A sound card from Creative Labs. One of the first consumer-affordable cards to do environmental audio.

SBLive! is the peak of Sound Blaster evolution - and I must say that SB cards are finally nearing the HiFi level I expect them to be. (Previously, I bought an Aureal Vortex2 card that obviously sounded better than ISA SB16... unfair comparision.) I'm not sure if they're still enough for truly serious professionals, as SB series is something that the pros have frowned on for a while now. Anyway, ItWorksForMe™...

SBLive! series ranges from "gamer" cards to professional level (the Platinum cards). What's confusing about these cards is that they're sold under many, many different names - I'm not sure if there's that much difference in the cards themselves (aside of capabilities like Dolby 5.1 decoding and such that my particular card seems to do), but the amount of bundled software and peripherals are different. For example, the Player cards seem to come with games and such, and Platinum cards come with a really sweet-looking 5 1/4" drive bay panel unit with many connectors.

All of the cards are based on EMU10K1 chip that is capable of MIDI wavetable synthesis, has effects engine for real-time sound butchering and supports environmental audio via EAX.

Oh yeah, one thing should be mentioned. My SoundBlaster driver CD came with all sorts of unnecessary junk and more tools than I can count with my fingers and toes. More media players, more sound editors and more demos anyone ever can want or use. It was all simpler back in the days of SBPro when I only got two floppies of stuff...

I have been told that it also installs spyware - Something called "NewsUpd.exe".

2001-11-14 update: Well, SBLive! still sounds as sweet as it used to, but Creative Labs has, since the above stuff was written, released a new product line called Sound Blaster Audigy - and this is not the end of the road.