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Creative Labs showcases new Sound BlasterX AE-9 audiophile soundcard

The new Sound BlasterX AE-9 aimed at audiophiles is almost twice as expensive as the gaming version due to the included external DAC. (Source: PCWorld)
The new Sound BlasterX AE-9 aimed at audiophiles is almost twice as expensive as the gaming version due to the included external DAC. (Source: PCWorld)
With the new Sound BlasterX AE-9, Creative Labs shows that it still values the audiophile community, even though it took the company 6 years to release a new version. The new card comes with replaceable operational amplifiers for increased control over sound tuning, and an external DAC to further filter out the interferences.
Bogdan Solca,
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Gamers got treated with the new Sound BlasterX AE-5 cards last year, but audiophiles were mostly ignored, as Creative Labs has not released a card targeted at this market sector in around 6 years now. The situation is about to change with the announcement of the Sound BlasterX AE-9.

What sets this model apart is the external high-end DAC that is meant to eliminate interferences. The card itself comes with 3.5 mm jacks for rear, center and sub, RCA stereo outs and optical in/out connectors, plus an HDMI port for the external DAC. According to PCWorld, the card is able to handle a 129 dB signal-to-noise ratio through the ESS Sabre 32 Pro digital convertor. The increased control over the operational amplifiers should offer audiophiles more ways to fine-tune the sound output. Additionally, the XAMP feature is back, allowing for separate amplification for each stereo channel on headsets.

The new Sound BlasterX AE-9 is the first audio card from Creative Labs to come with a PCIe power connector. This one is needed for the external DAC, but it also helps to filter the power that goes through the card for reduced interference. Speaking of the external DAC, it integrates a single combo jack with 48-volt phantom power for TRS and XLR mic connectors, 3.5 mm mic and headphone jacks + quarter-inch headphone jack, a volume knob, a button to enable 48-volt and a button that enables the SBX surround features. On the back of the DAC there is a pair of analog RCA connectors that allow to record sound from older audio devices like cassette players / vinyl players.

Creative Labs will begin shipping the new Sound BlasterX AE-9 in late December for US$299.

Connectors galore on the card itself + the external DAC (Source: PCWorld)
Connectors galore on the card itself + the external DAC (Source: PCWorld)
The 6-pin PCIe power connector (Source: PCWorld)
The 6-pin PCIe power connector (Source: PCWorld)

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Bogdan Solca
Bogdan Solca - Senior Tech Writer - 1474 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2017
I first stepped into the wondrous IT&C world when I was around seven years old. I was instantly fascinated by computerized graphics, whether they were from games or 3D applications like 3D Max. I'm also an avid reader of science fiction, an astrophysics aficionado, and a crypto geek. I started writing PC-related articles for Softpedia and a few blogs back in 2006. I joined the Notebookcheck team in the summer of 2017 and am currently a senior tech writer mostly covering processor, GPU, and laptop news.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2018 12 > Creative Labs showcases new Sound BlasterX AE-9 audiophile soundcard
Bogdan Solca, 2018-12-11 (Update: 2018-12-11)