Finally! We are beginning to see Creative’s chipset offerings being used in other manufacturers sound cards. The first such product is Auzentech’s X-Fi Prelude, which we have on the test bench today. Though it excels in some regards, we find out that it has a lot of room for improvement.
You can record anything you do as two channel output and you can upmix it so that it can be decoded by a Dolby decoder upon playback. For all the home music recordists this means you’ve just turned your PC into a home recording studio.
The downside is that to fully leverage this you’ll need the optional input from Auzentech so that you’ve got midi inputs. Also not all the inputs work on the daughter card, I noticed that the large mic input doesn’t function on it. Come on guys, if you’re going to charge more for the X-Fi Prelude than any other bare card X-Fi on the market you should at least make all the features work on the expansion interface daughter card.
Here’s a look at the game mode. Notice that the CMSS offers MacroFX and the ElevationFilter. I think they have something to do with optional audio information in the games but I haven’t noticed any difference in the games I’ve played whether they’re on or off. There’s also an optional bass boost tab that allows boost at a user adjustable cutoff frequency. With an EQ the bass boost is really overkill, especially if you’re an apartment dweller or have room-mates or kids or even parents to annoy.
Here’s the next change for the Game mode, the EAX effects are for games that leverage them and there’s a mix slider. I’ve had a few games that had EAX environments in them and they sound great. Sadly they’re not used often and usually just in a couple of places in any one game.
Here’s the no frills console for the Prelude. Basically anything you want to adjust can be done in this console aside from the EQ.
Here’s Entertainment mode Note that there are 9 tabs.
Game mode also has 9 tabs, the same tabs as Entertainment mode.
Audio Creation mode loses the X-Fi CMSS-3D tab. Yeah, instead you have all the effects you can mix in. Sadly those too are only access able from the GUI console.
Now that we’ve seen what’s under the skin of the X-Fi Prelude and looked at the numbers as reported by RMAA let’s see or rather hear what it offers end users.