A tad on Creative Labs
Creative Labs has always been a pioneer and leader in the PC sound industry. The original Sound Blaster card boasted twice the number of FM synthesis voices over its closest rival, the now-defunct Ad-Lib Music Synthesizer, and introduced one novel little feature - the digital sound channel. With this, developers could put voices and digitized sound effects in their titles, and users could even record and playback their own sound samples (needless to say, FM synthesis has long gone the way of the dodo). Since then, Creative has been quick to innovate, introducing new standards and pushing the functionality of the Sound Blaster family.
History of the Sound Card, part II
The Sound Blaster Pro introduced better sounds and higher quality, and remained the low-end standard for compatibility for some time. The card itself however, was quickly replaced by the Sound Blaster 16, which introduced the ability to record and playback 16-bit samples, matching (theoretically at least) the quality of sound achieved by the audio CD-ROM. Creative was quick to flood the market with multiple versions of the Sound Blaster 16, from IDE/Mitsumi CD-ROM connectors up to SCSI-2 (complete with Adaptec chipset), versions with the dubious "Advanced Signal Processing" chip, the SB16 Value, and any permutation thereof. Then came the original Waveblaster wavetable daughtercard, eventually integrated into their next generation of sound card, the AWE-32 and the Sound Blaster 32, which allowed users to add up to 28MB of additional RAM via 30 pin SIMMs. Then came the Awe64 and the 64 Gold, which added software wavetable synthesis.
The Awe64 remained as a standard system component for several years, but in reality offered little new in terms of PC audio. Creative then dipped its toes into the integrated OEM market with the Vibra16 chipset, and the PCI market with the Ensoniq AudioPCI and the Sound Blaster PCI128, both budget/interim solutions which paved the way for "the big one," the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live!. The SBLive is an audio powerhouse, designed to push the envelope in terms of sound fidelity and functionality. As a $200 upgrade, it's not cheap. But Creative was adamant about adding some of the highest-quality audiophile-centric features to the SBLive, and what they couldn't fit on the card itself they placed on the included Digital I/O add-on. The MPC-3 compliant feature list for the Sound Blaster Live! is as follows: