Auzentech X-FI Prelude 7.1 Sound Card
Published: 30th October 2007 | Source: Auzentech | Price: US$199 RRP |
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...
The Auzen X-FI Prelude 7.1 sound card specifications were taken directly, and unashamedly from Auzentech's website .
- 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
- 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...