Card Layout and Features
The Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 is a compact sound card similar to the AE-5. It features a metal cover to protect the audio components. Overall the design is very simple and designed for function over looks, though you will find large Sound Blaster logo in the middle for some added decoration and branding.
Filpping the card around you’ll find a bunch of graphics on the PCB and a bare section with the AE-7 logo. Similar to the audio separation channels on certain motherboards this allows LED lights to shine through the board and illuminate the logo and upper corner of the card.
Sadly this lights are not RGB LEDs which leaves this card pure in its ability to deliver smooth sounds without the popular fluff gamers have come to expect.
As with any sound card you have to make sure the right connections are made to ensure the best quality sound. I would be lying if I said hooking up an AE-7 (and AE-5 for that matter) is difficult. All of the connections are a marvelously gold plated and virtually identical aside from some embossed graphics next to each plug. The expansion card cover is chrome plated and unless the connection is in the correct light it is impossible to tell the front surround from the subwoofer from the microphone.
Well, impossible is a harsh word but, when you consider that hooking up your audio connections is often done while the PC is on the floor, out of direct lighting and often done by touch you’ll quickly understand the frustration.
To make things easy Creative has included an excellent product guide so be sure to consult the guide when configuring your system.
From the left the first two ports are primarily set aside for the audio control module and gaming headphones. The first is a microphone followed by headphones. If your gaming headset is three pole (headphone and microphone) you’ll be using the headphone jack exclusively.
The next three jacks are for desktop audio. First are for two channel audio and also front speakers, normally the Green plug. Next to that are the rear speakers, normally the black plug and finally the center and subwoofer connection normally orange.
The final connection is an optical output for AV receivers and other digital audio configurations.
AE-7 only supports 5.1 analog speakers making it perfect for the majority of all desktop PCs.
A great additional feature of the Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 is the inclusion of an Audio Control Module which acts as a remote connection for headphones and microphones with a dedicated headphone volume control.
The Audio Control Module features a built in microphone and options to connect devices either on 1/8” or 1/4” audio jacks. This module connects to the AE-7 using the top two plugs on the sound card and I was surprised to see that they came equipped with screw type plugs giving the impression that you can use the module with 1/4” adapters.
Maybe on the AE-9??