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Reviewing any sound card is particularly difficult; how can you judge it to be good or not when the output is dependent on many factors? How good your speakers are, how good your ears are, and how good the sound quality of the item being played is, as well as cabling and room dynamics, all have a profound influence on 'sound quality'.
I was buying a couple of other things on www.ebuyer.com and wanted my order total to be over £49.99 to qualify for free delivery, so I decided to spend £37.47 on this card; I'd heard that only suckers used the built in audio on their computer, so I took the plunge.
After installing it (pretty straightforward) and installing the software (somewhat more clumsy), the first thing I did was crack on some MP3s and brace myself for the musical bliss that was surely to greet my areas. Or not. Yes, it sounded good, but not earth shatteringly different, and I certainly didn't feel as though I had had my £40 worth. Perhaps listening to MP3s at 320kbps through analogue speakers (Creative I-Trigue 5600) wasn't the best way to test the capabilities of the card, so I decided to go for something I knew would test the card.
I put on Batman - The Dark Knight (Blu-Ray), cranked up the volume, and almost wet myself with excitement. My hair stood on end, my heart rate quickened, and I felt like the joker was breathing in my ear, not Batman's. At this point, I knew I'd got my money's worth and that I'd never go back to built-in audio. The audio was well balanced, there wasn't too much bass, and there was no evidence of the background noise that had previously plagued my audio set up.
I just can't wait to test this card with some true digital speakers; the card boasts 4 separate channels of analogue audio, as well as mic/line-in sockets, and both an optical out and an optical in.
In conclusion, this is clearly an excellent sound card. Whether it will make a difference in your life, on the other hand, is a different matter. If you're using built-in audio with the speakers that came bundled with your computer, and only listen to MP3s, chances are upgrading to the X-Fi Xtreme Audio won't make a whit of difference, but if you've got a decent pair of speakers, love to watch films, and want to hear what it REALLY sounds like to have Cristian Bale punch you in the back of the head, then this card is exactly what you need.