SoundBlaster for Macintosh

Not quite "late breaking news," but it appears that many are unaware that Creative Labs is about to release (Q2 2000) several SoundBlaster Live! audio boards for the Mac. Delivering exceptional synthesized, wavetable audio, 3D positional sound, and an ease to the load that sound output places upon the PowerPC, this is big news for any serious Mac gamer (who is not happily using the internal speaker in his/her Mac during Unreal Tournament deathmatches). One of the early summaries of this announcement can be found here, at MacCentral Online.

To get technical......the SoundBlaster Live! series of soundcards contains the EMU 10K1 synthesis engine, which has a max. of 512 programmable wave-table voices, and 48 MIDI audio channels. For MIDI playback and the like, either the somewhat small (but high quality) set of samples instruments in the board's ROM can be used, or larger (higher quality) samples can be loaded in off disk for playback--a user choice via control panel. Having used one of these boards in an Intel-based machine as a gamer, I am indeed anxious to see this level of audio quality arrive for the Mac, and to experience the increase in system performance gained by offloading the audio processing tasks from the PowerPC to the SoundBlaster.

I have heard, from more than once source, that Apple is going to offer these cards on the Apple Store as a preinstalled option when ordering a Mac system. This is great news, and makes sense as Apple would clearly like to be providing powerful audio hardware with the Mac, but is legally bound from doing so themselves. (Recall that the last synth chip Apple placed in a machine, the Ensoniq DOC in the Apple IIgs in the mid 80's, generated a lawsuit from...The Beatles...which prevented Apple from ever integrating a sound processor into a computer, as it was decided that this blurred the line between Apple Computer and Apple Records, the Beatles' record label. The Ensoniq DOC was the most powerful audio chip ever to come standard issue in a personal computer, at that point in time.)