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Exclusive first look: Creative Labs' high-end Sound BlasterX AE-9 breaks cover

Prime-end audio fanatics in any case were given the eye they craved this week when Ingenious Labs confirmed off its upcoming $300 Sound BlasterX AE-Nine sound card.

Aimed toward a extra discriminating magnificence of audio listeners, the AE-Nine options such audiophile options as replaceable operational amplifiers, or opamps, to track the flavour of sound from the cardboard.

Following the advent of the gaming-focused Sound BlasterX AE-FiveTake away non-product hyperlink and Sound BlasterX AE-Five NaturalTake away non-product hyperlink ultimate 12 months, the AE-Nine kicks it up a notch or two.

Sound Blaster AE-9 Gordon Mah Ung

The cardboard seems to have usual three.5mm jacks for rear, middle, and sub, in addition to RCA stereo out and optical out and in ports.

Even though nonetheless in keeping with the similar Sound Core 3-D chip because the AE-Five and AE-Five Natural, the AE-Nine jettisons the on-chip virtual analog converter, or DAC, in desire of an exterior DAC. The basis being high-end DAC will make the sound much more pristine.

Ingenious officers stated the cardboard is rated at a 129dB signal-to-noise ratio and makes use of an ESS Sabre 32 virtual analog converter. Because the AE-Five and AE-Five Natural each use an ESS ES9016 DAC, we determine the AE-Nine is a step as much as possibly a Professional ESS DAC.

Audio-fidelity people will respect how the AE-Nine offers them regulate over the operational amplifiers, which can also be blended and paired for desired tuning.

Just like the AE-Five playing cards, the AE-Nine options XAMP, which amplifies each and every stereo channel of headphones out one by one as smartly.

Sound Blaster AE-9 Gordon Mah Ung

The Sound Blaster AE-Nine will function replaceable opamps so shoppers can tailor the audio in the event that they so want. We’re no longer positive if those are ultimate transport opamps or no longer.

In a primary for a legitimate card—the AE-Nine is dependent upon a 6-pin PCIe connector for energy. That’s as much as 75 watts of energy for the AE-Nine. But even so direct energy being cleaner, the added energy for the cardboard is to assist run the ports at the new breakout field.

Sound Blaster AE-9 Gordon Mah Ung

The AE-9 gets the bulk of its power through a 6-pin PCIe connector. That means the AE-9 can draw up to 75 watts of juice.

The new breakout box features a single combo jack that supports both TRS and XLR connectors for microphones and 48-volt phantom power. The mic jack is a nod to musicians and likely YouTubers who prefer very high-end microphones.

The front features a 3.5mm mic and headphone port along with a quarter-inch headphone jack. There’s a button to enable 48-volt phantom power and what looks to be a switch for high-impedance headphones. The SBX lets you control the 3D virtualization technology without going into software. The knob, obviously, is for volume.

Sound Blaster AE-9 breakout box Gordon Mah Ung

The breakout box for the new Sound Blaster AE-9 features 45-volt phantom power support for microphones using XLR and TRS connections.  And yes, this card is so new that the protective plastic has not been peeled from it yet.

The back of the breakout box features a pair of RCA-style connections that we’d guess are analog-in for those times when you want to record audio from, say, FM radio, which is how people used to do it.

Sound Blaster AE-9 Gordon Mah Ung

The rear of the new AE-9 breakout box likely features two RCA analog ports.

The cable that connects the breakout box to the sound card looks like it appropriated a mini-HDMI connector. We suspect it’s not electrically the same (since it doesn’t carry video) but it’s not uncommon for companies to use existing parts as a shortcut to avoid creating something new. Since mini-HDMI pretty much went nowhere, it’s unlikely to ever get mixed up.

Sound Blaster AE-9 Gordon Mah Ung

A single cable that connects the Sound Blaster AE-9 to the breakout box looks awfully similar to a mini-HDMI connector.

At $299, the AE-9 is a pricey sound card. With a decent video card selling for the same or less, this card isn’t for the typical gamer. Officials said to expect the card on store shelves by the end of the month.

If you want to see the unofficial world-wide debut of the card, tune in to our video show The Full Nerd to see Creative Labs’ Ryan Schlieper unveil the card and talk about the company’s highly touted Super X-Fi too.

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