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Thread: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 External USB sound card

  1. #1
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    Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 External USB sound card

    Reviewed by: Shatteredzman
    Manufacturer : Creative
    Model: X-FI external
    Specs: 5.1 surround sound
    Rating: 2/10
    Manufacturer website: www.creative.com
    Purchased at: www.newegg.com
    Pros: Sounds great.
    Cons: Unreliable



    Quick review.
    Waste of time. Does not work with centrafuse, crappy bundled software, hibernation issues. 2/10

    Full review.
    I needed an external sound card since my carpc is a dellsx260 and only comes with a single audio out port. Little did I know what a nightmare I was walking into when I bought the card.

    When I opened the box the card looked nice and was well designed. It has a tough outer case made out of some type of metal and is very sturdy. I thought I was in for a enjoyable experience but I was wrong. I popped in the driver CD and had to unclick 10+ programs I did not want to install. After getting the software installed I plugged in the sound card and it didnt work... So I reinstalled it with the card being plugged in and things started working. But something funny happened, I had plugged in the head unit to the card for an AM/FM radio using the Line In port and it always played what was comming from my radio. There was no setting to change this so I reinstalled while leaving it unplugged. After that centrafuse would only play it when I pressed the radio button so that was working fine.

    After getting done reinstalling the software several times I started testing the audio capabilities of the card. The first problem I had was that there was hardly any bass. After messing with the settings for a bit I found a setting that for whatever reason increased the volume of my bass and everything sounded great. One good thing about this card is that when it worked it sounded GREAT!

    Once I had everything setup I did some test runs and hibernated the computer, the sound card has a long delay when resuming from hibernation so I had to delay centrafuse from resuming before the sound card drivers... Things soon went down hill. Blue screen of death, Blue screen of death, Blue screen of death! This thing was crashing my computer every 5 minutes. I couldnt drive around the block without this thing crashing my computer. I figured it might be something with the computer so I tried the card with another computer that had a clean install of windows and the same thing happened. I downloaded the most recent drivers hoping to fix the issue but things just got worse. Now ontop of frequent crashes I had static in my audio and my cpu load was always at 100% causing lots of lag.

    Overall I faught with this card for about 4 days before I RMA'd it. This card is junk, I dont know if its just a software issue but something isnt right about this card. I wish it would of worked because the sound quality was just amazing. I ended up buying a Creative Sound Blaster LIVE! 24-bit USB external sound card and it worked great with no problems so far but it does not sound as good as the X-FI.

  2. #2
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    review is right on par with mine and others. this card is BROKEN
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  3. #3
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Thats a shame. I bought the PCI X-Fi XtremeGamer and it works so amazingly. Sound quality was boosted drastically. I did have to really play with the $h!t load of options to get it sounding right. Once I did I havent had any issues. I am using the card maxed out with all the highest settings.

    I know this is weird, but I had a SB Live 24bit and sometimes it did not come out of hibernation, neither did another USB soundcard that I use for IR headphones. My solution was to use X-Port to simulate that its being unplugged and plugged back in.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by shatteredzman View Post
    Reviewed by: Shatteredzman
    Manufacturer : Creative
    Model: X-FI external
    Specs: 5.1 surround sound
    Rating: 2/10
    Manufacturer website: www.creative.com
    Purchased at: www.newegg.com
    Pros: Sounds great.
    Cons: Unreliable



    Quick review.
    Waste of time. Does not work with centrafuse, crappy bundled software, hibernation issues. 2/10

    Full review.
    I needed an external sound card since my carpc is a dellsx260 and only comes with a single audio out port. Little did I know what a nightmare I was walking into when I bought the card.

    When I opened the box the card looked nice and was well designed. It has a tough outer case made out of some type of metal and is very sturdy. I thought I was in for a enjoyable experience but I was wrong. I popped in the driver CD and had to unclick 10+ programs I did not want to install. After getting the software installed I plugged in the sound card and it didnt work... So I reinstalled it with the card being plugged in and things started working. But something funny happened, I had plugged in the head unit to the card for an AM/FM radio using the Line In port and it always played what was comming from my radio. There was no setting to change this so I reinstalled while leaving it unplugged. After that centrafuse would only play it when I pressed the radio button so that was working fine.
    Ok I had to break this apart...... This is a issue with all the SB cards. Anything in the line in will act all funny unless you change the REC option to anything other then Line-IN or Mic-IN.

    After getting done reinstalling the software several times I started testing the audio capabilities of the card. The first problem I had was that there was hardly any bass. After messing with the settings for a bit I found a setting that for whatever reason increased the volume of my bass and everything sounded great. One good thing about this card is that when it worked it sounded GREAT!
    I am hoping this is a USB problem, I havent connected a SUB yet, so I dont know how the bass sounds. I know the LIVE 24 bit suffured the same problem. I compensated by adjusting the AMP.

    Once I had everything setup I did some test runs and hibernated the computer, the sound card has a long delay when resuming from hibernation so I had to delay centrafuse from resuming before the sound card drivers... Things soon went down hill. Blue screen of death, Blue screen of death, Blue screen of death! This thing was crashing my computer every 5 minutes. I couldnt drive around the block without this thing crashing my computer. I figured it might be something with the computer so I tried the card with another computer that had a clean install of windows and the same thing happened. I downloaded the most recent drivers hoping to fix the issue but things just got worse. Now ontop of frequent crashes I had static in my audio and my cpu load was always at 100% causing lots of lag.
    I know alot of people will disagree, but USB soundcards are a b!+ch, they will always cause issues no matter what people say. You are connecting a highend soundcard through a bus that is being shared by so many other things. This was my issue, although x-port fixed the hibernation issue. If you have alot of power hungry things, like external DVD and or HDD, forget it, it will not work the way you want. On my install I had everything going through USB hubs via the onboard USB ports. Then I had another PCI SLOT with a USB card just for the SB Live, then realized that I could just get rid of it and go PCI. If you can do the same I reccommend it.

    Overall I faught with this card for about 4 days before I RMA'd it. This card is junk, I dont know if its just a software issue but something isnt right about this card. I wish it would of worked because the sound quality was just amazing. I ended up buying a Creative Sound Blaster LIVE! 24-bit USB external sound card and it worked great with no problems so far but it does not sound as good as the X-FI.
    Now by default the LIVE is not maxed out, infact it is set to the lowest setting by default (16bit). There is a app that was installed that is in you Windows Control Panel. If you find it, it will give you the option to switch it to highend mode, which is 24bits.
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  5. #5
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    Yep I have maxed out the settings but it still lacks in quality compared to the X-FI, that is what was so disappointing. As for using a PCI slot... I have no PCI slots, a dell sx260 is basically a laptop/desktop hybrid and does not offer any PCI slots. Heres a picture of the motherboard. http://www.duntemann.com/sx270open.jpg

    I also should of mentioned something about creatives customer support. Its pretty much non existent.

  6. #6
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shatteredzman View Post
    Yep I have maxed out the settings but it still lacks in quality compared to the X-FI, that is what was so disappointing. As for using a PCI slot... I have no PCI slots, a dell sx260 is basically a laptop/desktop hybrid and does not offer any PCI slots. Heres a picture of the motherboard. http://www.duntemann.com/sx270open.jpg

    I also should of mentioned something about creatives customer support. Its pretty much non existent.
    Yea I just read up on the PC. I see its mainly used as a corporate PC, and thats why they didnt make it expandable. Tiny but powerful. Yea your stuck. Does SB offer any other cards that are USB based?
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  7. #7
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    I am not worried about getting a better card, this one works just fine and I am happy with it.

  8. #8
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    I got my x-fi working very well, and it sounds great... It takes some time and adjustment but its a good card. It also did work with centrafuse but it caused a short delay in resume from hibernate for whatever reason.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keem View Post
    I got my x-fi working very well, and it sounds great... It takes some time and adjustment but its a good card. It also did work with centrafuse but it caused a short delay in resume from hibernate for whatever reason.
    Try cut off the power completely for 10 secs. Then wake up from Hibernation, you will have that annoying "blue screen"
    I guess only CARPC which comes with ITPS will have this issue.

  10. #10
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    Hi
    I have the intel mac mini and the built-in sound is just not good. So I went ahead and bought this usb sound card, however, I can't get this thing to work after hibernation. Any pointers as to how to set it up? Thank you.

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