Creative X-Fi 5.1 USB Review

Well, I bought Creative x-fi USB 5.1 external sound card today. I was excited to pump up my laptop audio to HD 5.1 surround experience. I already own Logitech’s z5500 speakers which kick ass with 505Watt RMS expandable upto 1000W RMS.
My HP Laptop shipped with built in Conexant HD audio, it was sufficient till I started to think about surround sound in Games, movies and giving a new definition to Music.

Well, this sound card has it all. Initially when I attached them to speakers, I felt as if there is not much difference. But over time I made some adjustments and realized the Fidelity difference. Here are the certifications and standards that Creative promises to live up with.

  1. Better music and movie sound, made easy
X-Fi revitalizes downloaded music and movies

2. Revitalize your downloaded music and movies

Surround sound from stereo music and moves with X-Fi CMSS-3D

3. Surround sound from your stereo music and movies

4. Headphone surround that sounds like multi-channel speakers


5. Get realistic sound effects in your games

6. Cinematic surround sound from DVD movies

Okay, enough about what company claims, lets throw some sound over what this system is really capable of.

Music: What makes up good music ? Good High pitch, clarity of sounds, clearly distinguish individual sounds with higher reolution, crisper and punchier sound.

Fidelity: Well, luckily, Creative has lived upto all of these. There was good level of clarity at all types of sound effects supported. I liked the way it was able to surround 2 channel music into 5.1. This was bit different from what z5500 does in music mode, it tries to take some background music into rear channels while creative x-fi tries to put main, background music in rear channels. Thanks to CMSS 3d & x-fi crystallizer.

Bass: OOOH! Bass became more punchier and responsive on all music tracks that i played. Jazz reproduced better accuracy. Rock was kicker, Hip-hop was more happening.

Surround: There are various settings for EAX, sound gives good echo and reverb as compared to other softwares like DFX and SRS 3d.

Movies: This was the part where I feel my investment paid back the most.  God! I played the same movie that i earlier played on Conexant, there was hell lot of difference. 5.1 adds a different dimension. Even though z5500 upchannels 2 to 5.1 very well, still there was a huge difference when you upgrade to 5.1 audio.

Dialogues: On z5500 i played movies in 6 ch direct, didnt use any dolby effects like movie or stereo and sound was great.

Action: It was full of surprises and real. Helicopter scenes, gun shots, machine guns all sounded just near perfection. I often go to imax, but believe me, My Home audio sounds better that their’s.

Gaming: I’m not a hardcore gamer or smthin. I m a occassional passionate gamer, loves to play first person action shooters and racing. There was not much difference in nfs underground2. Then i played UT 2005,  Whoooooaaa! EAX 5.0 really works! Its worth every bit of it.  The ambiance, the gun shots, the dialogues, all were breathtaking.


If you are a Higly ambitious and Geeky about music, movies, games, you should consider this upgrade. If you own a low-end music system that is lower than 100Watts RMS ( or 3000Watts PMPO) you shouldnt consider this upgrade as it isnt for you. Its for speakers which can really do well at 96Khzor 48khz and 24bit sound. You will not observe much difference on these lame audio systems. Its better to invest in upgradingg your speaker system.

It costs around US$60, Rs.4500 in India and is worth, if you can recognize its worth. Else its just a wastage for Lames.

If you wish to get more info on this product or need more advisories, you can reach us @taranfx on twitter.

We write about appleiPhoneiPadOpen Source and latest in Tech @taranfx (Twitter).

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