By Al Giovetti
Creative Labs' Sound Blaster cards have been the standard for all other cards to measure up to in compatibility. Some other cards have delivered better sound but never with the compatibility of Sound Blaster. And when your sound card can cause lock up and programs to bomb, you had better get a compatible card. Up until this time their best product to date was the AWE 32-bit SoundBlaster card. There are over 20 million SoundBlaster cards installed.
Company LineThe Sound Blaster AWE 64 is the latest card in the AWE series. This Plug and Play card features 64-voice polyphony, even more amazing sound, and an exciting array of software!
From the highly acclaimed AWE series comes the Sound Blaster AWE64! The latest addition to the award winning Sound Blaster family offers the best combination of PC audio hardware and software for musicians, power gamers, multimedia enthusiasts and Internet wizards.
Experience realistic and expressive true instrument reproductions, as well as amazing digital effects with the renowned EMU8000 wave-table synthesizer and Creative WaveSynth/WaveGuide.
In addition, enjoy advanced audio technologies that include E-mu 3D Positional Audio, SoundFonts and an exciting array of INTERNETed audio software.
Product DescriptionThe AWE 64 can play in 64 voices at the same time, what creative calls 64-note polyphony, or the number of notes the card can play simulaneously. The E-mu 8000 synthesis engine that drives the card is basically the same as the one on the AWE 32 card. Creative uses a software based WaveSynth/WG synthesizer to get the other 32 voices.
InstallationThe board is recognized by Windows 95, which requests the installation CD and the whole process is gives painless operation in minutes without a reboot. The SoundBlaster configuration mangager (CTCM) loads into the autoexec.bat file, but must be manually copied over the Windows 95 DOSSTART.BAT for those who prefer using DOSSTART. I prefer AUTOEXEC bat for Windows DOS mode for a more efficient system. CTCM obtains the I/O settings and writes an environment string that can be read by DOS programs, without leaving a memory footprint that must be changed if lost.
DocumentationThe documentation is clear and well written.
BundlesCurrently the card is bundled with a Creative 16X CD ROM drive which makes installation of these devices a snap.
JournalistsDave said the card is good albeit expensive. The price just dropped $50 and you should be able to even pick up the gold version for $150 about now.
ReferencesDave Salvatore, Computer Gaming World, issue 154, May, 1997, pg. 116, 80%.
AWE 64 SoundBlaster Web Site>
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