Since the original Sound Blaster Live and the EMU10K1 audio processor, Creatives new soundcard releases have been characterized by incremental jumps rather than revolutionary changes. Although the Audigy series was indeed a welcome improvement, it was still built upon features from previous generations; much like we are used to see in the world of processors or GPUs.
Enter the new Sound Blaster X-Fi series, a truly new soundcard release from Creative in several years. Based on a completely new audio processor that Creative Labs like to call the Xtreme Fidelity Engine, the chip was in development for five years at the Creative ATC (Advanced Technology Center) in California.
Having owned almost all of Creatives soundcards since the SoundBlaster 16, I have had the chance to experience many of those incremental jumps in the technology used, be it on the hardware or software side (e.g. EAX), the X-Fi offers several significant architectural changes such as the Ring Architecture, S-SRC, Quartet DSP, as well as 24-bit Crystalizer, and CMMS-3D.
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