SBLive! vs. Monster Sound MX300
The sound card has always been a necessity in today's multimedia-capable PC's. Looking back on PC history, it's difficult to even imagine feeling immersed in a game without realistic sound and music. However, the evolution of the sound card has been a strange beast. From the beginnings of FM Synthesis to the introduction of Wavetable MIDI to the virtual death of MIDI for PC games, not much has drastically changed. Then came DVD and 3D gaming. All of a sudden, there was a need for more than just "more voices" and "higher quality sound." Suddenly we were all clamoring for 3D positional audio, real-time environmental effects, and more. Sound card and chipset manufacturers were more than happy to oblige.
A transient market sprang up for add-on 3D-spatializer devices, small boxes that enhanced the 3D imaging on sounds from your sound card. Eventually, the technology was integrated into the sound card itself, and products such as the Aureal Vortex chip and the Creative Labs PCI128 were introduced. These were only the beginning, as each company had an ace up its sleeve, biding its time. For Creative, it was the Sound Blaster Live!, an audio powerhouse designed to support just about every option under the sun. For Diamond, it was Aureal's next-generation Vortex chip, designed with a completely new mode of thinking - modeling 3D sound around the actual in-game environment. These two giants are now poised to do battle, each pushing for their product to dominate the market, setting the new standard for sound. Which is better? Let's take a look!