Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1


Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1 Continued

Firstly, looking at the ports on the card there are nowhere near as many as the Prelude, instead just three:

  • Digital Out
  • Headphone
  • Analog I/O Multi Connector

The reason for the fewer ports on the actual card is so that two brackets can be included – standard and large – allowing the card to fit more PCs depending on the size of your case. In my instance, I had to change the bracket to the larger one as I have a full-ATX case. This isn’t much trouble though as you simply undo a couple of screws and then take of the old bracket and slide on the new one.

To allow Auzentech, to so significantly reduce the number of ports they had to create the analog I/O multi-connector 15-pin. This plugs into the X-Fi Forte and then splits into six more cables:

  • C/SW
  • Front
  • Mic in
  • Side
  • Line in
  • Rear

Effectively these are all of your speaker connections and are especially relevant to surround sound users as you can plug in the appropriate speakers to the allotted port in order to use some of the features that I will come on to in the software section.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Looking more closely at the digital out, there is an optical cable with an included adaptor so swap between coaxial and optical outputs. The adapter simply plugs over the end of the optical cable and allows the use of coaxial input or output.

Another feature that is special to the Creative audio cards, which was seen in previous models, is the X-RAM. Effectively it is supposed to free up system memory and improve your audio quality. This feature is especially relevant if you are playing a game that is designed for X-Fi cards (some examples are provided: Battlefield 2, Prey and Unreal Tournament 3) as the games sound information is dealt with by the X-RAM rather than filling up the main RAM. The latency between the onboard memory and that of the X-Fi chip is also better than that of the system memory’s usual linkup.

At the end of the X-Fi Forte there are a number of pins which allow the front panel audio to be connected up directly to the card which means you don’t have to buy a Creative front drive bay panel to hook up these cables. The card can support Intel HD Audio and the latest Sound Blaster X-Fi I/O 3.5” drive interface.

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Carried on from many previous designs is the idea of swappable operational amplifier (OPAMP). This basically means that you get a better sound quality with greater speed to give an overall better audio performance.

Moreover, the swappable DIP type OPAMP allows DIY upgrading so you can choose to get an even better sound quality – it’s up to you.

Click to enlarge

According to Auzentech all of the components are all of very high quality too; I won’t bore you with the exact names and details as its pretty dull but I will say that they have a range of 120decibels (dB) which is pretty darn high. It’s actually the equivalent of jet engines on a runway, so watch those ear drums!

Also, the distortion rate is supposed to be of the order of 0.001% so you won’t get any horrible crackly, fuzzy sound that you’re used to over medium and long wave frequencies on the radio.

Click to enlarge

Finally, the X-Fi Forte 7.1 boasts EAX 5.0 which improves the overall game play experience as using the description on the back of the box ‘Bullets whiz past your head. Explosions shake the room.’ – EAX makes sounds feel more real, and even adds environmental sounds unable to be processed by standard audio cards.

Dolby Digital Live and DTS interactive are both useful features. They allow the use of one single digital cable instead of a whole bunch of analogue ones going to your speakers. This is done by changing all audio signals into a single digital bit stream. This also enables you to use surround sound much more effectively.

One down side to this technology is that DTS Interactive can only be used in Vista and you have to download the appropriate drivers. However, Auzentech were kind enough to provide these at release, unlike a certain company that provides the chip for this card I might know. *cough* Creative *cough*

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Last modified: February 15, 2011

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