Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series Sound Card 7.1 PCI-Express x1 Bulk
Dispatched from and sold by LambdaTek ComponentShop.
Sound Blaster X-Fi PCI Express chipset for the latest PCs
Accurate and immersive X-Fi CMSS-3D surround sound over headphones - perfect for online or late night gaming sessions
Hardware-accelerated EAX 5.0 and OpenAL gaming with 64MB X-RAM for ultra realistic games, cinema-quality sound
Creative ALchemy software restores EAX surround sound to Windows XP games under Windows Vista restore
Optical inputs and outputs with Dolby Digital encoding in real time and connecting to your surround sound decoder on a single cable
Unfortunately for those audiophiles in the crowd, you might not be impressed with the Recon 3D. The sound quality isn’t going to be quite as good as say a Xonar STX or X-Fi Titanium HD, and it really isn’t meant to be either. What it’s meant to be is an audio processor that improves sound quality on integrated audio especially for compressed, lossy audio.
Unfortunately, price on the Recon 3D right now is around $95 on Amazon, so this is still a pricey card however, considering the discontinuation of Creative’s X-Fi Titanium line of products and most likely the discontinuation of driver support for those products, I don’t see many alternatives out there for the price range.
A new sound chip from Creative – that should be excitement enough.
Especially as it comes with a very sophisticated driver suite for controlling all of its various processing parts.
The trouble is, in practice, there's nothing exciting about the sound quality at all, and the certainly not enough to justify the price.
If you're spending this much, go the whole hog and get an X-Fi Titanium HD for just a little more – it may not be designed for gaming, but it sounds great.
It's not that the Recon3D is a bad card, but as a major new release from Creative perhaps we just expected too much of it. There's nothing that would convince us to upgrade from a decent X-Fi, and coming from on-board sound you can get better for less.
Creative offers technical support for its products through e-mail and a web based forum. The forum's moderators occasionally step in to provide product specifications and e-mail referrals, but for the most part, it is a user to user forum.
We always e-mail the manufactures of the products that we review with any issues we may encounter. This allows us to gauge the company's response time as well as the thoroughness of the answers that we receive.
While testing the Recon3D, we set the card to two channel stereo playback at 16 bit, 44.1 kHz to prevent up-sampling of the music we listened to. Whenever we plugged or unplugged a set headphones, the Recon3D control panel changed itself to 5.1, full range speakers, 24 bit, 48 kHz playback. This would cause crackling and garbled sound until we re-ran the sound setup wizard in the Windows' control panel.
We wrote Creative about the issue and we received a response in less than twelve hours. The technician stated that this automatic switching behavior was no mistake, it was by design. The card is definitely meant to be in 5.1 mode when using speakers or headphones. He also included a listing of proper connections for our speakers, some additional troubleshooting steps, and a link that would download the newest drivers from Creative's website.
While this is not the answer we wanted to hear, we liked the technician's straight forward answer about our issue.
We spoke directly to Creative's product marketing manager, Ryan Schlieper, about the issue as well. He stated that Creative may include an option in a future driver revision to leave bit rate, sample depth, and the number of speaker to be used unchanged. Many of Creative's X-Fi and Audigy sound cards had such an option, so we believe it is very likely that Creative will add that feature in the future to the Recon3D series' drivers.
Documentation and Product Updates
In past reviews of Creative products, we pointed out that the included documentation and instructions were sparse to say the least. The Recon3D reverses that trend with a forty page PDF document that covers all of the card's functions and connectivity quite thoroughly. Since the Recon3D's release, Creative has issued two standalone updates for the product. Creative has really stepped up its game in the last year when it comes to supporting its new products.
The newest driver update for the Recon3D cards was issued just a few days ago. The update solved both the crackling and channel switching issues we had when switching between speakers and headphones at various bit depths and sample rates.
The Bottom Line
If you are currently shopping for a new sound card that will provide you with a much better all-around audio experience than what your recent onboard sound already provides, then the Recon3D sound cards in any of its three forms is likely not for you. Listening to music with the Recon3D Fata1ty Pro sound card was a disappointing experience to say the least. Our movie experience in both stereo and 5.1 modes was slightly better, but still a very hit and miss situation.
Creative's past hardware-based Audigy and X-Fi cards with and without the I/O bays offered more value over these cards simply because those were superior performing products for the time when used for movies, music, and games. Those solutions are still simply better than what we have today in the Creative Sound Blaster Recond3D series.
In Creative’s defense, if you go to its website and start looking for how these products are marketed, you will not find the Fatal1ty Recond3D listed for use with music or movies. The product reviewed here is specifically listed for gamers. Of course this makes us wonder how many gamers watch movies or listen to music on their computers? Surely not many! Seriously, we get how Creative is trying to cater to the market with a more diverse product stack, but the company has somewhat missed the mark here in terms of music, movies, and TV shows.
However where the Fatal1ty Recon3D shines, and yes you might have guessed this, is gaming. If you are a competitive gamer that is only looking for a solid gaming sound card with a great headphone amplifier, then the Recon3D and Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion are definitely worth your consideration. The I/O bay accessory was very convenient to use, but it is not a "must have" in our books. The sound card already has a microphone and headphone amplifier out ports on its back panel, we would simply need longer audio cables. Surely though this is a personal choice though.
Although these Fatal1ty Recon3D products seem slightly overpriced for the base audio quality that is delivered, there is no question in our minds that the Recon 3D cards with surround and Scout Mode gaming effects will definitely give you much a better stereo, 5.1, and headphone gaming experience than what onboard analog sound can provide. Scout Mode alone might be worth the entire product cost to some of our readers however as it surely has a way of giving you an advantage you are likely without now. Some might even say Scout Mode is cheating.
Bringing it all home however, we know that the Fatal1ty Recon3D is engineered to a very specific demographic, and that leaves us a little flat as we would have like to see the product a bit more well rounded. It is a very good gaming product, but a somewhat anemic overall product. If you are going to go this route, your best value would likely be in the $85 card without the bay. We understand what Creative was focused on with the Fatal1ty Recon3D series, we just think it left its abilities a bit too narrow unless you have very specific gaming needs.
Maybe we need to take the "non-gaming" Creative SB Recon3D for a test drive and see how it compares?
Silver wrote:Do any of you here know if Asus provides good drivers for their soundcards ??
Creative drivers isnt really much to write home about.. when they work they are good...
but too often i have this issue of sound becoming garbled.. then i need to open up the
"Creative console launcher" and change between their 3 modes.. and then sound goes back to normal probably 8 of 10 times..
if not, a reboot is needed. Ive done many driver updates and this issue never seems to become completly fixed.
I wonder if the grass is greener on the other side
Sauron_Daz wrote:Going to try?
Celebrated 5 years of PAX drivers.
“PAX XFI Surround USB 5.1V1.00” XP/Vista/Win7 – 32/64Bit - Read me
Performance Audio Xeleration
Tweaked Drivers for Creative Soundcards:
Better Performance. Better Audio. Better Xeleration.
Formally known as Youpax, Pax was founded by Robert McClelland 7 years ago, who is continuing to provide an alternative tweaked driver to the Official driver released by Creative.
Why should I install this Pax alternative?
Pax is aimed at improving sound quality and to give a more deeper bass sound, while retaining the clarity of the overall output audio. Most users continue to use Pax drivers once moving over and never look back!
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