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triXlife 06-10-2010 08:08 PM

Creative Expresscard with ALSA
Greetings all, I can't seem to find an answer anywhere so I am just going to ask here. Does anyone know how well (or if) the Creative X-FI xtreme audio Expresscard is supported by ALSA?

Unfortunately it isn't even on the list of cards at all on their site. I know that there are two versions of the card, the earlier version was silver and fit a 54mm expresscard slot, and the later version was black and was 34mm. As far as I know they both use the old CA010x chipset (the same as the old Creative Audigy 2 Cardbus card), but I have no idea if that driver in the kernel will even pick it up.

This onboard sound on my laptop is just driving me nuts anymore and I need something else. My old Audigy 2 Cardbus card I had for my old laptop was great, but it's just that, a cardbus card. Thanks a ton!

Electro 06-10-2010 08:43 PM

Any sound card based on X-Fi is not supported in Linux. Sure you can try Creative Labs proprietary drivers, but it provides limited support.

You could get the following device.

Magma 1 Slot PCI Expansion System

triXlife 06-10-2010 08:52 PM

Actually the X-FI's are supported as of version 1.0.21 of ALSA. That doesn't matter though, as the Xtreme audio cards are not based on the emu20k1 chipset, but the CA010x chipset as I said. I was just wondering if anyone had actually tried one of these cards (in particular the Expresscard cards) and had any luck with them.

Electro 06-10-2010 09:51 PM

Since ExpressCard is just an external PCI Express slot, it should work.

After messing around with Creative Labs sound cards, their devices are not audiophile quality. Also their cards has caused hardware issues such as data corruption. Sound cards based on VIA ICE17xx and C-Media CMI8xxx/ASUS AV100/ASUS AV200 are better for audiophile quality and they cause no data corruption problems like I have seen with Creative Labs hardware.

triXlife 06-11-2010 09:25 AM

That's what I was thinking, I just wanted to make sure that it would work before I actually went out and bought one, being a college student make money a bit scarce, heh.

I've actually used Creative cards for almost 15 years now and haven't run into problems with data corruption (what problems did you run into before just out of curiosity?). The thing I like the best with them is the fact that you can control the low and high end via the card, and not just through software which is what I have to do with this laptop. Doing it with software always seems to cause distortion and low quality audio no matter what volume levels you're playing it at. Do any of those other chipsets you mentioned let you adjust the low and high end? My father bought a Turtle Beach card a while back because of its high rating and unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any sort of control like that and it sounds just like a bland sound card, then again I have no idea what chipset his card is based on. Thanks a ton!

Electro 06-11-2010 07:26 PM

Software equalizing could be done by the CPU or by a DSP chip, but they are not different how they sound. Comparing hardware and software is a little easier because hardware equalizing includes lag or speed issues and environment issues. Software equalizing is controlled by a program. Software equalizing has infinite capabilities, so software equalizing can be bad or good depending how it is written. The treble (high) and tone (low) controls that Creative Labs includes on some their cards starting with Soundblaster LIVE! is done the by DSP chip, so again there should be no difference when equalizing with DSP or with CPU. Probably Creative Labs transparently adjusts the master or WAV/PCM volume to compensate for the increase tone or treble control. Creative Labs could be using a compressor technique. The reason why is because the limit of hardware. If the volume is too high for the hardware, it will clip or cause distortion. Equalizing increases the loudness of a certain band of frequencies. For example if you adjust 10 KHz to +6 dB, you will need to adjust the volume of the sound card to -6 dB or else you will get distortion. If you use WINAMP or Audacious, you can adjust where 0 dB is located. If the 0 dB is set where you equalize 10 KHz, the sound will not clip or distort because the program now is changing the loudness to all frequencies except 10 KHz to be -6 dB lower. Though, equalizing is best to be used for individual channels and you are trying to achieve flat frequency response for your room, but not for the whole set unless you are trying to equalize headphones.

I have a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz and Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1. They are a lot better or clearer than Creative Labs. If you think they are bland, than your speakers are what you are hearing. Spend more on better speakers and you will hear the difference.

The data corruption that I have with Creative Labs sound cards is when their drivers changes a bit for the register. This messed up DMA operations for the storage controller and cause data corruption over time. This did not happen just for VIA KX133 chip sets. It happen on other chip sets from other brands. This happen with Soundblaster LIVE!. Also Creative Labs have bad driver support compared to Turtle Beach and Audiotrak in Windows. In Linux, all of these sound cards are on the same level, so the difference is how clear they sound and the price. Turtle Beach Santa Cruz and Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 is the cheapest and are more clear than Soundblaster LIVE!.

triXlife 07-03-2010 03:24 PM

Well a few weeks have gone by and the status of this card is still up in the air. So has anyone actually ever had success at getting this particular card to work in Linux? Like I said I would like to know before I go out and buy one, only to find out that it will not work. The card matrix at lists it, but doesn't say anything about the card at all.

Electro 07-10-2010 03:00 AM

You could get it, but I am not going to buy any Creative Labs hardware. Creative Labs cares more about features, features, features. They care nothing about sound quality.

You could get the following device.

StarTech 7.1 USB Audio Adapter External Sound Card (ICUSBAUDIO7D)

I recommend a USB powered hub to help supply enough power for the external sound card because not all computers complies to spec for power USB devices. USB should provide total of 500 mA of current, but this could be taken away if you are using input devices and other devices. This current capacity is not the same for every computer, so the powered USB hub will be a must to make sure the external sound card works. Use short or about quarter of a meter of USB cable to connect the computer to the hub. A USB powered hub should provide up to 2 A of current or more. More current is better if you want to use more USB devices at the same time.

At this time, I only find USB sound cards. I prefer IEEE-1394 because it includes DMA to help with latency. USB does not use DMA, so the latency for sound will be high.

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