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Masael255

Sound Blaster Titanium HD Review

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Hello all! For anybody who has been perusing the Tech Support section of these forums, you may already know about my issues with the Creative Recon3D after my recent upgrade in hardware. Creative was nice enough to allow me to exchange that card (with some additional cost to me) for the Titanium HD PCI-e version. I just got it today and have been playing and testing it out. Here's my review of the card! [ATTACH=CONFIG]243[/ATTACH] First, a look at the packaging. It's a sleek box and, with everything, it feels solid and well put together. Creative definitely put their time into making the box stand out to try to lure in consumers. Nothing wrong with that, though. I rather like it. :D Now a few pics of the card itself and the included accessories: [ATTACH=CONFIG]244[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]245[/ATTACH] [ATTACH=CONFIG]246[/ATTACH] The card is elegantly designed with a nice protective casing and, while slightly sparse on the I/O ports, has all that I need. Included, cablewise, are an RCA to 3.5 mm cable as well as two coaxial/toslink cables. Just enough to get me going! Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about performance! I should note that I'm using this sound card with a set of Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro 250 OHM headphones and a 5.1 surround sound setup for my testing. Also, I'm listening to everything with a flat EQ. Music: I have a wide variety of musical tastes and that comes particularly handy in a situation like this. I first loaded up the original Doom soundtrack in moderately high quality ogg format. These are the "as intended" sound files that ID software released a while ago and they sound great. The lows, mids, and highs all come incredibly warm and deep. I remember listening to this with the Recon3D and feeling that the highs and percussions were a little tinny but, with the Titanium HD, everything sounds crystal clear. The synthesized bass never sounds scratchy or rumbly but clear and smooth. The synth test is an A+. Moving on to something a little more mainstrem. For my mainstream rock test, I loaded up System of a Down's Toxicity CD. These files are MP3, 320 kbps. While blasting the music at a moderately high volume, there was definitely no scratching and everything was crystal clear. One of the most odd things to hear was the smack of the singer's lips during certain lyrics. This soundcard is amazing at picking up all of the subtleties. The bonus track at the end of Aerials was very immersing and there were times I took off my headphones because I thought it was coming out of my surround sound system. I felt in the music and that is a feeling I have never felt before. Next, I tried the Silent Hill 3 soundtrack in FLAC audio. One of the songs, "Letter - From The Lost Days" has a tendency to oversample the bass on different systems so this is an excellent track to test bass productions. Listening to it all the way through The heavy bass was incredible and, again, that feeling of immersion take place. I could hear every breath the singer took before verses and it added to the "live" feeling that I was experiencing. What I really like about this track is that it is very simple in the melody line and really relies upon the simple accompaniment. On a bad sound system, this song tends to sound awful. Hearing it through the Titanium HD is a completely new experience as it really opens up the song and feels more alive then I have ever heard before. Lastly, the classical music test. I'm a huge classical music nerd (and violinist myself) and am very harsh on my classical listening experience. Having both played and attended the symphony very regularly, I find that recordings never quite do it justice. That was, at least, until I threw this baby in. Listening to Massimo Quarta's rendition of Paganini's six violin concerti was truly an experience that came very close to the live feeling (256 MP3 VBR). Every instrument came out clearly and that "blob" feeling of the strings section (in which all of the strings sound like one mega instrument) was replaced by a true sound of individual musicians playing together in harmony. However, it wasn't until the soloist came in playing on the most expensive instrument ever made that my ears were bedazzled. The violin is normally a difficult instrument to properly capture on a recording and the large amount of color this instrument can produced is usually muffled by the recording, the audio setup, or both. With the aid of this card, the violin comes in crystal clear to where I can sometimes hear the resonance of the other strings when the violinist hits a harmonic or other such nifty note. The last classical piece I tested was a FLAC rendition of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, MVMT III. The piano vibrated my ears as if I were sitting at the bench next to the pianist. The sheer realism of the sound was mind boggling and the imminent closeness was almost too good. I suppose I could go on about the timbre and what not but it sounded like a classical grand piano was right in my ears. It was kind of awesome. :D Gaming: I only had a chance to test out Battlefield 3 but my goodness was it amazing. Enabling the EAX settings in the Creative sound panel, it was awesome. I heard where everything was clearly and didn't have any of the "too much going on!" feelings that I used to have with my Recon3D. Sound positioning is, surprisingly, far superior despite it not being a "gaming" card. When outputting to my 5.1 via DTS, it was an equally amazing experience. I often would turn over my shoulder in reaction when I thought somebody was behind me. It got me killed a couple of times but it was well worth it! Hahaha. Overall: This card is awesome. I absolutely love it and am so glad I put the extra cash towards it. Definitely a worth it if you're an audiophile. :D Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go immerse myself in sound. *_*

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I was able to test some more games so here's an overview of the gaming experience. Also, video experience as well. :D Gaming (PART II): I loaded up Skyrim for a bit and boy did the game come to life. I am using the "Sounds of Skyrim" mods (all of them) and while they already add a lot of atmosphere and ambience to the game, playing with this Soundcard connected was a tremendous improvement. Every foot step from myself, my companions, or my horse came in crystal clear and from the right location. The sound of walking in water was so spot on that, subconsciously, my brain reacted as if my feet were getting wet. I wish I was exaggerating on how clear this is but it really is something that can only be experienced. Metal on metal, dragons roaring, a pouring storm; all were terrifyingly a part of my reality at that moment. For an instant, I was IN Skyrim. Then I had to go to work. -_- The other game I tried was FEAR 3. I was surprised how much was brought out from this quasi-thriller FPS. The game has a lot of lost ambience when played with onboard audio that truly comes out with the Titanium HD. A lot of the loose cabling that would spark would often catch me off guard and make me reflexively shoot in that area. I could always here where soldiers and the possessed were coming from and was easily able to pick them off. Positioning, once again, is amazing and of the three games I threw at it, it performed fantastically. Video: For laughs, I loaded up a couple of videos to see how the sound card would enhance a high quality Blu-ray disc and low-quality Youtube. Firstly I loaded my Blu-Ray copy of Dragon Ball Z (nerd alert) Movie 8 and the remastered English audio was crystal clear and perfect. What was surprising is how positioning worked well through the audio mastering. Instead of the normal "front" sound that we're so used to when watching television or movies, I could tell where characters were talking or fighting, even off screen. Definitely a cool experience! Youtube was a shocking improvement as well. I dug out some low quality 320p and some HD 720p videos that were dialogue intense. I found that even in lower quality videos, I could easily position the person's location in regards to the camera. Also, the quality of the dialogue was impeccable as well and definitely enhanced the lower quality sound. Now, I should note that while the card is great, it's not going to turn a $10 set of headphones into $200 sounding headphones. Rather, it allows for the full texture of those $200 headphones to come to life and will not act as a limiter on your maximum sound potentional. But if you're willing to drop $200 on headphones, you're probably willing to drop another $200 on this sound card. :)

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Oh that's niiiice. Glad to sound quality matches up. Looks like it's purely designed for audiophiles in mind. Just realized there's no optical out... :(
There IS optical out! It's just hidden and look like RCA out. They are coax optical BUT they are nice enough to include two Coaxial-to-Toslink cables. I was up and running in no time. :D EDIT: I forgot to mention it has optical in as well.

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There IS optical out! It's just hidden and look like RCA out. They are coax optical BUT they are nice enough to include two Coaxial-to-Toslink cables. I was up and running in no time. :D EDIT: I forgot to mention it has optical in as well.
Oh damn, that's actually pretty... creative... no pun intended lol

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