Installation the card was a breeze. I installed the card into the PCI slot and plugged in my headphones, then turned on my computer. After it booted into windows I cancelled the new hardware wizard and installed the X-FI from the CD.
Installation of the software was smooth and simple. After I rebooted I went ahead and updated the drivers from the SoundBlaster website. They have a very handy auto updater that list all updates for your products. Installation was a cinch and if you have ever installed any kind of add in card all this will seem ‘old hat’.
Before I get into my observations of this card I feel I should give a bit of a forward on my experience doing the review. First off, I was one of the many people who visited the Creative booth at QuakeCon and to be honest I was blown away by the demo for the X-FI. So when I got an offer to review this card I jumped at the chance. You could say my expectations of this card were incredibly high as I jumped into BF2 for the first time.
Unfortunately at first I wasn’t as impressed with the X-Fi Sound as I was at the QuakeCon booth. Even the CMSS-3D helicopter surround sound demo wasn’t sounding right to me. I did a lot of tweaking and finally came to the conclusion it had to be my headphones. The headphones I was using were the Zalman 5.1 surround sound headphones. I had been having problems with dead zones and just ‘not right’ surround sound with them for a while. The same problems where made even more apparent with the around your head helicopter sound demo.
OK, I learned my lesson. If you are serious about how your system sounds, don’t skimp on the headphones. I mean if you really want to improve the sound of your system: first correct your headphone choice first, then laying down the money on a $100+ soundcard will really be worth it. Now, having a real sense of what sounds could be, I was ready to review the X-FI extreme music.