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RejZoR

New Sound Blaster AE-9 and AE-7 audiophile sound cards coming soon

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Posted · Original PosterOP

There was apparently tons of news about these two cards back in December 2018 when they were suppose to come out, but I missed all of them. Turns out, they are being released sometime next month (August 2019), similar timing as with AE-5. They aren't cheap though, AE-9 is coming in at $349.99 and AE-7 at $229.99. Auch.

 

As an AE-5 user, it's a very good soundcard. Drivers have dramatically improved and the support has actually resolved my initial software problems very quickly. And they even opened official Sound Blaster subreddit for faster tech support which is encouraging. Creative has really turned a new page with release of AE-5 and they are continuing this strongly. Do like.

 

Sound Blaster AE-9

https://us.creative.com/p/sound-cards/sound-blaster-ae-9

 

Highest end soundcard ever released by Creative that comes with dual Core3D audio processor, all the Nichicon Gold and ESS Sabre DAC goodness, swappable OPAMPs, dedicated CleanLine power delivery circuitry powered by a single PCIe 6pin power connector and a desktop control unit with XAMP headphone amplifier of highest order (which is also powered from the PCIe connector through internal connection), tons of Mic inputs including professional XLR port. It also brags with 129dB DNR and THD of 0.0001 and pure unprocessed output at 32bit 384kHz or when processing audio through DSP, it can output it at 32bit 96kHz, same as older AE-5.

 

SB_AE-9.thumb.png.e3ac4a6a49543c6d9c510c5b8c0ce897.png

 

Sound Blaster AE-7

https://us.creative.com/p/sound-cards/sound-blaster-ae-9

 

A slightly lesser version called AE-7. Component wise, it's somewhat similar to AE-9, but only comes with single Core3D audio processor, non-swappable OPAMPs, lacks CleanLine circuitry, no Nichicon Fine Gold treatment and no desktop unit with XLR input. It still has the same output capabilities at slightly lower 127dB DNR. It still has dedicated headphone XAMP amplifier that has output directly on the rear of the soundcard where AE-9 has that on the desktop unit.

 

SB_AE-7.thumb.png.e152106b8329cb36467165f08cdc1af9.png

Creative Upgrade program

https://us.creative.com/upgrade/

 

Creative is running an upgrade program which gives existing Sound Blaster users with more recent sound cards extra 15% discount on purchase of AE-9 and/or AE-7. To my luck, my country is excluded from the program, but my neighbor Italians have it. WHY YA DO THIS TO ME! :D

 

New Sound Blaster Command software suite

Both, AE-9 and AE-7 will come with new Sound Blaster Command software suite which is similar to Sound Blaster Connect on AE-5 but with slight redesign and extra controls for output frequency used in shared mode. And to make AE-5 users feel a bit better, AE-5 is also getting this software/driver package sometime soon, allegedly in coming weeks, I'm guessing sometime when AE-9 and AE-7 actually get released.

 

I'm certainly tempted by that glorious looking AE-9. I had Sound Blaster Z and it was very good. But I didn't think Sound Blaster AE-5 would be better. And it was. So, my expectations are set pretty high. I'm still thinking about that Ryzen 3900X, but throw a new high end soundcard in front of me and I'll almost always pick the soundcard without much thinking. Darn it.

 

What do you guys think? Tempted as well?

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No. Rather have an external Dac amp. A Schiit stack for 200$ prob sounds better than the AE-7. You can use a stack on a laptop, or on the go. Also, electrical sound isolation is non-existent if it’s in your pc.


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I too got a Soundblaster Z that I got second hand hooked up to some headphones and monitors through a Yamaha mixer.. Creative's crossfeed or "Surround" effect actually sounds really pleasant on headphones. The SNR claims are hilarious though, you can hear everything in your computer by cranking up the gain.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
1 minute ago, HanZie82 said:

Oooh noice, here's hoping the AE-9 isnt insanly priced. :D

I've posted the prices in the intro. It's $349.99. I guess it's not that insane given soundcards don't depreciate as fast as graphic cards and you can have it for 5 years and it'll serve you just the same as on day 1. Something which just doesn't work with graphic cards that get more useless with every year passing by...

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Sound has been my biggest hang up with upgrading. I have been using my Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Platinum with the front panel for every single PC I have purchased or built since 2003 and I want to continue to use the thing or find something better.

On board sound just isn't good enough for me and newer Sound Cards don't have the front panel that I am so very used to. Hopefully this new card has all, or at least most of, the same front panel inputs.

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And once again, fools are parted with their money.

Dont get me wrong, they're "good" sound cards, Creative makes nice stuff. But they make nice stuff for the consumer tier market. Not the audiophile market, not a professional market.

Not to mention that in this market the difference in noticeable audio quality compared to the cost of the card is a bit more like this:

Untitled.png.6a379837957347dcbc5938b25f630609.png

 

Kinda like EVGA releasing that audio card recently, this is just a new PC consumer trend. Dedicated audio cards are coming back though theres no actual reason to use them over integrated audio + a DAC/amp if you need one for your headphones. 


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I guess the AE-9 higher price tag is the breakout box that is comes with. Having 2 audio processor is nice, but the outputs on the back of the AE-9 has no use for me as I just have standard 2.1 speakers. So I'll take the AE-7.

I believe Creative also does professional audio, called E-Mu


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Posted · Original PosterOP
9 minutes ago, NumLock21 said:

I guess the AE-9 higher price tag is the breakout box that is comes with. Having 2 audio processor is nice, but the outputs on the back of the AE-9 has no use for me as I just have standard 2.1 speakers. So I'll take the AE-7.

I believe Creative also does professional audio, called E-Mu

Actually you can use AE-9 for 2.1 desktop PC speakers. I've had ASUS Xonar STX that also had 2x cinch output and it came with 2x cinch to 3.5mm jack adapter to which you could plug regular speakers. Same will be possible here.

 

@campy

The reality is, most "audiophile" purists are just bunch of arrogant pricks who live in its own world of gold plated connectors, pure copper wires and their THD this and SNR that. None of which even matters in games. Then again it matters even less because Microsoft sacked the hardware layer for audio so essentially soundcards have no concept of 3D audio positioning like we had back in the late 1990's where game engine actually told soundcard how to play the sound to materialize it in such a way that on screen happenings properly connected with the audio played on the speakers or headphones. Software solutions are pretty bad at it and they just sound flat and dull with poor 3D positioning.

 

The thing is, saying onboard audio is enough is a lie. I mean, don't get me wrong, it works and for most people it wouldn't make a difference if they still had ancient AC97 codec on them with crappy DACs. I have MSI X99 Gaming 7 which is far from basic motherboard and it comes with Realtek ALC 1150, gold Nichicon capacitors, even own dedicated power delivery. And yet it sounded so flat and uninspiring it was horrible experience compared to AE-5. And that has been the case for years. Every single Sound Blaster, ASUS Xonar STX and Auzentech's X-Fi Forte sounded way better. Like audio playback is wider and richer compared to flat and dull audio I get from onboard soundcards. I've tried every single one of them and always ended up going back to dedicated soundcards for that very reason.

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8 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

Actually you can use AE-9 for 2.1 desktop PC speakers. I've had ASUS Xonar STX that also had 2x cinch output and it came with 2x cinch to 3.5mm jack adapter to which you could plug regular speakers. Same will be possible here.

So there are cinch to 3.5mm adapters, well that means, I can pick the better card, but it's still too expensive. I don't need that breakout box. I like the control pod from the AE-7. AE-9 card with the AE-7 pod for $100 to $150 less please.


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Posted · Original PosterOP
4 minutes ago, NumLock21 said:

So there are cinch to 3.5mm adapters, well that means, I can pick the better card, but it's still too expensive. I don't need that breakout box. I like the control pod from the AE-7. AE-9 card with the AE-7 pod for $100 to $150 less please.

Yeah, I don't need the desktop unit either, but the difference in card design is quite significant as well which is why I'm eyeing AE-9 despite that and price premium.

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9 minutes ago, RejZoR said:

Yeah, I don't need the desktop unit either, but the difference in card design is quite significant as well which is why I'm eyeing AE-9 despite that and price premium.

The extra $100 is more definitely for that breakout box. Back in the X-Fi days, there were 4 models. The most expensive as the $400 which included something like that. The same card without the external thing was $100 less, but it still came with a mini one that you installed in a 5.25" drive bay.


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Waste of time and money investing on any internal sound card. Everyone has moved to external DAC's years ago.


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I wonder if the crystal voice implemented on these new cards still has a delay when speaking into a mic and when you hear it.  I've got the zx(for a couple of years now) and never could figure out how to eliminate the slight delay.  Crystal voice turned off and no delay, turn it on and about a 1/4 second delay which is pretty annoying because with crystal voice, the mic does sound clearer over no crystal voice.  


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Posted · Original PosterOP
23 minutes ago, kuddlesworth9419 said:

Waste of time and money investing on any internal sound card. Everyone has moved to external DAC's years ago.

Who's "everyone" lol? External DACs aren't some miracle solve all problems thing either. They are same shit as internal soundcards, just powered through crappy USB and placed on a table.

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In this day and age I'd rather have external solutions than a pcie card


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3 hours ago, RejZoR said:

What do you guys think? Tempted as well?

Not only tempted, but I pulled the trigger on upgrading from my ZxR.  Got a nice little chunk of money off, too.  But the new card isn't shipping until sometime in August, so now I sits and waits.

 


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It's interesting that they decided to move away from the dual-card setup on the ZxR in favor of moving some of the processing over to the external unit.  I'm not quite as keen on that idea as I'd rather not have an extra "thing" hanging off the PC so that I can make use of the RCA line-ins.  Hopefully the attached mini-HDMI cable coming from the external unit is fairly lengthy.


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I output sound from my MB over Toslink to a Sony 7.1 amp... although at the moment I've only got it set up to 5.1 as my home office is only 9m²

 

 

As for the cost, I picked up the amp on ebay from a local chap for £30, and it's got a built in AM/FM receiver too and could easily be hooked up to multiple devices if I wanted to add something else. and I just need a bluetooth adaptor so my wireless BT headphones will work with it, otherwise I just use them wired.

 

But 99% of the time I'm on speakers, as I have a decent set of Yamaha ones and they're set up to not interfere with the mic I use... but half the time I just the mic built in to the webcam as the arm the main mic is mounted to can get in the way when gaming.

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I was thinking to upgrade to the AE-5 from Z, but the one thing I want to have in internal soundcard (how useless it might be to the audiophiles) is now removed from SoundBlasters also. The one feature why I didn't get Asus Sonar but went with the SoundBlaster even when Creative has driver problems from time to time and quite many things are more or less scam and not really done with the sound processor, but still the one feature: front panel audio connection. Those four extremely cheap pins where cable that still usually resembles fruit salad connects and runs through your whole case to provide you headphone and mic connectors so the twice a year when you need them, you don't need to spent 10 minutes trying to guess which hole in the soundcard is for mic and which one directly understands that they are headphones that are connected.

But no, "lets use those 4-pins for RGB lighting"...

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5 hours ago, RejZoR said:

Who's "everyone" lol? External DACs aren't some miracle solve all problems thing either. They are same shit as internal soundcards, just powered through crappy USB and placed on a table.

The entire point is emi isolation. You get very prominent noise out of both onboard and discrete sound cards. By running your audio through USB to external dac that is away from a large source of close proximity emi you eliminate highly noticeable whines and signal degradation. This is due to the fact that your digital signals aren't as easily influenced by external interference as an analog signal is.

 

Then you would also be using an amplifier that is also away from the small cell phone tower that is your computer so it also doesn't introduce anywhere near the same amount of interference. This amplifier would also be a class D specification so it keeps the signal super clean out to your headphones.

 

External dacs and amplifiers are a miracle compared to anything that sits in your computer case. They're far above anything that you can install into your computer case. The only real benefit sound cards have over onboard is the fact that they have a higher power amplifier compared to most motherboards. 

 

You can get external dacs and amps that have far better specifications than any sound card will have for way less money and you don't have constant buzzing and distortion every time you fire up a game or application.


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people should just save money and PCI slots by getting a dedicated external DAC/amp


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1 hour ago, trag1c said:

The entire point is emi isolation. You get very prominent noise out of both onboard and discrete sound cards. By running your audio through USB to external dac that is away from a large source of close proximity emi you eliminate highly noticeable whines and signal degradation. This is due to the fact that your digital signals aren't as easily influenced by external interference as an analog signal is.

 

Then you would also be using an amplifier that is also away from the small cell phone tower that is your computer so it also doesn't introduce anywhere near the same amount of interference. This amplifier would also be a class D specification so it keeps the signal super clean out to your headphones.

 

External dacs and amplifiers are a miracle compared to anything that sits in your computer case. They're far above anything that you can install into your computer case. The only real benefit sound cards have over onboard is the fact that they have a higher power amplifier compared to most motherboards. 

 

You can get external dacs and amps that have far better specifications than any sound card will have for way less money and you don't have constant buzzing and distortion every time you fire up a game or application.

 

This might be the future, but it's not the present.  Having owned and always used internal and one external sound card over time I can comfortably say it's the biggest GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out) part in a computer, and the average adult over 40 can't tell the difference between a good part and a bad part, hence onboard garbage. Just like onboard video, the onboard part is so lacklustre even on overpriced motherboards that I think the industry needs to move in two directions:

 

SFF/mATX/Budget boards retain analog Stereo outputs and a SPDIF, and lose the rest. USB-C replaces the "DP/USB-Audio" path. The user then has the option of either plugging in "Analog" or "Digital" headphones, or plug the USB-C directly into home theater system for 5.1/7.2/11.1/22.2 .

 

ATX Desktop and all Laptops go straight to "no onboard sound", routing the PCIe lanes normally used to USB-C in TB or USB mode over the GPU (USB-C (DP), TB or HDMI), with laptops built in speakers, microphone being USB devices that are "plugged in" when the lid is open. Externally connected monitors connect via USB-C or HDMI for 3D HRTF audio processed by the GPU, or pass separate USB Audio and DP signals, leaving audio up to the user to determine where they want to plug a USB-C audio device into. They can also then plug the USB-C directly into a home theater system.

 

For Professional systems, they will just use TB(USB4) to begin with and not use the onboard parts for audio.

 

Because I still have my upper hearing range, I easily hear EMI noise on the onboard sound parts, and I kinda just look at what MB manufacturers offer as "high end sound" and you can't honestly tell me those Realtek audio parts are good.

 

Like to be honest, the biggest problem with "internal sound card" models is the lack of shielding to the front audio ports. It's a problem that can't really be solved properly. MB manufacturers insist on putting the "HD Audio" pins right in between all the noise generating parts instead of having the audio parts on a daughter-board that could be on a separate "front panel" board, and/or putting a M2 NGFF at the corner of the MB for the front panel.

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