The sound card itself is quite small, as compared to other high-end sound cards from other manufacturers. It’s hidden away by a metal cover, which has a plastic covering that exposes only the main audio processor. There’s also a red light illuminating the chip. All of this is surely attractive to the LAN gamer who would typically take his PC to many LAN parties. For the rest, it’s just a gimmick, which will never be seen.
Two dials - for the microphone and headphone volume control
The audio dock, itself is much more solid - it’s made of solid metal, but the front panel is plastic, as are the two volume dials. They can be pushed into the dock, making for a nice party piece, but we would like more class and may be some nice metal dials, instead of the collapsible feature. One of the dials is for the headphone volume and the other for microphone volume. The dials control the Windows volume controls and we found close to no delay.
The card was tested primarily on a high-end headphone, the Sennheiser HD650, which is considered by many to be one of the best headphones around. Of course, it’s recommended that a headphone amplifier be used while using these headphones and they should work fine on the SB Recon3D Fatal1ty. We tried all kinds of media - everything from FLACs to MP3s on the sound card. We used foobar2000 as our audio player, setting it up on 24-bit with 96kHz audio tracks. We also used the WASAPI output to try and keep quality as high as possible.
Connectors at the rear of the dock to connect to the sound card
Audio quality is good overall, although audiophiles will find it lacking as far as richness of the sound is concerned. The sound is treated to be sharp, shrill and bassy - and that’s what gamers are looking at. There’s none of the warmth that you find in tube amplifiers or even modern, solid state amplifiers. There is detail and there’s no denying it, but it’s the tone of the output that might not be the ultimate when it comes to movies. For gaming, of course, the effects come in handy and help in direction detection. As for the driving of the HD650 headphones, it’s satisfactory and it’s way better than most of the integrated solutions and also the cheaper sub-10k rupee sound cards.
A slightly expensive package
The Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty is clearly a gamers sound card. It’s fast, it’s fun to listen to and the effects only help enhance audio as far as surround sound movies and games are concerned. It is pricey no doubt, selling at a maximum price of Rs.14,999. Of course, you’re paying the premium for the front PC bay and the microphone. If you don’t want those, then there are the cheaper Fatal1ty Professional and simple PCIe models that offer most of the features, albeit at a much lower price.
Updated 20 May, 2013, 8:22 pm IST
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