The package comes with an IO hub, a PCI card, support for multi channel surround sound, two integrated 1394 Firewire ports and a heap more.
The sound card is certified for THX multimedia certification, while there's also support for so-called cinematic surround sound with DTS-ES and Dolby Digital EX films.
The IO hub includes analogue stereo connectors, optical and coaxial connectors, and support for 96KHz AD connectors. Even if you don't have surround sound speakers, there's support for headphones and for more modest stereo systems.
Bundled with the biggish box is a heap of software to let you make use of your hardware. That includes the useful Media Source audio convertor, which allows for the batch conversion of audio files from one format to another, a graphics equaliser, a DVD audio player application, a WAV editor, utilities for mixing, and much much more.
Also included in the usual Creative big box are an AD link cable, a remote control unit with battery, a power convertor cable, a 3.5mm to 6.55mm jack adaptor, a DVD audio sampler and third party games intended to show off the capabilities of the bundle including Thief: Deadly Shadows, Hitman: Contracts as well as application Cubase LE+Wavelab Life 2.5+ and Fruity Loops Studio 4 Creative Edition.
Wave Edit Application
The Windows install throws the utility software, CD player and the rest onto your hard drive - but you can custom install it if you're a little short of hard drive space, or if you don't want the somewhat irritating Creative pops up to start littering your screen.
You're going to need a spare PCI slot for the card, but otherwise installation for anyone who has ever opened up their PC is a bit of a doddle.
The IO hub is a surprisingly light piece of kit, with the working semiconductors and connectors to the inputs and outputs cased in a lightweight ally surround.
The front of the IO case with Firewire socket
Optical out and optical in, line ;evel guitar input, and
microphone input, socket for headphones, line control knob,
mute/unmoute control, stereo virtualisation upmix and
remote control IR
Rear of IO console. CD player, MIDI in and out,
SPDIF for DAT player, AD link, Firewire
Did you ever see so many capacitors on an
add in card? [Don't answer, Ed.] The PCI card has sockets for your speaker system,
an AD link for the cable to the box, and a Firewire socket
This is a serious bit of kit for anyone who really wants to play around with sound on her or his PC system. At around £150 or so, it's not the cheapest of systems, but compare the price with the high end graphics cards. If you're really really serious about plugging lots of sound kit into your PC, this could well be for you. µ
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