Thursday, August 16th 2012

Creative Introduces the Sound Blaster Z-Series Sound Cards

Creative Technology Ltd today announced its new ultra high-performance Z-Series of Sound Blaster PCI-Express sound cards, elevating the standards of technology and performance for the future of gaming and entertainment on the PC. Creative will preview the new Sound Blaster ZxR, Sound Blaster Zx and Sound Blaster Z at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany from 15-19 August 2012.

"The audio landscape for gaming and entertainment on the PC has changed. As content creation and consumption evolves with the interactivity of the Internet, our vision is to enable the best listening experiences for music, video and games, and to transcend the basic concept of sound quality as a specification with enabling technologies that allow users to completely customize their PC audio," said Low Long Chye, Director of Product Marketing for Audio. "For audio playback, we use studio-grade components to deliver outstanding fidelity, and then greatly enhance the listening experience by implementing our SBX Pro Studio suite of audio technologies. This enables complete customization of audio playback, uniquely catered to suit individual tastes. Our mixture of outstanding components and proprietary technologies also enables us to provide the highest quality recording experience for audio creation, which today expands beyond just music recording to include user interaction and creation with YouTube, eSports, and more."

"We also recognize how voice communications in massively multiplayer online (MMO) and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games are so crucial to winning, and how clear communications in VOIP applications such as Skype are so important to having meaningful conversations. This is where our CrystalVoice technologies enable users to experience the best possible sound quality – the level of quality that is exclusively available with Sound Blaster. To complete the overall communication experience, all our Z-series sound cards comes standard with a high-quality dual microphone array," added Low Long Chye.

Each New Sound Card Offers a Complete Audio System

To dynamically power compelling audio playback, the new sound cards leverage the Creative Sound Core3D quad-core sound and voice processor, which is designed to work in perfect harmony with Creative's SBX Pro Studio technology and high-quality components to deliver a complete audio platform. Sound Core3D also works seamlessly with CrystalVoice communications technologies and the high-quality beam-forming microphone array included with each of the new sound cards to deliver Acoustic Echo Cancellation, Voice Focus and Noise Reduction for clear online voice communications. This complete system for voice communications also enables gamers to use speakers and the high-quality microphone array to achieve a better overall experience.

Sound Blaster ZxR – The World's Best Sounding Sound Card (SRP US$249.99)

This flagship Sound Blaster ZxR is designed to provide the best gaming and entertainment audio performance in any sound cards. It also delivers the ultimate audio playback and creation solution for the PC. Studio-grade components, which include external digital-to-analog converters (DACs) that deliver 127dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), sockets for swappable Op-Amps, a high-end 80mW into 600 ohm headphone amplifier, and 192kHz pass through, are used to deliver phenomenal audio quality.

The Sound Blaster ZxR has multiple connections including a proprietary connector to the DBpro, a daughter board that offers optical output for outstanding playback; and professional-grade 123dB analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) with RCA Aux-in and optical input for outstanding recording quality.

Furthermore, a convenient external ACM (Audio Control Module) provides a built-in dual-microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections. Designed to complement the Sound Blaster ZxR, the ACM adds convenience, extra connectivity and control, plus it enhances the look of any desktop.

In addition to the impressive hardware capabilities, the proprietary SB Speaker-Calibration feature, DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live, all these three ensure an ultra-realistic cinematic audio playback and gaming experience. From the hardcore gamer fragging an opponent on a first person shooter to a die-hard MOBA or MMO player engaging with thousands of players online, gamers can get a competitive advantage from excellent audio quality and positional accuracy.

In many of today's most popular games, if gamers are not communicating, they are not winning. For voice communications, Creative's CrystalVoice technologies enable crystal-clear communications amongst gamers and their teammates.

Creative's audio engineers designed the SBX Pro Studio suite of audio playback technologies so gamers can improve their audio experience and calibrate their game audio so they can hear the subtle nuances that gives a competitive edge. Immersive surround sound, the ability to clearly understand teammates and enhancements of specific sounds in a gaming environment are just a few elements of SBX Pro Studio that enhance gaming audio.

SBX Pro Studio Features:

● SBX Crystalizer - Enhances sound for games, music and movies by restoring low and high end frequency curves lost to compression
● SBX Surround - Delivers a 360 degree surround sound experience so gamers can hear sounds clearly from the front, back, above and below
● SBX Smart Volume - Address the problem of abrupt volume level changes in music, movies and games by intelligently applying gain and attenuation to deliver consistent volume levels; includes Night Mode to reduce the impact of explosions and bursts of sound so as not to disturb others after hours
● SBX Dialog Plus - Enhances voices in games and movies for clearer dialog, allowing the listener to hear the dialog over the rest of sound track and over ambient noise
● SBX Bass - Fills in the missing low frequency tones and give the extra impact for a better entertainment experience

Designed to deliver crystal clear vocal fidelity in multiplayer games, online chats and video conferencing, CrystalVoice technologies also enhance voice communications for VOIP solutions such as Skype.

CrystalVoice Features:

● Acoustic Echo Cancellation - Eliminates echoes and enables whoever is speaking to listen to the other party clearly.
● Noise Reduction - Enables the person speaking to be heard clearly over background noise by constantly monitoring the environment and eliminating unwanted noise that interferes with the conversation
● Smart Volume - Automatically adjusts the loudness of a voice to maintain a consistent volume level. This makes it convenient for the speaker to converse normally, regardless of whether the speaker is close to or far away from the microphone
● Focus - Beam-forming creates a zone and suppresses noise outside it to enable whoever is speaking to be heard with amazing clarity. Multiple microphones are used to focus, enhance voice, and eliminate sounds outside the zone
● VoiceFX - Enables alteration of voice with a variety of effects, which can be used to enhance the tone of a voice, create interesting accents, or enable someone to sound like a completely different person

Sound Blaster Zx – High-Performance Gaming and Entertainment Audio (SRP US$149.99)

The Sound Blaster Zx incorporates all the hardware and software features of the Sound Blaster ZxR except for the DBpro daughter board.

Clad in brilliant red EMI shielding and featuring glowing LED lighting, the Sound Blaster Zx is the bad boy of the bunch, with an attention-grabbing design that ideally complements any power gaming rig. The Sound Blaster Zx leverages Sound Core3D processing with external DACs that deliver 120dB SNR. Other features include support for 192kHz direct pass-through to analog out, a 600 ohm headphone amplifier, gold-plated I/O connectivity, and SB Speaker-Calibration, which calibrates speakers to take advantage of room acoustics and optimize for the room. The Sound Blaster Zx also includes the convenient external ACM (Audio Control Module) with a built-in dual microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections. To enhance digital entertainment capabilities, DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live encoding are included. The product also includes high-quality optical and stereo cables.

Sound Blaster Z – High-Performance Gaming and Entertainment Audio (SRP US$119.99)

The Sound Blaster Z incorporates all the hardware and software features of the Sound Blaster Zx except for the ACM. Instead an external high quality dual-microphone array comes standard with this card.

An ideal all-around gaming and entertainment solution, the Sound Blaster Z delivers 120dB SNR and supports 192kHz direct pass-through to analog out. It also features glowing LED lighting, a 600 ohm headphone amplifier, an EMI-free analog input and output path, SB Speaker- Calibration and gold-plated I/O connections for pristine audio quality.

Pricing and Availability

The Sound Blaster ZxR, priced at US$249.99, the Sound Blaster Zx, priced at US$149.99, and the Sound Blaster Z, priced at US $119.99, are slated for availability in December 2012.
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45 Comments on Creative Introduces the Sound Blaster Z-Series Sound Cards

#1
Ferrum Master
Anusha said:
Actually my only problem as of late is sound suddenly not working after a fresh boot. No issues is device manager either. Applications just play the audio as if sound comes out with no problem, but I don't hear anything. Reboot doesn't fix it. Only option is to reinstall drivers. Doesn't even require a clean install or a reboot. Sound comes out as soon as the driver gets reinstalled.

I have noticed this mostly with nVidia video driver updates. I didn't have this when I had the ATI cards. I have also checked if the default audio playback device has changed after the video driver update. Haven't been able to find anything out of the ordinary either. Hmmm
Mate it is a SSD issue, you don't need to reinstall the driver, try switching between audio modes.

BTW Robert solved the problem in his driver by putting a simple delay.
Posted on Reply
#2
INSTG8R
Still rocking my PCI X-Fi Fatality I have had since it was released way back when. I'm sure I paid at least the $250 for it if not more(It has the front panel breakout box and remote which I long retired)
Daniel K. Has kept mine running great for years(Tho I never really had many issues with official drivers either)
I'm a bit skeptical of this new Sound Core 3D chip, I wonder how much actual processing it's doing itself and how much it's just offloading on the CPU.
Interested in seeing some reviews on this as I will eventually have to retire my PCI card because the slot is disappearing from Motherboards....
Posted on Reply
#3
Anusha
Ferrum Master said:
Mate it is a SSD issue, you don't need to reinstall the driver, try switching between audio modes.

BTW Robert solved the problem in his driver by putting a simple delay.
I guess he did it after my post? I didn't install the Pax drivers on my brand new Windows 8 RTM install though. Just installed the ones from Windows Update.
Posted on Reply
#4
radrok
repman244 said:
Apart from all the driver issues I still love my ST with new OP-amps.
This. Best thing I've ever done to my Essence STX.

Also, I may have been lucky because I've never had an issue with the unified drivers.
Posted on Reply
#5
dogchainx
Svarog said:
Owning Creative SoundCards for years and never had Driver issues. Apart from that, they sound crystal clear to me.

Dunno what the fuzz is about with some people, anti creative?
I've had a sound blaster card ever since the first one was released waaaaay back when 25MHz 386's were the top of the line. I've enjoyed them all.

But I must admit....driver support has been very poor for my X-Fi card. Drivers on the CD had horrible problems installing, forcing me to remove the drivers, remove the card, install in another slot, reinstall drivers, uninstall, force uninstall, hunt and delete files, etc.

Then the whole Creative vs whatsHISbucket about his own "hacked drivers", where they shut him down. His drivers were the only ones that actually made my card WORK properly with my Z5500 setup.

I'm pretty timid with anything Creative now sells. In that sense, I'm anticreative...for good reasons.
Posted on Reply
#6
KainXS
creative has been trying to get back on the boat since the x-fi disaster and various ripoffs they did and haven't been able to do it yet

will this do it for them? I'm betting not

still I'm suprised they abandoned the recon3d name so fast.
Posted on Reply
#7
Anusha
Anusha said:
I guess he did it after my post? I didn't install the Pax drivers on my brand new Windows 8 RTM install though. Just installed the ones from Windows Update.
It happened again when I was setting up Windows 8.. Actually when I tried to install drivers from Windows Update. Changing the mode didn't fix it. Had to reinstall drivers. Downloaded the Pax drivers and installed over the existing ones. I bet nothing will go wrong until I update the nVidia drivers.
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#8
AsphyxiA
this thread makes my brain hurt. I hate it when creative releases a new product.
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#9
riffraffy
Seem's to do lot's of tricks, but I thought PC digital sound reproduction is support to be an exact copy and a good card's job is to keep it that way.What I want from a sound card is to not have to fiddle with it and get the sound the way it was created.If it has all theis external connectors for add-on what do I need the card for just hook up your stereo system to the PC .But maybe I'm wrong after all Creative did have something with there X-FI ... customer support not withstanding. I was leaning on HT Omega for my new card but I'll have to keep my eye out for this I'm a sucker for stuff I don't need.Just hope Creative doesn't make a Fatality version I don't want to pay $100 extra for some dude's name on it.
Posted on Reply
#10
Prima.Vera
Since Live! sound card, I don't see any point of buying a new card, specially since stupid and crappy M$ killed all 3D sound on PC. I mean there is no point. I don't have 10K$ Ultra HI-FI speakers home to be able to tell the difference between integrated sound and latest Creative crap. I own a X-Fi Titanium also (bought for cheap one since I have no PCI free slots), and I cannot say there is a really big difference on sound q from Live! to be honest...
Posted on Reply
#11
Supercrit
I've read a bit about these cards, they are really pieces of turd covered in shiny a package, x-fi line outperforms these massively. Also they really are pretty bare on the components department and asking for outrageous prices.

Look and compare at their specs and testing results

http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/video/pcw/docs/501/874/recon3dlo.pdf

http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/20051003/dal207_02.htm

Dynamic range, dB (A) 93.9 Very good
vs
Dynamic range, dB (A): 111.4 Excellent

Creative, please continue making x-fi and stop this bull
Posted on Reply
#12
XacTactX
Great, guess I should sell my Titanium HD now before it's market value falls through the floor.

Supercrit said:
I've read a bit about these cards, they are really pieces of turd covered in shiny a package, x-fi line outperforms these massively. Also they really are pretty bare on the components department and asking for outrageous prices.

Look and compare at their specs and testing results

http://pc.watch.impress.co.jp/video/pcw/docs/501/874/recon3dlo.pdf

http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/20051003/dal207_02.htm

Dynamic range, dB (A) 93.9 Very good
vs
Dynamic range, dB (A): 111.4 Excellent

Creative, please continue making x-fi and stop this bull
Great find, thanks for posting. The Recon3D literally has an order of magnitude more crosstalk, two orders of magnitude (100x) worse IMD distortion and THD + N (A-wtd) and even more atrocious is the frequency response. The X-Fi is basically neutral but the Recon3D has a serious bump at about 100 Hz.

When you consider that the "old" X-Fi line can be had for like $20 shipped (I got an XtremeMusic about one year ago for that much), the Recon3D series is a joke in comparison.
Posted on Reply
#13
AsRock
TPU addict
I will just keep on using my v cards though HDMI.. No way in hell i am paying $250 for a sound card for games when ATI's are perfectly fine.
Posted on Reply
#14
jagd
NO , new cards have still same dsp with recon3d i cant see how they can be better except SNR , i would not sell a titanium HD before im sure new cards are really better ,i mean real world good not on paper good :D

Btw i have problem with creative x-fi titanium console also , settings got frozen changing settings dont take effect uninstalled waiting to fresh OS install

XacTactX said:
Great, guess I should sell my Titanium HD now before it's market value falls through the floor.
Posted on Reply
#15
Apocalypsee
Thing is, I don't like where Creative is going, they just making this SoundCore and integrates every single thing inside it (DAC, ADC, headamp and whatnot), call it some funky names and give it crazy pricetag. This is mental!

I want the old CA20K2 X-Fi chips back, where they could put decent DAC like CS4398 on Elite Pro and PCM1794 on Titanium HD. THD and SNR only give one sided of the story, and EAX is emulated on this as well. Emulated EAX is crap, I use Creative USB 5.1 that could done that, it doesn't saound as good as true blooded EAX in X-Fi chips. They say ZxR uses external DAC and swappable opamp, but I won't buy anything that is emulated, though not much games uses EAX anymore, I enjoyed old games that do, like Doom3, GTA San Andreas, and Max Payne 2.
Posted on Reply
#16
KainXS
eax = dead pretty much now, leave it be and move on dude
Posted on Reply
#17
Prima.Vera
KainXS said:
eax = dead pretty much now, leave it be and move on dude
Well, dead in games, but you can still use its effects in desktop for music and movies.
Posted on Reply
#18
Scrizz
looks like a mix between the TitaniumHD and the recon3d.
lol
Posted on Reply
#19
Kaleid
Hopefully actual audiophile cards when compared to recon3d.

I'm one of those who has had very little trouble with the drivers (vista x64 was a mess long time though, but I used XP anyway)
Posted on Reply
#20
eidairaman1
The Exiled Airman
Prima.Vera said:
Well, dead in games, but you can still use its effects in desktop for music and movies.
main deal from cl for eax is games
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