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Creative Sound Blaster Live!

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    28 Reviews
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      25.08.2001 07:45
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      • "It's Creative!"

      If you've read any of my other Creative opinions, you'll know that I'm not too impressed with the quality of their products. The GeForce II MX graphics card I bought from them started to shed parts, and the CD-RW drive I bought decided to stop working after 6 months. However, I needed a sound card and I needed one quickly. So, for a laugh I decided to buy a Soundblaster Live! 5.1. However, after a few minutes using this product I was actually quite impressed. Combined with a 5.1 speaker solution from Cambridge Soundworks, I soon had my PC running with full surround sound and EAX support in games. So, what do you get with this piece of hardware? Well, on the inside you get the ability to have three CD-ROM drives connected up to playback CD audio. As well as this, you can connect two of the drives up to play digital CD audio. Most people won't need more thanone of these internal sockets, but it's always nice to have room to expand. At the back of the card there are 5 sockets - each have a various function in the 5.1 speaker system. Two of these are sound inputs, and other other three are to be connected to your speaker system. By using this method, Creative have been able to provide 5 speakers and one subwoofer with an adequate connection to your PC. As in most soundcards, a joystick port is provided to make your gaming experience complete. The soundcard is available in one option only, PCI form. Almost all PCs made within the last 10 years are provided with PCI slots, so most people should be ok. Installation is also very simple. The built in drivers that come with most Windows installations will do the job, but if you're not content you can install the ones which come on the CD provided. Also on the Creative CD is an intro into the world of EAX sound, including some interesting demos! One of my favourite toys is the microphone tool - simply plug in your microphone and flick through the various effects, the result is your voice, but warped! These microphone effects include Chipmunk (my favourite), drunk, and evil. The card is reasonably priced, at about £60-70. Compared to some other cards on the market, this isn't bad - although Creative know they're the market leaders so they can charge what they want! All the cables you need are included (basically the CD audio links) and all the software is provided in the box. Creative also have thrown in a free game, "Rage Rally". This helps you experience the joys of EAX gaming as soon as you get the thing out of its box. Granted, Rage Rally isn't what you'd call a well known game. However, it fulfils its purpose in demostrating to the user how powerful the EAX medium can be. If sound isn't that important to you, and you only need your computer for work, don't bother splashing out on this card. However, if you're a gamer this card comes highly recommended. Nothing quite comes close to the true experience of surround sound. You should be warned that to make the most of this card you need to have a 5.1 speaker system, and these can cost more than the sound card! Still, it's worth looking into. Well done Creative! (That's something you don't hear everyday!)

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      23.07.2001 20:19
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      With their Soundblaster series of sound cards, Creative Labs' products have always been known for their widespread support. However, what Creative Labs was never really known for was innovation. The differences between one of their first sound cards - the SoundBlaster 16, and last year's AWE 64 (which is still on the market) were minimal. However, with the new SB Live!, Creative has turned the tables. The SB Live! is definitely the best and most innovative sound card that Creative Labs has ever developed. Specifications Wave-Table Synthesis E-mu® Systems EMU10K1™ music synthesis engine 64-voice polyphony with E-mu's patented 8-point interpolation technology 192-voice* polyphony PCI wave-table synthesis 48 MIDI channels with 128 GM & GS-compatible instruments and 10 drum kits Uses SoundFont® technology for user-definable wave-table sample sets; includes 2MB, 4MB and 8MB sets Load up to 32MB of samples into host memory for professional music reproduction Effects Engine E-mu Systems EMU10K1 patented effects processor Supports real-time digital effects like reverb, chorus, flanger, pitch shifter or distortion across any audio source Capable of processing, mixing and positioning audio streams using up to 131 available hardware channels Customizable effects architecture allows audio effects and channel control Full digital mixer maintains all sound mixing in the digital domain, eliminating noise from the signal Full bass, treble, and effects controls available for all audio sources Environmental 3D Positional Audio Technology User-selectable settings are optimized for headphones and two or four speakers Accelerates Microsoft® DirectSound® and DirectSound3D Support for Environmental Audio™ property set extensions Creative Multi Speaker Surround™ technology places any mono or stereo sound source in a 360° audio space Crea tive Environments - user-selectable DSP modes that simulate acoustic environments like Hall, Theater, Club, etc. on any sound source 32-Bit Digital Audio Engine User-selectable bit rates from 8- to 16-bit User-selectable sample rates from 8kHz to 48kHz All sound sources are handled with 32-bit precision for highest quality output Analog and Digital I/O modes supported Hardware full-duplex support enables simultaneous record and playback at 8 standard sample rates Utilizes AC97 audio codec MIDI Interface / Joystick Port Supports MPU-401 UART mode IBM® compatible 15-pin joystick port with analog support Support for digital and DirectInput™ game devices On-Board Connectors Microphone in Line in Line out (front) Line out (rear) Joystick port MPC-3 CD Audio in Auxiliary in Digital CD in Telephone Ans. Device in SPDIF Digital I/O I would highly recommend this card to anybody wishing to upgrade to a better sound card. This is the second SoundBlaster card i have purchased, the first was the original 1024 and now i have the 5.1 with the SoundBlaster Theatre 5.1 speakers. If you do go for the 5.1 card, you will need the 5.1 speakers to get the full experience.

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        13.07.2001 01:36
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        Creative Soundblaster Live! I have had this card for sometime now, after winning it in a competition. I was going to buy one anyway though as I was after a new soundcard, the Soundblaster was a good recognised make. The version that I won was the Soundblaster Live Platinum - which is essentially the same product as the cheaper Soundblaster Live 1024. The difference lies in the front panel you get with the Platinum called the Live Drive. The Live Drive is something that will appeal to musicians, as it's used to plug external devices into the computer, such as Music keyboards, Electric guitars, and Proper headphones. I don't use the Livedrive component though, in fact it is still sitting in it's wrapper - so this opinion will not focus on that aspect of the card. Who would I advise to get this card? *************************** I would advise people who wish for exemplary sound quality for their computer, and for effects such as EAX 1 & 2, and A3D 1 for there games. EAX is a technology that was first used and created by the Soundblaster range of cards. In effect when coupled with some decent speakers they allow all manner of fancy reverb effects to be used within games. A good example is if you are in a cave in a game, with EAX on, it will sound just like you are in a cave. A3D is a different Audio Standard that a company called Aureal used, it was excellent though the company who made it have now stopped existing, thus cards that just use A3D 1 or 2 have limited support nowadays. The good thing about the Soundblaster Live is that it has a relatively low processor overhead. A lot of older cards that had 3D sound technology, when used for that purpose they would use so much processor time that game performance would drop noticeably. Whilst their is still a slight overhead, it is not that noticeable. Performance of this card at all times is excellent, when coupled with some decent quality s peakers and a subwoofer, the clarity is remarkable. A nice and unexpected feature ***************************** If you ever talk over the internet then this feature may provide some amusement. You can bring up the enviromental audio panel within the AutoHQ section of the Soundblaster Live! software. When you are talking you can change your voice on the fly. The selection of voices you can do is vast, also special effects are there as well, some of the choices are: Kidnapper - very scary! Chipmunks - sound like a chipmunk Sewer - sounds like you are talking in a sewer, very echoey Male to Female & Female to Male - Alters voice as per description! Evil - does exactly as it says on the tin, ie sounds evil The list goes on, I recommend singing to someone over the internet using the Bathroom option, sounds like you are singing in the bath! Problems with this card ****************** If you have a Via chipset motherboard then, this card could potentially cause you some headaches. It seems this card has many problems with Via chipsets, when used in conjuction with an AMD Athlon proccessor and a GeForce card, this can magnify the problem. The problem manifests itself in several different ways, the most noticeable and annoying one is crackling audio - like static interference. The next is that when copying large files over 100mb between two IDE drives, it can cause corruption of data, and/or computer lock ups (if you play audio whilst doing this process). The good news is there seem to be several fixes for this problem. Some manufacturers have released BIOS updates that seem to work well, but are a last resort option in my opinion. VIA the chipset manufacturer have released new motherboard driver versions that apparently fix this problem for many. The 4.32 drivers are available from http://www.viahardware.com, or http://ww.vi atech.com. I must stress these drivers are only for VIA chipsets though. If the 4.32 drivers do not fix the crackling, then you can try out a fix by a man called George E Breese. This fix is available from the Viahardware site. It works by lowering PCI latency - the PCI slot is where the soundcard goes in. For some reason the card doesn't like the default PCI slot setting. I am pleased to report that the fix I have just mentioned works fine for me, though should be used at your own risk, as there is a very small chance that it could damage your computer. ^ If anyone has specific comments regarding this section, then please make them in the feedback section provided, or you are welcome to email me on: kevinliversage@btinternet.com. All in all I would recommend this card, the driver support is adequate, the support for EAX is superb, as is the general sound output. If you are a budding musician then the Platinum version of this card should be more to your liking. Kev

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        • More +
          29.03.2001 08:50

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          A great soundcard. No problems for me. I make music using Windows but I also use Linux. This card is great for music production if you are on a budget, it has nice midi sounds, and the fact that its Soundfont compatible means that you can easily download free or purchase commercial soundfont packs and get a great array of sounds coming out of your speakers. :) I could never get my old soundcard working in Linux but with the SB Live I didn't even need to configure anything, it was automatically configured and fully working from Install, which was great! Recommend it :)

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          15.03.2001 02:20
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          I have just brought the Creative Sound Blaster Live 1024, I must say i am very inpressed with the quality of sound, and the effects, This product shows you what it is capable of by showing you the diffrence between normal every day sound to what this product can do. You have a choice of diffrent settings for speakers and area sound. If you are a musical type person this is even better, it allows you to make your own music and also play around with a keyboard with diffrent effects. I must say this is good value for money and quality for sound.

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            29.01.2001 21:04

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            Ok, lets face it, for the price this is a fantastic sound card. However, I have twice suffered difficulties setting up the card. For such a big company, you'd think it was autodetected, but when I installed Windows 98 as a fresh install, it didnt see the soundcard. Running the setup program from the CD installs loads of crap you might not want. I suggest you install the drivers seperately, IF you can find the right one on the CD, then install whatever programs you think you might need. Be warned, you might have to restart your computer quite a few times. Other than that, a great card, nice sound, well done Creative! Oh yes, one extra problem I found, the SB16 emulation may or may not work, install your card right after installing windows if you need the emulation! IRQ conflicts occur otherwise! :)

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            25.01.2001 03:43
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            This is a cracking sound card with a small problem. It has been discontinued in favour of the Soundblaster Player 5.1 which retails at the same price. The new arrival consists of a Dolby Digital decoder. This means that you need not purchase Dolby Digital speakers at a cost of around £120. Instead fit the new card with any surround speaker and you will be able to enjoy Dolby Digital while watching your favorite DVDs. Otherwise these cards are identical, with both featuring 1024 voices for immaculate quality sound and support for surround sound. If your looking out for a good value sound card it is well worth keeping your eyes open as these cards will be sold off at ridiculous prices to make room for the new arrival.

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              07.12.2000 02:51
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              The Soudblaster LIve! range has allowed Creative to maintain their position as the dominant player in the sound card market. This latest Live! card is brimming with features and has the flexible EMU10K1 processor at its core and all the standard inputs and outputs. Creative's last innovation in sound technology was the launch of EAX 2.0 which, although it made some steps forward in 3D sound, lacked any revolutionary innovation. We'll have to wait before we see Creative's funky new sound technologies. As it stands, the player 1024 supports surround sound in DirectSound 3D, A3D and EAX 2.0 formats. It also supports MP3 compression and DVD playback for those tuneful and cinematic experiences respectively. The package also comes with the now standardised bundles of software including Karaoke. Has anyone used that program yet? Gamers will benefit from the support services, the excellent compatibility and intuitive interface of the card, plus the excellent build quality. There's not much new here, so you might want to either wait for new technologies or save up for the SonicFury.

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                09.11.2000 16:29

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                Wow, this card is the best that I have ever had the pleasure of useing. The qulity of the playback is untrue. I am a great mp3 fan and there is no distortion, or interfreance that I have had from other sound cards in the past. Whats more you can do so much with the liveware its untrue. You can change the way that someone speaks, everything. I am also a great fan of DVD's and this card is perfict, the surround sond that I get from my speakers really makes me feel like im in the movie. There is no better card. Apart from maybee the platinum version. lol.

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                24.09.2000 20:38

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                This soundcard is excellent, especially when connected to high powered speakers with sub woofer and surround sound. It really does bring out that "live" sensation. It is easy to install and comes with a load of excellent, specific software that you can play and mess around with. It is worth paying that little bit extra for this soundcard, especially if you play a lot of games, have a good monitor and a good graphics card. Excellent for addicted gamers and workers alike.

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                23.09.2000 21:59

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                While CPU's and video cards lead the industry in publicized hardware, the sound your computer can deliver is also being realized as an essential component to the power a system can deliver. As sound becomes more and more important, several companies have joined the fight for the position of leader in the 3D Sound realm, Creative, the long time standard in audio, being one of these companies. With the introduction of the Live!, Creative Labs introduces many innovations that once again set it apart from the competition, which will be further discussed. What is EAX? Why do I need 3D Sound? What makes a powerful sound processor? Read on. The Live! and Live! Value (as well as the PCI128 and PCI64) support Creative's open standard API known as Environmental Audio Extensions (EAX). These extensions allow game and application developers to enhance their products easily, by becoming a natural extension of the DirectSound 3D API. EAX is an audio platform designed to recreate real-world interactive audio experiences. Before the introduction to 3D audio, sounds would begin and end abruptly, which, doesn't seem like a problem to the average person. However, when you fire a gun in a cavern, does it sound like firing the same gun in a field? No, it doesn't. So, the goal of 3D audio is to re-create those environments. The Live! Value attempts to recreate these "original performances" by adding reverb effects to sound environments to make them more realistic, and, with the recently announced EAX 2.0 and EAX 3.0 extensions, the Live! series will be able to add more powerful 3D Sound features such as reflections, more complete reverb, environment morphing, isolated reflections, occlusions and obstructions. With these features, the Live! series will prove to be just as powerful as the Vortex2 on the gaming front, as well as maintaing it's leadership in the professional audio and sound clarity fronts. Creative Labs ha s put together a very impressive hardware package that features the EMU10K1 audio processor, pumping out more then 1000 MIPS via 2 million transistors. You also get a digital CD SPDIF connector, which I love coupled with my DVD drive. The impressive 512 MIDI voices is also an attention getter. In a day-to-day Windows environment, the Live! Value shines brightly. I was first impressed with multiple sounds with my Vortex2 card, but the Live! Value goes one step further to allow tweaking of the number of sounds that can be played at the same time. Impressive, and nice for users with Pentium class systems who don't wanna bog down their CPU's (or their ears) with too many simultaneous sounds. The Live! Value also brought out frequencies I had never before heard on the Vortex2 or the previous Creative Labs PCI64. This results in louder music, better bass, and angrier roomates. I have read many reviews discounting EAX as a viable 3D audio solution, and although it lacks the advancement of A3D 2.0, it still impressed me more then I thought it would. The addition of EAX 2.0 and 3.0 will, in my opinion, level the Live! with the Vortex2 in the gaming scene. Here is where the EMU10K1 chip shows it's power. With such a powerful processor, upgrades can be made, unlike the hard-wired Vortex2. I played Unreal, Half-Life, and Quake 2 (with EAX patch) using the Live! Value, and, while I must maintain that A3D sounds more realistic, EAX is definately a contender, and if the new EAX's are as good as expected, it will take the lead for the gamers. As of now, the primary purpose of EAX is to add reverb to the environment. Playing Half-life really impressed me with this. The environments would change in hallways, under water, in open spaces, everywhere, and it was very interesting, as I was not used to a reverb algorithm, rather a wave-tracing one. Commonly overlooked by many is the Live!'s superior DAC. This becomes evident in D VD for me, but can be noticed in all sound applications, even CD audio, where the CD SPDIF came in, improving quality even more. In this department, the Live! outshines the Vortex2 with crisper, more vibrant sound and less buzz. As a matter of fact, noise that I once thought was caused my speakers was virtually eliminated by the Live! Value. With the Live!'s superb DAC, and the fact that the CD-ROM's crummy DAC is being bypassed by the digital cable (included with the card), sound coming in during CD audio playback is awesome. The computer market is very competitve and the sound card facet is no exception. There are many fine sound cards out there, and the Live! Value proves itself as the finest. With sound that surpasses all others, thanks to the EMU10K1 processor and a superior DAC, the Live! Value demonstrates its capabilities as a composers ideal card. With upgradability, low CPU usage, and EAX support, the Live! should round out to be a wonderful gaming card as well. The deal really can't be beat. The Live! Value takes best in class.

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                22.09.2000 01:25
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                SoundBlaster have a long-established and good reputation in the world of sound cards. Time and time again they bring the latest technology, but in the form of the SoundBlaster 1024 Live it is done without having to pay an exorbitant price. Their previous card, the AWE64 stood head and shoulders above the rest – yet with their latest product they have comfortably created a new contender for the crown of best soundcard. The hardware itself has many impressive features. It has 32-bit technology, an excellent signal to noise ratio, a large number of wavetable voices and 48KHz sampling rate as standard (necessary for DVDs in particular else the processor is required to down sample the sound taking up valuable power usage). There are separate sockets for front and rear speakers, a line in, a mic in, a game port and a digital socket. The Aureal competitor is recognised to be the better technology but with the superb software support, the EAX technology (based on the EMU 10K chip, supported by 4MB memory here) becomes fully customisable and you can easily optimise your sound set up. Also included in the software is a whole package or sound editing devices and also the game Unreal. This is a great card for the standard PC user, it excels in all standard applications – games, playing media devices; and only those with a real taste for music should find it necessary to purchase the platinum version instead. A superb card that should keep the majority of PC users very happy, and at a reasonable price!

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                  02.09.2000 22:18

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                  Absolutely great card, midis have never sounded so good to me. Gmaes sound totally different and alien v predator that you get bundled has great use of the positional sound. Unfortunately, if you have win2k, then you are going to face a 33mb download in the form of 5 files, 4 for liveware 3 at 5mb each and a 13mb download for the playcenter. On my version of Win2k i experienced problems when using a large sound font though so you may want to invest in a memory upgrade when you get this card.

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                  30.08.2000 18:16

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                  Powered by the industry-leading reprogrammable EMU10K1 audio processor, Sound Blaster Live! Player brings you the best of digital entertainment. You'll get to enjoy some of the most exciting experiences including MP3 music playback accompanied by LAVA!'s interactive 3D visual animation, EAX gaming with realistic positional audio, watching movies with Dolby Digital audio on the PC, and online chatting with Creative VoiceChat. With Sound Blaster Live! Player, experience the superior 3D positional sound and environmental effects rendering that EAX provides to create real-life multi-dimensional sound in music, games, movies, Internet-related and other applications. Sound Blaster Live! Player is easy to use with Live!Task, which lets you choose the task you want to perform and even guides you through it. Also, future Live!Ware updates will bring continual updates to your Sound Blaster Live! Player to enhance your PC experience. Sound Blaster Live! Player is truly the ultimate digital audio solution that you'll need to experience digital entertainment to its fullest potential! i found it very stable with easy installation

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                  21.08.2000 19:50

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                  I've had my Live! for a while now, and to tell you the truth - I find it hard to distinguish between the sound produced by this and a lesser soundcard. At times, it is very noticeable, especially when the EAX is turned on - but most of the time (e.g. listening to music or whatever) you don't notice. This is one of the most flexible home soundcards available though. This card can work with surround sound or just headphones, it can play game sound beautifully and it has so many inputs on it you lose count. BUT - it doesn't bring anything extra to someone who has a two speaker, no frills system. If you've got a low power system with a low power graphics card, then this card won't even begin to be stretched and if you try and use the advanced features the sound will just start jumping. It's a good card, and most systems bought today can handle it, but it may just be too feature rich for some people. Personally, I need something that can produce sound, is compatible with the games I play and allows me to use my microphone. Something costing £20 will do that!

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              • Product Details

                Sound Blaster Live! is designed with professional-quality synthesizers from E-mu Systems, Inc., highly acclaimed for its sampling and synthesis technologies used in Hollywood studios and renowned movie and music productions, including the making of several blockbuster movies.

                Together with the digital I/O, Sound Blaster Live! provides audio fidelity that rivals movie theaters with digital sound. On Sound Blaster Live!, one can achieve an average Noise Floor of -120dB (at rated conditions), a level unheard of in the PC industry. The heart of Sound Blaster Live! is the EMU10K1 audio processor chip, which is the most powerful integrated music, audio and effects engine available. Sound Blaster Live! lets users experience depth and realism beyond existing 3D audio. Sound Blaster Live! provides preset environments such as Hall, Cave or Underwater that can be applied to your existing games and applications for incredibly true sound. You can be listening to your favorite music piece in the room at one moment, and in the concert hall the next. Sound Blaster Live! provides game environmental settings that can make your existing games come "alive" instantaneously. Sound Blaster Live! produces surround sound audio on the PC with built-in support for two or four analog speakers. Connecting Sound Blaster Live! to an additional pair of speakers such as PCWorks, or Creative's PCWorks FourPointSurround allows users to enjoy compelling 3D audio on multiple speakers, overcoming the limitations of 3D audio on two speakers. Multi-speaker output also allows users to position any audio devices such as CD Audio, WAV or MIDI anywhere within the speaker environment. For example, in a 3D game title, users have the option to position the CD soundtrack to the rear speakers such that there is music being played in the background. With the option of up to eight multiple speaker support in the near future, you are no longer limited in your 3D audio applications.