Auzentech X-FI Prelude 7.1 Sound Card

Introduction

Introduction

Before getting stuck into this review, I want to take you back in time with me for a moment. It won't take long I promise...

Prior to the early 1990's, PC's had little capacity to output sound beyond basic beeps. The sound card as we know it was popularised by Creative Labs at the start of the 90s with its range of Sound Blaster products. The SoundBlaster became a de- facto standard for amateur audiophiles, gamers, and home users, and was quickly emulated by other hardware manufacturers. The product line has continued to evolve, but other manufacturers have also come and gone and subsequently been swallowed by Creative. Hardware manufacturers like Terratec, AOpen, Hercules, Philips, M-Audio have all either fallen by the wayside or vanished into total obscurity.

For a while the sound card market appeared to stagnate, until an innovative manufacturer named Auzentech arrived on the scene. Within quick succession, Auzentech released sound cards that began to reinvigorate the market...namely the X-Plosion, X-Mystique and finally the X-Meridian. Utilising alternative C-Media chipsets, Auzentech began to secure a solid following and fan-base for both their quality, performance and innovation.

Auzentech's X-Meridian sound card also had the dubious honour of going head-to-head with Creative's latest offering...the Creative X-Fi. However, Creative seemed to be having a change of heart from their attitude of the past and were having a change of direction. Last year the PC enthusiast community began to hear rumours that Creative were going to begin licensing their audio chipsets. Whether Auzentech's surge in popularity had anything to with this is purely speculative, but I would be prepared to wager on it.

Subsequently, Auzentech were given the license to start producing their own range of X-Fi based sound cards and the rumour mills were buzzing with excitement at this interesting collaboration. As the days to release were ticking down, news was rapidly spreading that the Auzen X-Fi Prelude was shaping up to be something very special, and free of issues that plagued Creative's X-Fi based cards.

Today I have been given the honour of reviewing the Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1 sound card, and I can safely say that it has been well worth the wait. But don't take my word for it, take a look at it yourself...

Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1

Specifications
The Auzen X-FI Prelude 7.1 sound card specifications were taken directly, and unashamedly from Auzentech's website .

Key Components
  • Creative X-Fi CA20K audio processor
  • One AKM AK-5394 super high performance 96kHz 24-bit ADC for analog input
  • Four AKM AK-4396 96kHz 24-bit advanced multi-bit DAC for analog output
  • 64Mbytes of memory for audio processing
  • High fidelity audio OPAMPs for analog input and output (TI OPA2134)
  • Front L/R output OPAMP is replaceable by end-user (National LM4562NA)
  • Dual mode S/PDIF receiver and transmitter
Audio Performance (Rated Output @ 5Vrms, Typical Value)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Weighted)
  • Stereo Output : 120dB (part spec)
  • Front and Rear Channels : 120dB (part spec)
  • Center : 120dB (part spec)
  • Subwoofer and Side Channels : 120dB (part spec)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion Noise at 1kHz (-3dBFS, A-weighted) : 0.001% - part spec
  • Frequency Response ( /-0.01dB, 24-bit/44.1kHz input ) : 20khz (part spec)
  • Frequency Response ( /-0.01dB, 24-bit/96kHz input ) : 43.5 khz (part spec)
  • 16-bit to 24-bit recording sampling rates: 32, 44.1, 48 and 96kHz
IO Connectors
  • One 3.5mm MIC input connector in rear panel
  • One 3.5mm line input connector in rear panel
  • One 4-pin AUX connector on board
  • Four 3.5mm 8 channel line output connectors in rear panel (FL/FR/C/SW/RL/RR/RSL/RSR)
  • One S/PDIF combo input connector in rear panel for receiving either coaxial or optical digital
  • One S/PDIF combo output connector in rear panel for transmitting either coaxial or optical digital
  • One 10-1pin front panel connector on board for MIC input and headphone: more
  • One 40-pin digital extension header on board to support AD-Link and other digital functionality
S/W and drivers
  • Creative X-Fi Driver

The Auzen X-FI Prelude 7.1 specifications look very good on paper, but just how well these equate to real-world performance we'll see later in the review. But for now, let's turn the page to see what you are actually getting for your money...
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Most Recent Comments

28-10-2007, 06:59:18

PV5150
Can Auzentech build a better X-Fi?

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...105134771s.jpg

Will the Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1 sound card make the grade?

If you'd like to find out the answers to these and many of life's other mysteries...check out the review.

Linkage

28-10-2007, 07:25:26

Toxcity
Wow, Nice review PV!

Looks to be a solid card.

28-10-2007, 07:51:15

FarFarAway
Looks like a decent card, if only they didn't have to use Creative drivers tbh

28-10-2007, 07:57:49

SuB
i can certainly vouch for it i have one and i love it everything about it just 'feels' better than the other x-fi i had

would love a THX console for calibrating my speakers though but that aside i absolutely love it

28-10-2007, 08:52:17

Rastalovich
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='SuB'
i can certainly vouch for it i have one and i love it everything about it just 'feels' better than the other x-fi i had

would love a THX console for calibrating my speakers though but that aside i absolutely love it
Seeing as it`s software is creative hybrid, I wonder if u can use the THX console that creative have on their cds ?

For me, these cards are equivilant to how an nVidia reference card gets adopted by other manufs.

Talking about the population of a creative card in comparison to this one, it`s also fair to bare in mind that out of the 5 or 6 creative x-fi cards that have been/are available, ranging from the cheapest to the professional studio ones, the density of the surface mounting goes from sparce to crazy-mad-caps-per-inch.

I would have liked to have seen a "crackle-test" on this card too, creative cards get easily bogged down fighting for internal bus usage (so it would appear but not confirmed) which makes them crackle. It`s a mad test to emulate, and it`s conditions are not 100% duplicate-able. But if u have a pc thrash at something like fah on all cores, do some rar`ing, do some massive file transfers..... and play some music - u get crackle on a creative x-fi. Maybe this is more a blame of the mobo design, or windows design, but it would be interesting.

Also - I want pci-e in this crazy lacking pci slot world !

28-10-2007, 08:55:55

FarFarAway
Creative just dont support THX in Vista, they suck

Crackle test - would have been interesting you're right

And yep, lets hope some PCI-e versions get out real soon

28-10-2007, 09:00:04

PV5150
Thanks all for your feedback

@ Rast: For what it's worth mate this machine folds 24/7 (SMP units); music is on all the time that I'm at the machine, and I do transfer quite a bit on my network....not massive, but perhaps on the larger side than normal and I have yet to hear crackle from this card.

A lot of the crackle/pop issues came from Nvidia based motherboards from the reading I have done. My X-Fi Xtreme Audio did it from time to time though, giving out a considerable pop.

I'll throw a little more at it if you like to see if I can replicate the issue

28-10-2007, 09:04:20

Brooksie
Nice review PV

28-10-2007, 09:10:50

Rastalovich
There are so many threads and theories on how the crackle comes about. It`s been the baine of creative cards going all the way back to audigy2.1.

I`ve heard the nVidia chipset thing, but in the same instance, whilst I`ve read about them I`ve been using via chipset mobos, never had an nVidia tbh.

All I know for sure is that I can duplicate it on one of my setups 100% of the time. In fact I can use any of the 3 x-fis to get it, and swapping out for any of the old sblive cards I got too, which leans me more to thinking it`s how windows handles the tasks or the mobo shares the bus bandwidth. Different drivers can ~seem~ to help, but this `apparently` is down to where they establish themselves in memory. Switch out a card, and back it`ll come.

The only thing I personally think minimizes it, is to stick it in a slot that is either not paired with anything, or if u`r board relys on pairing, turn the other things off. I turn off parallel ports, serial, raid, anything that`s not required.

Bah, only creative labs could come out with a definative answer, but as we`re all aware - if it aint a brandspanking card for the latest os - they don`t want to know. To be fair, even then they show little interest.

28-10-2007, 10:04:55

Ham
Fantastic job there Pvs, very hard thing to review well, but you've pulled it off

28-10-2007, 11:40:33

!TIMMY!
Good review PV, its nice to see Creative allowing other manufacturers to use their technology.

28-10-2007, 16:22:18

Yeungster
Wow! I've heard about Auzen making a significant introduction into the x-fi market, but never really looked into it, as I'm still on onboard sound!!!

Reading this review has made me really want one of these! What a great review!

28-10-2007, 17:43:11

PV5150
Thanks all, I'm glad you found the review worthwhile as it is quite a hard thing to do.

29-10-2007, 06:50:23

maraschino
nice review,

i just recently purchased one and it is a very nice card

30-10-2007, 05:27:43

PV5150
Thank you mate

06-01-2008, 10:09:51

Yeungster
You have made me spend more money!!!!

Just ordered one of these, which should be here on Wednesday. Really hoping it makes the sound through my home theatre system come alive. Onboard sound via s/pdif to my home theatre system just sounded flat.

I have no doubt that this will have significant improvements on my computers overall sound!

06-01-2008, 15:53:25

PP Mguire
Yea if i dont recieve and X-Fi ill just go and buy one of these. Seems pretty promising.

06-01-2008, 16:46:37

Yeungster
PV - Do you still have this card to hand? If so, and you have some spare time, it'll be good to hear your views with the latest driver release which enables Dolby Digital Live

06-01-2008, 16:53:49

Pyr0
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Yeungster'
PV - Do you still have this card to hand? If so, and you have some spare time, it'll be good to hear your views with the latest driver release which enables Dolby Digital Live
it's DDL and the new upcoming features that are making me think about getting rid of my xtrememusic and getting a prelude instead

08-01-2008, 07:56:02

PV5150
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Yeungster'
PV - Do you still have this card to hand? If so, and you have some spare time, it'll be good to hear your views with the latest driver release which enables Dolby Digital Live
I'm downloading the latest driver as I type and in the next few days I'll let you know mate for sure

08-01-2008, 13:50:37

SuB
new drivers

/me goes to get!!

10-01-2008, 16:37:53

Yeungster
I hope I have set it up wrong or something, because when I enabled DDL and ran an optical feed to my home theatre system the sound coming out was really poor quality.

When I turn DDL off, the volume decreases dramatically, but the quality is much improved.

Any comments/pointers for me?

10-01-2008, 17:05:32

Rastalovich
Try playing about with the settings in... I think it`s Sound.. then the input/outputs are listed and in the optical thingy there`s a tab about what rates and quality the feed is.

One thing I don`t like about the newer driversets for creative/auzen is the way the settings aren`t all in one place.

EDIT: Actually it probably not the Sound menu, it`s more like Playback or Recording devices (right click on the speaker icon in the tray for a shortcut)

10-01-2008, 17:24:21

Yeungster
I'm not sure I'm following you 100%. Here's what I'm provided with within the menu you pointed me towards:

10-01-2008, 17:44:44

Rastalovich
Wow that`s weird, mine looks like this:

http://upload.overclock3d.net/dwn/10.../soundpref.jpg

I know it says X-fi, but my Auzen one is 100% the same. That`s from right clicking on the speaker in the tray.

11-01-2008, 17:26:40

Yeungster
I've been playing with the card a little bit more tonight. I'm far from an audiophile so was lost in the technical speak on some of the av forum threads.

I'm now beginning to wonder what the chances are that I have either:

a) a faulty card

b) a faulty home theatre amp/receiver

Is there any way to test either of these components?

14-07-2009, 15:19:42

Rastalovich
Verbatim...

X-Fi Prelude Driver for Windows 7

New X-Fi Prelude Driver Supports DTS Connect on Windows 7 and Vista

Santa Clara, CA: Auzentech, Inc.(www.auzentech.com) has announced today the release of a new "Multi-Driver" for the X-Fi Prelude sound card. The new driver is compatible with Microsoft Windows® 7, Windows® Vista, and Windows® XP.

For X-Fi Prelude owners, the new driver brings DTS Connect™ to Windows® 7 in addition to the previously supported Windows® Vista. Dolby™ Digital Live is available on all three platforms.

The driver must be a fresh install on a 32-bit or 64-bit edition of Windows® 7, Vista, or XP. For details and downloads, visit the Auzentech sound card drivers page:

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

The Auzen X-FI™ Prelude 7.1 soundcard marked the first time Creative had permitted a third-party soundcard vendor to use the Creative X-FI™ chipset in its own soundcard design. The X-Fi Prelude fully supports EAX 5.0, the premier technology for 3-D audio effects diring game play, Dolby® Digital Live and DTS™ Connect. For more information, visit the X-Fi Prelude product page online:

http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_prelude.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
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