Creative AE9 dead.

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Hyped up alot then nothing since last year. Seems only one is EVGA NU is only one. I hate long waits and hype for no shows.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Eh, I can't find interest in any of them. A decent DAC and appropriate amping through USB or optical does everything up to speaker surround, and then you'd just use HDMI.
 

Comixbooks

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This was posted in May:

I assume this is the AE9 and another HD card.

Looks alive to me from that I don't see why they would stop the production of them. I'll probably get one once it launches unless it's like way too much or if it's identical in sound to the AE-5
 

Armenius

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One on the left looks like the AE5, which has been on sale for awhile? I just bought one to replace my Zx.
 

Hielo_loco

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I'm on the soundblaster official reddit and the rep from Creative says that the product is alive and well, but that it will take some weeks for an announcement. He posted that last week, so I would expect news maybe in august at the earliest.
 

viivo

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If this article is correct, the AE9's MSRP is $299. That wouldn't be a bad price if Creative had chosen to house the amp section in the breakout box, but everything I've read suggests it's simply a control hub and the amplifier is on the card itself. They could have pulled in the high-end "audiophile" crowd they are targeting had they gone the logical course and made the amplifier external, but as it is there's no reason for people who already have external DACs and amps to even consider this unless they desperately need another thing that flashes colored lights in their case.

I don't care what specs they list or how many gold colored capacitors are visible, no onboard headphone amp will be able to compete with real discrete, external devices. For $200 you can get a JDS Labs OL DAC + Atom amplifier or Schiit Magni 3 + Modi - or any combination thereof - that would blow the tits off the AE9. Then you could take the $100 you saved and put it toward better headphones.
 
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Comixbooks

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I would get it just for my speakers there is only so much you can do to make the sound better for headphones for games. Once you get some audiophile headphones for gaming instead of gaming headphones.
 

IdiotInCharge

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I would get it just for my speakers there is only so much you can do to make the sound better for headphones for games. Once you get some audiophile headphones for gaming instead of gaming headphones.

There are more than a handful of gaming headsets that are cosmetic modifications of basic audiophile cans. I've started looking at these due to gaming more or less not benefiting really at all from better cans that provide more detail or better frequency response. Too much treble is piercing and even dangerous for your hearing, just like real gunshots and explosions, and too much bass occludes positional details, if it doesn't distort everything outright.

That wouldn't be a bad price if Creative had chosen to house the amp section in the breakout box, but everything I've read suggests it's simply a control hub and the amplifier is on the card itself. They could have pulled in the high-end "audiophile" crowd they are targeting had they gone the logical course and made the amplifier external, but as it is there's no reason for people who already have external DACs and amps to even consider this unless they desperately need another thing that flashes colored lights in their case.

I've gotten clean sound out of a PC. Proper electrical isolation and RF shielding go a long way on the analog stages; even motherboard manufacturers get this right occasionally.

What Creative could have done is put in a four-pole 2.5mm (like Sony's) or 3.5mm and then provide balanced and unbalanced breakouts for those that need them. Common headphone connectors could easily be added to that for balanced output directly, but just getting a balanced signal out to a dongle away from the case, and perhaps doing the same for the analog mic input, would eliminate nearly all PC-generated noise for all outputs while providing support for the highest-end audiophile headphones on the market barring electrostats.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Audiophile headphones | balanced amp

I shouldn't have to pick one.

Also kind of wondering why they didn't push the ADC and DAC stages to the breakout box. Perhaps they plan to sell the card without it.

The mic inputs are interesting, but really, this part is mostly unnecessary. One could grab a Scarlet 2i2 and whichever USB DAC/Amp setup they like, come in under US$350, and still have a higher-quality, more versatile setup.
 

Mchart

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Kind of disapointing to be honest. It seems like they invested a lot into the microphone side, not much on AMP side. It's weird to me they are giving a balanced XLR microphone input, but not a balanced headphone output.

I'm glad I waited before making my decision, but now that I know what the specs are i'll be getting a Jotunheim. I really just don't give a shit about the quality of my microphone input. As long as people can hear me for voice chat that's all I care about.
 

IdiotInCharge

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I really just don't give a shit about the quality of my microphone input. As long as people can hear me for voice chat that's all I care about.

They can certainly be bad enough to matter, but most aren't, and generally the only time one should really care about microphone input is with non-USB/Bluetooth headsets. If you want better, you can get some form of USB desk mic, even mounting it on an arm and adding filters and the like. The AE9 is a step beyond that into absurdity for most gamers that would otherwise be interested in premium audio.

Obviously then the AE9 is targeting streamers who might want to use professional microphones but not necessarily balanced headphones which they may know nothing about. It's not like you can get gaming headsets that have four-pin XLR for the headphone connection, but cheap(er) pro mics are certainly within reach and are themselves a known quantity.

Given the price (lol), I can't see much interest even among streamers except to review the unit. Given the wide availability of high-quality DACs and headphone amps, especially unbalanced, and the availability of audio interfaces that can deal with mics, I don't see any recommendations outside of those that really do want an all-in-one unit.

And that's before sound quality, driver stability, and software come into play.
 

Mchart

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They can certainly be bad enough to matter, but most aren't, and generally the only time one should really care about microphone input is with non-USB/Bluetooth headsets. If you want better, you can get some form of USB desk mic, even mounting it on an arm and adding filters and the like. The AE9 is a step beyond that into absurdity for most gamers that would otherwise be interested in premium audio.

Obviously then the AE9 is targeting streamers who might want to use professional microphones but not necessarily balanced headphones which they may know nothing about. It's not like you can get gaming headsets that have four-pin XLR for the headphone connection, but cheap(er) pro mics are certainly within reach and are themselves a known quantity.

Given the price (lol), I can't see much interest even among streamers except to review the unit. Given the wide availability of high-quality DACs and headphone amps, especially unbalanced, and the availability of audio interfaces that can deal with mics, I don't see any recommendations outside of those that really do want an all-in-one unit.

And that's before sound quality, driver stability, and software come into play.

You can't get headsets with balanced XLR, but you can get decent headphones (obviously) and just get a modmic or something similar to use with them.

I'd rather them have invested the resources to give us a balanced headphone output instead of the super-duper microphone input.
 

Comixbooks

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Is the rear connection the 3.5mm jack in the back that is labled rear the same as a regular AUX connection or is it for rear speakers in like a 5.1 setup? I think I'll surf the Creative boards to see how it compares to a AE-5
 

Mchart

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Rear in a 5.1 setup. You need to use the Left / right ones. The card will come with an adapter for the left/right stereo that goes to 3.5mm.

I really don't recommend this card though. It's a waste of money if you aren't using that fancy microphone input.
 

Comixbooks

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There are no Creative forums I had them confused for the EVGA forums for some reason they were hacked in 2018 and never brought back to life.
 

Comixbooks

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I guess the sale of the card on creative's site is for preorders. No evidence if its better sounding then a Ae5.
 

IdiotInCharge

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Yeah I hope Z-Reviews does a review I mean he reviews basically everything.

His last review of their USB halo product was blistering. Expensive, cheaply built, didn't sound great, did all kinds of shit no one needs and didn't do things that are actually needed, etc.

This thing looks like it might be slightly better targeted, and if they paid attention to previous criticisms perhaps it might be great for what they intend it to be.
 

Mchart

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For the price it's in full blown DAC/AMP box territory. Further, there is nothing on the software side that creative is offering here that makes the purchase worth it. You can get Dolby Atmos, soon DTS, or a number of other quality headphone virtual surround solutions and pair them with a quality DAC/AMP like the Jotunheim instead.
 

IdiotInCharge

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For the price it's in full blown DAC/AMP box territory. Further, there is nothing on the software side that creative is offering here that makes the purchase worth it. You can get Dolby Atmos, soon DTS, or a number of other quality headphone virtual surround solutions and pair them with a quality DAC/AMP like the Jotunheim instead.

That's not a bad comparison- but really, just getting a clean headphone DAC/Amp is pretty straightforward. You could go discrete with a Magni/Modi stack for less or a JDS Labs Element for the same price as the AE9, with many other options between including balanced options and tube options (and both).

What Creative is adding with the external module does have some utility above those; the integrated unit with volume control is certainly useful, and the mic input provide support that you just do not see in the audiophile side; many of the options that include mic input are sub-par. Mayflower Arc, for example.

So if well-implemented, I can absolutely see the AE9 having utility at its price. Just not the same utility that audiophiles are looking for :).
 

Mchart

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That's not a bad comparison- but really, just getting a clean headphone DAC/Amp is pretty straightforward. You could go discrete with a Magni/Modi stack for less or a JDS Labs Element for the same price as the AE9, with many other options between including balanced options and tube options (and both).

What Creative is adding with the external module does have some utility above those; the integrated unit with volume control is certainly useful, and the mic input provide support that you just do not see in the audiophile side; many of the options that include mic input are sub-par. Mayflower Arc, for example.

So if well-implemented, I can absolutely see the AE9 having utility at its price. Just not the same utility that audiophiles are looking for :).

That's the problem, is that they were teasing this as an audiophile card, when it isn't. It's some weird card for streamers, or something. The problem is that most streamers who need a higher quality microphone setup will buy that. Audiophiles won't buy this because it emphasis was on the microphone, not having a balanced headphone output. I really don't get where creative was going with this card.
 

IdiotInCharge

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The lack of the balanced output is the biggest question mark. I mentioned above that I don't think that most enthusiasts know what it is, yet, and that likely factors into Creative's decision making- I'm also not sure that they've ever produced a balanced audio anything under their consumer brand.
 

Comixbooks

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The guy with the video above said with a blind test people can't tell the difference between a AE-5 and a AE-9.
 

Mchart

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A sucker is born every minute.. How many of those people will be using the balanced microphone input?
 

Comixbooks

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Yeah basically the only time I used a mic in games was with Left for Dead 2 a long time ago.
More recently was Hunt Showdown but that was short lived.
 

Nenu

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The guy with the video above said with a blind test people can't tell the difference between a AE-5 and a AE-9.
He only unboxed it, he has no clue himself.
Without good enough equipment you wont notice the difference.
You should know.
 

IdiotInCharge

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A sucker is born every minute.. How many of those people will be using the balanced microphone input?

If you're upgrading your mic for whatever reason, it's not hard to use- those 'balanced' microphones are what everyone uses outside of the PC industry for any kind of recording.

Yeah basically the only time I used a mic in games was with Left for Dead 2 a long time ago.
More recently was Hunt Showdown but that was short lived.

I use them constantly, if not for in-game VOIP then for Teamspeak or Discord. I realize that not everyone does, but almost everyone does.


The more I think about it, the more it seems to me that Creative is just throwing shit at a wall to see what sticks. They're not really working to solve problems and they've certainly not working to solve problems for gamers.

The balanced mic input is fine. It's weird, but for anyone serious about desktop audio recording, it's useful and it replaces what would be a separate (and far more functional) ~US$100 audio interface like one from Focusrite.

The 'gotcha' is the same that it always is for Creative- the headphone amp and to a significant degree the DAC. The components used are likely stellar, but execution is even more important. Pointedly, no audiophile wants any part of the analog stage inside their system if they can help it and especially if they're shelling out for premium parts. That's not to say that this couldn't be done well, but that it introduces variables that could have been avoided by design.


Beyond that, as mentioned above, balanced outputs. The 2.5mm TRRS four-pole balanced connector is gaining a bit of steam; it's used for IEMs mostly, seems to be used by super high-end Sony portable players, but others like FiiO are using it now too for desktop and portable amps, and it's quite a bit more svelt than the four-pin XLR plug that most balanced headphone amps use. And it's one adapter away (likely a dongle that Creative could include) to use 6.3mm TRS, 3.5mm TRS, or four-pin XLR.

They could also include 6.3mm TRRS line outs / pre-outs on the back that would work with studio monitors, that again could be adapted to unbalanced 6.3mm or 3.5mm TRS or three-pin XLR as needed.
 

dark_reign

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The guy with the video above said with a blind test people can't tell the difference between a AE-5 and a AE-9.
Glad I bought the AE-5. Not many frills and It's much cheaper. 7.1 surround headphones setting with some of the game presets is great. There's little to no need to tinker.
 
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