Add-in sound cards are a dying breed, especially in this day and age of advanced motherboards loaded with bells and whistles. Onboard audio isn’t a new thing, mind you, but manufacturers have greatly improved the quality of integrated audio to the point where many no longer fool with a third-party solution.
That said, there are still a handful of companies that cater to audiophiles. Perhaps the most well-known is Creative Technology Limited who at E2 2017 added a new member to its Sound BlasterX Pro-Gaming Series of PCIe audio cards.
At the heart of the Sound BlasterX AE-5 is a quad-core Sound Core3D audio DSP and a 122dB ESS Sabre-Class DAC, the latter of which offers 32-bit/384kHz lossless playback and “true audio fidelity” for high-definition audio in music, movies and games. The card also features what Creative calls the world’s best gaming headphone amplifier for PCs, a custom-designed discrete headphone amp with a SNR of 116dB.
Those concerned with visuals should note that the Sound BlasterX AE-5 is the first sound card to feature a built-in RGB controller powered by the Aurora Reactive Lighting System. RGB lighting has infiltrated virtually every other PC accessory and hardware type so it’s not all that surprising to now see them on sound cards.
The Sound BlasterX AE-5 goes on sale next month priced at $149.99. There’s also a Pure Edition in the works with four LED strips that’ll command $179.99 come August.