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Creative X-Fi Crystallizer equivalent in newer cards?

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by Vexr, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. Vexr

    Gangster

    Joined: Oct 15, 2018

    Posts: 101

    I use a SoundBlaster X-Fi GO USB dongle for my audio, which is now getting extremely old and is having occasional problems. The X-Fi crystallizer is the only feature I'm actually interested in, especially as I only have a stereo speaker setup.

    Am I right in assuming the 24 bit crystallizer is still present in all Creative's newer cards? Do their rivals have an equivalent feature? Can onboard sound / low budget cards even have something like it?

    I once read that the USB X-Fi dongles actually don't really have any hardware, it's essentially just running software and using your CPU to increase audio fidelity - can anyone confirm this? Is there even a way just to have a crystallizer as an app or something and use onboard audio?
     
  2. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    USB is digital. If you plug any speakers or headphones/headset that has analogue 3.5mm connections, into any USB dongle or sound card, then the digital data from the PC needs to be converted to analogue, which is where a DAC comes in. Also, it will need to have an ADC to convert analogue microphone input to digital. The idea that a USB audio device just uses software with no actual audio hardware, is nonsensical.

    I don't really know if Creative's newer products have a Crystalizer equivalent, but I'm sure there will be someone who can confirm that.

    Creative do have a software package I believe, which allows SBX prostudio to be used with onboard audio, without the need to purchase a sound card to get that feature. Whether that comes with a Crystalizer feature (assuming Creative still have such a thing), I don't know.
     
  3. Vexr

    Gangster

    Joined: Oct 15, 2018

    Posts: 101

    Ah ha, this seems like it:

    https://www.soundblaster.com/technology/sbx-pro-studio?crystalizer

    Maybe what I read all that time back was about CPU load being increased using USB X-Fi over the PCI cards, can't quite remember and don't know much about audio other than the fact I've become dependent on the X-Fi's crystallizer.

    SBX pro studio sounds like a very promising lead to start with, cheers for the heads up.
     
  4. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 57,813

    Newer Creative cards like the AE-5 have the Crystalizer functionality (and the rest of the stuff in pro studio).
     
  5. hornetstinger

    Soldato

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 5,222

    When I had that feature it made it sound worse. I'd buy better speaker.
     
  6. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    Here's a link for the software that you can download. https://uk.creative.com/p/accessories/sound-blasteraxx-control-panel

    You might have seen something about load being taken off the CPU, which was one of the bonuses of a sound card many years ago. That was the days of single core though, when it was a much more noticeable impact than it is today. The extra processing a modern CPU does when using onboard audio is negligible.
     
  7. EsaT

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 4,370

    Location: Finland

    Crystalizer is mostly just fancy name for bass and treble boosting equalizer.
    I guess it's mostly usefull for speakers/headphones with problems in reproducing those.
    Never found it any useful.
    Too heavily compressed music simply sounds crap, no matter what you do.

    Again if you play games and watch movies, there would be lot better ways to improve immersion even if you can't set up surround speaker sets.
     
  8. Vexr

    Gangster

    Joined: Oct 15, 2018

    Posts: 101

    That makes sense. Clicking through that link though, it seems the most relevant download is a Creative Media Toolbox 6 trial. It doesn't list SBX pro studio...

    Definitely sounds better to me. My setup is a basic old hi-fi stereo one with 2x Mission 700 speakers and a Kenwood A-62 amp (50 w per channel I think). It certainly couldn't compete with the Logitech THX 5.1 system I once had for my living room TV, but I've been happy with this setup for music and gaming on my PC.

    Unfortunately my X-Fi sometimes cuts out and then all audio immediately goes through my PC's monitor, which burns my ears by comparison. The X-Fi also seems to react badly to certain video file types, going in to slow motion + ~0.1 fps, which is then immediately fixed on unplugging the X-Fi and plugging it back in again (for a while). Updating codecs hasn't helped.

    Googling SBX Pro studio, it leads to listings like the Audigy FX or just 'Creative Blaster Sound Card' that includes the software. Only about £25-£30 some of them. Should I just go with one of those? Windows 10 compatibility is a must, I think that's where my X-Fi Go USB is lacking as drivers haven't been updated by Creative since way before Windows 10 came out.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  9. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,245

    The top download is for the media toolbox, but lower down at the bottom there is software for SoundblasterAxx. Having read it though, it seems that this is software for specific Axx hardware.

    I thought I saw Esat mention in another thread that Creative has software that could be used with any audio hardware. I couldn't find any other though, so maybe it doesn't exist.

    I think one of the Creative sound cards, internal or external, is the best bet.

    Audigy FX is probably the best value, if you don't mind an internal card.
     
  10. EsaT

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 4,370

    Location: Finland

    Would expect that stereo speaker set to be more accurate for music than that Logitech surround set.
    But for gaming/movies would never be happy with stereo speakers.

    Stereo gaming is so "nineties" and we should be aiming to similar immersion in sounds as how graphics have improved from that of 25 years ago.
    And that immersion improvement can be achieved without space/posititioning/cabling or room acoustics hassles of speakers.
    (not to forget fast increasing price for surround set worth of good speakers)

    That's possible by simulating cues used by brain to process sound source positions directly in signal and listening that using (good) headphones.
    Creative sound cards have one of the best algorithms for that.
    Or more precisely Creative's software set has, if you have good integrated sound card/device to do digital to analog conversion.
    Software set meant for those costs ~30$ in Creative's "software store".

    So you pretty much get that software or sound card for free in Audigy Fx, which is otherwise budget/entry level card.
    (minimum connections instead of separate headphone and speaker output etc.)
     
  11. Vexr

    Gangster

    Joined: Oct 15, 2018

    Posts: 101

    Sounds promising, but I generally find headphones uncomfortable after a while. There's also the fact I've found the sound quality to be poorer when using them in the past, but then the only 'real' headphones I've owned are as retro nineties as my amp and speakers, so I can imagine they've come a long way. Would be nice to have a decent idea of where enemies are whacking me from by sound alone, but I think that's a ways off until I'm using my PC in a room suitable for a 5.1+ setup.

    I don't mind losing a PCI slot. My SLI days are probably over and I can't see myself ever using PhysX, so I should have a couple of slots free no matter what.

    Good to know there's a card that fits the bill for replacing my X-Fi without being expensive. Thanks for the advice.
     
  12. Rroff

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 13, 2006

    Posts: 57,813

    While I use full headphones a lot for gaming and music - I generally just use a pair of (reasonably decent) earbuds for general PC use as I've never found headphones that are completely comfortable for more than an hour or so. (TBH I often use the earbuds for gaming and a fair bit of music use due to being too lazy to switch over).
     
  13. V F

    Capodecina

    Joined: Aug 13, 2003

    Posts: 14,689

    Location: UK

    Velour pads are the best more so the rounded edge ones on the AKG. You're never really aware you're wearing them. You don't sweat or ears heating up/feeling raw. Even the Brainwavz pads on the Steelseries Siberia 840 I've worn them for 4 hours plus and never had any discomfort. Nor do either feel like they're clamping your head.