It's been awhile since Creative Labs
has released an all-new audio processor design for their sound cards;
the E-MU 20K chip and its variants have been behind most of the
company's Sound Blaster X-Fi branded cards since 2005. But at long
last, Creative has officially
announced the Sound Core3D – a design that combines four
processing cores and several components into one plastic square –
alongside a brand new crop of sound cards to take advantage.
A 6-channel DAC (digital-to-analog
converter) and a four channel ADC (analog-to-digital converter) are
built-in to the Sound Core3D chip. Both are capable of 24-bit audio
streams and have signal-to-noise ratios of 102dB and 101dB,
respectively. These two parts are usually provided using a number of
components on the sound card and adjacent to the audio processor –
not so with the Sound Core3D. Also on tap is a headphone amplifier, a
digital microphone interface, and S/PDIF inputs and outputs.
The 'Core3D puts an emphasis on
increased quality audio playback and microphone use – THX TruStudio
Pro support and CrystalVoice support are present to help. All this in
a likely power-sipping and small 56-pin package. Creative is also
offering a version of the Core3D catered to consumer electronics
devices (such as set-top boxes) as well.
A series of sound cards using the Sound
Core3D chips dubbed Sound Blaster Recon3D will come available at the
end of this year starting with the base model. “Fatal1ty” branded
Professional and Champion models with more features and extras will
appear early in 2012, but for most of us I'm sure the standard
Recon3D will be enough.
While it is unclear how exactly the
chip uses its four cores to process audio streams, as well as
uncertainty on how the chip will perform in real life, the
high level of integration should be promising for those looking for
better laptop and motherboard audio, as well as for those on a fairly
strict budget. (Via X-bit
UPDATE: The Sound Blaster Recon3D series is now available at Amazon here and at other retailers.