Auzentech X-FI Prelude 7.1 Sound Card
Published: 30th October 2007 | Source: Auzentech | Price: US$199 RRP |
To be honest, one of the things that really irks me most with Creative software is that it has a tendency to be either very buggy, and/or it is bloated to the max. Considering that the Auzen X-Fi Prelude uses Creative's X-Fi drivers, it will be very interesting to see what Auzentech has decided to run with in the way of included software.
Installation was a typical affair; simply pop the card in and wait for Windows to recognise it, and then install the drivers. The drivers that I was supplied with for the review are currently in closed Beta, and are therefore not available for official release. I'm extremely happy to report that the software installation was the most painless process I have ever encountered...Especially under Windows Vista. In under 2 minutes and 1 reboot later I was up and running with the new Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1.
For those with alternative Operating Systems, particularly Linux, the news is not as good unfortunately. According to the Auzentech website a Linux driver will be made available around the 1st Quarter of 2008, but it will be limited. The first version of the X-Fi Prelude Linux-compatible driver will be very preliminary, and you can expect high-quality output without the full X-Fi Prelude feature set. Although I can understand the logic behind the decision, I still feel that it is high-time that all manufacturers acknowledged Linux as a viable enough Operating System to code a fully fledged driver and feature set for.
One thing that you will notice with the Auzen X-Fi Prelude card (if you have a windowed case) is that the card has a green LED on the side that glows static when booting up. But as soon as you get into Windows it starts to flash, and continues to do so. Some may not have a problem with it, but initially I found it a little distracting. I have included a short video illustrating the effect below:
Quite honestly, this is the best inclusion of software that I have seen in a long time. No longer do you have to wade through the myriad of 'Start Menu' options that traditional Creative installations force upon you; instead there are just 4 - the Auzentech Audio Console, the Console Launcher, the Volume panel and Creative's ALchemy (X-Fi Edition).
Creative ALchemy is included to provide support for an ever expanding number of games under Windows Vista. With the advent of Windows Vista, Creative ALchemy is needed to play advanced audio effects. I'll let Auzentech explain it better:
By now many of you will already be familiar with the different modes, particularly for those of you already with X-Fi cards, so I'm going to be very brief and just include screenshots.
Now that we're a little more familiar with the software side of Auzentech's X-Fi Prelude sound card, let's get down to the nitty gritty and see how we're going to test it...