The lower end of the “box” carries all sound Input and Output ports. The analogue connectors are designed as separate RCA-ports, and the digital connectors – as optical ports with protective plastic curtains.
Next to the USB port, there is a switch for major work modes: Only Digital and Digital/Analogue. In the first case the sound playback is performed via the optical connectors, while in the second case you can mix the use of digital and analogue connectors.
When the sound solution is first connected to the computer, Windows XP (just like Win2000) installs the standard drivers automatically, so that the device could work in the nominal mode. However, if you want to be able to access advanced features list, you should install Creative’s brand name software from the accompanying CD-disk. Creative’s technical support page contains updated drivers for this sound card, which can be installed only over the card’s own drivers. Note that the new driver version eliminates some problems with the USB interface (it went through the regular “bug fix” stage), that is why it really makes sense to update. When I worked on this article, I could only get the driver version dating back to May 13, 2003 (2.879MB).
The software package bundled with the Sound Blaster MP3+ product can be called “lite package”, especially compared with the software bundle of Creative Audigy 2. The CD-disk with Creative’s software includes:
- Drivers for Windows 98SE, ME, 2000 and XP;
- Creative’s brand name tool kit:
- Device Control;
- Speaker Settings;
- EAX Console;
- Graphic Equalizer;
- Surround Mixer;
- MiniDisc Center;
I will not dwell on those Control Panel pages, which are similar to Audigy2, because you can always check our Creative Audigy 2 Platinum Sound Card Review for more details. Let’s check out a few really new things now:
Speaker Settings page allows selecting either the headphones or the speaker system. Of course, the choices available cannot compare with what we saw by Audigy2, however, we shouldn’t forget that Sound Blaster MP3+ is a dual-channel sound card.
Another page of the Speaker Settings section is called Bass Boost. Here you can manipulate two sliders called Level and Cutoff Frequency. With these sliders you can increase the frequency parameters in the low frequency range, set the amplification level or the desired cutoff frequency. Note that the same page in the Audigy2 interface is called “Bass Management” and allows setting the sub-woofer volume and the crossover frequency.