Creative Labs showcases new Sound BlasterX AE-9 audiophile soundcard
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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.