Giants in the industry
When most of us think of high-end 3D gaming sound cards, two names come to mind: Creative and Aureal. The items Sound Blaster Live!
and Vortex 2
are ubiquitous in today's popular Gaming PCs from numerous OEMs including Dell, Alienware, Micron, or GamePC. With immense marketing budgets, the push for proprietary APIs, and brand-name recognition, one might be led to believe that it is impossible to challenge Creative and Aureal in their competitive high-end audio niche.
Rather than following the vertical integration of Creative and Aureal where both the 3D audio technology and actual silicon are designed at the same place, the Canyon3D is the creation from a partnership between two specialized companies. Sensaura from the technology division of EMI Music created complex signal processing HRTF algorithms for ESS to integrate it into a low-cost, high-volume chipset design to produce the Canyon3D.
Are ESS and Sensaura fledging companies? Far from it. ESS has 15 years of experience in the audio field. They were the staple OEM sound card for many years and earned design wins in Compaq's and HP's. Sensaura began as part of the Central Research Laboratories in London (CRL), which in turn was a research lab of EMI Music. CRL invented stereo recording.
The stage has been set for the Canyon3D's coup de'etat over Creative and Aureal's offerings. But will they, or rather can they top these two established powers in the gaming arena?