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

Subjective Sound Quality

Sound Quality
To match up the Auzentech to the excellent Asus Xonar Essence STX, I played a large variety of music from my eclectic collection, including playing CD's and extracting high quality FLAC recording  from several CD's. I have tried to cover a large range of music genre's to ensure I tested all aspects of the sound coming from the card. Note I also listened to normal MP3's and AAC compressed tracks to ensure I portrayed a 'real world' situation.

All tracks were listened to in analogue and digital, both through the AMP and through headphones.

Example tracks used:

• Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
• Adele - Chasing Pavements
• Bloc Party - Luno
• Bob Marley - Three Little Birds
• Chemical brothers - Block Rockin' Beats
• Damien Rice - Cannonball
• Foo Fighters - Skin and Bones
• Fugees - Killing Me Softly
• Goldfrapp - A&E
• Jamariqui - Virtual Insanity
• Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
• Led Zepellin - Black Dog
• N.E.R.D. - Lapdance
• Pendulum - Slam
• Prodigy - Omen
• Robert Miles - Children
• Roni Size - Brown Paper Bag
• Snoop dog - Beautiful
• Paul Gilbert - Radiator
• Paulo Nutini - New Shoes
• Orbital - Halcyon & On & On
• Melody Gardot - Les Etoiles
• Richard Wagner - Ride of the Valkyries

To test the surround sound capabilities of the Auzentech X-Fi Forte, I listened to the following UK DVD's using Cyberlink PowerDVD. I listened in both headphone and surround mode. DVD's used:

• The Matrix (DTS)
• Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Dolby Digital)
• The Bourne Identity (DTS and Dolby Digital)
• Bowers & Wilkins - A Sound Experience

Sound Quality - Music (Digital Sound)

Digital Sound from the Forte was a mixed bag I found during the review. Whilst there wasn't a lack of detail in the card and the bass produced was very accurate, I found that there was a quite clearly defined metallic sound coming from the Forte. Playing with the EQ in the menu lessened this somewhat and in fact, enabling DTS Surround sound on a surround soundtrack like "listen and you'll see" on the B&W demo disc sound very open. Going back to stereo digital just gave me a nagging feeling that there was something being 'added' to the music which is never a good thing.

Sound Quality - Music (Analogue Sound)

three little birds  lune  Slam  Sultans of Swing  Lapdance

Speakers


Pushing the analogue sound through the 3.5mm to RCA leads isn't an ideal way to deal with analogue audio and I think the way the STX allows you to directly connect RCA's to the terminals on the card is more effective than the 'Analogue Multi I/O cable used in the Forte.
 
That said: I cannot have any quibbles with the excellent sound that the Forte produced.
 
Pendulum's awesome 'SLAM' got down low enough to rumble my belly and Orbital's Halcyon & On & On really left me breathless. The Forte has a great sound stage - quite open and broad.
 
Moving onto some rock and the Forte again showed its talents. I think perhaps the more relaxed sound of the STX benefited more here for rock songs but the Forte has it's own sound and it's certainly not a bad one.
 
Grabbing some more soulful tracks, Melody Gardot's beautiful sound was portrayed well, perhaps with a slight brightness to the sound. Fiddling with the EQ here left me a little stumped so I left it at default. For some scale in my listening I threw on some Wagner and the classic beginning of Act II of Die Walküre. The Forte here showed me what it was made of, grabbing my attention with a huge sound-stage at times.
 

Headphones

Threatening to match the sublime Asus Xonar Essence STX in the music department, I wanted to hear what the Essence STX had in for me when I plugged in my Sennheiser HD555's.
 
The Forte again had a resoundingly positive answer for me here. Detail and scale pulled through into the tracks from the Forte and straight into my cans. Detail and bass clarity was excellent and the Forte was really giving me a smile on my face.
 
The only quibble I had with the Forte was that it felt like it may not have the 'oomph' needed to power a really tough set of cans. Unfortunately I didn't have such a set to hand this time, but this is worth thinking about if you do have a high end set of grado's or something similar.

Sound Quality - DVD's

MATRIX  LORD OF THE RINGS  BOURNE IDENTITY

Digital Optical - Dolby Digital Live
and DTS Connect

The Forte has the benefit of both DD and DTS surround modes to chew through so I was looking forward to playing through some of our reference movies.
 
A slight gripe I did have with the Forte was that you have to manually switch to either DTS or DD, according to the soundtrack you're listening to. Now I say this, but you don't have to, but surely you want to if you want to listen to movies as they were intended to off of the disc?
 
This aside, surround sound from the Auzentech X-Fi Forte was excellent. Accurate placement of the sound meant that the environmental effects came from where I expected them to and loud explosions blasted from my speakers.
 
Cars whooshed past me in 'The Bourne Identity' and Neo properly wrecked the place in 'The Matrix' like the film-makers intended!
 
Another minor gripe to mention was that the setting 'enable bass redirection', which should redirect the bass to my floor-standers; didn't work properly. Turning this off gave me perfect bass, so I'm not sure what this setting should be doing.


Headphone - X-Fi CMS-3D

Creative have added the CMS-3D sound option into their X-Fi cards. To get a decent movie experience from my stereo headphone's I enabled this in surround mode.
 
The resulting sound was actually not too bad. The sound fields produced were reasonable and you could indeed tell roughly where the card was attempting to position the sound 'around' you.
 
However, this is the area that the Forte does get let down a little. The awesome Asus Xonar Essence STX has Dolby® Headphone, which is superb compared the CMS-3D. I feel that had Auzentech added this to the card, it would have been a huge plus. Having said that, licenses cost money and I expect this would have added a significant price rise to the card and possibly irritated Creative!
 
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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.
Reply
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