Now that the days of a fixed sample rate when using the ASIO drivers have gone, the X-Fi cards are potentially a great solution for neatly combining game and audio production features.
Once youâ€™ve switched to Audio Creation mode, individual channel strips are shown for the inputs and outputs (including multi-channel outs). MIDI strips are also shown and each of these channels has a 3D pan mixer setting. On all views other than MIDI, each channel allows one insert effect, chosen from a list of eight, which affects the whole of that channel and up to four auxiliary effects. The first two of these are limited to reverb and chorus while the second two are drawn from a similar but slightly extended list to that of the insert effects. Be sure to switch to this mode before loading your ASIO application as otherwise the software wonâ€™t detect the proper in and outs.
There is a considerable degree of flexibility in the mixer paths. For example, some effects can be sent only to rear speakers, or centre and sub. The built-in record is an excellent idea, particularly its ability to record surround audio as a multi-channel wav file.
Like the other modes, eye candy has been put above functionality with the result that the screen updates for the mixer can be very slow; the 3DMIDI view painfully so.
The Audio Creation mode is the most complex of the three modes and at least in the drivers I was testing on (1.00.31), the most immature, with a number of strange bugs, particularly when using the Elite Pro.
Pretty as the graphics may be, it would be more useful to have functionality such as meters on each channel strip and peak level indicators. For the life of me I couldnâ€™t get the Aux1 effect (fixed to reverb) to work with the Elite Pro though it was fine with the Xtreme Music), although the other effects worked well. Whilst some degree of control is available for most effects, this can be inadequate, the worst offender being the compression effect which merely lets you turn it on or off