Audiophiles and content creators seeking reference-level audio quality have a new option with Creative's SoundBlaster AE-9 sound card. At $350, this high-end external solution certainly comes with a premium price tag. However, for those serious about optimizing their audio setup, the AE-9 delivers professional-grade components and features.
Under the hood, the AE-9 features a flagship ESS Sabre DAC capable of high resolution 32-bit playback. Its separate left/right amplification is well-suited for discerning listeners using high-impedance headphones. A wealth of balanced I/O, both on the card and breakout box, provides connectivity for any desktop setup.
Simple installation allows the AE-9 to drive audio with authority. Early testing with high-fidelity source material shows immense sound fidelity across different media. Subtle details, expansive soundstaging and defined imaging are on full display. Gaming profiles like boosted bass or virtual surround further enhance different genres.
Content creation benefits greatly from the AE-9's pristine recording capabilities. Low noise floor and transparent reproduction can satisfy serious podcasters or musicians. Features like Scout Mode also boost spatial awareness for competitive gaming sessions.
While far from inexpensive, those prioritizing audio fidelity will appreciate the AE-9's reference-quality sound. Its pro-level components allow for productions rivaling much higher-priced studio equipment. Complex control methods take some adjustment. Yet for serious enthusiasts, the AE-9 raises the ceiling of what's possible from a desktop setup seeking ultimate audio excellence. This innovative solution from Creative delivers professional audio quality within a high-performance home environment.