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Manufacturer: Creative
Min OS X: Not Supported

Sound Blaster Live!
April 30, 2001 | Jason Sims

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Please Note
The following review was written when the Mac Sound Blaster originally shipped back in April 2001. At that time, I worked closely with several of Creative's Mac developers over a two week period, and was assured repeatedly that they had been able to duplicate the serious problems I had identified while reviewing the product, and were working hard to fix them. But over seven months have gone by since then, and there hasn't even been a minor bug fix, let alone the critically-needed driver update.

This product does not work at all in Mac OS X and is extremely disappointing in Mac OS 9.x. Don't buy one.

That said, you can still read my original review, though I warn you it will make you sad to see that all the potential this product had has apparently gone down the drain.

Computer gaming has been revolutionized on every front in recent years. Multiplayer gaming, traditionally restricted to small networks, has gone large: millions of people are now playing games over the Internet. Graphics have leapt into rich, 3D worlds, driven by increasingly-powerful video cards. Dozens of new, innovative controllers appear on the market every year. And, with the debut of sound cards supporting surround sound, audio has gone 3D too. Creative's Sound Blaster Live! is the first and only sound card to offer 3D surround to Mac gamers, and the possibilities are promising indeed.

The arrival of the Sound Blaster Live! to the Mac platform is a significant event for Mac users--particularly for gamers. It supports EAX--the most popular 3D audio technology used in games today--as well as OpenAL, the forthcoming open standard for enhanced audio. These technologies improve on audio in the same way that the hardware acceleration provided by 3D graphics cards has improved over software-based 3D rendering.

The Sound Blaster Live! card is not just for gaming, of course, but since that's what we do here at IMG, that will be the main focus of my review. It's also not the only sound card available for the Mac, but it is not really comparable to any of the others, because it is aimed at consumers, not audio professionals, and it is the only card that supports EAX and OpenAL. That said, the card does support several features aimed at creating music, such as its SoundFont sampling technology and MIDI support. Since these features are a large part of the value of the card, they will be discussed briefly as well.


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