There’s still some confusion around the Sound Blaster X-Fi card. Looking at comments on the blog and e-mails that I’m getting, the confusion tends to be centered around the distinction between what’s handled via hardware or software. Before explaining that, want to call out three core points:
The purpose of point #1 is to clarify that we’re not delivering limited functionality at the hardware level. This means like the retail version, through hardware, we support features like EAX (enhanced game audio for games written to support it); the 24-bit crystalizer (a processor that delivers improved audio quality from a variety of sources) and CMSS 3-D (which is a processor that emulates surround sound, for 2-channel environments or headphones).
Regarding points #2 and 3: Dolby Digital and DTS are sound decoders for movies. Even on the retail version of the card, both of these are done through a software codec ultimately licensed through Dolby or DTS. The Dolby Digital 5.1 software codec we use on all XPS 700 systems is licensed through Sonic, whereas the retail X-Fi solution is licensed through Creative. From a customer standpoint, if you have a 5.1 speaker set and a DVD movie that supports Dolby Digital (very common these days), you simply insert the DVD into the drive and play the movie. We don’t support DTS (which is supported through software on the retail card with Creative’s software codecs), not because of any hardware limitation, but only because we don’t install a software codec for DTS. Does this mean that your system won’t support DTS at all? No. If you have DTS-encoded movies and want to hear them that way, you can purchase a DVD player utility that features DTS capability.
I wasn’t able to finalize some specifics on the NVIDIA 7950 graphics card update. My apologies for making you wait. More details to follow next week.
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D.L. Your comments are right on the mark, and thanks for the feedback. On the multi-channel audio side, Dell supports DVD-Audio playback. Also, as you mention, more of today's games are also incorporating multi-channel technology.
My apologies for the oversight.
Seems rather obvious that you have refused to answer this question twice in this blog - while answering the other questions.
Would you please explain what the (D) means as it is shown on the XPS 700 order/configuration pages in the following context: "XtremeMusic (D)"?
Lionel: if YOU don't know, how do you expect the customer to know what it means? There are no footnotes to explain it.
Since it applies to the Sound Blaster SW audio control panel (which is called "XtremeMusic" - I know what it means - DEFEATURED - that's why it doens't have the reatil functionality of DD5.1 and DTS included.
Question is, will you admit it? I don't think so. How about that Dell Code of Conduct that is posted on the corporate website? C'mon, you can be honest with us customers, it won't hurt you to do it.
Ok, then why isn't there a footnote or something that clearly explains that?
In addition, something like that would seem applicable what Liem said - "Dell's implementation of the 590 chipset" - so why doesn't the XPS 700 show 590 chipset (D)? Or how about the video cards which don't have video in like some retail cards? Or TV Tuners which don't have all the features of the retail card?
Shouldn't everything that isn't identical to retail carry the (D) to show customers that it's the "Dell version or implementation"? I seriously suggest consistency.
Again, I didn't say the card (hardware wise) was missing anything - I clearly stated that the (D) applied to the XtremeMusic (which is the SW application) and it is MISSING the DD5.1 and DTS codecs which come with the retail version ... i.e. that's what makes it "Dell's version".
Nick: Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Not sure what's going on with your system. I verified the DD 5.1 decoder being installed with a couple of folks on the audio engineering team.
I'll ask for someone in Tech Support to follow up with you.
As Nick, mentioned above, I also cannot play my DVD's on cineplayer with Dolby digital 5.1 (not spdif) . I am sure it is something I am doing wrong. I have posted a request for similar information in the Dell Community forum on this topic, but Lionel, if you would be so kind as to explain exactly what software/drivers/updates/etc. are required to support this or point us to a faq that contains this information, I would greatly appreciate it.
Well, well, well. A little birdie told me that he even has the retail version of the X-Fi card and still prefers the following free AC3Filter codec for playback of 5.1 audio. It can be found here: http://ac3filter.net/index.php . I installed it myself and the codec immediately takes over control from the inadequate Cineplayer codec. Just download and install the latest version, set the speaker settings to 5.1 and play a DVD. You can use either Cineplayer or WMP, however I think the Cineplayer Pro Logic codec still messes with the AC3Filter codec and blends the rear channels too much. I prefer WMP as it created a more crisper sound from each channel. WMP, however, does have a lowered center channel. But with AC3Filter, you can raise the center speaker's volume all by itself, convenient equalizer settings the Cineplayer codec does not offer. Just make sure the EAX and CMSS-3D settings on the X-Fi card are turned off so that they don't manipulate the pure analog signal of the channel sound. I haven't tested it with all my different DVDs, and I can't promise it will work for all Dell systems, but it definitely works with mine on the few movies I tried with it. Goodbye Cineplayer. Goodbye Dell.