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Sound Blaster Z series

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#1
It seems like my wallet is again becoming too fat and i have to make it slimmer...

I was looking at Sound Blaster Z series and i'd like to know few things...

Vanilla Z model is using normal capacitors, Zx is suppose to use higher grade Nichicon capacitors. Is this correrct? PCB image searching was a bit confusing because i was mostly getting ZxR images when i was searching for "Zx". Can anyone confirm this?

The other thing is, does anyone own one of these cards (Z or Zx, i'm not interested in ZxR) so it could write few impressions how they compare to for example X-Fi Forte or X-Fi Titanium.
There aren't many proper reviews, mostly they just breeze through components and settings interface and thats it.
 
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#3
It's only a Z review and doesn't mention anything about Zx or ZxR. Though the comparison with Xonar STX helps a bit since i had that card and it was really good with sound (but crappy with drivers and 3D sound positioning in games).

It would be nice to have RMAA direct comparison of Zx and X-Fi Forte. The SNR is basically the same but i'm not sure about the rest...
 
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#4
I just found a Sound Blaster Z BULK version in a local PC shop. It seems to be the same as retail version, just without the microphone that i don't need anyway and apparently also without the red EMI shield. WHat's more interesting is that these BULK cards and even newer basic retail Z models are suppose to have gold Nichicon capacitors. If true, i'm really thinking of going with the basic model as i don't need any extra stuff, i just wanted the higher quality capacitors which previously weren't available on basic Z model.

Anyone has some more info on this, maybe even own a SB Z BULK model? Thx
 
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#5
If your using speakers get a titanium HD.
 

MxPhenom 216

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#6
Get an HT Omega or Asus. Sound Blaster cards are pretty poopy.
 
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#7
If your using speakers get a titanium HD.
I already have X-Fi Forte, so i don't think i'd benefit anything from it. I'm planning to change because of some compatibility issues. Plus some software stuff is done better in these newer soundcards.

@MxPhenom 216
So are ASUS... had one, hated one. And i had the highest spec'd Essence STX at that time. It had super duper quality components and sound but what helps me all that if 3D positioning was horrible and their GX emulation mode or whatever it is crashed in 99% of the time. So i was left in the end with poop EAX 2.0 effects in games that had EAX 4.0 and a 3D positioning where i had no clue if it was above or below me, in front or behind. It was only good for music and movies but for that even Z will do the job perfectly fine.
 
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#8
I have the regular non HD titanium and its CMSS-3D surround emulator work really really well,the only downside to this sound card is that it does not have an onboard AMP.
 
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#9
As far as i know the Zx & Z are the same card, except the Zx comes with the audio module. The one with the Nichicon Gold caps is the ZxR, the Z & Zx have Luxon caps.

The ZxR is in the same league as the Xonar STX & Titanium HD (which i own), probably slighly better than both, but all of them miles better than a standard X-Fi (also own) and a Forte. Sound quality wise the Z & Zx are better than the standard X-Fi and Forte but inferior to the STX, TitHD and ZxR.
 
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#10
Well, i've seen reports of normal Z models to come with gold Nichicon caps. First ones didn't, but new ones apparently do.
 
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#11
There, i've placed an order. We'll see how it looks like. Holding fingers crossed that it'll be the version with Nichicon Gold capacitors...
 
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#12
I lol'd hard when i seen this thread...

This sound card like every other creative card is a POS!!!! Anyone who even remotely enjoys good audio WOULD NEVER EVER buy some POS creative crad. Like MxPhenom 216 said, Asus Xonar is the way to go. The D2X/D2PM Xonar & the unified drivers = eargasam.

https://www.asus.com/Sound_Cards_and_DigitaltoAnalog_Converters/Xonar_D2PM/
or
https://www.asus.com/Sound_Cards_and_DigitaltoAnalog_Converters/Xonar_D2X/


There are soooooo many reasons why, you shouldn't buy that POS creative, but oh well.
Any audiophile will tell you how bad creative cards really are...
 
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#13
Audiophiles don't use computers to listen to anything and for the record, RMAA is telling a different story... Besides, i had one ASUS card (Essence STX which was way higher spec'd than any of what you posted) and i didn't like it. High end components paired with horrible software. Yes, drivers and software were even more horrible than Creative one. Not to mention awful faint 3D sound positioning where you had no freakin clue where enemies are in the game and horribly buggy GX mode that crashed most of the time or it caused audio artifacts.

With Creative i only had 1 problem with FEAR Combat years ago and they fixed the issue with next driver update. And i had Creative cards since Sound Blaster 128. So my experience is diffeent than yours, especially since you seem to sound like a typical Creative hateboy who either owned 1 or even no Creative cards... i had like 7 of them and i still think they are the best a gamer can have. If they also work for music and movies, then so be it. Those ASUS cards are only good for music and movies and nothing else.
 
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#14
I went from a xonar dg unified drives to a older azuntech prelude. I can't tell any difference in 3d positioning yet but the prelude does sound better than the xonar dg, which is the lowest end xonar. Both are mind blowing compared to my onboard realtech 892.

Figured I would throw in my anecdotal evidence too as it differs somewhat from the other opinions said.
 
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#15
I think Audiophiles prefer external DACs rather than souncards.

Anyway i also had the chance to try ASUS cards and i prefer my Titanium HD for games and music, the only reason i have the DX is because i cannot use 2 cards with the same chip in the same PC. I would rather have my 5.1 connected to my old Titanium X-Fi than the Xonar DX, i don't like the ASUS sofware and EQ.

The only sound card i would change my Titanium HD for is a ZxR.
 
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#16
But the thing is, i was looking the ZxR but i have absolutely no use for the daughter card and that volume control knob (microATX case with no space left). I wouldn't mind a ZxR bulk version though. Just the same high end card and no extra accessories (no daughter board and no volume control thing).

Anyway, spec wise, basic Z is pretty much the same as X-Fi Forte. I'll try it out and see. If it won't work well for my needs i can still return it...
 
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#17
seems like the Zx has Nichicon capacitors

 
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#18
And some basic Z's as well. I've seen some reports about them, but i know the first series had normal cheaper caps. And even the official photo for SB Z Bulk model has gold caps. Unless it was a mixup...
 
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#19
So the Z has normal caps and the Zx has Nichicon caps?

Let us know what you think of the sound card once you tested it.
 
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#20
I sure will because most of the reviews were totally useless because they didn't even bother to compare soundcards. Most just compared them to crappy onboards and that was it. They completely forgot to make a comparison for existing high end users to let them know if it's even worth upgrading. And i'll do just that. I'll be comparing it with X-Fi Forte and mostly focused on gaming qualities. It just might take a while because the shop doesn't have them at the moment and might take from 5-10 days which sucks a bit...
 
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#21
Ok, i've got the soundcard (Sound Blaster Z Bulk) and guess what, it arrived with Nichicon Gold capacitors.
So, i saved nearly 25 EUR, got better capacitors than on first retail versions and didn't get the microphone that i don't need anyway. If it will also sound good in games, i couldn't be any happier than this. Can't wait to try it out.

It looks really cool as well, all black and gold with red casing around the Core3D processor.
 
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#22
I bought Sound Blaster Z and it's great card really.
OK I got Realtek and all of you know that can't compare with sound card.
Now I look what to enable in manager, some settings I can't decide to leave unchecked or check.
Bass Redirection and Subwoofer Gain. :)

xexe I look now and my caps are Gold, but probably know all versions came with nichicon gold.
But I doubt people can hear difference, but I'm happy because I hit that version.
 
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#23
I haven't had a really good track record with Creative in the past.... 5 X-Fi cards in about 2 years.... not to mention my Audigy 4 was totally broken when Vista 64-Bit came out.

I went from a ASUS Xonar Xense to the Zx and so far I am not having any issues, the drivers appear to be quite stable and far less bloated than the traditional creative suites in the past.

Asus hardly, if ever, updates their drivers and even with the Unified ones, they are based off the C-Media core and if they aren't done right for a particular audio controller (C-Media makes alot of different ones apparently), they are buggy and crash.

I started having issues with GX Mode not working with games and despite have several issues with the card after installing proper Windows 8 Drivers, ASUS wouldn't RMA the card.... the PC350 headset I had to send to Sennheiser for repair because ASUS doesn't warranty it. After almost 2 years of ownership, ASUS wanted me to take it back to the store.... gg on ASUS Support or lack there of.

My PC350s on the Zx are amazing and the positional audio is very good as I remember it being with my Audigy 4. Music, movies, whatever are all very crisp and good. Not to say the Xense wasn't a good card because it was for almost 2 years. Just the total lack of support from ASUS in any fashion was bad. Not to mention their Windows 7 Driver was working better in Windows 8 than the official 8 driver. I wasn't going to re-install my entire OS just for the audio card to work when it was fine before.
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2012
Messages
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Location
Belgrade, Serbia
System Name Intel® X99 Wellsburg
Processor Intel® Core™ i7-5820K - 4.2GHz
Motherboard ASUS Rampage V E10 (1701)
Cooling CORSAIR H100
Memory CMD16GX4M4A2666C15
Video Card(s) EVGA 780Ti K|NGP|N Classified
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 1TB/ForceGT 120/WD Black 2TB
Display(s) Samsung P2450H
Case CORSAIR Obsidian 650D
Audio Device(s) CREATIVE Sound Blaster ZxR
Power Supply EVGA 1200 P2 Platinum
Mouse Logitech G700
Keyboard Deck 87 Francium Pro
Software Windows 10 Pro x64
#24
I wait few months this card to show up.
I hears it's little better than Recon and Gold Plated connectors and little better sound + softwares improvement. Drivers are OK and manager too. This is newer series of their sound card.
Others are few years on market and still sell good.