X-Fi also sports a
powerful new DSP.
It is titled the Quartet DSP due to the fact that it
features 4 hardware processors (with 2 SIMD data paths per
processor), and supports both floating and fixed point data,
capable of performing up to 1200 MIPS.
Let’s face it, even
if you do own a 24-Bit soundcard most of the audio content
accessible to you will encoded at 16-Bit, whether it is
Audio CD, DVD, MP3s, FLAC, etc. That is where 24-Bit
Crystalizer comes in, attempting to enhance the quality of
such content by remastering audio content in real-time at
24-Bit, functioning something like a dynamically adjusting
equalizer (Philips offered somewhat similar EQ features (QSizzle
and QRumble) with the
Ultimate Edge 5.1).
But can the 24-Bit
Crystalizer make your MP3s or CDs really sound that
much better? Not really. Although in most cases sound will
be audibly different depending on how the signal is
being altered, whether it sounds better is debatable;
and to some extent will depend on your speakers/headphones,
and what frequencies they can reproduce. Generally speaking,
tracks encoded at low bitrate seem more likely to sound
better than those with higher bit rates.
It is certainly worth
trying regardless and is available in all 3 modes of
operation – so if you found it of benefit to DVD playback,
but disliked the effect to Music you could have it enabled
for Entertainment mode and disabled for Audio Creation mode,
which brings us nicely along to the fact that the 24-Bit
Crystalizer is also highly customizable.
Console/Creative Console Launcher allows you to enable or
disable the 24-Bit Crystalizer or adjust the strength of the
effect if you chose to use it (the default level being 50%).
So whether you liked
it, loathed it or would prefer to tweak the effect a little,
you are catered for and it is not forced on you. For more
detailed information you may want to check
which features some frequency response tests and a detailed
response from Creative’s Director of Audio Research.
CMSS-3D is the latest
version of Creative’s multi-channel surround mixer; enabling
you to up-mix stereo sources to multi-channel sources and
vice versa, which now features Sensaura and Aureal
technology. The overall effect has improved over previous
generations and I found the virtualisation to be quite good
for virtual 3D positioning in games. As with the 24-Bit
Crystalizer it is optional and fairly customizable; options
vary depending on your Output mode, e.g. 6.1 Speaker Mode
displays as such:
Whereas 2.1 speakers
give you access to the following: