage soundfonts (banks) for all your MIDI and sampling love and loved some extra memory. Things changed and some of the X-FI products now have 64 MB of memory equipped on the card. This time the functionality is a little different though, although it can store 24-bit samples on it if you want to for more professional stuff.

The idea behind onboard 64MB memory on the two expensive cards is to give it a cache, you might even call it a sound buffer close to the sound processor. When you offload sound samples into that cache then you get better performance as these samples do not have to be called constantly from your regular memory or even worse your HD. What's the benefit you ask? Performance of course. Without the need to swap these samples and the sound processor having close access to them locally you'll save valuable system resources in the form of system memory and also performance.

The upside, Creative claims a 10-13% performance benefit in your framerate.
The downside, this is application specific, meaning the game must support the X-Fi's XRAM specifically. To date only one game has this option, Battlefield 2, we tried, we failed to measure a performance increase.

So the idea behind the 64MB memory is to improve performance in games that support this technology. The only two models with 64 MB are the product we are testing today, the Fatality version and the top of the line card, the X-Fi Elite Pro.

Creative Labs X-Fi Fatality
Interface PCI
Circuit principal CA20K1 (X-Fi)
Max. sampling rate 192 kHz
Quantification 24 bits
ASIO 24 bits/96 kHz
DVD and cinema
Standards Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES, S/PDIF output
Configuration Up to 7.1
DVD Audio Yes
3D game sound
Standards DS3D, A3D, Open AL, EAX 5.0
Configuration 2 to 7.1
Software synthesizer Creative SoundFounts 24 bits
I/O Prises Standard (DIN)

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