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Thread: An alternative to X-Fi?

  1. #1
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    Default An alternative to X-Fi?

    I recently came across some information on the sidux forums regarding a sound card that could be a good replacement for Creative's X-Fi line-up. It's called the AudioTrak Prodigy 7.1 HiFi. The person who suggested it says it has very good support in Linux. The downside is it's not readily available and is slightly expensive (Google Shopping lists a few for $129).

    Just thought I'd share this information.

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    It's not really necessary with an X-Fi replacement anymore; since Kernel 2.6.31 and onwards so is X-Fi fully supported in the Linux-kernel. I've run my X-Fi using 2.6.31 for a while now and sound quality is extremely good, real HiFi-quality, and so far the sound has been absolutely stable and so has the box. I primarily use it directly through ALSA, as PulseAudio tends to soften up the sound a bit even though there's no crackles or anything. ALSA, however, sounds perfect and sound works in all apps I use including games. I'll definitely continue to use my X-Fi

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    Why do you need a replacement for X-Fi if X-Fi is crap under Linux in the first place? You need a replacement for crap? :P All that extra functionality of the X-Fi is not used in Linux. What exactly are you trying to "replace"?

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    Well, X-Fi isn't crap under Linux anymore as I told him, it's a pretty good soundcard. Minus bloated drivers, which actually is a good thing

    One of X-Fi:s main features, the very high quality hardware resampling, works as good under Linux as under Windows -> extremly low distorsion compared to other DSPs = X-Fi is now a proper card for Linux HiFi-buffs.

    (X-Fi hardware was never crap, it has always been the software which is crap)

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    TI makes serious business audio hardware. Turning that into a card is another story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xeizo View Post
    Well, X-Fi isn't crap under Linux anymore as I told him, it's a pretty good soundcard. Minus bloated drivers, which actually is a good thing

    One of X-Fi:s main features, the very high quality hardware resampling, works as good under Linux as under Windows -> extremly low distorsion compared to other DSPs = X-Fi is now a proper card for Linux HiFi-buffs.

    (X-Fi hardware was never crap, it has always been the software which is crap)
    When you pay for an X-Fi, you pay for:

    Hardware EAX
    X-RAM
    "Crystalizer" (in can be argued if this enhances sound)
    128 hardware channels for better FPS in games

    Which of these features is useful in Linux? If you only care about sound quality, there are cheaper cards out there that even offer better quality than an X-Fi (only the X-Fi top-models have high quality DACs; the normal ones, even though still expensive, are using quite average DACs.)

    So IMO, X-Fi is absolutely not worth its money on Linux, unless you dual-boot to Windows to play games; there it makes sense to win a few extra FPS in gaming. Let's not forget than X-Fis are gaming sound cards. It just doesn't make sense to pay for such a card if you're not going to be able to use its functionality in the first place! It's virtually Windows-only hardware.

    So to return to this thread's original topic, what is there to "replace"? Linux doesn't have EAX, nor can the games make use of X-RAM, two of the big selling points of the X-Fi cards.
    Last edited by RealNC; 08-07-2009 at 11:54 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by RealNC View Post
    When you pay for an X-Fi, you pay for:

    Hardware EAX
    X-RAM
    "Crystalizer" (in can be argued if this enhances sound)
    128 hardware channels for better FPS in games

    Which of these features is useful in Linux? If you only care about sound quality, there are cheaper cards out there that even offer better quality than an X-Fi (only the X-Fi top-models have high quality DACs; the normal ones, even though still expensive, are using quite average DACs.)

    So IMO, X-Fi is absolutely not worth its money on Linux, unless you dual-boot to Windows to play games; there it makes sense to win a few extra FPS in gaming. Let's not forget than X-Fis are gaming sound cards. It just doesn't make sense to pay for such a card if you're not going to be able to use its functionality in the first place! It's virtually Windows-only hardware.
    That pretty much sums it up. IIRC the x-fi alsa driver does not use the hardware resampling as well on the x-fi but relies on libsamplerate. Now if they released proper programming docs and SDK for the DSP then there would be truly a feature to embrace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RealNC View Post
    When you pay for an X-Fi, you pay for:

    Hardware EAX
    X-RAM
    "Crystalizer" (in can be argued if this enhances sound)
    128 hardware channels for better FPS in games

    Which of these features is useful in Linux?
    There's a lot of people switching over to Linux who already have an X-Fi, keeping it is definitely cheaper than buying ANY card. In case they dualboot to Windows for gaming, they actually use some of those features.

    If you only care about sound quality, there are cheaper cards out there that even offer better quality than an X-Fi (only the X-Fi top-models have high quality DACs; the normal ones, even though still expensive, are using quite average DACs.)
    Not true. None of the real X-Fi cards(not the rebadged Audigy LE:s or the software-based X-Fi:s, but the ones from XtremeGamer and upwards) have any DAC worse than this:

    http://www.eedatasheet.com/part/CS43...RUS,99427.html

    which is a very good DAC, even though not the most expensive out there it's performance is indisputably quite good enough for optimal CD-playback. It was used in the older Audigy 2ZS as well, still a good DAC. But Audigy 2ZS has a much lesser DSP feeding it.

    But most importantly, it is a very much better DAC than anything onboard the mainboard, which would be the alternative for an X-Fi owner unless spending money on yet another soundcard.

    The signal amplification stage, while not esoteric, is also very much better than anything onboard.

    If you only use SPDIF/Optical, all onboard audio is of course as good as anything else. We're only talking analogue output here.


    So IMO, X-Fi is absolutely not worth its money on Linux, unless you dual-boot to Windows to play games; there it makes sense to win a few extra FPS in gaming. Let's not forget than X-Fis are gaming sound cards. It just doesn't make sense to pay for such a card if you're not going to be able to use its functionality in the first place! It's virtually Windows-only hardware.
    If you don't already own an X-Fi, which a lot of people do, then it might actually be worth buying it just for music listening anyway; as the DAC and the outpout stage IS much better than onboard audio. And because the two models "XtremeMusic" and "XtremeGamer" usually can be found very cheap, and in bulk. Cheap enough for it at least being impossible to find anything BETTER for the price. Price is usually King

    Ie Asus Xonar and the likes might be slightly better for pure fidelity, but the difference in SQ is very small and they can't usually be found as cheap. Asus entry-level Xonar-model, Xonar DS, uses a clearly more mediocre DAC than X-Fi. A cheap mainstream Wolfson DAC compared to the slightly above mainstream CS4382, with better specs, on the cheapest real X-Fi:s

    So to return to this thread's original topic, what is there to "replace"? Linux doesn't have EAX, nor can the games make use of X-RAM, two of the big selling points of the X-Fi cards.
    You missed the point completely from the start, the one and only thing to replace is ONBOARD Realtek even-worse-than-Creative crap

    I guess the threadstarters only intention was to tip anyone off on what could be an alternative in buying a good sounding card, in case X-Fi was like a buzzword or something for them

    If you already own a good soundcard, there's completely no point in buying an X-Fi for Linux, but if you use X-Fi anyway there's a very good point for it working on Linux. And it does, nowadays, so there's additionally no point in replacing X-Fi on Linux if one already has one

    And, if you're a real HiFi-afficionado you would replace anything anyway, because thet's part of the hobby

    Sad to hear that the hardware resampling, and probably not the "bit perfect"-mode, works yet. But hopefully it will be working soon. Because, as I said, there's many people with X-Fi:s out there who would benefit from all improvements to be made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by xeizo View Post
    Asus entry-level Xonar-model, Xonar DS, uses a clearly more mediocre DAC than X-Fi. A cheap mainstream Wolfson DAC compared to the slightly above mainstream CS4382, with better specs, on the cheapest real X-Fi:s.
    Keep in mind though that even the Xonar DS is able to handle 192k / 24 in 7.1 channel mode where X-Fi cards are limited to 24-bit/96kHz in 7.1. Where this can come into play is when your using each channel as a separate output device or resampling multichannel output.

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    integrated intel/realtek ftw.

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