View Full Version : Review of the Extigy external sound card for AC-3 decoding

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10-30-2005, 10:31 AM
Every since I purchased my pansat 2700 i have been looking for an inexpensive method to decode the ac-3 sound that the pansat passes via SPDIF. Well, I am happy to say that i have found a way to decode ac-3 that didn't cost a lot and doesn't require me to replace my older pro logic audio reciever.

I picked up a Creative Labs Extigy External USB sound card, you can find these on that auction site for an average price of around $50.00. While these are designed to be hooked up via USB to a computer, they work very well as a stand alone ac-3 decoder (no computer hookup required).

The Extigy package (new) consists of: The Extigy itself, remote control, power adaptor, USB cable and driver disks. The unit I bought (for $25 with shipping) did not have the remote control or power adaptor, but a quick trip to rat shack got me a power adaptor, and i have way too many remotes anyways ;)

First impressions? This is one cool little unit. Lots of connectivity options are offered. Hooking it up to your existing home theater system is a breaze. For those that dont have a home theatre system, with this unit and a good set of self amplified speakers you can enjoy a quality home theater audio experience from your FTA system without the need to spend a small fortune on audio components.

Physical dimensions are 8" x 8" x 1.5", which is a nice small footprint. The Extigy can be laid flat or stood on its side, which makes it easy to fit into a crowded entertainment center.

On the back panel there are the following connections:

DC 12 volt input (power supply)

SPDIF coax input

MIDI input and output

Mini jack connections for front, rear and subwoofer outputs. These are non amplified outputs, perfect for use with self amplified speakers or to used for connecting the Extigy to a home audio system. You will need mini jack to RCA connectors to hook this to an audio reciever, or you can use the optical output of the Extigy to connect to an optical input on your audio reciever.

USB connection

On the front panel you find the following:

1 digital optical input

1 digital optical output

line in (mini jack)

Mic in (mini jack)

Headphone output (mini jack)

Mic volume control

Master volume control

Power and CMSS switches (CMSS simulates surround sound on non-surround audio)

Power, Dolby 5.1 digital signal and CMSS LED indicators

Hooking the unit up is simple. Connect your FTA reciever to the Extigy via the SPDIF input on the rear of the Extigy, or you can use the optical input on the front. To connect to your audio reciever or self amplified speakers you can use either the speaker connections on the back, the headphone jack on the front, or the optical connection.

I forgot to pick up a mini jack to rca cable, so currently i have mine hooked up to a set of inexpensive 40 watt self amplified altec lansing computer speakers with a subwoofer (~$40 at your local big box store). Right now i am listening to The Tube and I am suprised at the sound quality, while not on a par with my home theatre system it is still impressive for such inexpensive components.

I grabbed a mini jack to rca cable and hooked the Extigy to my home theater system (yamaha pro logic reciever with infinity/ bose speakers), and I am extremely pleased with the sound quality. I notice no distortion and no "noise" being passed thru the Extigy, it is a very clean sound source for both the ac-3 and normal audio (pcm) that is passed via SPDIF from the pansat.

One thing I have noticed is that while i can control audio volume on the normal audio that passes thru the SPDIF connector with my Pansat, the AC-3 audio comes thru at a flat level and has to be adjusted via the Extigy or your audio reciever.

All in all i am very impressed with the Extigy and would highly recommend it.

One caveat, to really use the full potential of the Extigy you have to have it hooked up to a computer, but for 99% of us we do not need these added features. Also i feel the remote would be a nice thing to have, tho without having one i dont know what features i am not able to access.

Thanks to fellow poster Stefan for letting us know these units work as stand alone ac-3 decoders.
http://www.satelliteguys.us/showpost.php?p=561829&postcount=3 (http://www.satelliteguys.us/showpost.php?p=561829&postcount=3)

Bob Rock
10-30-2005, 10:44 AM
ALL I CAN SAY CREATIVE very creative of you to find this sloution :)

10-30-2005, 08:35 PM
Thanks to fellow poster Stefan for letting us know these units work as stand alone ac-3 decoders.

Thanks but I really can't take credit for this as I simply saw a post by someone else over at the satellite forum in the MPEG2/DVB section.

http://satforums.com/ (http://satforums.com/)

I know some around here think that the folks over there "aren't very friendly" but they do know thier stuff and in my experience they can be most helpful and friendly if you ask in the right way and respect the rules of their forum.

10-30-2005, 08:54 PM

Nice review. I have a remote that was for an Audigy soundcard that I no longer use. If it will work with your Extigy let me know and I'll send it to you. It is the Creative RM-1000 remote.

10-30-2005, 10:06 PM
Thanks Tracy, I will check with creatives tech suppport and see if that will work with the extigy. The offer is very much appreciated.

10-31-2005, 06:33 AM
You're welcome-just PM me if you want it.

02-10-2009, 03:29 PM
Alot of talk about the "AC-3" I wonder if this little device will work for SV 360 Premier?
Since there factory states:

Thank you for contacting us.

There are some Dolby audio streams that most FTA receivers won’t pick up. There are about 50 different Dolby streams.

In order to receive the stations that are broadcast only in Dolby, you must use the Fiber optical audio connections, and the Component (Y Pb Pr) video connections.
FTA Technician

SonicView USA

I use fiber and Y PB PR.

02-11-2009, 08:03 AM
Great Review!

I've been using one tied to a Neusat for about 8 months and it works fine. I could never get it to work with my Fortec MercuryII.

02-15-2009, 06:51 AM
Great Review!

I've been using one tied to a Neusat for about 8 months and it works fine. I could never get it to work with my Fortec MercuryII.

Same here. I have 2 Extigys, which I've used for 5 or 6 years with Fortec Lifetime and Ultra receivers, and they work great. However I had the same experience with the Fortec Mercury. Something is different about the SPDIF output of the Mercury. It just won't work with the Extigy, and also didn't work with another digital decoder I had. However the Mercury did work with Sonic Voom, and a cheap RCA stereo I bought, so the Extigy <--> Mercury problem is strange. Fortec claims that they don't do anything to the signal, but it is obviously different coming out of the Mercury than it is coming out of it's other receivers.

03-02-2009, 03:57 PM
Hi guys,

After reading this thread, I purchased an used Extigy to use with my Pansat 3500. Unfortunately the card seems defective. I would like to confirm that. So I have two questions to those who are successfully using it.
1. Did you have to set up anything on the card using a computer, or you just connected it to the receiver through digital and then to an amplifier? (Mine seems to only send signal through the headphone out jack, and none through the rear 3 surround jacks, and that's only when connected to a PC, not the FTA receiver. It does not work at all connected to the FTA receiver). I'm asking this also to eliminate the doubt that not having the original driver disc (and I can't find an image of it anywhere on the internet) has anything magical (that the currently published drivers on Creative's web site don't have) that may get it to work.
2. When you turn on the power on the card, does any light come out of the optical OUT (or IN) connectors - with the caps removed, of course? (No lights on mine, I would like to confirm that this means the digital connections are dead).
Thanks in advance.

Reigster at SatelliteGuys