Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Elite Pro Review - Page 4 of 9
Review by Kyle Kerley - December 5, 2005
This is probably the mode I will benefit from the most with the X-Fi since I enjoy listening to music while chatting on AIM or writing papers for school. I was skeptical of the claim Creative made when they said the Crystallizer would make audio files sound better than their original 16-bit source. After having used the X-Fi, I can attest that the claims were more than just marketing hype.
Entertainment Mode Driver Console
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Those of you that frequent the nV News forum may know that I am a fan of Nine Inch Nails, so I used part of their extensive catalogue for my testing. The 2002 live album, Halo 17: And All That Could Have Been always sounded good in Winamp5 with the Rock preset and 4FrontEQ plug-in. In conjunction with the X-Fi Entertainment Mode, the quality of the music surpassed my expectations.
While I continue to tweak various equalizers, I am very close to obtaining my perfect settings. The bass is thundering, rattling my chair when it's only one-tenth of the speaker volume, and the treble is ear-splittingly pristine. Music has never sounded so crisp and clear. Terrible Lie never sounded as angry and heavy, March of the Pigs never sounded as frantic and intense, and La Mer has never been as peaceful and relaxing.
Using the re-released Halo 8: The Downward Spiral DVD-A for the second test, I didn't think the Crystallizer would be able to enhance a 5.1 surround 24-bit/96KHz audio source, but I was mistaken. Compared to the PC playing The Downward Spiral, my Sony HT-DDW670 home theater sounded flat and dull. The X-Fi added so much depth and vibrancy that I picked up sounds on the X-Fi that I never did on the Sony home theater system. Granted, my home theater isn't a top of the line set, but it just didn't sound as good as the X-Fi.
The Entertainment Center
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I used the remote control to navigate menus, skip tracks and chapters, and adjust the volume. I've always wanted a remote for my PC and now that I finally have one, I wish it could be used to control more applications and devices. The remote feels comfortable, the buttons are appropriately sized, and the rollers that control EAX, Crystallizer, CMSS3D and 3DMIDI move smoothly and make a slight click at each notch.