Thanks for the reply eecon. It's the line level processing that I'm interested in (mic levels are much lower - a stereo mic won't emulate what I'm trying to evaluate). I'm talking about basically taking a stereo ouput off your home stereo system (before the amp) or a signal from a portable mp3 player (ipod, iaudio, etc....) and processing that through the X-fi express card. What "options" show up in the recording mixer when you use the X-fi card? (the crippled soundmax only shows mic, the uncrippled soundmax showed CD player, line-in, mic, wave out)
The recording input selection panel with the X-fi shows What-U-hear, Line-in, mic, and S/PDIF-In.
Also note that I am using WinXP and not Vista. I have heard rumors that the current X-fi drivers do not properly support Vista yet, but I can not confirm that, nor have I bothered to investigate further. The Creative website for this product lists Vista as a supported operating system so they may have fixed that issue:
http://us.creative.com/products/product ... 6642&nav=3
As for match_point's question about the X-fi's Line-in recording capabilities, I routed the line-out from a Sony CD Walkman into the X-fi's Line-in and selected Line-in as the recording source. I was able to make a perfect duplicate of the music playing (as a .wav file) and was also able to listen to the music as it was being recorded (when I selected the "monitor" option from the X-fi's software mixer panel).
Note, there is no stereo-mix available even with the X-fi so I can't mix .... just record from any source (internet, what-u-hear, stereo line-in, mono-mic, and S/PDIF-In).
Hope that helps clarifiy things for everyone out there.
My optional X-fi Surround Sound adapter accessory is due for delivery tomorrow. This will allow me to hook up my creative 5.1 speaker system for true surround sound. Right now, I'm only using a pair of small desktop speakers from the X-fi's line-out. I have not bothered to try routing the X-fi sound directly to the laptop speakers because when I travel I won't need the ability to record. However, the X-fi software offers this as an option for those so inclined. As for me, I'll simply re-enable the onboard SoundMax and leave the removeable X-fi at home right next to my Lenovo Advanced Mini-Dock (where the T61 spends 95% of it's time as my desktop replacement with a Lenovo Enhanced External KB, Mouse, and External 22" WS 1680x1050 monitor plus a bunch of external USB HDs).
With the X-fi's enhanced sound quality, special audio effects, and recording capabilities (even w/o stereo-mix), my T61 is just about perfect now and I'm finally satisfied