tempest in a teacup

the pointless musings of a strange recluse

Sound Blister

From time to time, when faced with a question about industrial development in Singapore, someone will trot out the predictable line “What do you mean we don't have any successful private home-grown MNCs? Look at Creative!”

Never before in my life have I felt more like punching that hypothetical person in the face.

Creative is not what I would call a “successful” MNC by any means – while their sound cards were good once upon a time, and they were one of the pioneers in hardware-based positional audio, they completely missed the boat when it came to integrated audio (something they're belated trying to make up for), and have been utterly flattened by Apple in the digital audio player space in spite of having been one of the first companies to enter the market. Their practice of disabling card features in software so they can force people to “upgrade” for better features (and suing people who try to make up for their lacklustre drivers) is pretty reprehensible. And of course, their drivers have sucked for a long time, and often come packaged with useless bloatware. Their failure to perform is most evident, of course, in their quarterly results, where performance has been abysmal for years on end.

So where am I going with all of this? Well, I have a Creative sound card. An X-fi XtremeGamer, to be exact. And I'm not sure that it was a good buy.

The first warning signs that I had made a bad purchase were when I tried to play Sam & Max Episode 104: Abe Lincoln Must Die! (which is awesome, by the way, if you like point and click adventure games) on it. The audio would periodically hiss or play back way too fast, which was a major issue for a game that focuses a lot on funny dialogue. It turned out this was an as-yet unresolved issue with the X-fi. More recently, after installing the latest driver, any WAV or MP3 files I play have the same issue. Even when my MP3s manage to play correctly, they're interrupted by intermittent popping and hissing. I'm really glad I backed up all my favourite tracks to my new 8GB Sansa e280 (which I seem to have forgotten to mention on this blog) or I would be even more mad right now.

A few Google searches suggests this is an issue with X-Fi cards ONLY on nVidia chipsets (due to PCI bus behaviour), which is of course not at all what I wanted to hear.

I'm going to try a reinstall to see if it fixes anything, and failing that I'm getting rid of it and switching to my onboard sound chip.

EDIT: Looks like the reinstall fixed something…I saw a whole bunch of registry entries get deleted and re-added while I was running the setup program.

YOU WIN THIS ROUND, CREATIVE! D:<

2 comments

2 Responses to “Sound Blister”

  1. AcidicEnema says:

    Plus Creative couldn’t even get any money on the local stock market when they first sought a listing because certain local interests *cough* LKY and the EDB*cough* thought that the company structure too closely resembled the patriachal “Chinese Business” SMCs (Small Medium Corporations), something that they did not encourage.

    Until, of course, Creative’s listing on NASDAQ did *very* well. Only then, did it get a listing on the SES Mainboard (so as to ‘give Singaporeans a chance to share in its growth’).

    So to add to what you said, not only is Creative not very “successful”, much of its success can’t be attributed to it having been “home-grown” either.

    • sonictempest says:

      Interesting…I didn’t know that.

      Although I do remember someone telling me a story of Sim Wong Hoo selling his sound cards on the streets of LA or something along those lines. For some reason the image of him walking around with a bunch of sound cards strapped to his belt makes me laugh.

      On a random note, it turned out the driver reinstall didn’t fix anything after all, so I’ve disabled the card in my system and will be selling it off as soon as I can get off my ass and open up my tower.

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