Creative announces quad core sound cards

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Creative labs has has announced its first quad core sound cards based on its recently announced Sound Core3D audio processor. This might sound like total overkill for a sound card, but it's not four identical cores, instead we're looking at very specific audio DSPs that have their own tasks to perform, as VR-Zone reported earlier today:

The Sound Core3D handles the processing for Creative's new CrystalVoice feature, THX TruStudio Pro and all other kinds of audio processing beyond that. The glaring omission in the press release is that there's no single mention of X-Fi technology which suggests that Creative has moved on and decided to drop the X-Fi moniker for its new soundcards. EAX Advanced HD 5.0 is still part of the package though, so gamers need not to worry.

As for the new features, CrystalVoice adds acoustic echo cancellation, support for beam-forming which in this case is a kind of noise cancellation technology which requires additional microphones, general noise reduction, automatic loudness adjustment for the microphone and various voice effects and equalizer features. THX TruStudio Pro gets the Crystalizer treatment, a throwback to the X-Fi days, surround sound support, a smart volume feature, something called dialog plus which enhances the voices in games and movies and  finally a bass enhancer.

As for the new sound cards, first up we have the Core3D PCI Express which is seemingly sharing its basic design with Creative's first PCI Express card, although the PCB looks extremely void of components for a sound card. We're not sure if the chunk of metal in the centre of the card has any kind of function, as there's a small Creative branded chip further down on the PCB which we suspect is the Sound Core3D rather than something hidder under the purported heatsink. As to the pin-headers, your guess is as good as ours as to what they're for.

Next up we have the shrouded Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional which comes with the beam-forming microphone and a nice piece of metal wrapped around the PCB with a small window in it. This brings us to the Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion of which we have as yet to see a picture. This should be the same card as the Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional, but with an I/O drive that sports headset jacks, volume control and various other audio jacks.

The fourth and final product, the Recon3D USB which is quite different from the PCI Express cards, as although this is a USB audio device it packs connectivity for a headset, line in/out and an S/PDIF input. The S/PDIF input allows for Dolby Digital decoding for use with headphones for surround sound. On the right hand side you'll find a three step microphone booster and on the right hand side is a feature that might make the Recon3D USB popular, a switch that lets you select between PC, Xbox 360 and PS3.

However, the features don't stop here, as the Recon3D USB can be upgraded with wireless connectivity and it can be connected to Creative's Tactic3D Omega headset and Creative will offer a bundle of the two later this year. The Recon3D USB is expected to hit retail in October for a price of US$129.99 (S$157).

As for the PCI Express cards, Creative didn't mention any actual launch date, although the press release stated that the Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion won't be available until Q1 next year. As a side note, apparently both Gigabyte and MSI has singed up as OEM partners for the Sound Core3D, so it'll be interesting to see what kind of onboard audio solutions the two companies can come up with in the future.

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