Auzentech X-Fi Forte Low Profile 7.1 PCI-E Sound Card

Appearance

Appearance
 
On first glance you'd be mistaken for thinking this was 'just another X-Fi card'. The card lacks the visual impact of the Asus STX with no EMI shielding and a low profile look to it.
 
But fear not dear reader, this little card from Auzentech is more than meets the eye. Enough chat from me, let's see what's under the bonnet, so to say.
 
X-Fi Forte  X-Fi Forte rear
 
As I said, the card is pretty plain, but the devil is in the details. The newer revision X-Fi chip from Creative sits pretty in the middle of the crowded PCB, next to the X-RAM which is also a feature of cards with a creative logo on them.
 
Auzen logo  creative chip
 
Auzentech have made an effort to make the card special with the named I/O back-plate. The internal ports are what you'd expect of a card with this kind of spec sheet.
 
On the left (right hand side), you'll notice the Point Grounding system Auzentech have chosen to use on the Forte, as well as the high quality Nichon (left hand side) capacitors. These should provide clean power to the audio systems that Auzentech have added to the Forte with as little distortion as possible.
 
 
Audio Components
 
Auzentech have added some very nice components to the X-Fi Forte which all contribute to the rather excellent spec we saw on the first page.
 
Creative CA20K2
 
x-fi chip
 
Auzentech have used the CA20K2 version of the much-vaunted X-Fi sound processor. This chip has been much reviewed and we all should be aware of it's capabilities. Packing a huge 51 million+ transistors and the power to process EAX 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 as well as OpenAL in-game effects, this Digital Signal processor from Creative was a bit of a revolution when it came out and is still the gaming chip to beat.
 
 
X-RAM
 
hynix ram
 
The X-Fi architecture allows for a certain amount of on-board RAM to be used by the processor. The X-RAM, as Creative call it, is a great tool for developers to decompress and buffer audio or add in high quality sound that can be loaded directly into the X-RAM. This particular memory chip is a 64Mb module from Hynix  - HY5DU121622DTP-J. Unfortunately I cannot get much info from this, but it seems to do the trick,
 
 
Op-AMP
 
lme4972
 
Auzentech have gone with a high quality Op-AMP on the card to handle front-left and right channels. The LME4972 is considered a superb Op-AMP by many enthusiasts, but note that this part is actually replaceable, with an industry standard pin-out. This means that those who are really into their audio can grab their favourite Op-AMP and slot it right in. That said, the LME4972 offers an ultra low THD+N of 0.00003%and an impressive 97 dB SNR.
 
 
AKM 4396VF
 
The AKM 4396VF is a high quality DAC and gives a 192 kHz 24 bit sampling mode. This digital to analogue audio converter handles the audio for the front left and right channels and offers a THD+N of -100 dB and a sampling rate of 30 - 216 kHz.
 
 
Cirrus CS4382
 
cirrus cs4382
 
The Cirrus D/A converter is a 24 bit, 128 kHz, 8 channel digital to analogue converter. Auzentech have used this for the remaining 6 channels of the X-Fi Forte's surround sound: Side left/right, Centre, Sub-woofer and Rear left/right. Featuring 114 dB dynamic range and -100 dB THD+N, the chip is certainly no slouch and it's great to see that Auzentech haven't skimped even on the channels most likely not used when listening to high quality stereo.
 
 
Inputs
 
wm8775seds  wm8782s
 
A variety of Wolfson ADC's are used for the line-ins on the X-Fi Forte. Notably the front mic line-in uses the WM8782 with 100 dB SNR, 24 bit stereo and a wide frequency band of 8 – 192kHz. Also present are the WM8775SEDS that handles the rear mic/line level and possible extension bay inputs on the X-Fi Forte.
 
 
What does this all mean?
 
Well when we put all these good quality components together, we get an excellent quality digital-analogue conversion, especially from a PC sound card. Add to that a superb Op-AMP with a well respected sound quality and high quality power handling and filtering and you've got what should be a winning combination.
 
Now let's see if this is the case....
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Most Recent Comments

06-07-2009, 04:52:47

JN
"Claiming to be the worlds first soundcard for music, HTPC and gaming, the Forte makes big claims from a tiny card. Can it live up to our high standards? Read on..." - by Kempez

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...222706957s.jpg

Auzentech X-Fi Forte Low Profile 7.1 PCI-E Sound Card

06-07-2009, 06:52:10

monkey7
DO WANT

At a 75% discount

What about putting PCI-e x1 as good in the conclusion? Most people have too many of those slots anyway and it has more future than the PCI standard.

06-07-2009, 14:19:37

Rastalovich
This sounds like a great card coming from the great review.

I'd have to limit my own conclusion to that of the Auzen Prelude. The card is great, but the Creative software on it is a real pita imo.

If u keep in touch with the Auzen site, they're upd8ing RCx of the drivers time after time. The initial ones ~werent too bad~, the following RC(s) seem to gain in some respects whilst taking away in others - and still u have the freaking Creative control console lurking over everything.

Seeing nothing to suggest otherwize, I'd view this card in the same way, if ur going to set it up to a single or perhaps one additional input, ur likely to do well with it.

Fancy being a bit "creative" - forget it. And I don't think Vista helps. Alchemy also being a bit hit and miss.

For whatever reason they decided to screw up the sound options that the pc had when going from xp->vista, even tho the theory in the vista control is a good idea imo, I would love them to try and get it mostly correct in Windows 7.

Let's pretty much hope that Creative born examples continue to work fine and without hackage in Windows 7 - they "should".

Great review. I do have reservations tho, especially when paying 122!

06-07-2009, 14:20:35

FarFarAway
PCI-e is becoming the standard nowaday, so whilst it is a plus - it's not a huge plus over the competition

11-07-2009, 05:16:48

Rastalovich
Just an FYI I got in the mail, sorry about the layout:

----------------

7.10.2009

X-Fi Forte Driver for Windows 7

Auzentech Releases X-Fi Forte 7.1 Multi-Driver for Windows 7, XP, and Vista

Santa Clara, CA: Auzentech, Inc (www.auzentech.com) announced today the immediate availability of the Multi-Driver for the X-Fi Forte 7.1 sound card. The multi-Driver is compatible with Windows 7, XP, and Vista 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems.

The new driver must be a fresh install on a 32-bit or 64-bit edition of Windows 7, XP or Vista. For details and downloads, visit the driver download page.

Download Driver:

http://www.auzentech.com/site/download/updates.php#xfiforte

Product Page:

http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_forte.php

About X-Fi Forte

Officially released on January 19, 2009, the Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1 is the first Low Profile native PCI Express audio card that Auzentech has designed especially for gamers and audiophiles. Compared to the X-Fi chipset reference design, the Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1 has improved circuitry and components. The Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1 marks the first time the Creative X-Fi Native PCI Express chipset has been available in a low-profile board, as well as the first time it has been available in a a third-party soundcard. X-Fi Forte ships with Dolby Digital Live. DTS Connect will be available as a driver download for Windows Vista.

http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_forte.php

About Auzentech, Inc.

AUZENTECH, Inc. is a provider of quality consumer electronics products, which is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA. AUZENTECH developed the World's first Dolby Digital Live Sound card (X-Mystique 7.1 Gold) and the World's first DTS Connect Sound Card (X-Plosion 7.1 DTS Connect) and continues to bring the most innovative audio products to the market.

http://www.auzentech.com/

Contact:

pr@auzentech.com

22-09-2009, 15:39:12

MadErn
I just purchased one of these card and will receive it in a couple of days....

The reason I am curious about the mic boost is I have Vista 64 bit OS and have a Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Sound Blaster Pro 7.1ch Gaming Official PCI Express Sound Card in it at the moment and There is no mic boost!!! Card sounds great, it's just a shame my team mates can not hear me... They can hear me but the volume is to low during game play.

I tried everything I can think of and then went to Creative forums to find out creative did not add a mic boost to this cards software for Vista!!!

Well thought I would check here to see if anyone has a problem not being heard with this card during gameing with their mates.

22-09-2009, 15:42:55

ToeJam
what client was you using, ts/vent?

23-09-2009, 10:33:09

Rastalovich
Can u not boost the gain using vista's sound options ?

That would be; right click on the speaker symble in the tray, select recording devices, and from the resulting window list, select the input ur using.

25-09-2009, 21:29:43

MadErn
I am using teamspeak, and yes I adjusted those settings also.

Vista 64 in all its wisdom does not supply a boost option, I have went to MS forums and researched that also. Have no intention of adding either from what I can figure out..... I guess with Windows 7 this close they are gambling everyone will upgrade and that will solve that problem....

TY MS for your thoughtfulness.....

26-09-2009, 05:16:00

ToeJam
ahh, you shud be fine on venty m8 as you can play with your output and input settings, people with ts usually get it free with a server etc because theyre easy to set up and take up no space at all.
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