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Creative Sound Blaster Z Sound Card

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Frederik S, Jan 23, 2013.

  1. james888

    james888

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    I upgraded from my onboard realtech 892 to an asus xonar dg for $10. I was super impressed by how much better everything sounded. I can't imagine these expensive sound cards to be that much better... are they? I think I would have to hear it to believe it.
     
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  2. RejZoR

    RejZoR

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    For stereo audio it doesn't matter. All you need is good raw audio performance (basically good DAC's and as little interference).

    Gaming however is a different thing. I used to have XONAR Essence STX which was by specs absolutelly fantastic soundcard. Music and movies were great, but 3D sound positioning in games was horrible. I couldn't tell in UT2004 where the enemies are, what was above me was on the same level as me or vice versa, couldn't hear rockets properly and it all sounded like a horrible mess. Same for CS:S. I was so pissed i bought the super expensive X-Fi Forte at that time and never looked back. It works so well i got accused of wallhacking several times and all i did was hear enemies making noises on the maps. And since X-Fi chip renders sound position so well on speakers or headphones you can precisely pinpoint enemies. And without any silly Scout modes.
     
  3. james888

    james888

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    I just can not imagine a sound card doing that. Keyword imagine.
     
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  4. RejZoR

    RejZoR

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    Trust me, it can. Enhanced HRTF algorithms used by Sound Blaster cards. The way how soundcard renders positional audio. The tech introduced with X-Fi chips was the Elevation filter and MacroFX which also takes into account height of the sound and distance from the head. Try listening something above you and the same sound below you (in real life). It sounds different. Same applies when sound is behind you. And MacroFX made massive difference for objects very close to the listener. Like rockets flying pat your head or cars overtaking you... And thats where Sound Blaster cards simply shine.

    I don't know how exactly they do it but they do it incredibly well. And i'm afraid of losing that with never cards because that would just plain suck. Only onboard that came close was the nForce MCP years ago. Realtek and ADI Soundmax was sort of ok but not the same by far.
     
  5. james888

    james888

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    On windows 7?
     
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  6. Ra97oR

    Ra97oR

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    I do that with my STAX and Essence ST without any "enhancement". Really depends on the headphone end for positioning.
     
  7. [H]@RD5TUFF

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    It seems a stand alone sound card still has some gain left in it. Any chance we could get a review of the ZxR?
     
  8. KingPing

    KingPing

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    This was what surprised me most when i first used my X-Fi Titanium, the positional audio was awesome, then switched to a Titanium HD and i was shocked, it is the best of both worlds, positional audio + awesome sound quality, i really love this sound card.

    I would like that daughter board on the ZxR to have 5.1 or 7.1 analog connections, it's the only reason i have a XONAR DX along the Titanium HD, once you get used to sound cards the onboard sounds like crap.
     
  9. SaltyFish

    SaltyFish

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    I agree with RejZoR that it'd be nice to get more detailed sound card reviews. I wish the review did a comparison of the Z-series with the older Recon3D sound cards. It would show how much (or how little) the new sound cards have progressed.

    The features are still a bit lean since the X-Fi days, but that's not entirely Creative's fault (they're still responsible for a lot; they killed Aureal, their last major competitor, and then didn't much to drive the PC audio market). The rest of the blame goes to Microsoft for dropping support for hardware audio acceleration in Vista (7 followed suit). That effectively finished off audio in PC gaming. I've read conflicting reports that Windows 8 is restoring it. Anyone know if this is true?

    For those interested in reading up more on PC audio, here's an informative link:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/593050/
     
  10. dogchainx

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    I bought a Sound Blaster Z (base model) off Amazon. I'm coming from a Titanium X-Fi that's had some driver issues and popping. I'll post back with my findings later this weekend.
     
  11. RejZoR

    RejZoR

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    Thats not true. WinVista and Win7 still have fully functional HW audio. It's just that no one seems to give a flying fart about it for reasons unknown.

    Few major problems:

    - EAX not being marketed and pushed anymore by Creative even though it's a fantastic technology
    - OpenAL was left to rot because of the above reason
    - soundcards are now going backwards, i mean some quasi quad core processor and all it does is process some stupid voices!? C'mon, every CPU can do that

    I really miss the days when nearly every game released had EAX. And those were the good days of crawling skin and shivers up our spines when we were listening to in-game sounds.
    Today, it's all based on some lame ass pathetic software engines that have nearly zero audio realism. With EAX you at least knew when you were in the freakin sewers and when you were in a cave or a carpeted room and all connected with excellent 3D sound positioning. Today they just add some pathetic filters that simulate that and they all sound like absolute crap. Whoever played System Shock 2 with initial EAX versions knows what i'm talking about. Or NFS3 from 1998. The EAX made driving through tunnels a real joy where you could listen to a howling engine noise. Or the incredible storm thunder. I still can' forget the experience of driving Lamborghini Diablo through Lost Canyon track at night and with rain. Constant rain and water sound under my wheels and an incredible thunder with lightnings. Experience that didn't happen ever again with newer NFS games even though they all had better graphics. Or the Half-Life 1. I was playing Black Mesa Source not long ago and even though graphics were buffed, it lacked the awesome sound experience that i had back in the 1999 with my Sound Blaster Live!. And for me, game with shitty sound is like a game played on lowest graphic settings for most of you.

    It's really sad how everything is going for fancy visuals but no one is giving a damn about the sound. Someone at Creative would need 2 hours of work to point out the difference in side by side comparison examples. And trust me, ppl would want that.
     
  12. FreedomEclipse

    FreedomEclipse ~Technological Technocrat~

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    Hmmm, is it worth replacing my STX with one of these I wonder.
     
  13. Frederik S Staff

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    Definitely not. The STX is equally capable although it is missing some of the gaming related features of the SBZ.

    Sound quality wise they are close but the headphone amplifier on the STX is better even though it has a high output impedance. Plus the STX has adjustable gain which is a very neat feature.
     
  14. RejZoR

    RejZoR

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    If you're a gamer, then anytime. I used to have STX and it was absolute crap for gaming. That GX2 or whatever it was was useless. Either it BSOD-ed the game or it was all messed up. And 3D sound positioning was very bad along with buggy ASUS drivers that were no frequent than Creative ones in terms of releases.

    Then again, you can take ZxG and you basically get best of both worlds, making it a better option. Only downside really is the price...

    Or maybe wait for Auzentech to release their Core3D based soundcard with high end components. Thats also one of the options.
     
  15. FreedomEclipse

    FreedomEclipse ~Technological Technocrat~

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    the thing is, I dont exactly use the headphones amp on my STX anyway, and i doubt I ever will.
     
  16. FreedomEclipse

    FreedomEclipse ~Technological Technocrat~

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    Well I decided to order one of these anyway, I hope its better then the DS3D GX mode that Asus offers. If i dont like it I can always get a refund.

    my STX might be great but I really dont need the headphone amp on it and even the unified drivers on it arent working so great as they were before.

    hopefully this will put an end to audio clipping, crashing and audio anomalies in older EAX titles.


    I'll be sure to let you guys know what i think
     
  17. dogchainx

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    So, I had a chance to play Borderlands 2 and watch a few movies (tv-stereo and DTS movies).

    I got the base model. I don't need the highest-end inputs, and the ACM is redundant for me.

    I went from a Titanium X-Fi PCI-E to this. I was expecting to have buyer's remorse, but nope.

    Popping is gone, no driver issues (yet), and sound with SBX OFF is actually quite a bit clearer than my old X-Fi. Borderlands 2 has a sharper sound to it, with sound effects coming through clearer on my headphones and my Z5500's.

    I have my headphones hooked up at the same time as my Z5500's. WHY ON EARTH WASN'T THIS A FEATURE ON ALL OF MY SOUND CARDS BEFORE!? I can easily switch from headphones to speakers and back with just three mouse clicks. Very cool.

    In the end I spent $100 on a soundcard. Very well worth the upgrade. I really thought sound couldn't get better, but I was wrong.

    I'll be testing out BF2 and a few older games that need OpenAL,etc. and edit the post.
     
  18. Prima.Vera

    Prima.Vera

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    Oh yes, I remember not the days of Aureal, Sensaura 3D or EAX wars, but I also remember very clearly the days when Creative SB 16 was introduced. It was a revelation for games and music, something more like 3Dfx was for 3D video cards. The sound was so much good compared to existing crappy sound cards back then. Then a couple of years later when the first Unreal was released, I remember it playing it on a Voodoo2 video addon card with Aureal 2 sound card, and a brand new 4.1 sound set, and it was....well, f*king unreal!!! Is unbelievable how games nowadays sound so MUCH WORST than games more then 10 years ago. I pity the young gamers of our time, they didn't experience what true 3D sound really means.:ohwell:
     
  19. TheGuruStud

    TheGuruStud

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    I noticed there's no DPC latency readings (idle, in use, and equalizer enabled).

    This is the most important if you're trying to game (crap drivers will make gaming impossible).
     
  20. ThE_MaD_ShOt

    ThE_MaD_ShOt

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    I also remember the days of Aureal and Creative. Aureal laid down a good ass whooping on creative for a while. I just finished a win98 build for myself and used one of the Vortex 2 Sq2500 soundcards I have for it. The sound in games is truly amazing. :toast:
     
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  21. FreedomEclipse

    FreedomEclipse ~Technological Technocrat~

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    well.... My Creative Z Arrived, fucking peice of junk. would not output any audio to the right channel in analogue.

    Didnt bother trying DDL/digitalout as i didnt buy the card for that purpose.

    Returning the card in the morning, hopefully I'll have one before the weekend is over.
     
  22. Jurassic1024

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    Pro version driver and software work fine here.

    1 - X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro driver v2.17.0008
    2 - Creative Console Launcher 2.61.35
     
  23. Jurassic1024

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    LMAO. If you say so. Meanwhile in Battlefield 3 (my main game of choice) with a 5.1 setup...
     
  24. TheGuruStud

    TheGuruStud

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    I would just use PAX drivers.
     
  25. RejZoR

    RejZoR

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    You know, having 5.1 setting means absolutely nothing. I could stick 20.2 speaker setup back in 2001, so it would be 4 times better than your 5.1. Or would it?

    I've played BF3 and it wasn't anything special. Sound wasn't bad but compared to System Shock 2 sound, not comparable by a mile. All the environment effects sound too synthetic in modern games and that ruins everything where in older ones with proper EAX support, it was just amazing.
     

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