Creative announces Sound Core3D

Creative Technologies, the parent company of the Sound Blaster PC sound card business, has just announced the next evolution of its sound processor. Today's press release officially reveals Sound Core3D, a processor that Creative says has both "high-quality analog playback and recording and low power consumption, all highly integrated in a low-cost solution."

Sound Core3D's processor is the first to be made by Creative that has "an array of high-performance digital signal processor (DSP) cores and a high-quality HD audio codec on one chip." It adds:

It incorporates Creative’s innovative Quartet DSP with four independent processor cores, 6-channel 24-bit 102dB digital-to-analog converters, 4-channel 24-bits 101dB analog-to-digital converters, integrated headphone amplifier-out, digital microphone interface, S/PDIF inputs and outputs and general purpose inputs and outputs (GPIO) all in a compact 56-pin QFP package.

The Sound Core3D processor includes CrystalVoice features such as noise reduction, focus, acoustic echo cancellation and more. It also includes support for THX TruStudio Pro which improves sound "by restoring low and high end frequency curves lost to compression" and a 360 surround sound experience.

The Sound Core 3D processor will be used in two of Creative's product lines. One will be an HD audio configuration made specificlaly for PC based products. The other is an embedded configuration that is being made for consumer electronic products. Pricing and launch dates for these products have yet to be revealed. Creative previously released such products under its X-Fi branding. There's no word yet if that X-Fi branding has indeed been retired.

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OpenAL is, and always has been, vendor-neutral and OS-neutral. (Not only does Creative support OpenAL, so do all the major players in onboard audio, including Realtek Semiconductor, ADC, and Intel, *and* AMD - it's also supported in Linux distributions and Solaris/OpenSolaris, including OpenIndiana.) ALchemy has *zero* affect on OpenAL-native titles, and isn't meant to - it was designed to port-forward support for EAX-native/pre-OpenAL titles for Vista and later; Vista, as you correctly pointed out, features a completely rewritten audio stack that does not support hardware-direct audio acceleration, such as EAX. The original FarCry, for example, supports EAX, but didn't move to OpenAL until a later patch - FarCry 2, Crysis, and all other CryEngine-based titles explicitly support OpenAL. There are still features that I use that are exclusive to Creative (such as the EAX Environments for media playback); further, unlike some, I've never had issues with my own Creative audio cards (original, SB16, Sound Blaster 32 PnP, Live! Gamer, oiginal Audigy, Audigy 2, and Audigy 2 ZS gamer LE preceded my current X-Fi Xtreme Gamer low-profile). Mom has my ZS Gamer LE, while my original Audigy is used in *Hackint0sh* duty (via a third-party FOSS driver).

Funny how must of the problem start rigth after Microsoft pulled the Direct Sound 3D API in Vista and Win7 so you now have no Direct Sound 3D and Audio Effects so no hardware-accelerated sound becuases Microsoft pulled the API and Creative Lab was force to used a 3rdparty API like ASIO and OpenAL, So the solution to re-enable hardware acceleration of Direct Sound 3D and Audio Effects, such as EAX, called Creative ALchemy was launched. Creative ALchemy intercepts calls to Direct Sound 3D and translates them into OpenAL calls to be processed by supported hardware such as Sound Blaster X-Fi and Sound Blaster Audigy that made more problem becase min game and few apps were build around EAX.
I due agree when it come to drivers update they are by far the slow of any Manufacturer

I've had an x-fi card for xp, vista and w7 and never had any major problems. The only one I did have was subwoofer and rear speakers switching sounds but was easily fixed. I've also had one of those asus cards and for sound quailty the asus was best, but i'd some issues with it in vista and retired it. Over all only reason I even bother with them over on board is due to wanting surround sound in my headset:)

If Creative can get their act together with drivers, I might be interested, otherwise, no thanks...
Seems like they have one guy that writes the drivers for the sound cards - and he has to do all other products too...

Creative's press release says the new chip will used OEMs like Gigabyte and Asus for their motherboards. It didn't indicate that the X-Fi series was being phased out.

LOL I still use my Creative Audigy 2 Platinum EX, 7 year old hardware still working just fine on Win7. Use SRS Audiosandbox to improve how it all sounds, especially surround over headphones.

I'll be waiting to see how third parties (i.e. Auzentech) take advantage of this chip.

I think Creative is trying to tackle the amount of Realtek HD Audio chips in today's laptops and motherboards. Before they do that, they'll need to take one hard look at their driver team.

I owned the sound blaster pro (wayyyy back), soundblaster AWE64, sound blaster Live! 5.1, Audigy2 ZS and X-FI Xtrememusic. Those card always sounded way better and provided a lot of advantages over their integrated competitors. But as a lot of you might know, lots of things changed with the new Windows Vista sound API and Creative's VERY poor support. AFAIK and care, the difference is now mostly down to the DACs, and if you really care (most people don't, I do) you will look for a professional/music-recording card, which are now very cheap and are now no problems at all if used for gaming and multimedia, thanks to that new sound API.

And now my sound card is "AMD HDMI out", which makes my amp use his own much better DACs and results in me not caring anymore about sound cards (beside recording purposes)

n_K said,
4 cores in a SOUND CARD?
Come on, why are 2 even needed?

Discrete signal processing for reduced crosstalk?

Good lord, they are REALLY late. This was supposed to have been announced in the fall of 2010! I have a bookmark somewhere that leads to a blog for one of their higher-ups who mentioned last year they were going to bring new sound cards in the fall last year.

Cripes!

The integrated sound on my asus P6T sounds every bit as good or better than the creative fatal!ty titanium that I owned, no reason to fall for another scam by creative, their time is over in my book, no more crappy drivers for me.
Such a shame for competition though, Creative will undoubtedly buy their way into future games making it hard to get good sound from the games unless you own their buggy junk, history repeats itself over and over again...

I can see it already in the next CoD "sounds best on Creative Sound Core 3D" 2.1 or 5.1/7.1 emulation for all their competitors, business as usual.

EMU10K1 was the last sound blaster chip I gave a damn. they scammed me to purchase a X-Fi XtremeMusic card. in reality differences were not detectable. Now days an on board chip would serve everything I want in a DSP chip.

leo221 said,
EMU10K1 was the last sound blaster chip I gave a damn. they scammed me to purchase a X-Fi XtremeMusic card. in reality differences were not detectable. Now days an on board chip would serve everything I want in a DSP chip.

Hah, jokes on you, the XtremeMusic didn't even have the X-Fi DSP on it

leo221 said,
EMU10K1 was the last sound blaster chip I gave a damn. they scammed me to purchase a X-Fi XtremeMusic card. in reality differences were not detectable. Now days an on board chip would serve everything I want in a DSP chip.

The difference between integrated chips and separate card can be huge but it also requires good speakers/headphones. If you use headphones/headset a lot, then I'd recommend getting a sound card with a headphone amp.

Some time a go I bought the Roccat Kave 5.1 headset just to try them out. They're fine but not nearly as good as Logitech G930 but the surround is real 5.1. I have three computers, two of them with only integrated HD chips and one HTPC with an Auzentech X-Fi Home Theater HD card. When I plug the Kave into that, the difference is so big that I don't even want to use them one the other systems anymore (actually I don't use them at all, I returned to G930, unfortunately they are just virtual surround, not real 7.1).

But if you get just basic stuff (speakers, headsets...) then it really doesn't matter that much.

Sraf said,

Hah, jokes on you, the XtremeMusic didn't even have the X-Fi DSP on it

No, it did. All X-Fi cards have it except for Xtreme Audio.

Sraf said,

Hah, jokes on you, the XtremeMusic didn't even have the X-Fi DSP on it

Wrong - it was the XtremeAudio that lacked the X-Fi DSP. The XtremeMusic and XtrremeGamer (which originally were identical except for software) both featured the same original X-Fi DSP. The low-profile (current model) XtremeGamer PCI has an improved DSP (complete with a passive heatsink) and a smaller number of discrete outputs; however, both models of XtremeGamer and the XtremeMusic use the same drivers. (The XtremeMusic was, in fact, dropped when the low-profile XtremeGamer was launched.)

Again, a large part of the issue that Creative faces is that Microsoft (the king of the OS hill) has followed Apple in making discrete audio solutions pretty much irrelevant (OS X natively *only* supports integrated audio, and this has been the case since Tiger, if not earlier). Throw in the trend of using more low-profile (and thus lower-performance) speakers (if not built-in speakers in displays - I'm talking desktops, not notebooks, let alone netbooks) and Creative has an uphill battle.

Pharos said,

Same here.
I said I would never buy another Creative product again. They lost me (and possibly thousands and thousands more) as a customer forever.

I felt the same way but my integrated audio is lacking. My next build (After windows 8 comes out) will probably use this new Creative card.

kingofmyworld324 said,

I felt the same way but my integrated audio is lacking. My next build (After windows 8 comes out) will probably use this new Creative card.

Also to consider are ASUS audio cards. Go take a look at GURU3D for some good reviews on different sound cards

While it sounds good, after the disaster that was X-Fi (ie let down time after time by poor unstable drivers) i think im gona stay away

Chemaz said,
While it sounds good, after the disaster that was X-Fi (ie let down time after time by poor unstable drivers) i think im gona stay away

Same here.
I said I would never buy another Creative product again. They lost me (and possibly thousands and thousands more) as a customer forever.

Pharos said,

Same here.
I said I would never buy another Creative product again. They lost me (and possibly thousands and thousands more) as a customer forever.

I just want to say that I am very happy with my Titanium HD, which has proper drivers for Windows 7 x64

Chemaz said,
While it sounds good, after the disaster that was X-Fi (ie let down time after time by poor unstable drivers) i think im gona stay away

Creative and their driver support suck big time. I remember back in 2009 when first installing Win 7 x32, the headache I had with drivers. I had to revert back to XP due to lack of sound. I then installed Windows 7 x64 a couple of weeks ago and surprisingly the Creative driver download page hasn't changed since my original Win 7 install in 2009 (apart from some crappy beta driver which failed to find my card after installation finished extracting).

I tried the CD that came with my card, installing in compatibility mode, the Vista x64 drivers as well as the beta Windows 7 drivers. Eventually I found an online workaround where I updated my X-Fi Xtreme card driver with another Creative card driver, on reboot Windows Update picked up a Generic Creative driver update and since then its been working OK.

Moral of the story, avoid Creative products and their bloatware.

Sraf said,

I just want to say that I am very happy with my Titanium HD, which has proper drivers for Windows 7 x64

I hope you really enjoy Windows 7. Your pain will start when trying to get it working on Windows 8. This is the Creative model. You'll need an upgrade in hardware to work on the latest OS.

I still remember going through this **** with the Nomad back in 2001 when XP came out.

The only good Creative products are those that need no drivers to operate, at all. My Cambridge Soundworks 4.1 is still working great 10 years later.

If it needs drivers, stay away.

Chemaz said,
While it sounds good, after the disaster that was X-Fi (ie let down time after time by poor unstable drivers) i think im gona stay away

products from creative... never again

virtorio said,
The 3 represents the number of different drivers you have to try before the sound starts working.

+1 It's about time these mongs employed someone who can code a proper driver.

virtorio said,
The 3 represents the number of different drivers you have to try before the sound starts working.

Isn't that the truth

JJ_ said,

+1 It's about time these mongs employed someone who can code a proper driver.


"mongs" Haven't heard that since I was in high school - 20 years ago.

Aergan said,

Isn't that the truth

Chemaz - which version of the X-Fi gave you grief? I've had my PCI version since 2005 and I have *never* had a driver issue with it, and it's on its third motherboard (three different chipsets - 875P, nForce 7100/630i, and G41) and fourth different Windows OS (XP32, Vista Ultimate x32, Vista Ultimate x64, 7 Ultimate x64). However, part of the problem is that the discrete sound-card market *itself* has largely gone away, due to the decreased use of discrete speakers, as well as improvements in integrated/onboard audio, including HDMI. That's Creative's real dilemma - keeping discrete audio relevant.