Sound Blaster is a name that anyone using computers for the past 20 or so years will certainly recognise. Creative's sound card brand has had many iterations over that time and always held onto its high quality image. Creative's latest offering is Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro (if that's not a mouthful, I don't know what is!), which offers native PCI Express support. The package of the Pro version includes only the sound card, while the Champion version also includes a X-Fi I/O Drive Upgrade (a front panel that attaches to a conventional 5 ¼” or 3.5” drive bay) with a handy remote control. This Upgrade is also available separately on some regions, for those who want to spend their cash incrementally.
The very first thing you notice about the card is the fact that it is completely boxed – no vulnerable components and capacitors to fondle and drool at for gamers who may be too curious for their own good. And the very next thing you note is that the card is pretty small – using the PCI Express x1 interface, it doesn't need the long connector slide of the larger cards, but it can still be fitted on any x8 or x16 slot if you don't happen to have a x1 slot available.
At the back of the card you see a series of audio connectors, including a line-in jack and four speaker-out jacks – compatible with 2.1, 5.1 and 7.1 speaker sets. In addition you get two optical connectors, in and out, respectively, that you can use to hook the card up with a surround sound decoder or a minidisk player etc.
The other specs are:
- 24-bit Analog-to-Digital conversion of analog inputs at 96kHz sample rate
- 24-bit Digital-to-Analog conversion of digital sources at 96kHz to analog 7.1 speaker output
- 24-bit Digital-to-Analog conversion of stereo digital sources at 192kHz to stereo output
- 16-bit to 24-bit recording sampling rates: 8,11.025,16, 22.05, 24, 32, 44.1, 48 and 96kHz
- ASIO 2.0 support at16bit/44.1kHz,16-bit/48kHz, 24-bit/44.1kHz 24-bit/48kHz and 24-bit/96kHz with direct monitoring
- Enhanced SoundFont support at up to 24-bit resolution
- 64MB of X-RAM
The feature support is also pretty drool-inducing, or what do you think of THX certified Dolby and DTS compatibility, low-latency ASIO drivers, hardware-accelerated EAX 5.0 and OpenAL gaming with 64MB X-RAM? In addition, headphone-users are remembered with CMSS-3D surround sound for headphones.
For those worried about Vista compatibility (which has been a problem for past Creative products), the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro follows the UAA (Universal Audio Architecture) and the Creative Alchemy software restores EAX surround sound to older games even under Windows Vista. We haven't succumbed to the yoke of Vista, so these features remain untested in this review, but positive reports from other sources tell us that Vista owners need not be worried.