Originally Posted by CoryGillmore
All true. But one other difference in the two cards is that the Pro model allows you to connect to your dedicated sound card headphone out from headphone on the front panel of your computer (if your computer has a front panel headphone out).
This is a huge deal to me as my computer literally weighs around 75-80 pounds and the rear headphone out is not really acessable unless I move my computer forward a little bit.
Also, an EMI sheild could be a pretty big deal since computers can sometimes generate a lot of interference and such. Could be the difference between a completely silent headphone out (like I have) and a noisy one.
As for the front-panel audio header, the basic X-Fi Titanium has one for typical Intel HD Audio header spec. However, if you were talking about the pins for the front panel bay adapter that comes with the Titanium Fatal1ty Champion cards, those are indeed removed, though I'm sure you could solder some replacements in and it'll work just fine.
Not that I even like typical front-panel audio jacks in most computer cases, as they usually have a ground loop issue that introduces lots of noise, especially with sensitive headphones. I still have yet to encounter a case whose front-panel audio jacks don't have that problem.
I'm a bit skeptical of EMI shielding in general, and attribute my clean-sounding desktop to the high-quality PSU with low ripple installed (PCP&C Silencer 610), along with a lack of grounding issues. But I suppose you can cover the card in EMI-shielding paper later on, if necessary.
Frankly, I just wish Creative wouldn't charge so much for models that have rather minor improvements made over lower-end SKUs. $70 could be understandable, but $100 is just going to have people looking at the Titanium HD or the Auzentech X-Fi cards instead. That's what bugs me more than anything.