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

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction
 
Auzentech are a company well known for making excellent sound cards. Recently they have made a deal with Creative to produce cards based on Creative's X-Fi technology, such as the OC3D favourite X-Fi Prelude. This time they are back at it and we're taking a long look at the Auzentech X-Fi Forte.
 
The sound card we are looking at today is a low-profile version that isn't aimed at one market at all. In fact, Auzentech boast that the X-Fi Forte is aimed at: Music, HTPC and Gaming. A big boast indeed and one that strikes me as a brave one.
 
Having said that, the specs are top-notch with a mix of components not seen on one card before. Op-amps and decent quality DACs are mixed with 'X-RAM' chips and a Creative X-Fi chip. This could make the card an interesting proposition for those not wanting to compromise in one area or the other. Before we check to see if Auzentech have bitten off more than they can chew, let's hit up their website for some specifications...
 
 
Specifications
 
 Dimensions
 Board
  • Length: 176.900 mm (6.964 inches)
  • Height: 56.155 mm (2.211 inches)
 Interface Core
 Audio Processor
  • Creative 20K2 PCI Express audio processor
  • X-RAM 64M bytes of DDR-SDRAM for audio processing
 PC Interface
  • PCI Express 1.1 Compliant Interface
 Supported audio
  resolution and
  sampling rate
  • 16/24-bit / up to 192kHz (Stereo playback)
  • 16/24-bit / up to 96.0khz (Multi channel playback)
  • 16/24-bit / up to 96kHz (Recording)
 API Supports
  • WDM, ASIO2.0
  • EAX® 5.0, Direct Sound®, Direct Sound 3D®, OpenAL
 Supported Operating
 Systems
  • Microsoft® Windows Vista™
  • Microsoft® Windows XP™
 Analog Audio
 Level
  • 3.0Vrms, +12.0dBu max, deviatio+/- 0.1dB
 Dynamic Range
  • 109.0 dB A-weighted (1kHz @ -60dBFS, 24-bit/48kHz) for Analog outputs
  • 98.0 dB A-weighted (1kHz @ -60dBFS, 24-bit/48kHz) for Analog inputs
 Total Harmonic
 Distortion+ Noise
  • 115.0 dB A-weighted (1kHz @ -60dBFS, 24-bit/48kHz) for Stereo analog outputs
  • 109.0 dB A-weighted (1kHz @ -60dBFS, 24-bit/48kHz) for Multi channel analog outputs
 Frequency Response
  • 10Hz to 22kHz, +/- 0.02 dB @ 48kHz
  • 10Hz to 42kHz, +/- 0.02 dB @ 96kHz
  • 10Hz to 94kHz, +/- 3dB @ 192kHz, Stereo
 Impedance
  • Headphone load impedance 16Ω ~ 600Ω
  • Line output impedance 330Ω
  • Line/Aux input impedance 10KΩ
 Microphone
  • Support Stereo and Balanced Mode
 Connectivity
 Analog Multi I/O Cable
(D-SUB)
  • 4 x 1/8" Stereo mini phone jack for Line outputs
  • 1 x 1/8" TRS mini phone jack for MIC input
  • 1 x 1/8" Stereo mini phone jack for Line input
 Headphone
  • 1 x 1/8" Stereo mini Phone jack for Headphone output
 Front Audio
  • 1 x 10-pin(5x2) Front audio header with Intel® HD Audio Compatible
 Digital I/O
  • 1 x RCA/TOSLINK Combo jack for S/PDIF transmission
  • 1 x 2-piS/PDIF input connector
 Extension
  • Creative proprietary AND_EXT, DID_EXE connector for X-Fi I/O driver
 
Rear Panel
 
Rear Panel
Rear Panel Brackets
The X-Fi™ Forte includes two rear panel brackets, a Standard bracket and a Low Profile bracket. Use the appropriate bracket for your PC.
Digital Output
RCA/TOSLINK Combo Jack: Can connect to external DAC, AV Receiver, and Decoder through a 75Ω Coaxial cable or optical mini cable. Can play S/PDIF Stereo PCM and Dolby Digital AC-3, DTS bit-stream content.
Headphone Output
3.5mm(1/8 ”) stereo mini-phone jack: Includes an independent Headphone amp and can activate an impedance 16Ω ~ 600Ω headphone or earphone. Also, can be used, when configuring a Stereo system, not using the Analog I/O cable, as an Front Line Output.

Note If you connect a Passive Speaker (with lower than 16Ω) to this Headphone output, it can cause this audio card to not function correctly.
Analog I/O Multi Connector
D-SUB 15 pin connector: Connect the Analog I/O cable bundled in this package and use for Mic input, Line input and 8-channel line output Jack.

 
Analog I/O Cable 
 
Analog I/O Cable
 
MIC input connector
3.5mm(1/8”) mini phone jack (Pink color label: ‘MIC IN’): Connect Stereo/mono unbalanced condenser microphone and input, record audio from the MIC through the audio card. Also, connect to Balanced Dynamic Microphone through the jumper setting of this audio board.
 
Line input connector
3.5mm(1/8”) stereo mini-phone jack (Blue color label: ‘LINE IN’): Connect CD player, MP3 player from their headphone output or line output, and input/record audio through this audio card.
 
Front Line output connector
3.5mm (1/8”) stereo mini-phone jack (Lime color label: ‘FRONT’): Connect Active multichannel speaker or AV Amplifier’s “Front”.
 
Rear output connector
3.5mm(1/8”) stereo mini-phone jack (Black color label: ‘REAR’): Connect Active multichannel speaker or  AV Amplifier’s Rear. Connectiowheabove 4-channel system is needed.
 
Center/Woofer output connector
3.5mm(1/8”) stereo mini-phone jack (Orange color label: ‘C/SW’): Connect Active multichannel speaker or AV Amplifier’s Center/Woofer. Connectiowheabove 5.1 channel system is needed.
 
Side output connector
3.5mm(1/8”) stereo mini-phone jack (Gray color label: ‘SIDE’): Connect Active multichannel speaker or AV Amplifier’ Side. Connection to 7.1 channel system is needed.

Package Contents
 
 Product
  • AUZEN X-Fi™ FORTE 7.1 Board
 Documentation
  • Quick Start Guide
 Accessories
  • 1 x Optical TOSLINK to TOSLINK cable, (6.6 feet / 2 meter)
  • 1 x Analog Multi I/O cable (D-Sub)
  • 1 x Optical adaptor
  • 1 x Full size bracket
 Software
  • Installation CD
  • Sound Font Bank Manager
  • Creative MediaSource 5 Organizer
  • Creative MediaSource 5 Player
Specificatons subject to change without notice.
 
Before we move on to looking at the card in all it's glory, it's worth noting that there is no mention in the specification of the new high definition formats of Dolby True HD or DTS-HD Master Audio which is a little disappointing as this is aimed at the HTPC market, in which Blu Ray is fast becoming the king.
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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 CardQuote

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.Quote

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!Quote
Reply
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