X-Fi Elite or X-Meridian Sound Card - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 292 Old 12-08-2006, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey there,

I'm putting together a new HTPC and I'm looking for a sound card with Optical output and a digital input. I want to be able to send it to my receiver and also send audio in for recording purposes. The Auzentech seems to get rave reviews but I'm wondering if the Elite os overlooked because of it's higher price. Also, price not too much of a factor, what other options would I have for a sound card?

Thanks
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post #2 of 292 Old 12-09-2006, 06:00 AM
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the primary advantages of the ElitePro over the Auzentech are:

1) external DD/DTS decode ability
2) integrated Phono Preamp
3) 24 bit >130db accurate Sample Rate Converter to eliminate kmixer's BAD SRC

#3 allows you to forget about bit-perfect issues....


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post #3 of 292 Old 12-17-2006, 09:23 AM
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I would say for a HTPC there is no better card than a X-Meridian.
IT contains alot of great audio technologies people look for in a HT receiver.
People have been reporting the X-Meridian sounds better than a X-fi.
You have the abaility to go fully digital with the X-Meridian. X_fi's don't handle digital very well.
You can go wither Coax or Optical with the X-Meridian and the X-tensionboard adds another set of digital I/O for you. I think for HTPC the X-Meridian is the best card by a mile.
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post #4 of 292 Old 12-17-2006, 04:19 PM
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http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound/399/

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post #5 of 292 Old 12-18-2006, 03:37 PM
 
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jimwhite, the X-Meridian has external DD/DTS capability. The catch is, that's where it stops. The card itself does not decode, so no DD/DTS when outputting analog.

Internal DD/DTS decode - Creative wins
Digital input reliability/performance - Auzentech wins
Sound quality - some have been reporting the XMeridian has better SQ than the X-Fi's but I think that only applies to analog, not SPDIF out to a receiver/digital amp
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post #6 of 292 Old 12-18-2006, 03:52 PM
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You have to mention gaming too! Auzentech can only do EAX2.0 (and that's even broken in some games), and they don't even have OpenAL drivers, which you NEED for Sound Acceleration in Vista. Not to mention Auzentech has TERRIBLE tech support, and piss-poor driver support. I'd rather go with Creative because at least I know I'll get supported.
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post #7 of 292 Old 12-18-2006, 05:16 PM
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The specs on Newegg show that the card has DTS and Dolby decode. I am not sure if it is accurate though, since this isn't on Auzentech's website.

In my experience with Auzentech, they have very good tech support. They also have great 64-bit driver support for a company so small. Battlefield 2 does seem to have some issues, but you just disable the cheap EAX effects, and you are fine.

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post #8 of 292 Old 12-18-2006, 05:30 PM
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You're serious about their support? Wow, I should tell you my horror stories one day. It really makes me laugh when they call themselves "tech" support. They're just plain pathetic! I'd rather let Dell do my tech support!
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post #9 of 292 Old 12-18-2006, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greeniguana00 View Post

The specs on Newegg show that the card has DTS and Dolby decode. I am not sure if it is accurate though, since this isn't on Auzentech's website.

In my experience with Auzentech, they have very good tech support. They also have great 64-bit driver support for a company so small. Battlefield 2 does seem to have some issues, but you just disable the cheap EAX effects, and you are fine.

They say DTS/DD are available using WinDVD or similar software app w/their decoder. This is purely software decoding.
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post #10 of 292 Old 12-18-2006, 08:59 PM
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This X-Meridian looks mighty impressive for those who have no need for decoding from external sources.

My question is, does it eliminate that loud pop you get if you accidentally have your amps on when you power on/off your PC?

Cheers...
Duy-Khang Hoang
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post #11 of 292 Old 12-18-2006, 09:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hdkhang View Post

This X-Meridian looks mighty impressive for those who have no need for decoding from external sources.

My question is, does it eliminate that loud pop you get if you accidentally have your amps on when you power on/off your PC?

Cheers...
Duy-Khang Hoang

From their users manual it says "Anti-Pop control circuit using high performance audio muting transistor" whatever that means, but I would like independant confirmation that it does work before I get one. Sadly, I've not seen any reviews that were thorough enough to test this.

-PGPfan
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post #12 of 292 Old 12-19-2006, 05:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PGPFan View Post

From their users manual it says "Anti-Pop control circuit using high performance audio muting transistor" whatever that means, but I would like independant confirmation that it does work before I get one. Sadly, I've not seen any reviews that were thorough enough to test this.

-PGPfan

I can test this for you tomorrow. If you can wait.

One interesting note is that Slim Devices (Squeezebox) chose the same DAC that is on the Meridian for their new Audiophile grade music server device. The cost of that box is 2k.

Personally, I have the X-Fi Elite Pro and appreciated it's clean signal and processing power, but when it came to analog output I was not impressed. The DAC in my Outlaw beat it around silly. Maybe it wasnt the DAC, maybe it was the whole analog chain from DAC to OpAMP to jack. The circuit design might play a factor as well. One thing if for sure though. The OpAmps on the X-Meridian look like they are miles better than the ones on the X-Fi and if they aren't (which they are) then you can always replace them with ones that are. Also I appreciate Auzentech's attention to design with regards to their card. Other cards such as the BlueGears one using the same DAC are not made to the same exacting standards. Just look at their board design compared to Auzentech's. Much fewer and cheaper capacitors as well as general board design seems much better laid out on the Auzentech. I like that you can swap out the OpAmps on that card as well. That is HUGE. I think that part of the chain is too often ignored.
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post #13 of 292 Old 12-19-2006, 07:20 AM
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Don't get me wrong, I love the cards, I really do; but their tech support and driver support is just abysmal. Why by a great product if you aren't even going to get supported by it? I just can't stay with Auzentech any longer, they f'd up one too many times in my book.
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post #14 of 292 Old 12-19-2006, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkjedi664 View Post

Don't get me wrong, I love the cards, I really do; but their tech support and driver support is just abysmal. Why by a great product if you aren't even going to get supported by it? I just can't stay with Auzentech any longer, they f'd up one too many times in my book.

I hear ya. I have not yet needed to get them on the phone or use their tech support. Here's hoping I dont have to.

I've heard some bad stories in Creative's camp too though to be fair. Just visit their forums and you will find posters that sound almost exactly like you do. Fed up!

Creative seems to be moving much faster with their Vista driver support though. Auzentech will no doubt have something workable by release time, but its hard for us early adopters.
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post #15 of 292 Old 12-19-2006, 02:33 PM
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The bad thing here is, Auzentech has to go to C-Media for their drivers, they can't make them on their own. Every card company that uses C-Media chips, has to go to them for drivers. Where as Creative makes them, themselves. I've read those forums, but at least I know I can get PROPER support from my product, and not some chincy ****** who can't even properly read.
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post #16 of 292 Old 12-19-2006, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkjedi664 View Post

The bad thing here is, Auzentech has to go to C-Media for their drivers, they can't make them on their own. Every card company that uses C-Media chips, has to go to them for drivers. Where as Creative makes them, themselves. I've read those forums, but at least I know I can get PROPER support from my product, and not some chincy ****** who can't even properly read.

I think what you mean to say is Creative has the ABILITY to make their own drivers...

I find it seriously disturbing you can bash Auzentech's tech support in the same thread comparing them to Creative... Creative has had a MAJOR problem with their entire premium product line: SCP (snap crackle pop) on the X-Fi series. This problem has been going on SINCE THE PRODUCT WAS RELEASED, over 18 MONTHS NOW! They've made almost no effort to correct or even identify this problem in that time.

And no, it's not a problem with the NForce 4 chipset, because this problem has popped up on almost every major chipset in the last 6 months. At one point they were passing this off as a PCI bus timing issue... only most gamers running into this problem are using PCIe video cards.

I'm sorry, but Creative has to win the award for worst support organization EVER! Talk about a company that has a strangle hold on the market (EAX) and is sitting back on their butts, doing nothing but bringing in cash. It's been a long time coming for someone to knock them down a peg or two, and it's looking like Auzentech just might be the one to do it.
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post #17 of 292 Old 12-19-2006, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by AVOpus View Post

I can test this for you tomorrow. If you can wait.

Well, I guess I can wait!

Seriously, I really appreciate your willingness to test this one aspect out. It's the one thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on it. I REALLY, REALLY, hope that it gets rid of the analog pops! I've been dying to get rid of my reciever for a LONG time and just use my PC. Here's keeping my fingers crossed.......

-PGPfan
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post #18 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 06:21 AM
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I just bought an X-FI, and have an nForce4 mobo, and I haven't had a single problem with it at all. The sound over the XPlosion and DTS is just amazing, I never thought analog could sound this good
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post #19 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 07:43 AM
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If you CAREFULLY read the stuff on the Sound Blaster forums, especially about SCP on the X-FI's, you'll realise that your reading drivle from pimple-faced teen and sub-teen morons who are running "game" machines built on a highschool-budget with inadequate powersupplies, extremely over-clocked CPU's and a total lack of understanding when it comes to PCI slots and IRQ sharing.... did you forget about on-board devices on the PCI bus?? FWIW, my X-FI Elite Pro simply WORKS, it has NEVER given me any serious problems in two different Intel based motherboards.


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post #20 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 08:04 AM
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I have a X-Fi elite and love it. For gaming and theater, it is awesome. I have the breakout box connected and headphones attached to that.

On my HTPC I have a AuzenTech card, the first one I believe.

I recommend the X-Fi line up because of the gaming features, ease of drivers (how ever bloated) and the quick ability to change modes.

I wonder though, if you are only looking for digital out put, why consider the Elite Pro? The xtreme music will do exactly same via digital.

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post #21 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 08:30 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prelector View Post

Creative has had a MAJOR problem with their entire premium product line: SCP (snap crackle pop) on the X-Fi series. This problem has been going on SINCE THE PRODUCT WAS RELEASED

that only applies to BF2 and some other games. Ive never ever heard anything close to snap crackle pop or any other kind of distortion with my card.
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post #22 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by gts007 View Post

that only applies to BF2 and some other games. Ive never ever heard anything close to snap crackle pop or any other kind of distortion with my card.

Actually, it applies to various things, including the base Windows. My x-fi ran great, even on my nforce4 motherboard, with narry a problem. Then, when I replaced my motherboard with a new 975x, up popped the crackle.
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post #23 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 11:16 AM
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My X-FI Elite Pro just works too Jim. I haven't had any issues with it. Still, it didn't wow me with it's analog output, which is why I bought the Elite Pro in the first place, instead of one of the "lesser" X-Fis. I currently have an X-Plosion as well.. no problems, and my X-Meridian arrives here today. I have a M-AUdio transit to compare digital outs against.


The X-FI was always as quiet as a dead church mouse and its sound was more than acceptable. The digital output was impeccable (as most cards tend to be). The DTS/DD decoding was one nice feature my Auzentech didn't have and DTS/DD encoding is not really important for me because I dont use that machine for gaming.

All that said, SQ is the thing that matters above all else and the X-Fi had some stiff competition against both my Outlaw 990 and my X-plosion with aftermarket Burr Brown Op Amps. Both had a more detailed output. I could pick it out in 2 seconds with my eyes closed. Creative has created a package that will please the masses more than the Auzentech's cards will, but for the very small percentage such as myself that want a really good analog card... "There is another" - Yoda
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post #24 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 11:24 AM
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I currently have an X-Fi elite pro in my HTPC(Intel865G) connected both digitally (for DD/DTS passthru, and 2 Channel PCM) and analog (for DVD-A playback) to my Arcam AVP700->Aragon 2002/2005Amps-> Klipsch Rx7 speakers.

The card is excellent via both connection options. Never have any issue whatsoever.

I have an X-Fi extreme music on my second personal computer(NFORCE4+AMD Athlon 64). Excellent sound as well, no problem there either. However I'm tempted by the X-Meridian.
I will replace this card with the X-Meridian just to have another perspective, I never use any other sound card manufacturer other than Creative.
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post #25 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimwhite View Post

If you CAREFULLY read the stuff on the Sound Blaster forums, especially about SCP on the X-FI's, you'll realise that your reading drivle from pimple-faced teen and sub-teen morons who are running "game" machines built on a highschool-budget with inadequate powersupplies, extremely over-clocked CPU's and a total lack of understanding when it comes to PCI slots and IRQ sharing.... did you forget about on-board devices on the PCI bus?? FWIW, my X-FI Elite Pro simply WORKS, it has NEVER given me any serious problems in two different Intel based motherboards.

Well, Jim, it should be obvious that not everyone has problems with the X-Fi or Creative would never be able to sell them. Just because you have not had problems doesn't mean others, also, have not. I am far from a teen or sub-teen, and far from pimples and, debatably, being a moron. My computer is a "game" machine that also does video rendering. But Creative has always catered to gamers, so having a "game" machine should not be a detraction in having a X-Fi. My "highschool-budget" machine:

Opteron 250 x 2 - stock speeds
Gigabyte GA-2CEWH Motherboard
OCZ Reg ECC PC3200 3-3-3-8 512MB Server Memory x 4
BFG GeForce 7900GTX OC x 2 SLI
PC Power and Cooling 1000 Turbowatt Power Supply
Seagate 320GB SATA2 HDD - System
WD 74GB Raptor HDD on RAID0 x 2 - Video Rendering
SB X-FI Elite Pro
Dell 2405FPW Monitor
Koolance EXOS-AL Watercooling on CPUs and GPUs

has SCP problems. I have ACPI disabled and make sure the soundcard is on an IRQ that is not shared directly or indirectly. Everything is disabled onboard except the necessary SATA ports and 1 of the ethernet ports. The only card in the PCI slots, rotated at various times through ALL of them, is the X-Fi. I can listen to a MIDI file that is crystal clear, until I enable a sound effect. Most games are very clean, but some are not. Although Creative's last driver revision greatly helped, the only way to consistently stop the SCP was to remove the card. Since I favor Creative products for their all-purpose compatibility, I purchased a replacement Audigy 2 NX USB card while my X-Fi just sits waiting for my next Intel-based system build.

If you CAREFULLY read through the stuff on Creative's forums, you will find amongst the drivel plenty of well-appointed, powerful, expensive machines run by fairly logical and reasonably knowledgeable people whom have problems with the X-Fi series cards.
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post #26 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pythagore View Post

I currently have an X-Fi elite pro in my HTPC(Intel865G) connected both digitally (for DD/DTS passthru, and 2 Channel PCM) and analog (for DVD-A playback) to my Arcam AVP700->Aragon 2002/2005Amps-> Klipsch Rx7 speakers.

The card is excellent via both connection options. Never have any issue whatsoever.

I have an X-Fi extreme music on my second personal computer(NFORCE4+AMD Athlon 64). Excellent sound as well, no problem there either. However I'm tempted by the X-Meridian.
I will replace this card with the X-Meridian just to have another perspective, I never use any other sound card manufacturer other than Creative.

Did you A/B the analog outs from the X-Fi against your Arcam? I would be surprised if you didnt hear a difference. Arcam has been reported as having some very good analog output. I had all EQs off during my tests and my Outlaw was set to bypass. I am running Swans 6.2s with the Outlaw 7500 (5x200) amp. The difference was night and day. If you live near the Atlanta area you can even come by and hear for yourself. I searched for a setting I might have had wrong, but after a day of looking I gave up and concluded that was just the straight sound from the card. Maybe your comparison was closer. Mine sure wasnt.
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post #27 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 12:44 PM
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The thing I really like about the Creative drivers is, that EVERYTHING is available through the AudioConsole; meaning you don't have to install all the other applications to get all the features of the card, it's ALL in the AudioConsole. THAT is awesome XFI and PREY is just simply AWESOME It blows away my XPlosion at DTS!!!
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post #28 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 01:04 PM
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"my X-plosion with aftermarket Burr Brown Op Amps"

which did you choose? I'm getting itchy to change op-amps on my X-FI (I have access to some girls who can change surface mount chips faster than I can boot a PC) to see if the difference is really that big....


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post #29 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 01:15 PM
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I wasn't aware you could change the OPAMPs on the XFI.
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post #30 of 292 Old 12-20-2006, 01:47 PM
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The Elite Pro works for me. All testimonials I've heard of the XMeridian sounding better on analog has been in comparison to everything BUT the Elite Pro so it's good some of you are chiming in about this.
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