Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD Sound Card @ HH

Discussion in 'Reviews & Articles Discussion' started by craig5320, Dec 22, 2010.

  1. craig5320

    craig5320 Well-Known Member

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    Creative X-Fi Titanium HD Review
    ____________________________

    Today on our test bench we have the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD, the latest high end soundcard from Creative which sets out to be the best audio card available for consumers. Aimed at audiophiles and featuring top of the range components with specifications such as the best signal to noise ratio Creative has ever achieved we will find out if this is the must have sound card of the moment.
     
  2. Tyrsonswood

    Tyrsonswood HH's curmudgeon

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    Top of page 4.....


    Testung????? ;)


    Looks like a nice card....... any hints on what they have planned for the internal header?
     
  3. Earthmonger

    Earthmonger New Member

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    I get lured into these reviews of 'high quality' soundcards, and always leave disappointed. Once again, no midi inputs. Once again, the card is completely useless. My X-Fi Elite Pro is 3 years old. It requires a PCI slot. I want a modern replacement, damn it, and not some barebone no-frills model from their E-MU line. Sigh...

    Anyway, thanks for the review; it's well written. Not your fault Creative sucks.

    By the way, how much titanium is used in this card?
     
  4. Stuart_Davidson

    Stuart_Davidson Well-Known Member

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    I'm guessing that the manufacturers were not making enough sales in the consumer market for the feature to be worthwhile. It could well end up that you have to use two audio devices in your system in the longer term.
     
  5. Sihastru

    Sihastru Never been clicked

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    Wow, 10 across the board. That tingles my curiosity.

    This is a nice review but I have to say that the Crystalizer function usually does terrible things to the music I'm listening, destroying the dynamic range of the lower frequencies and saturating a little bit of the highs, I'm really surprised that it worked fine for you guys. That's something I turn off from the start. Ofcourse it can be different for this card, but I have my reservations.

    Apart from that, really good card.

    This a much needed card for Creative as their lineup was becoming a bit stale. But I think it's a bit too expensive to revitalise their brand across the board. It's not super expensive, but it's up there.
     
  6. Stuart_Davidson

    Stuart_Davidson Well-Known Member

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    I dont think we said it improved things, just that it changed them... my personal taste is to leave it off too. :)
     
  7. Jac

    Jac Well-Known Member

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    I think Creative made the mistake of creating a card that does all that you could want. I have an XFi extremeMusic and I've had it for going on 5 years. I see no reason to change it. The Titanium HD looks good too but I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to hear a difference between it and mine. When my xM dies I would look at a Titanium, I like the EMI shroud it's in.

    The positional audio is the best thing about the XFi series for me - in an online FPS the ability to get good surround positioning in games is a great advantage. I llike Crystalizer too for low quality MP3s. It restores the brightness/punchiness to music.
     
  8. Stuart_Davidson

    Stuart_Davidson Well-Known Member

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    Depends on your speakers/headphones to a certain extent. I actually used to have the XtremeMusic and while it is/was a great card I noticed the difference when i moved to the X-Fi Forte from Auzentech. Since then I have used the ASUS Xonar Essence STX and now the Titanium HD and there is a very noticable difference in quality between those three and the XtremeMusic with the THD sitting at the top of the pile.
     
  9. blibbax

    blibbax nahm8

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    Wow, 10/10 for value with for a £150 sound card oO

    I've been tempted by a high end sound solution ever since I won £300s worth of 2.1 speaker system on DH a couple of years ago, but the cost is really high when looked at against a PC like mine, and what other upgrades I could go for.

    I guess it might be good value in a PC that's going for absoloute top end hardware accross the board, but it seems dubious in any other situation. Then again, for all I know it could be that good - the trouble with any audio review is always going to be that it's impossible to quantify the difference, or to let us here it (as our own system won't be good enough to demonstrate the superiority).

    Nonetheless, thanks for a thorough review and very interesting read.

    See how I didn't point out any typos? GOTY competition much Veridian3? :p
     
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2010
  10. Stuart_Davidson

    Stuart_Davidson Well-Known Member

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    You are quite right that it is one of the hardest things to quantify in a review. The only real way to get an accurate audio product review is to have had the reviewer have access to a number of comparible products and use them on a regular basis. That way they get a "feel" for how things should sound/work etc and useful, valid conclusions can then be formed.

    In my case I have been lucky enough to cover the majority of the audio products we have covered here over the last few years from headsets to speakers and then most of the soundcards. I've also been fortunate enough to use cards such as the ASUS Xonar Essence STX in my main work system (which I listen to music on all the time) despite the fact we havent reviewed it. This has given me a baseline of sorts on the quality of audio products and from this I am able to say how good/bad alternative items are.

    There will of course always be a lot of subjective testing in audio reviews so I/we do try to stick to the same source material and make it tracks/discs that we like and know well so that the tests are not swayed by personal taste in music or movies etc.

    What I can say to expand on my feelings about the quality on the Titanium HD is that last night I ended up listening to a track about 5 times over on my SteelSeries 7H headset just because the detail Creatives card was giving me was awesome. I could hear little background noises that I hadnt noticed before and the overall tone of the accoustic guitar in the song was lovely. Thats what it can do on a £70 headset, nothing too fancy so you can imagine what it does on high end kit.

    Regarding value, yes... £150 isn't cheap. I weighed up the RRP of the card, the comparison with similar spec cards such as the ASUS STX and the overall quality (you get what you pay for etc) and decided that in its specific market the 10 was valid. I had actually marked it lower initially for value but found the discounted prices just before publishing so changed the score to reflect the lower cost. Like anything, some people will get value from £150 soundcards, some wont... some will get value from £300 graphics cards, some wont.
     
  11. Krush411

    Krush411 New Member

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    Thanks for the review. I have a question for you since you have used both the Asus Essence and Sound Blaster Titanium HD.

    I record vocals and want to use one of these cards as my interface for its converters since they both have high end converters. I will hook up my microphone preamp to the card.

    Knowing this, which of the two features the better converters for this purpose?
     
  12. Krush411

    Krush411 New Member

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    ^^ Anyone?
     
  13. Stuart_Davidson

    Stuart_Davidson Well-Known Member

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    As long as there are no compatibility issues with your kit and either cards requirements my preference would probably be the Titanium HD for that task. It does have a chip that is higher spec than the Essence but I dont think the qualiy of the recording would be too different on the two for consumer use. The thing which would sway me is the overall better quality of the Creative card for listening back to recordings and the fact that the X-Fi has digital inputs which may be useful to you in the future (the Asus doesn't).
     
  14. Sihastru

    Sihastru Never been clicked

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    The Titanium HD uses the TI PCM4220, while the Essence uses the CS5381 from Cirrus-Logic. In theory the PCM4220 should be "better" specwise, but on a soundcard spec doesn't tell the whole story, the quality of the adjacent components and the board signal isolation is also very important.

    So unless you have a really high quality mic/mixer with a filter and a sound insulated room then it really doesn't make any difference.

    You might be better off with a much cheaper card, like a DX/DS or an older Audigy/Live 24bit.
     
  15. blibbax

    blibbax nahm8

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    Talking of older cards, a slighly off topic question... in your seemingly considerable experience of such things, Veridian, how would you say older sound cards compare to modern integrated solutions? Has integrated improved?
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
  16. Stuart_Davidson

    Stuart_Davidson Well-Known Member

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    Depends what you class as older cards :) I would class the X-Fi XM as older and that is better than onboard.

    That doesn't mean that onboard hasn't improved though, there are a lot of decent onboard solutions out there, you just need to be careful as a bad/cheap motherboard design can add hiss etc to the audio.
     
  17. Krush411

    Krush411 New Member

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    Wouldn't the titaniums em shield suffice as a decent filter ?
     
  18. Sihastru

    Sihastru Never been clicked

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    That ornamental piece of aluminum/plastic/pvc isn't what I'm refering to when it comes to board signal isolation. That ornament is just a marketing thing...

    The power delivery system has to be filtered enough so that bus noise doesn't interfere with signaling inside the card. The PCB design has to be smart enough so that there are no capacitive ghost signals from traces that should be isolated. There are certain capacitors that should be used, thare are certain components that are more suited to audio boards then others are, even if on paper specs seem to be the same.

    I don't believe in gold plated plugs and $150 cables, but I have sensitive ears that can detect even the slightest hiss or the slightest channel crosstalk artifacts, and once my ears detect them, that's all I can hear, the music goes away and my life becomes a living hell. Then I have to look for the next best thing.
     
  19. purush

    purush New Member

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    After your review of this sound card I went ahead and bought it from Best Buy for CAN $ 180.00. I was given to understand that this was 7.1 surround sound. After installing this card I found that this card is just 5.1 and not 7.1. Thanks for your misleading reviews. Please do not buy this crapy card. I went back to my trusted X-Fi Extreme music connected to my 9 surround Bose speakers. It sounds a lot better.
     
  20. Stuart_Davidson

    Stuart_Davidson Well-Known Member

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    Hi Purish.

    Firstly the Titanium HD is capable of 7.1 audio and you can be sure that Creative will be adding support for connectors such as the standard analogue through the back connector on the card soon.

    I dont think the review is misleading though. There was no mention of connecting the card to enable 7.1 speakers via any sort of connector, in fact we specifically stated in the high definition tests that we used the optical connector. Additionally there was a full explanation of the outputs on the card and it is common knowledge that TrueHD and MasterAudio are not possible over that configuration of 3.5mm/RCA/optical... that's not a limitation of the Titanium HD, the Blu-Ray manufacturers decided not go with optical outputs for those formats, favouring HDMI for digital etc. I would have thought when building your BOSE system you would have picked up on the ins and outs of 7.1 audio requirements and would base your purchases on that.

    That said, as an example depending on your receiver, you should get a higher quality DTS signal from the Titanium HD regardless of the above as there are two parts to the audio on Blu-Ray material. The signal contains Core and Extended. Using optical your receiver would take the Core, ignore the Extended and play back the Core at twice the data rate of older DVD DTS.
     

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