For a review of SoundBlaster Live for Macintosh's game strengths and weaknesses, check out this informative article from InsideMacGames.
Although the review is primarily about gaming, there is also some information regarding the products' use for music making.
Our first take on this product:
SoundBlaster Live! for Mac
© '98 - 2001, MacRocks -- All Rights Reserved "Rock Different!" and the MR logo are trademarks of Function 7 Productions and may not be used in any form without written permission. All other Trademarks and Servicemarks contained within these pages are property of their respective holders.
Creative Labs blindly marches
forward into Macintosh arena
-- May lose confidence of a market they have hardly entered.
It was to ship at MWSF this year. It didn't. It's shipping now, but there seems to be many issues among many users. It was to be the flagship product for Mac from a company enjoying market dominance and brand recognition in the Wintel market -- they're blowing it. Most insulting of all is the MSRP is above that of it's PC counterpart's price last year as well as the tech support comes with a toll call that offers no support for Mac users.
What is it?
SoundBlaster Live! for Macintosh, the almost offering from Creative Labs, is promised to be the next level in Mac home entertainment multifunction cards. Undoubtedly it is having problems, but worse yet, it seems Creative doesn't have a fix on what is the market.
First, as far as consumer level (game playing) Mac users are concerned, a large portion are using iMacs. Someone might tell them that an iMac has no PCI slot. Also there are very few Mac games that have surround sound programmed in, so there may be very little attraction to the MacGamers out there in the long run.
For MacRockers the combination of MIDI and digital audio on a single PCI card for less than $200 is attractive for those wanting a step above the Mac's built in sound. This would streamline the user's system by doing away with either a USB-to-Serial converter or a USB MIDI interface.
Best we can tell, it seems to be a great idea for gaming and playing back DVD's with surround sound. But how important is the latter when you're watching a movie on less than 20" of monitor? It would seem that Creative Labs is merely going through the motions of developing products for the Mac without any sincere intentions of actually developing real Mac product.
Technically speaking and in all fairness to Creative Labs, there are issues inside the Mac OS that make things difficult for Creative's development team. This is relating to certain aspects of the OS that aren't aware of the possibility of moving audio functions to another processor (i.e.: from the G3/G4 to the SoundBlaster's processor). This is widely regarded as being an issue for Apple to deal with, but it also calls to question what Apple has to gain by addressing these issues. They will not sell more G4 machines by doing so. Besides, if Apple was this interested in expanding the "home entertainment" audio capabilities of their systems, wouldn't they engineer it into the computer themselves? Or at least license the technology to do so?
This brings us to another rumor in waiting. Perhaps, secretly, Apple and Creative are working together. Perhaps behind the scenes Apple has plans to do away with built-in audio I/O on PowerMacs as a standard feature in order to best deliver power at a reasonable cost. MacRocks.com feels like that would be an insane move, and we don't mean the "great" kind of insanity.
So, what's the answer. MR feels that Creative should hire Mac-saavy marketing and support personnel prior to making big plans for that market. They need to understand the Mac market is wholly unlike the one they've been leading in the PC arena. Apple needs to bend over backwards to assist Creative in making sure SoundBlaster Live! works with their computers or beef up the built in capabilities themselves to satisfy that niche. This could be accomplished by either licensing established, working technology or by (dare we suggest) actual engineering.
How will all of this end? No one can say for now. Our best advice at this time is forget it. Save your money. Wait.