Product Type: Creative sound cards
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SB live - The Ultimate sound card!
Creative Soundblaster Live Value
Creative Soundblaster Live Value
Date: 24/07/00, updated on 24/07/00 (1205 review reads)
Advantages: Beautiful sound, accurate, excellent!
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 has pu
t 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 DVD 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.