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Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi "HD USB" vs "Surround 5.1 Pro USB"

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-HD-Sound/M/B004275EO4.htm

 

http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-XFi-Surround-5.1/M/B0044DEDCA.htm

 

Lookin to replace my X-Fi Platinum PCI card.  Just built a new machine with two Radeon 6950's and space is pretty tight.  I've found these two USB dac from creative and reviews seem to praise them for the most part.

 

However I'm not quite sure which I should get.  The HD is more expensive than the Pro, which is kinda throwing me off a bit.  However it looks like the Pro supports 5.1, where as the HD only supports 2.1?

 

I don't do any recording, so that's not a factor.  But here's what I have for hardware...

 

Senn HD 555 Headphones

Senn HD 202 Headphones

Steelseries 7H Headphones (Gaming headset)

Swan D1080MKII's Bookshelf Speakers (Powered)

Audio Source PSW110 Sub (Powered)

 

Also have a Pyle Pro P1001AT Hybrid Pre-Amplifier / Polk Audio Monitor Series 30's

 

As it stands right now, the Pyle amp hates the X-Fi Plat PCI, tons of line noise when plugged into.  This may not be the sound card, but more of a computer problem in general.  Onboard sound does the same.  But Other devices and laptops seem to not do the same thing. 

 

But with the existing head and space issues regarding the Radeon Crossfire configuration I'm pretty much set on retiring the X-Fi Platinum PCI card to be replaced by one of the two USB based solutions.

 

So, can anybody chime in on why the Pro is cheaper than the HD?  Does the HD offer anything on the line of sound quality that the Pro does not? Thanks in advance for any advice offered.

post #2 of 12

The HD actually has a nicer DAC, and the headphone port is amplified (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your headphones. Personally, it boosts the bass on my low-impedance Klipsch Image Ones so much I have to equalize it down, but when I do, the clarity is fantastically improved vs. using it without an amplifier.) I also like the input options on the HD much more, since it lets me keep my game consoles plugged into the input, and routed through to my speakers, allowing me to apply the EAX effects to my games.

But if 5.1 is important to you, then of course go with the 5.1 Pro.

post #3 of 12

Are you sure that the headphone port is amplified? I know that the pci-e Titanium hd's headphone port is not amplified. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RynoWeiss View Post

The HD actually has a nicer DAC, and the headphone port is amplified (which may or may not be a good thing depending on your headphones. Personally, it boosts the bass on my low-impedance Klipsch Image Ones so much I have to equalize it down, but when I do, the clarity is fantastically improved vs. using it without an amplifier.) I also like the input options on the HD much more, since it lets me keep my game consoles plugged into the input, and routed through to my speakers, allowing me to apply the EAX effects to my games.

But if 5.1 is important to you, then of course go with the 5.1 Pro.



 

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

Creative's store link states, "...headphone amp and volume control".

 

I did end up purchasing the HD yesterday and I have to say I am pretty happy with it.  5.1 isn't an issue, I've only got a 2.1 setup anyhow.  Just as RynoWeiss mentioned it fills out the speakers quite a bit better than even my X-Fi Platinum PCI did.  My Swan's are enough to piss off the neighbors now, hehe. 

post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by schirpich View Post

Senn HD 555 Headphones

Senn HD 202 Headphones

Steelseries 7H Headphones (Gaming headset)

Swan D1080MKII's Bookshelf Speakers (Powered)

Audio Source PSW110 Sub (Powered)

 

So, can anybody chime in on why the Pro is cheaper than the HD?  Does the HD offer anything on the line of sound quality that the Pro does not? Thanks in advance for any advice offered.

 

I'm looking at these 2 as well.

 

My setup:

No headphones for this application.

Swan D1010 IV Bookshelf Speakers (Powered)

Polk PSW10 sub (Powered)

 

So for speakers I guess just one step below

 

I like the dedicated Sub out on the Pro

I like the input options on the HD, but I would have to split the RCA outputs. (is that a big deal or is there some other way to hook it up that I am just blind to?)

 

For my I'm trying to determine which will be better for music, no gaming here.

 

 

 

post #6 of 12

God! Don't touch x-fi 5.1 pro if you're going to use headphones. I owned that card and sold it with pure happiness. When it comes to 5.1 speaker setup I've got no problem with this card. When headphones are involved - it sux so bad. There's no headphone amp, bass super sux, mids are pretty good tho. Go for X-fi HD or for some other stuff like Fiio e10 or e17.

 

Edit:

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by davidzvi View Post

 

 

I like the input options on the HD, but I would have to split the RCA outputs. (is that a big deal or is there some other way to hook it up that I am just blind to?)

 

There's a cable which comes with I think both cards - RCA/3.5mm jack ;-) (If I understand your question correctly)


Edited by shadowmanpl - 1/14/12 at 11:06am
post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowmanpl View Post

God! Don't touch x-fi 5.1 pro if you're going to use headphones. I owned that card and sold it with pure happiness. When it comes to 5.1 speaker setup I've got no problem with this card. When headphones are involved - it sux so bad. There's no headphone amp, bass super sux, mids are pretty good tho. Go for X-fi HD or for some other stuff like Fiio e10 or e17.

 

Edit:

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by davidzvi View Post

 

 

I like the input options on the HD, but I would have to split the RCA outputs. (is that a big deal or is there some other way to hook it up that I am just blind to?)

 

There's a cable which comes with I think both cards - RCA/3.5mm jack ;-) (If I understand your question correctly)

 

The HD has one set of RCA outs'.  I think I would need to split both the left and right out with one set (left and right) going to the sub and the other set going to Bookshelf Speakers.
 

 

post #8 of 12

I know this isn't terribly helpful, but if you have to split an RCA output to go to a subwoofer, in all likelihood you're considering buying the wrong subwoofer. An ideal setup would run the signal into inputs on the subwoofer, and then using a crossover, reroute the signal through outputs also on the subwoofer to your speakers. In this situation, not only do you not have the signal degradation from using a passive splitter at your source, subwoofers that have this kind of passthrough will filter the frequencies covered by the subwoofer from the signal that goes to your speakers, meaning your speakers will only be covering their own range, leading to improved performance in the middle and high range, stemming from the fact that the speakers are no longer being fatigued by struggling to produce the lowest frequencies in their operating range.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by RynoWeiss View Post

I know this isn't terribly helpful, but if you have to split an RCA output to go to a subwoofer, in all likelihood you're considering buying the wrong subwoofer. An ideal setup would run the signal into inputs on the subwoofer, and then using a crossover, reroute the signal through outputs also on the subwoofer to your speakers. In this situation, not only do you not have the signal degradation from using a passive splitter at your source, subwoofers that have this kind of passthrough will filter the frequencies covered by the subwoofer from the signal that goes to your speakers, meaning your speakers will only be covering their own range, leading to improved performance in the middle and high range, stemming from the fact that the speakers are no longer being fatigued by struggling to produce the lowest frequencies in their operating range.



Probably are.  But in both our cases cases we already have the Subs.  I looked at a lot of sub, most I would have wanted with line in/out were also at different price/power level.  My Polk PSW10 cost my $90 delivered and is only a 50w average 100w peak sub.  Polk does have a sub with line in/out, but it sells for $400 and is 180w/360w.  Much more than I need or want while sitting at my desk.

post #10 of 12

Sorry if this an old thread but I've been crawling the net for hours now and seriously can't make my mind up. 

Basically I'm looking at upgrading from Biostar on-board sound to Creative X-FI 5.1, I've found one pretty cheap and it has to be cheap as I'm currently out of work, and I need USB due to no slots being available for PCI. I currently have an old Technics amp (don't laugh) and a pair of Yamaha Ns-200 Floorstanders which I adore, but when I'm listening to music I'm just not getting that feeling I used to get years ago when I had a proper Hi-Fi setup, even listening to a friends Denon mini system with B&W's sounds sublime compared to mine. I listen to all sorts of music form Drum n Bass through Rap to Soul etc. Must of spent hours if not days tweaking EQ's downloading new software you name it with no effect on quality (or managing to get that WOW ), until I came to the conclusion it's the On-Board sound or amp. Not willing to admit it's the amp yet as I've had similar in the past with better quality coming from lower end speakers.

 

So....my question is...although I don't care about 5.1 and don't even bother with it for games anymore, is it worth investing in the X-Fi 5.1 to replace the onboard or is it not going to make the slightest bit of difference. Although it's cheap as...I don't want to throw money at something to have no effect, especially when money is tight.

post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteyD View Post

Sorry if this an old thread but I've been crawling the net for hours now and seriously can't make my mind up. 

Basically I'm looking at upgrading from Biostar on-board sound to Creative X-FI 5.1, I've found one pretty cheap and it has to be cheap as I'm currently out of work, and I need USB due to no slots being available for PCI. I currently have an old Technics amp (don't laugh) and a pair of Yamaha Ns-200 Floorstanders which I adore, but when I'm listening to music I'm just not getting that feeling I used to get years ago when I had a proper Hi-Fi setup, even listening to a friends Denon mini system with B&W's sounds sublime compared to mine. I listen to all sorts of music form Drum n Bass through Rap to Soul etc. Must of spent hours if not days tweaking EQ's downloading new software you name it with no effect on quality (or managing to get that WOW ), until I came to the conclusion it's the On-Board sound or amp. Not willing to admit it's the amp yet as I've had similar in the past with better quality coming from lower end speakers.

 

So....my question is...although I don't care about 5.1 and don't even bother with it for games anymore, is it worth investing in the X-Fi 5.1 to replace the onboard or is it not going to make the slightest bit of difference. Although it's cheap as...I don't want to throw money at something to have no effect, especially when money is tight.

 

If you have no need for 5.1, I'd strongly advise you to go with the Creative X-Fi HD USB rather than either version of the Creative X-Fi Surround 5.1. Are you limited to the X-Fi Surround 5.1 (is it the regular or Pro version?)?

post #12 of 12

Thanks Roller....I took your advice before you gave it me...spent the extra and ordered the X-FI HD USB a couple of days ago, Also some decent interconnects and a Marantz PM4000 Integrated amp, also dug out my QED silver anniversary bi wire cable ready for the proper binding posts (cable too thick for the current Amp), Hopefully all will be here tomorrow, so I'm currently messing with speaker placement in the man cave (doing the missis's head in). I'll let you know how it sounds.

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