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Thread: ALSA Driver For The Creative X-Fi Appears

  1. #11
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    Default Creative and Midi

    In a small defence of Creative and Linux their older boards are fantastic if you use the likes of Ubuntu Studio. This is not Creative's doing, but the ALSA team make using the onboard hardware synth on an SB Live etc simple and satisfying. Using a midi keyboard with hardware synth is a snap.

    So, if these drivers mature, I might be able to use an X-Fi to replace the SB Live in my daughter's music creation monster. I have a slight concern that the Live will eventually die and there will not be a viable alternative, apart from trawling computer markets for old Creative boards. Most of the other modern sound card makers don't think hardware synth is important. Timidity software synth just isn't the same IMHO.

    I had a CMS board (Creative and the first computer sound card) in the 80s, then SB, SB16, SB32, SB64, SB128, followed by Audigy 1 and 4, but never an X-Fi because for the first time there were no Linux drivers. The M-Audio 5.1 mentioned in my previous post is my first non-Creative card since a PAS16 in the 90s.

    The reality is that most good motherboards have an HDA chip that makes the addition of a sound card not worth the cost or effort unless you have a niche need, like midi, or truly Hi-Fi music tastes. Creative must get out of the sound card business - there is no real market any more.

    So, to the ALSA team, this is good news and I still might pick up a cheap X-Fi at a market and wait!

  2. #12
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    Default The problem with on-board HDA chips.

    Quote Originally Posted by grege View Post
    The reality is that most good motherboards have an HDA chip that makes the addition of a sound card not worth the cost or effort unless you have a niche need, like midi, or truly Hi-Fi music tastes. Creative must get out of the sound card business - there is no real market any more.
    I bought a new laptop last year, and it had an Intel HDA on-board sound chip. I thought this was fine until I realised that it had only one hardware PCM channel (if that's the right term) and so needed to use software mixing if two applications wanted to use the sound card at the same time. So I bought a PCMCIA Audigy 2 card.

    What are the mainstream sound cards that support hardware mixing these days, if Creative is on the way out?

  3. #13
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisr View Post
    I bought a new laptop last year, and it had an Intel HDA on-board sound chip. I thought this was fine until I realised that it had only one hardware PCM channel (if that's the right term) and so needed to use software mixing if two applications wanted to use the sound card at the same time. So I bought a PCMCIA Audigy 2 card.

    What are the mainstream sound cards that support hardware mixing these days, if Creative is on the way out?
    I agree that not all onboard sound is able to cope with complex tasks. Unfortunately not all HDA chips are created equal, it is a fairly loose standard. This is why I (and you) use add-on sound cards. BUT for 95% of the computers used software mixing is fine - most people do not care. Serious high end gamers are another market for Creative, but they are only a small segment. The ALC889A chip is good enough for most people with reasonable SNR and capabilities, however cheaper motherboards use cheaper sound chips that are still labelled HDA. But then, people with cheaper motherboards probably do not want a high end sound card anyway.

    All this rambling is just saying that add-on sound is an ever shrinking market. There will always be a need for high end add-ons for a very small number of users, but that market will now be forever small. I hope that good sound cards and Linux drivers will always be available for those who need them.

  4. #14
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    Default

    The best solution for those users would by buying a soundsystem with digital input (thru spdif), then the analog parts of the soundcard does not matter at all and there is absolutely no need for buying extra cards. Digitally all soundcards produce the same output.

  5. #15
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    The best solution for those users would by buying a soundsystem with digital input (thru spdif), then the analog parts of the soundcard does not matter at all and there is absolutely no need for buying extra cards. Digitally all soundcards produce the same output.
    While you take the analogue component of the soundcard out of the equation going this route you put yourself into another hole. The quality of digital to analogue circuitry greatly differs in consumer audio receivers (especially in the computer speakers that feature digital decoding) and compared to a higher end sound card can actually sound worse. Plus you also give up the capability of 3+ multichannel output solution for any other source other then a dolby digital / dts unless a software re-encoding solution is used which may degrade the original source (the one exception to this was the Nforce 2 Ultra which had this capability utilizing it's hardware DSP).

  6. #16
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    Default

    Are you sure that multichannel PCM does not exist? That would not require an ac3 encoder. Also this is a very rare case, "normally" you only need multichannel for movies. I don't know of any standard solution which needs what you describe.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    Are you sure that multichannel PCM does not exist? That would not require an ac3 encoder. Also this is a very rare case, "normally" you only need multichannel for movies. I don't know of any standard solution which needs what you describe.
    I am 100% sure Kano. Games with multichannel sound and multichannel codecs such as vorbis and aac. If played through digital out without going through a ac3 encoder your output will just be 2 channel.
    Last edited by deanjo; 10-14-2008 at 12:59 PM.

  8. #18
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    Default

    And which Linux games work this way?

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    And which Linux games work this way?
    Any of the readily available commercial games such as UT/Quake/Doom etc. All support multichannel audio. I believe some of the opensource FPS games do as well.

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