Audiophiles have a huge reason to rejoice today, as Creative has just announced their new flagship sound card. This time, however, the firm has come up with something special to celebrate 30 years of PC audio: the Sound Blaster AE-9. Priced at $349, this absolute monster of a card is made from top-tier components and comes with an external breakout box for easy connectivity.
Not content with just launching this juggernaut, Creative is also introducing the Sound Blaster AE-7 to replace the well-received Sound Blaster AE-5 from 2017. Our sister site MMORPG had previously reviewed the AE-5, noting the detailed sound quality and exceptional value. This new $229.99 mid-tier entry provides a bump in spec from the older card, but also inherits many of the features found in the new flagship.
The Sound Blaster AE-9 component list starts with a top-tier ESS 9038 DAC providing 129 dB DNR, and uses a mix of Nichicon fine-gold and WIMA film/foil audio capacitors. Interestingly, the op-amps are also swappable on the card itself.
But the real surprise of the AE-9 is the introduction of CleanLine technology that Creative claims will reduce microphone noise caused by power ripple in high-performance GPUs. When paired with the breakout box’s multi-function microphone input port that provides +48v phantom power and has a built-in amplifier, this could be a boon to streamers and YouTubers searching for cleaner audio in their setup.
By contrast, the Sound Blaster AE-7 uses an ESS 9018 DAC, which is still a step up from the 9016 used in Creative’s older AE-5.
Both the Sound Blaster AE-9 and AE-7 support 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound with Dolby Digital Live and DTS. They also use discrete push-pull headphone amplifiers to improve clarity and minimise crosstalk. Accompanying software has been streamlined, and a new Audio Control Module.
More information is available from Creative’s dedicated pages on both the flagship AE-9 and new AE-7, and can be preordered directly from Creative. The firm is also offering a 15% upgrade discount for fans on all new products launched between now and the end of the year.