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Old 2008-04-09, 01:53   Link #1
wnmnkh
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Our old friend, Creative.

My history with computers is not as long as others'. No, not when people hailed 5.25inch 720kb floppy as the most advanced storage solution ever made.

I got my first computer in 1992. Yes, before that, I had already worked with XT (which struggled to display very basic graphics. I made very basic programs to make some nice lines and some numbers, then it froze all the time.) I also worked with 386 computers, which are way better than that ancient XT machines. But I got my own computer in 1992.

It was 486. Yes, it was very decent computer at that time. It had a gigantic 500mb hard drive(later upgraded to 1gb), Windows 3.1 (the most expensive and the most advanced Windows at that time), and it had whooping 32mb RAM! and even further, it had a CD DRIVE with a karaoke CD bundle and a nice microphone!!!!1!11!!!!1. Of course, it could display beautiful 256 colors unlike other inferior ones like b/w or 16 colors. it also had stereo speakers, which could play music! Man, it was such a great machine.

But, something was not just right. The sound from speakers was not that great. You know. It was not right. So I asked my father, and he pointed out that a sound card, which makes sounds, was the problem. So I demanded my father for better, and......


.....he bought Sound Blaster 16 for me.


The rest is history; for more than a decade, like other people, I only chose Creative ones over others. So SB 16, SB 64, SB Live, SB Audigy 2, and finally SB X-Fi.

You know, when I bought its first PCI sound cards, I should realized something had gone wrong with Creative. At first time, I just felt... something was not right at all, again, like when I heard sound from the original crappy sound card on my 486. Well, yeah. Something was not right. But, because my impression (like others) about Creative was so overwhelmingly positive that I could just get over with that and continued to buy Creative's products.

....now, I guess, it was a red flag.


---------------


You guys probably know the recent tragedy on Creative. If you don't know, let me tell you:

[1] They intendedly crippled their products to force people to buy new products.
[2] Absolutely terrible drivers on top of that (mostly Vista.)
[3] They threatened a person who was making workable drivers with possible lawsuit.

Most of people probably had not known until now, but [1] was already known to some core users for a while. Yes, even before the Vista driver problems, some people already knew that Creative intendedly lock features in newer drivers, forcing people to buy new products. You know what? for us Creative lovers, it was somewhat tolerable.... for a while.

Even before intended crippling problems, we also realized that folks in Creative were now unable to support our products properly like they did before for a long time. Well, it was.... I guess.... tolerable as well.

But as you see, the dissatisfaction of people got grew and grew. As Creative began to focus on gaming market, now we had some young gamers, who did not experience the greatness of 1990s computing age, and did not know how Creative was rocking at that time. And of course, they were very impatient (they are young, you know,) and easy to get angry when things were not solved well.

So it was like a volcano ready to erupt, for years. People were about to explode and begin the crusade against Creative to death if they can. Only thing that prevented the volcano from the fatal eruption was the deep trust from us original users, who have been using SB since late 1980~1990s. We trusted Creative. We thought--well--hoped that Creative will provide REAL service as they did during old days, and give us real stuffs to restore our dimming trust. For f***'s sake, we had known the company for more than 16~20 years. We had used Creative's great products even before many people here in this forum born. It was like a old friend, and you don't throw your old friend that easily.

But, after this, it erupted. If you go to the Creative forum and look for the people screaming around, you will discover that quite many of their first sound card was Sound Blaster 16 or original Sound Blaster (not SB live which is much more known to most of you guys), and they had used Creative's products for more than a decade (like me). Some of them are really serious; they posted their real names, names of their companies/organizations (sometimes including even phone numbers) and wrote in bold letters that they will not ever buy anything from Creative.

Congratulation, the people of Creative, you achieved the most difficult task ever can be done. You successfully managed to make your core customers, who were trying to help you out, who always recommended your products to their friends, family members and relatives, who always had hope and trust, who bought your products more than sixteen years ago (and continued to use yours), who refused to use onboard sound cards, who supported you in the beginning, to leave you -possibly- forever.

No one can describe how we are so upset, so disappointed and raged. It is just terrible. Just terrible. Terrible terrible terrible. Both in English and in my native language, I just cannot accurately explain how I am feeling now.

By the way, like 90% of posts were deleted by mods. So what you are seeing now is a just very tiny bit.

Will I ever buy their products again? Will I boycott their products until they go bankrupt? I don't know. But unless they confess what had been wrong, and promise us that it will not happen ever again, and show us real support, I don't think I'd pick up their products.
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:01   Link #2
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I stopped recommending Creative products years ago (though I was a bit fond of their reasonably priced MP3 players until Sandisk erupted with theirs).

The onboard audio are fine for most purposes on new motherboards (particularly ASUS) but for heavy-duty needs I'm currently recommending the new $90 ASUS card Xonar DX.

If you're actually going to do some reasonably serious recording, look at the Turtle Beach line of cards -- and of course professional needs have their own hardware solutions
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:05   Link #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
I stopped recommending Creative products years ago (though I was a bit fond of their reasonably priced MP3 players until Sandisk erupted with theirs).

The onboard audio are fine for most purposes on new motherboards (particularly ASUS) but for heavy-duty needs I'm currently recommending the new $90 ASUS card Xonar DX.
Is that so? My creative speakers works perfectly fine for me even though it's only a 2:1 surround. I can't say anything for their other products though.

Since we're on the topic of own computers. This one here i've only had for about 1-2 years and it's would be the first i've bought myself. (I need to upgrade soon so I can work on large res images in Photoshop)
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:10   Link #4
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I hate to say it, but Creative isn't the only company that cripples some of their products with drivers. ATI and I believe nVidia have done this as well, although it was a bit more advanced than just choosing which driver to use (firmware-based).

For most of us it doesn't matter, anyway. If you're recording or using a really high-end sound system then it may be worth it to invest in a sound card, but these days on-board sound works well enough and is only getting better.

roflcopter @ Vexx, I just read about that card on Slashdot...
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:11   Link #5
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Weird, I never heard about anything like this. But then again, I'm pretty clueless when it comes to the technical stuff. As far as I know, my laptop works fine, and I'd like to keep it that way. I'm not going to worry about advanced stuff like soundcards and the like. It's all over my head.
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:18   Link #6
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Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I hate to say it, but Creative isn't the only company that cripples some of their products with drivers. ATI and I believe nVidia have done this as well, although it was a bit more advanced than just choosing which driver to use (firmware-based).
$%$^!!!

I updated the drivers for my nVidia video card last month and several features stopped working so I grabbed the disk that came with my card and restored the old drivers. I had no idea that companies actually make new drivers suck on purpose.

This is one of the scummiest things I have ever heard. I was willing to accept ineptitude as a reason that the latest drivers might not work as well as a previous version, but this is much worse than mere stupidity.
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:33   Link #7
wnmnkh
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ledgem View Post
I hate to say it, but Creative isn't the only company that cripples some of their products with drivers. ATI and I believe nVidia have done this as well, although it was a bit more advanced than just choosing which driver to use (firmware-based).

For most of us it doesn't matter, anyway. If you're recording or using a really high-end sound system then it may be worth it to invest in a sound card, but these days on-board sound works well enough and is only getting better.

roflcopter @ Vexx, I just read about that card on Slashdot...
Oh, of course there are many companies, which are even more sinister than Creative (like CyberLink, for instance.)

If you have high-end system or recording, you don't use expensive high-end sound card. You use external DACs and amps (which are even more expensive. Sometimes it is more expensive than a computer )

I started using external DAC/amp and audio equipments a long time ago. Rarely use sound card these days... Well, it is kinda pointless to use sound card instead of external ones.

Still, Creative was just special.
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:38   Link #8
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That's not all that surprising honestly. I'm sure at least a few gamers remember a few years back when Nvidia was found rigging their drivers to pull better numbers from 3dMark, then trumpeting those scores as real benchmark performance.

I gave up on Creative a long time ago. They've really been terrible about support for older products and their newer products really aren't all that hot. I agree with Vexx, spend the money and get a Turtle Beach card. If you really want a quality sound card, they're one of the best on the market.

It's kinda sad that some companies think lying to the customer is the best approach to gaining their trust (and with that, money).
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:41   Link #9
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The first Creative card I had was the AWE-64, in my PII. And it truly was an awesome card. absolutely incredible at the time. However, it was ISA, so as ISA was abandoned for PCI at the end of the 90s, I was left with nada.

I am fully aware Creative have -terrible- driver support. It's like pretty much as soon as they release a new product, they entirely stop supporting the previous one that it replaced. I much prefer other companies, such as Logitech, for their excellent ongoing driver support.

But on soundcards, there have been alternative options to Creative for a long time. Asus have been doing some good cards lately, there's a company (Aizen, iirc) using creative chipsets on their own boards, with their own drivers, and of course most motherboards have onboard AC97 these days, which is more than sufficient for most users.

I bought a Creative X-Fi last year. It was a significant upgrade over my onboard, however I have $600 speakers and $300 headphones, so it's a bit easier for me to hear the difference than for others. My main gripe with the onboard on this motherboard, though, is that the chipset is right next to the USB controller, so when I moved my USB mouse, I'd hear 'buzzing' in the audio as the mouse tracked; interference from the USB controller to the audio chipset. Totally gone since I got a soundcard.

I bought this card knowing that Creative are terrible with drivers and also pull other underhanded crap, but I'm confident it will last me a good few years anyway. I'm more than happy with the purchase, and I'd recommend people looking for lower-mid market sound still get them as they are still quite reasonable products. Just don't expect much future support and you'll be fine.
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:42   Link #10
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Oh, btw, NSW. It is more like driver error. They are not really removing features or options. Those are usually bugs. For instance, in my laptop, undervolting works on driver version 158.45. Not works on 167.58, and works again on 174.74. The funny thing is that everyone's experience is all different (even with same model with same OS), so there is no real reference for 'best/working driver'
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Old 2008-04-09, 02:58   Link #11
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I motion that this be moved to technology discussion btw.

I cannot really recommend Creatives at this very moment myself. Perhaps 3rd party implementation of Creative chipset, such as the now deemed holy grail Auzentech Prelude if you absolutely do gaming, don't mind the use of Alchemy on Vista and so forth...

Like Ichihara Asako, I am fortunate enough to have a set of speakers that are in 500ish price range to sort of justify getting an X-fi in the first place.
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Old 2008-04-09, 03:01   Link #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wnmnkh View Post
Oh, btw, NSW. It is more like driver error. They are not really removing features or options. Those are usually bugs. For instance, in my laptop, undervolting works on driver version 158.45. Not works on 167.58, and works again on 174.74. The funny thing is that everyone's experience is all different (even with same model with same OS), so there is no real reference for 'best/working driver'
Oh? That might be the case here, but it's not uncommon.

Think of it from the company's perspective: You want to develop a series of products with a tiered pricing scheme and feature structure. It's a lot cheaper to simply develop one piece of hardware (the most feature-rich one), and then install driver (software) based lockouts for the additional features for those people who purchase the cheaper versions.
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Old 2008-04-09, 09:06   Link #13
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Creative has been doing pretty scummy things for a good while now. Around the time their PCI solutions came out, it was clear that they were dropping the ball in some places. Their "Live!" card was really a great piece of hardware for the time... except that the DSP on it ONLY processed 48kHz. Sounds wonderful if you're only listening to DVDs, but people with good ears and decent speakers who listened to most anything else were definitely not happy campers. On the low end, Creative acquired Ensoniq and sold their AudioPCI card, which was excellent for a budget card, and really suited most people that only needed stereo output and could handle software MIDI... and had a high-end processor to handle all of the audio work, since it was entirely software driven (but at least it didn't have to resample everything to 48kHz).

And then came the false advertising. The moment I was completely through with Creative was when their Audigy line hit. It looked amazing at first... native ASIO support, firewire, all those glorious inputs... and they advertised it as capable of 24 bit, 96kHz audio. 24 bit, 96kHz was AMAZING for a card at that price... but it was an outright lie. Their DACs did indeed handle that, but its DMA engine and DSP both processed only at the same fixed 16 bit, 48kHz as their previous product. Later they upgraded their DMA engine on the card to support their claims, but the DSP stayed the same!

Creative did settle a class action lawsuit due to their false advertising with the Audigy. People who'd purchased one of the products got... 35% off of another Creative product, capped at $65. Essentially, Creative got off with what didn't even amount to a slap on the wrist.

As far as I'm concerned, this garbage is just more of the same from Creative.

There are BETTER ALTERNATIVES out there, anyway:

- If you're a gamer, the ASUS card Xonar DX is the card to buy right now.
- If home theater is your primary concern, take a look at Turtle Beach.
- If you do recording, M-Audio is what you should be looking at, although for the recording portion itself you'd probably be better served with some of their Firewire interfaces (or USB if you're desperate and not worried about interrupts and CPU usage). That'll get you up to the level you'd need a MotU or an RME product, at which point you really should be examining hard disk multi-track recorders if you aren't in need of real-time processing.
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Old 2008-04-09, 09:10   Link #14
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The Xonar and... actually, the Razor Barracuda sound card have been reported as very interesting choices due to what goes in them. The only card apparently that Creative has up its sleeve from its 'general consumer' lineup would be the Elite Pro or the Audigy 4 Pro when it comes to sound reproduction department as I can remember. It has been a while since I last looked into the subject matter.
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Old 2008-04-09, 09:42   Link #15
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I've been avoiding Creative for years now.
3 soundcards broke in a row just weeks after warranty was expired.
SB 128 PCI 12 months and 3 weeks, no warranty
SB Live! PCI 13 months and a week, no warranty
SB Live! 5.1 PCI 13 months, no warranty

Had a Creative 3D Blaster years back and after 4 warranty exchanges I changed the manufacturer.

Now I have a 7 year old Hercules sound card and absolutely zero problems with it.
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Old 2008-04-09, 10:22   Link #16
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What I'd really like to find is something with multiple optical inputs so I could route my various devices (DVD, set-top box, TV, etc.) though the computer and switch among them. My aging A/V receiver has only one optical and one coaxial digital input, and they're both in use. I've seen a couple of standalone switchbox devices that do this, but they're expensive and require you to use yet another remote (I already have half-a-dozen*) or cross the room each time you want to change inputs.

I looked at the Turtle Beach Montego on Kyuusai's recommendation. While it appears to be a nice card and is reported to work well with Linux (a requirement in my case), It has only one SP/DIF input. Worse, it doesn't pass through the digital signal to the SP/DIF output. Someone reported in the NewEgg reviews that you need to have two applications running, one to record the audio off the input, and a second to play the recorded stream. Seems a bit ridiculous to me.

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Old 2008-04-09, 10:58   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
What I'd really like to find is something with multiple optical inputs so I could route my various devices (DVD, set-top box, TV, etc.) though the computer and switch among them. My aging A/V receiver has only one optical and one coaxial digital input, and they're both in use. I've seen a couple of standalone switchbox devices that do this, but they're expensive and require you to use yet another remote (I already have half-a-dozen*) or cross the room each time you want to change inputs.

I looked at the Turtle Beach Montego on Kyuusai's recommendation. While it appears to be a nice card and is reported to work well with Linux (a requirement in my case), It has only one SP/DIF input. Worse, it doesn't pass through the digital signal to the SP/DIF output. Someone reported in the NewEgg reviews that you need to have two applications running, one to record the audio off the input, and a second to play the recorded stream. Seems a bit ridiculous to me.
Sadly, I don't know of any good solution for doing simple input pass-through from one optical digital input to digital output. There are ways, but the only ones I know of involve jumping through hoops. As well, by the time you see more than two TOSLINK adapters on a sound card, they're probably for ADAT instead of S/PDIF.

If you just want to do inexpensive switching... there's always the "poor man's home theater" solution of using cheap optical to coax S/PDIF converters and an RCA switch.
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Old 2008-04-09, 13:48   Link #18
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Originally Posted by Solace View Post
That's not all that surprising honestly. I'm sure at least a few gamers remember a few years back when Nvidia was found rigging their drivers to pull better numbers from 3dMark, then trumpeting those scores as real benchmark performance.
I remember reading a lot about a similar issue with the Crysis benchmarking. It was basically discovered that nVidia's performance was largely due to having added specialized support for Crysis in its drivers, as opposed to being due to raw performance from the card itself. Some people were very angry about it, while others felt that there was nothing wrong with it. I'm not opposed to the idea of adding specialized driver support for certain applications, but when it comes down to raw benchmarks (like 3dMark) it seems like a pretty low move. Customers rely on benchmarks to be an objective scoring system for card performance. Inflating your numbers is a dirty tactic.


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Originally Posted by NoSanninWa View Post
$%$^!!!

I updated the drivers for my nVidia video card last month and several features stopped working so I grabbed the disk that came with my card and restored the old drivers. I had no idea that companies actually make new drivers suck on purpose.
As wmnnkh mentioned, that's probably due to the driver breaking features rather than taking them away. It'd be an incredibly stupid move on nVidia's part to remove features that consumers already had and knew about.

The specific example I'm thinking of was with some ATI cards, forgot which. If you soldered a single connection on the board, the entire card was recognized as and performed like the higher-end version. In some ways it's frustrating to realize that what you have is capable of more and has been intentionally made worse, but at the same time manufacturing everything the same way and making a slight modification in performance to sell the card as different product lines probably keeps costs lower.

Granted, that's different from what Creative was doing.


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I motion that this be moved to technology discussion btw.
I motion that we have a technology discussion forum created, 'cuz as of now all we have are various tech support forums
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Old 2008-04-09, 14:50   Link #19
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Creative WAS good! That brings some good old memory. My first computer was 486SX25 with 4MB RAM and 120MB HDD. And I bought an used cheapo 8bit no name sound card and I thought it was great until I saved enough money to get an Creative SB16 (ISA, didn't even had PCI back then). I loved it so much. It sounded good and rocked my life for many years until I bought a new computer without ISA slot anymore.
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Old 2008-04-09, 14:55   Link #20
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The specific example I'm thinking of was with some ATI cards, forgot which. If you soldered a single connection on the board, the entire card was recognized as and performed like the higher-end version. In some ways it's frustrating to realize that what you have is capable of more and has been intentionally made worse, but at the same time manufacturing everything the same way and making a slight modification in performance to sell the card as different product lines probably keeps costs lower.
Oh. Well the PC market has been doing that forever with CPUs and whatnot. Hardly news. Often many bargain products are just crippled versions of the higher end product. I'm relieved that nVidia doesn't actually make their stuff break on purpose.
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