Sound Blaster Live! Platinum - Page 5

Get Connected!
Sound Blaster Live! Platinum comes with a special front panel drive bay, Live!Drive, that  provides easy connectivity to a variety of analog and digital devices to suit your needs.

The new "Live Drive" that comes with the card, is a modular control/connection unit that mounts in a 5 and 1/4" bay. Screws are even provided to attach the drive onto your PC. This unit provides the convenience and connectivity that heralds a new era in audio solutions. I guess it’s really more worthwhile to spend S$349 now on a Platinum where you get an additional front-mounted drive compared to just a Digital I/O card 12 months ago.

The front panel of the Live! Drive

Live!Drive – Painless connections brought to the front
I would like to focus more on the innovative Live! Drive, which is the distinguishing component in the Platinum, compared to previous Live! cards that are pretty similar notwithstanding the software bundle and Live! Ware 3.0. Furthermore, with EAX being such a widespread technology in the past year or so, I’d be skipping its mention.

A look at the Live!Drive connectors will at once help you understand how powerful and easily the Platinum can adapt to your connectivity needs.

Coaxial SPDIF In
This particular connector assist you by allowing you to transfer audio signals from another digital device like DATs, CD players or ADCs (Analog to Digital Converter).

Coaxial SPDIF Out
As the term implies, this connector works the opposite of SPDIF In, allowing you to transfer your own songs, MP3s or any other audio source to a digital device for recording, listening or just for editing.

Also, this connector can be used as a Dolby Digital PassThru (AC-3) that is connectible to a Commercial DD5.1 A/ V Amplifier. This is a great feature especially for those SoftDVD enthusiasts, however a DVD-ROM Drive is still needed.

MIDI In & Out
These sockets allow you to connect your favourite musical instruments (MIDI based) to interact with the computer’s software or hardware. Applications like computer music, music education software or simply having fun with music.

2nd Line/ Mic In
With this additional Line In/Mic In, you can plug in a second device like a electric guitar or a MiniDisc Player or a Second Mic for Karaoke.

Headphone Out
This connector is a result of repeated requests from users who need their own privacy whilst enjoying their music or gaming.

One may think that the Live!Drive is vacant internally and simply consists of an aesthetic casing with connectors to the 40 pin cable attached to the SBLive! card itself. However, look again!

The Live! Drive's internals
From the rear - the Live! Drive

Internally, the Live!Drive has several connectors, providing the possibilities of even more expansion. Besides the connector to the SBLive! card, there is also a Digital I/O Connector, a connector to an external Digital DIN bracket (that is bundled with the package), another connector for external audio output.

Digital DIN bracket
Left of Live! Drive - Connectors
Right of Live! Drive - More connectors!

In a nutshell, musicians will appreciate the coaxial SPDIF In/Out and MIDI In/Out for connectivity to their recording and musical equipment. Gamers can also use the headphone jack for a session of late night gaming and the Mic/Line-In jack provides easy access to a microphone or a device like a FM receiver. The internal connectors also promise to offer great flexibility in supporting more external components.

The card, Live! Drive and all hooked up together

To further test its efficiency, I hooked up my Cambridge SoundWorks FPS2000 to the Platinum. With the Digital DIN via the DIN bracket that comes with the Platinum, it is sheer joy to achieve true “Digital Sound” through the FPS2000. Note that this isn’t achieved via generic USB Digital, but through Creative’s proprietary port. In addition, it was noticeable how the digital DIN lowered the amount of hiss from the satellites at a higher volume compared with using its former analog outputs. I can testify that this offers a definite improvement in clarity.

On the other hand, Creative should have included the Optical I/O feature on the drive, it would be so much more convenient for me to connect transfer MP3 songs into my MiniDisc digitally. But if you do not possess such a need, then I guess missing the Optical I/O would be acceptable. Apparently, Optical I/Os are included in LiveDrive2, which is only available as part of the Platinum bundle in the UK. 

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