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on 22 October 2010
I have been using it for the last week, and I can say the sound quality is superb among all the other general purpose external usb audio solution and even the audio quality is better than some of the previous internal X-Fi cards. I'm using it on my notebook that is equipped with intel core i7 so in this set up I never face a slow in performance, I would say the usb X-Fi HD have to meet the min system requirements otherwise, it will use a lot of CPU cycles (at least dual-core CPU).
My impressions with usb X-Fi HD is the support of EAX up to 4.0 through OpenAL , I tried playing some games that support EAX such as PREY, I can select openAL in audio setting and it sound fantastic with enabling the Headphones surround using Sennheiser PC350.
The THX TruStudio effects are just an audio tweaking in software level, the two important effects for me are the Surround and the rest are just an equalizer effects nothing more.

What makes me disappointed on usb X-Fi HD is the adverting of superior headphone experience with of supports studio-quality headphones, in real test I would the headphones output is not a true headphone studio quality, it doesn't have capability of driving high Impedance headphones, I can easily recognize the difference between driving Sennheiser PC350 from dedicated Head-amp in Asus Xonar stx that pushes PC350 to full potential and usb X-Fi headphone output that just drive I would say not fully you need to set the volume more than 80% to get the maximum possible loudness, I'm not arguing on the audio quality but on the driving power due to poor usb based-power. Anyway, low Impedance headphones are supposed to work perfectly.

The usb X-Fi HD lack dolby digital live and dts as creative can include these and even many features (e.g. op-amp swapping) into usb X-Fi HD but creative didn't make all these features available they want to differentiate between their products.

In conclusion, I recommend usb X-Fi HD to both notebook users and desktop users either listening through headphones or hi-fi louder-speakers as it stands against some internal cards in terms of audio quality.

UPDATE:
As I mentioned above, regarding hooking low Impedance headphones, I tried Sennheiser HD595 and it sounds wonderfully great with more than sufficient loudness. Such pair of headphones are a perfect match with this USB card.
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on 18 September 2012
A small, tastefully designed, but most importantly brilliant product for the money. I'm using it for creating a decent audio output from my upstairs desktop (where it is powering some reasonable headphones) and my downstairs HTPC configuration with a separates HiFi amplifier (I move the box between the two). It eliminates extraneous noise from the two PCs and produces a fantastic sound for the money. This is a low end product (I have heard better in acoustically controlled environments) but for a home setup it is more than sufficient!
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on 2 August 2013
One of the easiest add-ons I've used. Had an old internal sound blaster card on previous machines, but now limited for internal space on the latest desktop. I have been putting up with the motherboard sound until now on some older speakers. Bought new speakers and this card. The speakers arrived first and showed some improvement with the motherboard card (but hey, garbage in, garbage out) - when this unit arrived the whole thing changed.

I've read some nit-picking reviews which say "not audiophile" (a claim by Creative) but which self-respecting Audiophile listens to audiophile quality music on a computer? - is a computer, however good, and audiophile device? I think not.

Sound output is great for both volume and quality - I have it driving some Creative T40's. The hookup is simple with the cables provided but you may need a speaker to speaker extension cable (the one provided is 1.3m long phono plugged version) depending on speaker positioning and cable routing. I have not yet used (but will be) the pre-amp input to download some vinyl tracks, so I can't yet comment on this feature, but judging by what I have seen (and heard) it should be more than adequate. Good value for the price Vs. performance. I would buy again
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2012
Bought this to try and get decent sound from a laptop plugged into a hi-fi amp, and also to get decent A/D conversion from vinyl and other analogue sources.

Pros:
- Analogue to digital conversion seems to work without any glitches or clicks - this is under 64-bit Windows 7 and true line-in. I didn't use the phono RIAA option. I also disabled my wireless network connection first.
- Nice discreet black box design
- Applications like Audacity and Windows Media Player can see 'Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi HD' as one of the output options, and it's possible to switch between the PC's native sound card/drivers and the Creative USB box.

Cons:
- Sound quality, both on A/D and D/A conversion is no way "hi fi". In a side-by-side test ripping a vinyl track to an uncompressed .wav file and playing back on a CD, my laptop sound card did a better job of digitizing the analogue signal from the turntable (using the phono stage in my hi-fi amp on the way). OK, I admit I'm a bit fussy with sound, but then Creative are marketing this as "audiophile".
- Line out is OK, but not stunningly high quality, certainly compared to my 1990s CD player in a side-by-side comparison of the same track played through the Sound Blaster and directly on the CD player.
- Line out is a bit quiet and I suspect it's not true "line out" (50 kilohms impedance), but the more computer-friendly "headphone/speaker" socket impedance.
- The Creative installation CD ran OK, but when I plugged in the actual USB device the PC churned away for a while before reporting "The device is unplugged". However, the gadget actually worked fine, so something odd is going on there, probably due to the fact that the Creative drivers get in the way of the standard Windows USB drivers installing themselves to run the device.
- When you look under "audio devices" in Control Panel, it reports that "Sound Blaster X-Fi HD" is "unavailable"... but again, it actually works OK. Very odd and a bit offputting.

- The black volume knob on the hardware seems to do very little; the volume control in the Creative software panel on the PC does control the volume... between 'inaudible' and 'fairly quiet' settings!

In summary, it's OK but not stunning, and Creative need to supply more information to prevent nervous PC users like me being put off by the warning messages thrown up by Windows. They could do to address the A/D and D/A quality issues and the strange output impedance if they're going to market this as "audiophile" quality. I'd say sound quality was fair-to-middling at best. I returned this to Amazon and purchased an alternative product to do the job.

Tested with: Arcam Alpha 7 amplifier, Mission 723 speakers, side-by-side comparison was with Marantz CD-52 CD player.
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on 14 May 2011
I bought one of these a while ago because, increasingly, I'm using my pc to play music. I already had an external Creative card and that was fine, but it wasn't exactly hi fi so I thought I would splash out, and give this posh one a try.

Although I had some trouble setting it up now I have it working it sounds amazing. I have it playing direct from an hd into a good amp and speakers. Previously I used a Naim cd player, and they are pretty good, but this sounds far better than that did.

Make sure you disable all the other sound devices on your pc, and if you are planning to use the phono you may need to reboot the device, also switch the phono off when you are done with it, because it can cause the device to crash next time you boot up.

Really great sound, fabulous timing and clarity, the best I have ever achieved.
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on 6 September 2012
I bought an X-Fi HD USB sound card as a replacement for my trusty Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 NX, which had finally stopped working after about seven years of intensive use.

I had high hopes for this product, based on the performance and reliability of my previous Creative sound card. However, despite the X-Fi HD's solid build quality, I soon discovered that its audio playback was disrupted by intermittent popping and crackling noises.

I installed the latest firmware and driver updates and spent several hours experimenting with various hardware settings in XP's Device Manager, Control Panel and DirectX Diagnostic Tool, none of which resolved the problem. Using different audio cables did not help.

More disappointment was in store. I specifically chose this model for its S/PDIF input so that I could use it with the digital audio optical outputs of my game consoles. I had read an article on Creative's website, "Connecting Game Consoles to Sound Blaster", which claimed that: "You can connect a game console (for example, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 or PlayStation 3), to a Sound Blaster card via Digital I/O Module, X-Fi Drive or X-Fi I/O Console (for Sound Blaster X-Fi cards)." It included instructions for setting up the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 2, but not the PlayStation 3.

This omission turned out to be rather significant, because Creative stated that if the card lacks an S/PDIF-In Decode option (as this one does), you need to disable Dolby Digital and DTS sound in the console's audio menu and only use Digital Stereo instead.

Doing so with the PS3 just leaves Linear PCM two-channel sound at 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz, but I found that this turned playing games or watching movies into a totally silent experience, since the X-Fi HD's S/PDIF input simply refused to work with nearly every title in my collection. (The only game soundtrack which the Creative card would recognise was an old demo version of Devil May Cry 4. Make sense of that, if you can.)

I was not expecting surround sound from this card, but I did assume that I would still get stereo through headphones, and indeed it does appear to convert Dolby Digital soundtracks in PC games (such as Battlefield 2) to two-channel stereo, but evidently cannot do the same with console games, due to its hardware limitations.

In summary, the audio quality of this expensive card is actually worse than my old PC's on-board sound and it is not PS3-compatible, despite the manufacturer's website implying otherwise. Creative has basically released a crippled product here and called it "an audiophile-grade sound system with premium connectivity". Maybe it is, in some parallel universe, but not this one. I returned it for a refund.
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on 24 August 2012
This was a gift for a brother of mine.

Here are our thoughts:
Quality is great, greatly improves sound of stock sound card, even just using regular jack-in headphones (in his case, ~80 pound gaming headphones)

At current price (50 pounds) and given our past inexperience with this kind of products, we got more out of it than we hoped. If you are looking for a product that is well-built and won't bleed your pocket give it a try.
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on 1 December 2014
The problem with Creative's sound cards is that they just stop working for no apparent reason. Your device manager will tell you that its driver is up-to-date so that's no help. Unfortunately there seems to be very little you can do about it. Using a restore point from a time when the driver DID work doesn't help either. And the problem can't easily be traced in any on-line forum. This problem with Creative has happened on two different modern built PCs. On my next PC I will make sure it won't have a Creative sound card.
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on 20 March 2013
I recently replaced my aging PC and discovered there was no provision for my speaker system. Well this little unit does the job abmirably. Now I am able to enjoy rich sound once again via a USB connection. Not cheap but worth the extra cost to get some HiFi sound.
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on 1 November 2012
I purchased the X-Fi HD USB sound card to improve the sound quality from my HP desktop. It arrived in perfect order and quick time as usual from Amazon. I fed it into a vintage technics amp (Aux IN using phonos) and on into a pair of bookshelf wharfdales. The sound was excellent alas the old amp gave up the ghost on one channel. I then aquired an old Hi Fi Op Amp and am delighted to say the X-Fi HD drives it perfectly. The sound is better than ever. I cannot recommend the X-Fi HD higher versitility and quality.
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