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Thread: m-Audio Audiophile 2496 sound card or Creative X-Fi ?

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    m-Audio Audiophile 2496 sound card or Creative X-Fi ?

    I'm building a new PC based around the P5B Deluxe mobo. I haven't given much thought to the soundcard, but I'm starting to research it a bit now. The mobo has on-board 7.1 sound which will be fine for starters, but I may want to use my PC for music creation/editing/recording. After some very basic research, I've been looking at the following two cards

    - m-Audio Audiophile 2496 sound card
    - Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Music OEM Soundcard

    The m-audio card has rock solid drivers and best-in class sound. The X-Fi has lots of features and is THX certified, but apparently has poor drivers.

    If I got the m-audio, could I also still use the on-board 7.1 when I wanted surround sound ?

    Or, should I just go with the X-Fi and use that for everything including music creation/editing/recording ?

    Are there any other cards which might fit the bill ?

    Any thoughts/advice would be greatly appreciated ?
    Last edited by Defenestration; 16-03-2007 at 04:32 AM.

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    Flat cap, Whippets, Cave. Clunk's Avatar
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    I would say that for gaming and general entertainment value, the X-Fi, but for hooking up to listen to music, the 2496 is hard to beat, but before you buy, have a good look round for people with compatibility issues because I had the Audiophile 192 and it didnt like any of the DFI boards I tried it in, and I spoke to M-Audio support and they told me that DFI wasnt a good choice of motherboard, which wasnt true, it was a driver issue, but that didnt get sorted for around 3 months! But the sound quality is excellent from the analog outputs and inputs
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    At the moment I don't really do any music work, but have always thought about giving it a go. I would initially use it for listening to audio files/CD's, watching the odd movie and playing the odd game. If I could still use the on-board 7.1 sound with the m-audio installed, then I would favour that route. However, the X-Fi is a newer card and so surely has better hardware/CPU's, or not ?

    For music, I've been playing around with Reaper which looks to be an excellent DAW

    http://www.cockos.com/reaper/

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    I was in a similar boat. Personally I opted for just using the onboard. The X-Fi is good for gaming, but music-wise many of it's music "features" are just smoke and mirrors. And I grew so frustrated with my last Creative card's drivers that I gave up using it.

    However, this article I read earlier today definitely piqued my interest.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=38230
    http://forums.hexus.net/showthread.php?t=102436

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    The 2496 is just a pretty basic stereo card, so wont be any use for multichannel music and films, but I think (its been a while) it has a dolby digital/DTS passthrough, so that you can hook it up to an av amp, but there is no onboard encoding.

    Im not sure how the drivers are now for the 2496, but I'm not sure I would want to risk running the onboard at the same time.

    It definately boils down to what you will use it for most.

    Stereo stuff + excellent sound quality = 2496
    Bit of everything, gaming, music, movies = X-Fi
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    Hmmm... after some more reading, I'm also considering

    - M-AUDIO Revolution 5.1
    - Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 Soundcard (costs twice as much but has great reviews) - what's it like for music creation/recording/editing though ?

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    I have the Auzentech X-Plosion, and it is great, also had the X-Mistique and that was great as well, although these work best through their digital outputs. I havent used the X-Meridian, but I hear it is even better, so you cant really go wrong there. The thing with those type of cards, you really need to feed them into an AV amp to get the best out of them...or some really good active speakers.

    No idea on the Revolution card sorry
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    Also its worth noting the M-Audio range have no vista drivers and there is no ETA as to when they are coming out.

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    I don't think X-Fi has ASIO/WDM support (justt MME support IIRC) so using it for music creation which requires low latency monitoring is out.

    I use a 2496 for music creation (with Sonar and Reason) but am seriously considering upgrading to an RME Fireface400 - trouble is her indoors has the purse strings knotted beyond belief and convincing the Mrs that spending >£500 on a 'soundcard' is a good idea is likely to prove more than difficult!!
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbh View Post
    Also its worth noting the M-Audio range have no vista drivers and there is no ETA as to when they are coming out.
    Good point. They also don't currently support XP x64, which is what I'm considering running as my primary OS. Auzentech have Vista 32-bit (abeit with a couple of kinown bugs) and XP x64 drivers available now, with Vista x64 in the pipeline.

    Creative have drivers for all Windows OS's.

    This could unfortunately rule out the Audiophile, although I may end up using XP Pro 32-bit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Defenestration View Post
    Good point. They also don't currently support XP x64, .
    There are Beta drivers available from http://www.m-audio.com for x64
    http://www.m-audio.com/index.php?do=...bfb8&o=9&f=492
    Last edited by Gibbo; 16-03-2007 at 06:00 PM.
    Asus P5QL-E : Intel Q9550 : Noctua NH-U12P : DDR2 2 x 2048MB 1066 Corsair : Palit 9800GT 512Mb : Iiyama PLE2200WS-B : RME HDSP9632[a proper musician's card] : 2 x SATA 7200rpm 250GB : 1 x 7200rpm IDE 120GB : 1 x 7200rpm IDE 80GB : Iomega 34290 1TB eSATA storage : Pioneer DVR-216DBK : Antec TX1050 case : TAGAN TG700BZ PSU : MOTU MTPAV MIDI interface/time clock : Behringer BCR2000 : SONAR 7PE : Reason3 : ReFX Nexus : ReFX Vanguard : NI Battery3 : JP-8080 : D-50 : D-10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Defenestration View Post
    Creative have drivers for all Windows OS's.
    Not ASIO WDM or WaveRT (the new zero latency Vista protocol) AFAIK
    Last edited by Gibbo; 16-03-2007 at 06:35 PM.
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    Thanks for the pointer to the 64-bit M-Audio drivers Gibbo. So the M-Audio drivers are ASIO ADM ?

    The specs page for X-Fi Xtreme Music says it supports ASIO 2.0. Does this not mean the drivers are ASIO WDM ?

    http://www.creative.com/products/pro...ct=14066&nav=1


    Apologies if this is obvious, but I'm a bit new to sound/music related things.

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    Which soundcards/drivers support WaveRT, and is it really necessary if they are already ASIO WDM ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Defenestration View Post
    Thanks for the pointer to the 64-bit M-Audio drivers Gibbo. So the M-Audio drivers are ASIO ADM ?

    The specs page for X-Fi Xtreme Music says it supports ASIO 2.0. Does this not mean the drivers are ASIO WDM ?

    http://www.creative.com/products/pro...ct=14066&nav=1


    Apologies if this is obvious, but I'm a bit new to sound/music related things.

    I didn't realise Creative had now implemented ASIO2.0 support in their 'entertainment' cards - it must've come with just the latest versions. I'd thought they'd reserved that for their E-MU range which is the Creative 'audiophile' card.
    I am active on the Cakewalk SONAR forum and there are constantly posters complaining at the quality of the drivers on their Creative cards. Since Creative have a vested interest in selling their EM-U range to the music maker I suspect this is a deliberate ploy so that people who believe their X-Fi 'gaming card' is suitable for music making have to go out and buy another card when they realise their ASIO implemntation is poor. I don't think WDM drivers are supported by the X-FI cards. WDM is more versatile than ASIO insofar as latency can normally be adjusted via a slider from within the host sequencer as opposed to having to open the soundcard software and switch the buffer sizes (which I don't believe is possible within the Creative ASIO implementation). Buffer size adjustment is critical. One needs low buffer sizes (ie low latency) when recording but can increase the buffers on mixdown to prevent sample overload and therefore dropouts.
    Last edited by Gibbo; 16-03-2007 at 06:39 PM.
    Asus P5QL-E : Intel Q9550 : Noctua NH-U12P : DDR2 2 x 2048MB 1066 Corsair : Palit 9800GT 512Mb : Iiyama PLE2200WS-B : RME HDSP9632[a proper musician's card] : 2 x SATA 7200rpm 250GB : 1 x 7200rpm IDE 120GB : 1 x 7200rpm IDE 80GB : Iomega 34290 1TB eSATA storage : Pioneer DVR-216DBK : Antec TX1050 case : TAGAN TG700BZ PSU : MOTU MTPAV MIDI interface/time clock : Behringer BCR2000 : SONAR 7PE : Reason3 : ReFX Nexus : ReFX Vanguard : NI Battery3 : JP-8080 : D-50 : D-10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Defenestration View Post
    Which soundcards/drivers support WaveRT, and is it really necessary if they are already ASIO WDM ?
    Currently I'm not sure there are any audio interfaces supporting WaveRT ( http://msdn2.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa474703.aspx ).
    I believe MOTU, Lynx and RME are working on itbut they are all fairly high end pieces of kit.
    Asus P5QL-E : Intel Q9550 : Noctua NH-U12P : DDR2 2 x 2048MB 1066 Corsair : Palit 9800GT 512Mb : Iiyama PLE2200WS-B : RME HDSP9632[a proper musician's card] : 2 x SATA 7200rpm 250GB : 1 x 7200rpm IDE 120GB : 1 x 7200rpm IDE 80GB : Iomega 34290 1TB eSATA storage : Pioneer DVR-216DBK : Antec TX1050 case : TAGAN TG700BZ PSU : MOTU MTPAV MIDI interface/time clock : Behringer BCR2000 : SONAR 7PE : Reason3 : ReFX Nexus : ReFX Vanguard : NI Battery3 : JP-8080 : D-50 : D-10

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