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First post, by eyalk4567

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I'm building a retro windows XP machine and I'm trying to find what is the best sound card for it.
I'm looking for a sound card with a native EAX 5 support (and support for older EAX versions) and I found out that only the sound blaster X Fi has it. Now I noticed that there are a lot types of these sound cards and some of them don't even have an EAX 5 support, like the xtreme audio.
So I was looking at some of the other X Fi sound cards and I saw that some of them have PCI-E connection, which I prefer.
So my question is, does the PCI-E versions of the sound blaster X Fi have a native EAX 5 (and older EAX) support? and which one do you think is the best sound card of the X Fi line for a windows XP retro machine?
Also if you prefer the PCI versions, could you explain why do you prefer them. And which one of them do you think is the best for windows XP?

Reply 1 of 5, by RetroGamer4Ever

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There's no reason to get the (still expensive) X-Fi cards, unless you need the extra bells and whistles for premium audio or recording setups. The high-end (and less expensive) PCI Audigy 2/4 cards can handle your gaming needs for a lower price and meet the EAX 1-4 requirements that almost all of the XP-era games used. EAX 5 was only used in a handful of titles and you really aren't missing anything by going with a slightly older card. I had an Audigy 2 ZS in my XP gaming PCs and I still have it around to this day, as it will be going in my new XP build that I am throwing together from scrounged parts.

Reply 2 of 5, by The Serpent Rider

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Best sound card, eh? With PCIe your choices are vanilla Creative, Auzentech and Onkyo. Creative is the most common, but lack any good sound quality options like X-Fi Elite Pro was for PCI.
"Best" is probably Onkyo SE-300, which is a beast of card targeted for semi-professional use, paired with jaw dropping price even today. Next are two Auzentech cards. The first one is full profile multimedia wonder with HDMI output and the other is best low-profile X-Fi card.

Everything listed is harder to find now, so realistically your only choices are X-Fi Titanium or X-Fi Titanium Fatality. Decent cards, but nothing special when it comes to features or sound quality.

EAX 5 was only used in a handful of titles

EAX5 extensions are also applied to older titles (128 hardware voices and environmental occlusion), plus X-Fi CMSS is better, plus true 44kHz output.

Last edited by The Serpent Rider on 2022-08-14, 17:39. Edited 2 times in total.

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Reply 3 of 5, by Shponglefan

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eyalk4567 wrote on 2022-08-14, 17:01:

So my question is, does the PCI-E versions of the sound blaster X Fi have a native EAX 5 (and older EAX) support? and which one do you think is the best sound card of the X Fi line for a windows XP retro machine?

Of the PCIe Creative Labs versions, the Titanium Fatal1ty Champion / Professional is the best offering they have. It includes EAX 5 support.

If you do go Creative Labs, you'll want to ensure a card with the EMU chipset (e.g. EMU20K2) and NOT the CA20K2 chips; the latter do not have Windows XP support. The various models of the X-Fi cards lends to confusion in this respect, but the Wikipedia page clarifies which are which: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_Blaster_X … the_X-Fi_Family

I upgraded from an Audigy 2 ZS to the Titanium Fatal1ty Champion PCIe card on my Windows XP build. No complaints, the card had worked as intended and has EAX 5 for the games that use it (e.g. Battlefield 2).

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Reply 4 of 5, by SScorpio

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The PCI/PCI-e versions of the Extreme Audio are the only thing branded as X-Fis that don't have an EMU20K1 series processor. They just are pretty much rebadged Audigies.

As mentioned by The Serpent Rider, the 3rd party Auzentech and Onkyo are the top tier. But they are pretty price now. Stick with an Elite, Fatality, or Titanium Creative card and you'll have the best of what they made for less. PCI vs PCI-e is up to you, the PCI cards used a slave processor that worked with the CPU, while the PCI-e cards have an onboard RISC chip to prevent latency issues over PCI-e.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-mu_20K

Last edited by SScorpio on 2022-08-17, 22:02. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 5 of 5, by eyalk4567

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SScorpio wrote on 2022-08-14, 17:50:

The PCI/PCI-e versions of the Extreme Audio are the only thing branded as X-Fis that don't have an EMU20K1 series processor. They just are pretty much rebadged Audigies.

As mentioned by The Serpent Rider, the 3rd party Auzentech and Onkyo are the not tier. But they are pretty price now. Stick with an Elite, Fatality, or Titanium Creative card and you'll have the best of what they made for less. PCI vs PCI-e is up to you, the PCI cards used a slave processor that worked with the CPU, while the PCI-e cards have an onboard RISC chip to prevent latency issues over PCI-e.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-mu_20K

Good to know, now I now what to look for.
Thanks!