One of the reasons I never took the plunge and bought an X-Fi was the lack of Linux support, now this... I don't know, I don't think I'll even consider one until I see some feedback on this... What about an article putting the driver in a test drive against an Audigy2ZS with ALSA and see how both fair?
I was thinking about what methodology would be good for such a test, as testing sound gear is not as "easy" as testing video.
The tests should include (IMO) the following:
Sample rate comparison
Sound quality comparison (obviously, but that requires high end audio gear... headphones may be OK, but for surround and stuff that might prove to be difficult to conduct).
recording quality. Some cards deform the waveform when recording even the simplest of tunes.
Multichannel comparison, full duplex playback, playback of several sound sources and recording at the same time [such a test could be using TeamSpeak and playing some tunes plus recording something and firing a game, put that quad-core system to good use!
Multichannel recording, recording from digital inputs as well as analogue, at the same time. Mixing with something like Ardour or the like.
Gaming and "hardware acceleration" of OpenAL, as well as an EAX test on both cards. There's a tool that allows EMU10K1 hardware to use EAX and compile EAX presets (will have to look it up)... Done, it is ld10k1 part of the alsa-tools package, might be needed to be built from source.
CPU utilization of the driver in either OSS or ALSA mode (good test might be either or both Quake 4 and Doom 3 with either sound system, and compare performance delta in, say, four runs for each sound system and record the fastest run of either).
CPU utilization on those apps that *might* support OpenAL HW acceleration, compared to the software renderer on EMU10K1 and/or other, generic cards.
Too little too late. If I want a cheap and usable sound card, I'll go with the one integrated on my motherboard. If I want something really good, there's M-Audio, and possibly the Razer soundcard soon.
Now, if Creative opened their drivers, I'd take them seriously, but knowing the quality of their Windows drivers (where they do make a serious effort), I'm afraid to imagine what this must be like.
My Audigy 2 ZS from Creative rocks and I will not give it away for some more years. It sounds absolutely fantastic under Linux using the open source emu10k1 driver. If the X-Fi+1 will be open sourced again, I consider buying it.
Btw.: the best german game magazine has just tested the Razer Baracuda, Creative X-Fi and ASUS Xonar. The X-Fi is best, the ASUS Xonar is not as good as the X-Fi in games thanks to the closed EAX, but excellent in other tests and the Razer Baracuda was not only the worst in all tests, it also was the most expensive one.
I'm a creative customer from the beginning, since I owned a real Sound Blaster (the first one, that started all).
I always bought Creative products as they are great stuff. I hear the difference of sound quality between my integrated chipset and my latest Sound Blaster.
But, how good can their product be, there is nothing to convince me of buying something if there is no Linux support. The rule is clear and simple : no Linux support, no business.
I don't consider that a binary driver, released 2 years after a product lineup and only for 64 bits is a Linux support. It's rather a joke that takes customers for dummies.
Almost that now ATI has released their gfx specs, I don't see the purpose of still making binaries for drivers.
So, sorry, I'll keep my Emu10K or let my sound chip do the job if I have no more PCI ports to plug my Emu10K in my next mobo, as I won't buy any hardware that has not a decent Linux support, with open-source driver...
I really don't understand Creative, as their markets shares should probably decrease on sound cards. They are closing themselves a complete part of the market by non-supporting Linux correctly knowing that Linux people would certainly go for a Sound Blaster if there only was an open source driver.
Now, Linux is big enough not to be forgotten by manufacturers. This is crazy imo.