While everyone is raving on and on about Creative's kick-ass SB Live! (See review) Sharky Extreme has decided to take a look at a somewhat overlooked PCI offering from Creative Labs - the PCI 128.
The PCI 128 is pretty much your standard PCI audio board, with support for DirectSound and DirectSound 3D as well as full multi-stream playback support under Windows9x (very nice if you for some reason want to play .mp3's while going at it in multiplayer Quake, provided of course that you have the CPU to power both).
If you're thinking to yourself right now that the SoundBlaster PCI 128 bears a striking resemblance to some of the PCI products that were offered this year by an audio card vendor named Ensoniq, you'd be right. Creative acquired Ensoniq earlier this year for both financial as well as technical reasons. Ensoniq had been one of the first audio card vendors to offer a full line of PCI-based products at a time when Creative was still stuck in the low-bandwidth world of ISA only.
The merger has worked out well, as Creative's software engineering team has taken the base Ensoniq products and their drivers, spit-shined em up, and added several features/benefits.