Should I step up to X-Fi Prelude?

RyanH

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Messages
391
My new rig will be completed in about a week and the soundcard I initially planned on using is the X-Fi Platinum (The discontinued model) that I've been using on my old rig. I plan on pairing it with a pair of Senn HD595s. I've been considering stepping up to the newer Auzentech X-Fi Prelude with the higher quality opamps, dacs, and the extra XRAM. I'd like to know if it's generally worth it to upgrade to this card considering I dont plan on using any external DACs or Amps with the Senns.

Also

i) Does the XRAM seem to help at all in any current game or do any upcoming games claim to take advantage of it. I plan on having 8GB of DDR2 system memory so this is pretty much a moot question but it never hurts to ask..... again :rolleyes:

ii) Are all of the drivers for this card pretty much identical to the X-Fi ones or are there any extra drivers that seem to seperate this card dramatically from the X-Fi ones.
 

Mr. Wolf

[H]ardness Supreme
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
7,162
I'm sure just about everyone will recommend the Auzentech Prelude. It seems to be king of the hill in terms of audio cards. I've got the Xtremegamer Fatality Pro in my PC. It works great, but if I were in the market for a new PC, I'd definitely get the Auzentech.
 

Brian48

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jun 23, 2004
Messages
353
I'd hold off. I think the Prelude is an incremental upgrade at best (and I wouldn't even call it that) over what you already have. The X-F2 is coming out very soon or you can opt for something else entirely like the Xonar D2 or D2X which has great DACs, if that is your primary need.
 

skinnypotbelly

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 14, 2005
Messages
355
I went from a X-Fi Fatal1ty to a Prelude. IMO, if what you do is mostly game and occasionally listen to media, I would hold off. All I do is mostly game on this computer and, while there is a difference, it doesn't blow me away. Now on my HTPC, going from a X-Fi to my X-Meridian there was a significant difference in music and movies.
 

Mr. Wolf

[H]ardness Supreme
Joined
Oct 8, 2006
Messages
7,162
You see... didn't I tell you most everyone would recommend the Auzentech?? :p

It looks like I've been out of the audio card market too long. Probably better to disregard my previous post.
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,117
lol, here goes then :D

I cant praise the Prelude enough over my X-Fi.
The difference made me listen to my whole MP3 collection again a number of times! Its a pleasure to hear things you never knew were there.
The increase in clarity and stereo/surround imaging is something to behold.
Bass is well controlled and very pleasing :)
Playing surround sound games gives very precise positional audio.
I dont even need to sit in the middle of my hifi and can still tell exactly where all sounds come from.
Clearly the brain works out some compensation but I've never had this ability with such precision before.

The best upgrade I have ever done to my PC and no doubt one that will last the longest too!
You dont buy a soundcard often so effectively it is one of the cheapest upgrades per year.
Why not have the best? :D
 

MrSneis

2[H]4U
Joined
Apr 5, 2006
Messages
2,559
I highly recommend the Prelude if you're planning on using the analog outputs of the card, the DAC and output stage are far superior. I went from an Extreme Music to a Prelude but use predominately optical output - I can't tell a difference.

It sounds like you're sticking to heaphones though so if you do go the analog route you're good to go!

Step up to a dedicated amp and HD650/580/600 next :)

to answer your additional questions:

1) I'm told you will not notice any difference with X-RAM unless you play BF or BF2142, games need to be coded properly to take advantage of it.

2) The Drivers are a mix of E-mu drivers (professional) and X-fi drivers (consumer) with an auzentech logo slapped on them... It would appear Auzen relies on Creative to come up with them and adjusts accordingly. I do know there are more features enabled on the Prelude than your average X-fi.
 

magnetik

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jun 6, 2000
Messages
5,801
I just upped to 8gigs.. gotta love the prices lately. I disabled my x-fi and just use my emu 1212m now. Has all the jacks I need (optical, coax, 1/4" balanced, etc). I play crysis just fine with it too. I think I am going to try the Prelude though if the next x-fi isn't out soon.
 

j1278

n00b
Joined
Apr 8, 2008
Messages
23
I LOVE my Fatal1ty...mostly because of the front panel interface. The sound quality is top notch also.
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
565
Yea I enjoy my prelude alot. I ordred me some opamps from auzentech. the OPA627AU+ adaptor.I cant wait til it get here.
 

ShagnWagn

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Nov 13, 2007
Messages
1,233
I would say use your X-Fi Platinum. Do a full backup on your computer before you install it. Plug it in and install the drivers. See how well it works. If you hate the drivers or have problems, then yank it out and restore the backup. Then either use your on-board audio or go grab a Prelude.

I love my Prelude, but Vista is what's giving me problems. Some games that have integrated voice chat (like DDO) will quit working if you use Alchemy, so you are stuck with 2 channel audio. Anyhow, I wish Creative would get off their duff and give us a better solution than Alchemy!
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,117
Almost every dedicated headphone amp just uses an op amp, and most of them use lower quality op-amps than the Prelude.
Agreed, the Prelude has a pre-amp stage that precedes the op-amp outputs, all of which use very high class audio components. The output op-amps have plenty enough power to drive a set of headphones.
If you have a sound card with lower or same class components and then feed it through a headphone pre-amp, the sound quality isnt going to match that of a direct connection to the Prelude.

The Preludes headphone/front speaker op-amps can also be upgraded to suit your headphones/listening taste and to increase quality even further !
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
565
Nenu and thats what I waiting on to come. my opamp. I had to wait a week because auzentech went on back order with them.
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,117
Cool, cheers :)

For those that want to know more about the difference the op-amp replacement can make, you can see what op-amps are available from Auzentech and how much they cost.
These are prepared kits as some op-amps are single channel so the kit has 2 of them already hooked up to go straight in the socket.
You can buy them cheaper elsewhere but you might have to patch it up yourself.
http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/opamp.php

These are the descriptions for each one:

Texas Instrument's OPA627 provides well-balanced and smooth sound performance. Compared to the current OPAMPs (LM4562, OPA2134), the OPA627 gives a soft, rich and refined sound that is easy to the ear. OPA627 offers relatively deeper sound with more gravity, with more bass sound, which is suitable for the classic-music type.

Texas Instrument's OPA637 provides open and clear sounds with more accent on high-pitch level. We recommend OPA637 for the powerful and high-resolution sound which would complement rock or vocal music.

Analog Device's 8620BR provides amplified sound which you would hear in a large open theater, with superb resolution and improvement on both high & low frequencies.

Texas Instrument’s OPA 627SM is the top of the 627 line, with superior level of the qualities and sounds. With Metal Cylindrical package, the durability is upgraded. The OPA627SM offers relatively deeper sound with more gravity, with more bass sound, which is suitable for the classic-music type. It is best recommended to those who are keen to the best-quality sound.

Texas Instrument's OPA637 provides open and clear sounds with more accents on high-pitch level. We recommend OPA637 for the powerful and high-resolution sound which would compliment rock or vocal music.

Analog Device's AD797 is a very low noise, low distortion operational amplifier ideal for use as a preamplifier. You can enjoy more enriched sound with elastic lows and delicate highs.
 

dandragonrage

[H]ardForum Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
Er, LM4562 is better than OPA627. There is nothing different in the "smoothness" or "richness" or any of that other BS between them. The only audible SQ difference is in SNR. By those stupid terms ("elastic"? Seriously? Do you guys really buy that crap?), I'd say the AD8599 makes the sound "danceable." lol, danceable.
 

dandragonrage

[H]ardForum Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
Oh, and also, the 637 is a cheaper 627 that has to be operated with at least 5x of gain. It's unstable as a buffer. That's the only difference.
 

Atech

2[H]4U
Joined
Jul 14, 2007
Messages
3,946
Er, LM4562 is better than OPA627. There is nothing different in the "smoothness" or "richness" or any of that other BS between them. The only audible SQ difference is in SNR. By those stupid terms ("elastic"? Seriously? Do you guys really buy that crap?), I'd say the AD8599 makes the sound "danceable." lol, danceable.
Don't bring facts into the realm of audio-*beeep*s.
You are taking to the guys that think expensive cables gives better sound :rolleyes:
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
565
Oh, and also, the 637 is a cheaper 627 that has to be operated with at least 5x of gain. It's unstable as a buffer. That's the only difference.

Trying to Rain on my my happyness aernt we. I read all about both of them after endless forum reading. The opa637 is better then the Opa627. not the other way around. Plus when I ordred the Opa627 It was cheaper then what was on the auzentech site.

Since you posting bs about there being no diffents in the sound. I know people with the OPA627 and the OPA637. You might like the way the LM4562 sound, But I sure dont.

If auzentech had the opamp you was talking about tha AD8### and it was the same price as the opa627 last thursday which was 59. And I liked what I read about it, I prolly would had bought it from Auzentech.

I not about to try to solder it with a adaptor with all of that hassle and mess up. Thats why I bought the opamp from auzentech. It was already done

When my opamp comes in two days I gonna enjoy it and be happy.
 

JamesL

Gawd
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
657
Well, I've seen the 627 somewhat more popular in audiophile applications... Some people prefer the 637, and vice versa.. Its said that the 637 somewhat more forgiving though, so better if you don't have a dedicated amplifier and higher-end headphones.. I don't know much about speakers...
The 637 and 627 are about the same price.. of course theres the metal cap versions(denoted HA for ti amps I think), and higher grade 'b' or higher opamps that are several times the price..
A pair of 627au + brown dog adapter can be had for about $25 if you purchase them separately, and comfortable with soldering so-8 IC's.
 

dandragonrage

[H]ardForum Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
No, they sound the exact same. 627 is better because it's stable at unity gain. 637 holds no advantages over it except price. The "audio" versions just have low DC offset which isn't audible.

That said, they will all sound fine. Because other than a minor SNR difference, they will sound the same. You can be happy with your sound, just that you paid an extra $50 or whatever you said too much.
 

RyanH

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Messages
391
Ok guys thanks for the great responses so far. I decided to get the card with just the default opamps it already has. So let me just try to get this clear, it would be BETTER for me to just plug my headphones directly to the prelude instead of getting a dedicated amp? Is this true for all dedicated amps or just the smaller portable cheaper ones? I don't have a clue about what opamps preamps or amps do let alone how to compare the quality differences between them.
 

dandragonrage

[H]ardForum Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
Just plug the headphones right into the card. They will sound great (unless you've got like ground problems) and if you do need them to go louder, you will need an amp, but not just any amp will do. Most amps are no better than the Prelude. But anyway, try it and see where you're at before even thinking further about an amp.
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
565
RyanH the Opa627AU and the OPA637AU does sound diffent. I know people with both and both of them perfer the way the opamp's sounds to them, over the stock.

Because both does sound diffent then the stock, they dont sound the same at all. I just got done talking to one that was using the OPA627, he had to go back to stock opamps when his opa627AU defuction. And they tried alot of many diffent opamps and there not your standard users.

If it did sound same at all then every one esle that uses them, wouldnt be using them at all, I said before I done alot of reading before I even bought them. All said the same thing as the two people I know.

In the end it comes down to the person taste since not all opamps is gonna sound good to one person. Few might like the way it sound and others might not. You cant force your view on to them no matter what.
 

dandragonrage

[H]ardForum Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
It comes down to you not doing ANY statistically valid testing. I've had people listen to my HT system, and I'll tell them I'm going to do a sound test. I have them close their eyes and listen to a song. Then, still having them close their eyes, I'll lie down on the floor in such a way as to block view of what I'm doing. I'll turn off my amp, press some buttons that do nothing (like I might turn speakers off and back on on the receiver), turn my amp back on, and have them listen to the song again. Plenty often they actually "prefer" it one way or the other. Why? Because I haven't done statistically valid double-blind ABX testing.

Your friends are falling victim to the placebo effect.

However, please feel free to explain how op amps with ruler flat response out FAR beyond the human hearing range (I'm talking multiple octaves here) with distortion measured in small fractions of a percent can differ in sound other than SNR (which means, for example, one might have a tiny bit less hiss than another with no input signal)
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
565
The two guys I know who done testing with many of the well used opamps are falling to a placebo effect eh. I trust them more because they help me in the past and did test many of the opamps with there ears and RMAA and found the ones they liked.

I dont bother to list there names because you prolly wouldnt know them any way.

But I not gonna even bother any more, your not worth ruining some one esle thread over.

RyanH your gonna enjoy the card either way. Have fun with it. You shouldnt need a headphone amp. The prelude has hot plugs, which puts out more amps then the normal XFI.

Coming own to what headphones you have and how much Impedence they have, if you ever do need a headphone amp. From what I seen, cmoy seems to be a favorite with those that was looking for one on a budget. last time I check they was 40.

But then as I said you shouldnt really need a headphone amp. unless you have a high Inpedence headphone.
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,117
Yes.



Good for you.
Dude, best leave it.
If you havent got the ears and/or hifi to tell the difference, we cant help that and its clearly not for you.
This is something we enjoy, please dont spoil it.
 

dandragonrage

[H]ardForum Junkie
Joined
Jun 5, 2004
Messages
8,298
Dude, best leave it.
If you havent got the ears and/or hifi to tell the difference, we cant help that and its clearly not for you.
This is something we enjoy, please dont spoil it.
Golden ear argument comes out! Oh, I assure you, I have both the ears and the equipment. Please provide some scientific evidence. If you can, I will be placing a large AD8599 order.
 

HEADRAT

n00b
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
37
I wouldn't the drivers aren't up to much, I'm outputting over SPDIF (Dolby Digital Live) and using X-Fi CMSS-3D (Stero Surround) to upmix to my speakers and I'm constantly getting problems with looping sounds e.g. the card will stop respoding and just play a loop of a tiny bit of sound!








Anybody getting the same?

Here is what I got from them re setting output to 24bit, 192000Hz





if I set it to s16bit, 44100 Hz (CD Quality) it's fine, no crackle.

Cheers

HEADRAT
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
565
simple, your trying to output DD live over the SPDIF out instead of the speakers out. Change it to the speakers as the default.

SPDIF right now supports 2 channel with 192khz. You have to use Speakers in the control panel as teh default option. SPDIF is only there if you want bit play back with nothing touching the source.

Like your watching a DVD movie and you telling the player to use SPDIF to send out the audio data.

Because I tell it to use Speaker since I have that as default and it outputs it thru digital to your speakers, Thats why I dont have your problems.
 

HEADRAT

n00b
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
37
Sorry I don't follow you, these are the speaker option I have an DD Live is enabled



This is going out over the SPDIF, I don't have any coaxial cables connected and I'm getting sound from all 5.1 speakers.

Thanks

HEADRAT
 
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
565
woops I read it wrong. I dont really have your problems, since I see the default settings is on. I forgot it would say SPDIF out when you enable DD live.

Auzen is confused there think you have SPDIF out as default there saying 2 channel and 192khz is what supported for the spdif out option in that picture.

I think I did get it too at 24bit/192khz on my Z5500's But it went away for me when I did 24bit/96khz. But then my z5500 supports 24bit/96khz in digital and not 24bit/192khz.
 

Atech

2[H]4U
Joined
Jul 14, 2007
Messages
3,946
The two guys I know who done testing with many of the well used opamps are falling to a placebo effect eh. I trust them more because they help me in the past and did test many of the opamps with there ears and RMAA and found the ones they liked.

I dont bother to list there names because you prolly wouldnt know them any way.

But I not gonna even bother any more, your not worth ruining some one esle thread over.
Anecdotal evidence is a fallacy.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence

Now you could impress me by showing me reviewed data, that include a double blindtest.
 
Joined
Apr 13, 2008
Messages
856
if you want a real upgrade, go for some of the higher quality C-Media chips (ie Oxygen), like the Asus Xonor or Razer barracuda. i know little about the Azentech but i do know if it's based on the X-Fi, then it's decent, but there are better. it may be better than an x-fi, but the chip itself is no match for newer cards, and all azentech can really do is improve the connections and leads and add an EMi shield to improve audio quality. if the Prelude uses creative-based drivers, it's a no brainer to pass on the card, but if they're largely independant, then it's probably a good card, but not an incremental upgrade.

also depends what you plan to use it for. M-Audio and other pro-quality Audio companies have lower end cards around 150-200 that are great as well, but dont offer some of the gaming goodies that razer, asus, creative, etc implement. (no im not talking about EAX :D )
cards in the $150-200 range usually have DTS encoding, 192hz sampling (usually overkill and only $$$ speakers support it), and Dolby headphone.

i own an X-Fi plat fatality champion and when it fried, purchased a Razer Barracuda AC-1. there are things i liked about the X-Fi more, but overall the razer is a better card with better sound. outputting DTS to my z5500s sounds better than X-Fi with Crystalization and PLII-Music, and Razer ESP is simply amazing in FPS games. i believe the asus Xonor uses the same C-Media Oxygen chip, and both are obviously aimed twds the same media PLUS gaming crowd as the X-Fi.

X-Fi was RMAed and works great now and it's going in a 2nd PC running XP x64 (in which it ran great before) but it's short stint in a Vista PC was still too long. i wouldnt run an X-Fi under vista, no matter what Creative claims. it gave me more headaches than i'd care to admit. having to check game compatibility on a website, then read and learn how to enable alchemy to work properly in that game? no thx...
 
Top