Monday, January 18th 2021

Blast from the Past: Creative Announces Updated Sound Blaster Z SE Discrete Sound Card

Creative today has announced an updated to their Sound Blaster Z discrete sound card. The updated Sound Blaster Z SE keeps the up to 116 dB SnR and 24-bit/192 kHz sound of the sound card it updates, but adds 7.1 support for headphones and 5.1 discrete audio on speakers. The new dedicated sound card also features additional gaming profiles (it has specially-designed profiles for PUBG and Fortnite, for example), and new equalizer presets.

If you suppose most of these features could have been added via a software/firmware update, you'd be right; Creative is releasing most of these features via a software update for the Sound Blaster Z as well. Other specifications remain the same, with the Sound Blaster Z SE sound card featuring Creative's Sound Core 3D audio processor. Whether or not there is a requirement for discrete soundcards in this day and age of integrated sound quality is another discussion, as is the option for users to connect and process their audio via an external DAC.
Source: Creative
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73 Comments on Blast from the Past: Creative Announces Updated Sound Blaster Z SE Discrete Sound Card

#1
btarunr
Editor & Senior Moderator
So this is basically an SB Recon3D PCIe (SB1350) with an ESS Sabre for 116 dBA SNR main channel, the same 108 dBA Cirrus Logic DAC for the other channels, better-looking caps, and gold-plated jacks.

Or, an SB Z with the addition of a virtual 7.1 mode via software, and better-looking caps.
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#2
Fergutor
Wait, so you couldn't set windows to 7.1 while headphones in the Creative software like in the older Creative cards (for example the Audigy SE PCI I'm using now for gaming)!?!?!? Or is this something else/different I'm misunderstanding?
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#3
mechtech
$55 or less ok, more than that no thanks
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#4
DeathtoGnomes
i dont play PUBG or Fornite so this card is not for me! :D
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#5
phanbuey
External DAC all the way.
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#6
Mouth of Sauron
mechtech
$55 or less ok, more than that no thanks
<55g is kinda waste of money... I mean, for computer audio.

Realtek-any-rubbish integrated DAC - <1g
Apple-oh-so-superior-sound (Infineon rubbish, in fact) = ~1.5g

It would be nice that DAC and the rest of the components are shielded, and all of that good quality. That doesn't happen until >100g, where you can get USB DAC/amplifier in both internal/external version, with Creative-proprietary or AKM DAC (better in most opinions) or something equal. That is >100g. AMP+Speakers are in 500-800 range for this class.

In the integrated-to-100g segment, there is a vacuum filled by Realtek-rubbish (*coughs* XONAR *coughs*) cards without armour and with moderate-low components.

My point is, if your setup is NOT connected to a home audio system, it's in shielded-integrated category, comes with slight MB increased price (just take it into account next time you change MB, it's totally not worthy doing it just for the sound).

SB Z was like 120+g, I think
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#7
Tigerfox
There is a comparison-chart on the cards productpage. The hardware doesn't seem to have changed, apart from golden capacitors beeing used and the absence of the two LEDs. The MIC-EQ Presets and the 7.1 virtual speakers seem to be the only change.
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#8
RedelZaVedno
I have integrated Realtek 1220 on Gigabyte B550 AORUS PRO motherboard and an ultra old Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS discrete audio card, connected to Teufel Cubycon 5.1 speaker system and AKG N60NC headphones and there is just no comparison. Realtek 1220 sound like a shallow shit with a lot of static noise compared to Audigy. Discrete audio solutions are still well worth it when coupled with decent speakers/headphones. I mean what's the point of having hi-fi headphones/speakers when you feed it with bad audio source?
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#9
Fergutor
RedelZaVedno
I have integrated Realtek 1220 on Gigabyte B550 AORUS PRO motherboard and an ultra old Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS discrete audio card, connected to Teufel Cubycon 5.1 speaker system and AKG N60NC headphones and there is just no comparison. Realtek 1220 sound like a shallow shit with a lot of static noise compared to Audigy. Discrete audio solutions are still well worth it if U use decent speakers/headphones. I mean what's the point of having hi-fi headphones/speakers when you feed it with bad audio source?
My onboard audio is an ALC892 and I had also one with the ALC887 and both sounded extremely clean, my problem with those is the very low volume, the lack of proper virtualization, the self destructing eq and thus lack of flexibility in that, and some say that it gets muddy in some scenarios but I don't know about that (I use the onboard for everything except gaming with virtualization and when want to hear music at good volumes with speakers). Could your problem be that you have the front panel connected? Or maybe some other card is interfering?
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#10
RedelZaVedno
Fergutor
My onboard audio is an ALC892 and I had also one with the ALC887 and both sounded extremely clean, my problem with those is the very low volume, the lack of proper virtualization, the self destructing eq and thus lack of flexibility in that, and some say that it gets muddy in some scenarios but I don't know about that (I use the onboard for everything except gaming with virtualization and when want to hear music at good volumes with speakers). Could your problem be that you have the front panel connected? Or maybe some other card is interfering?
It's connected to the backplate of the MB. I don't know what it is, but there is a static noise in the background sometimes at higher volumes, where there is none when connected to SB. It might be other components interference, I don't know. Static noise aside, Audigy sounds much, much better (cleaner, deeper and more balanced) when compared side by side with ALC1220.
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#11
Jism
RedelZaVedno
It's connected to the backplate of the MB. I don't know what it is, but there is a static noise in the background sometimes at higher volumes, where there is none when connected to SB. It might be other components interference, I don't know. Static noise aside, Audigy sounds much, much better (cleaner, deeper and more balanced) when compared side by side with ALC1220.
The whole VRM is behind it and pretty much causing interference.
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#12
Fergutor
RedelZaVedno
It's connected to the backplate of the MB. I don't know what it is, but there is a static noise in the background sometimes at higher volumes, where there is none when connected to SB. It might be other components interference, I don't know. Static noise aside, Audigy sounds much, much better (cleaner, deeper and more balanced) when compared side by side with ALC1220.
I had a X-Fi Xtreme Music that died, that one sounded perfect. Now I'm using an old Audigy SE, that cheap model, unlike your 2 ZS, and that one have a constant static noise, don't know if it's my car or all are like that.
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#13
Batou1986
RedelZaVedno
Realtek 1220 sound like a shallow shit
Agreed, no matter all the fancy buzzwords and SnR they claim onboard sound always sounds flat and without dynamic range it has been this way forever since the days of AMD 939 and SB live 5.1.
I dont use any of the enhancements or effects on my SBZ furthermore where onboard really struggles is the microphone amp department, never once have I found onboard audio with good clean mic input.
That being said external DAC's are the way to go now and when I have a reason to upgrade my SBZ that is the route I will be going.
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#14
RJARRRPCGP
Fergutor
the self destructing eq
What? I never could confirm such thing! My custom equalizer settings, have been sticking for me on my MSI B450 Tomahawk.
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#15
snp688
RedelZaVedno
I have integrated Realtek 1220 on Gigabyte B550 AORUS PRO motherboard and an ultra old Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS discrete audio card, connected to Teufel Cubycon 5.1 speaker system and AKG N60NC headphones and there is just no comparison. Realtek 1220 sound like a shallow shit with a lot of static noise compared to Audigy. Discrete audio solutions are still well worth it when coupled with decent speakers/headphones. I mean what's the point of having hi-fi headphones/speakers when you feed it with bad audio source?
I have ALC1200 / ALC1220P on MSI B550 Tomahawk, but I only use digital output connected to my DAC/AMP so I have no idea how its analog sounds. I also have 2 boards based on ALC887, one sounds okayish, 2nd one is very flat sounding, so, the audio chip isn't obviously the only important thing.
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#16
Chloe Price
I had the OG SBZ and I had nothing to complain. Depending on the price, this could be something.
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#17
Fergutor
RJARRRPCGP
What? I never could confirm such thing! My custom equalizer settings, have been sticking for me on my MSI B450 Tomahawk.
I have a B350 Tomahak and in my case the eq if you put any slider beyond 0db it saturates, if you adjust all sliders at 0 and below it doesn't sound too bad but the volume was already too low, so it's better not using it. I meant self destructing because if you use it, you don't want to use it anymore. Except for vocals in some YT video for example. Another thing missing in my Audigy SE is the normalizer and the Realtek has one that works fine so I use it, again, typically for YT videos.
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#18
djisas
They should make an actual 7.1 sound card...
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#19
greenie
Batou1986
Agreed, no matter all the fancy buzzwords and SnR they claim onboard sound always sounds flat and without dynamic range it has been this way forever since the days of AMD 939 and SB live 5.1.
I dont use any of the enhancements or effects on my SBZ furthermore where onboard really struggles is the microphone amp department, never once have I found onboard audio with good clean mic input.
That being said external DAC's are the way to go now and when I have a reason to upgrade my SBZ that is the route I will be going.
Oh fooey, discrete sound cards like the SBZ or the AE-5,7 or 9 series are miles better at producing gaming sound. It's literally plug and play. DAC's are fine but they are a lot more mucking around. Onboard sound is a dogs breakfast.
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#20
freeagent
Or they could put PCI slots back on mobos so those of us who already have high end sound cards can use them on modern hardware :laugh:
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#21
Chloe Price
freeagent
Or they could put PCI slots back on mobos so those of us who already have high end sound cards can use them on modern hardware :laugh:
I wouldn't mind having one PCI slot to be honest.
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#22
lexluthermiester
Raevenlord
Creative today has announced an updated to their Sound Blaster Z discrete sound card.
You stated "updated". It should just be "update".

" Creative today has announced an update to their Sound Blaster Z discrete sound card. "

Feel free to delete my post after correction.
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#23
progste
Get an actual external dac instead.
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#24
lexluthermiester
progste
Get an actual external dac instead.
No. What we don't need is more clutter on our desks.
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#25
djisas
progste
Get an actual external dac instead.
I bought one, it was inferior than my old sound card...
Basically it would cost more than a sound card and it wouldn't drive my speakers...
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