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Users' Opinion- Sound Blaster Live!

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As promised, here is a short piece about the Sound Blaster Live. First, the standard specifications, similar to those you can find in the soundcards chart :

    Editor : Creative Labs

    2 external ins (Line In and Mic)

    3 ins on the card (audio CD, Aux, TAD for internal modem)

    1 I2S in on the card for PC-DVD

    1 external S/PDIF in on the daughterboard (2nd slot)

    1 external S/PDIF out on the daughterboard

    2 MiniDin plugs on the daughterboard (MIDI IN and MIDI OUT (No specific cable needed)

    a 9Pts MiniDin plug, gathering the four digital outs and the MIDI I/O.

    Platform : PC (I do not know if MAC drivers are available)

    Midi : Yes : 48 channels, 192 voices, up to 512 voices by downloading the new driver at www.sblive.com

    MIDI Ram : 2/4/8Mo Soundfonts, up to 32Mo (You can load more banks but only 32 Mo are available)

    Internal DSP : Yes (Hardware effects)

    Price : about 250 ?uros

    Software :Cubasis AV, Mixer Man, Kithar, Rythmania, and the game UnReal.

Personal commentaries : first, I have to say that I?m a newbie concerning MAO and soundcards, I only experienced SB16 and I don?t know anything about professional material. All this said, I think the SBLive offers very respectable performances, considering its price. The sound quality seems rather good to me, despite my configuration : a pair of ordinary multimedia speakers connected on the computer front, and a Marshall VR65 Amp connected on the back (for the guitar).

The installation runs without any particular problem, as well concerning the hardware as for the software. Software bundled with the card are of good quality, and I only had a problem with the sound player called ?Playcenter?, which is supposed to play every audio file. In fact, he can?t recognize CDs, and I have to use another software to read audio CDs. I asked Creative, and I am waiting for the answer.

The card?s 3D sound possibilities are very impressive, and the demo will make you live an original experience. Here we are, I will stop there, but there would be many more to tell about this card, and, as you probably understood, I am very fond of this card.

Didier LE MEM


The positive aspect of the SBLive is the us of the Soundfonts. The digital I/O are really bad. Personally, I would put an sign: FORBIDDEN USE ;-)

The purchase of the full version (with S/PDIF I/O) is useless, since the best results are obtained ?internally?. The sample rate is fixed to 48kHz, which considerably decreases the interest of the card. There is no Wordclock. The equalization is of bad quality. The recording quality of the soundfonts in direct is good. That is what gives a certain value to the card.

If you have a digital mixing board, you would have to work in 48kHz, without Wordclock. But if you have invested in a digital mixing board, you would probably want something better.

The OEM version offers a very good quality price rate. For $100, you cannot have perfection! With the ?retail? version ($300), you pay for software of no interest, except for SoundForge 4.0 if you don?t have Wavelab. Moreover, as the S/PDif out is blocked to 48kHz, it soon becomes more problematic than convenient.

Globally, I am disappointed by this card, even if I could not do without soundfonts anymore. If you already have a card, and want to use soundfonts, it is an excellent $100 purchase. But if you want to make analog recordings, it is not serious.

Gilles BLAIS


I have a SBLive (OEM version, 500FF), and I use it with a DSP Factory. Results are great. Indeed the signal/noise rate is considerably inferior to the DSP : a quick measure using SoundForge shows 76.3, versus 92 for the DSP (perfectly audible difference). But this is very superior to a Maxisound HSpro64. All this in recording. The internal synthesizer is very correct and can use the soundfonts. The integrated effects are of the same kind, and even if they do not equal a Lexicon, they are very correct. The installation is easy.

To sum up, there is better, but it is more expensive. The SBLive allows a very correct work in a home-studio, at a very attractive cost (about 75 ?uros for the OEM version). At this price, it is as good as cards that were 6 times more expensive two years ago.

Well, there remains the problem of the specifications, 96dB signal/noise rate, it is a bit theoretical, and it is the same on more expensive cards. Now, you have to know how to read between lines, and to avoid believing what manufacturer can say. It is impossible to divide into 10 a product?s price without losing quality, using the same technology and at the same time. You can?t have a Mercedes 300SL for the price of a Twingo !!

Alain MADORRE

 

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