Amazon: Sound Blaster Z - $86.56

xoleras

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The Z is hands down an excellent sound card, and this is a pretty decent deal. I wasn't impressed by the X-fi line or the recon3D, but the Z really is a great card. And it usually takes a lot to impress me in terms of soundcards.

Gonna grab one for a secondary rig. Thanks OP.
 

spacin9

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I had one of these. Headphone feedback. I have a Creative USB for my surround speakers.. and I only bought that refurbished for the software. I use onboard for my headphones. I've never used anything but onboard sound. And thanks to this card I know why.
 

dwilson041781

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I had one of these. Headphone feedback. I have a Creative USB for my surround speakers.. and I only bought that refurbished for the software. I use onboard for my headphones. I've never used anything but onboard sound. And thanks to this card I know why.

This has been an awesome card for me, leaps and bounds above any onboard sound as expected and Ive moved between 2 systems 1155, 2011 and neither have given feedback on my headphones. ( steelseries siberia v2 and creative aurvana live headsets)
 

Dark12

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holy crap the creative site is slow. It is taking me 2 hours to download the 162mb driver file. I cannot find a different mirror either. jeez
 

primetime

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its a very nice card...think i got mine for 65 from the egg last sale....but its still worth it at that price
 

Arch

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Too bad Creative's drivers are absolutely shitty and always have been. Since the beginning of time. I didn't think people still bought stand alone sound cards.
 

MavericK

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Drivers for the Z are fine. I picked this up for $65 or something awhile back, and honestly I'm not sure I prefer it over my Xonar D2X, especially for music. The Surround feature and dedicated headphone amp are nice, but I think you can achieve the same surround effect on headphones with the Razer Surround software.
 
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This is a great soundcard that brought my Logitech Z-5500 to life. However, these were on sale for ~$60 a few months ago.
 

Dion

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The Z is hands down an excellent sound card, and this is a pretty decent deal. I wasn't impressed by the X-fi line or the recon3D, but the Z really is a great card. And it usually takes a lot to impress me in terms of soundcards.

Gonna grab one for a secondary rig. Thanks OP.

The only card in the Z lineup that has a better DAC then the X-Fi Series is the ZxR. If you own an X-Fi there is pretty much ZERO need for this.. Other then bragging rights. And I guess driver support..
 

dark_reign

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The only card in the Z lineup that has a better DAC then the X-Fi Series is the ZxR. If you own an X-Fi there is pretty much ZERO need for this.. Other then bragging rights. And I guess driver support..
Kind of agree (own a X-Fi Titanium) although I bought a Z anyway about 6 months ago. You do get better SNR on the Z and the drivers and software are pretty solid. It's a slightly noticeable upgrade soundwise and worth it for the better driver support.
 

Dark12

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Coming from an X-Fi Titanium non-HD, the difference is huge with speakers and with headphones.
Especially directional sound is greatly improved.
 

::cRim::

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Got one of these the last sale as well. I'm not sure how you guys can say going from an X-fi Titanium is a huge upgrade...

We all know the X-fi to Recon3D was more of a downgrade. The Z uses the same core but has a better DAC and drivers. At best this is a sidegrade or marginal upgrade. Also I don't think SBX Surround is that much better than CMSS3D. And I have no idea why you can't do basic 5.1 stereo upmix / speaker fill with the Z. This deal is warm at best.
 

Centauri

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I wonder if AMD's upcoming TrueAudio tech is gonna render these types of cards obsolete outside of their amplification abilities.
 

primetime

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I wonder if AMD's upcoming TrueAudio tech is gonna render these types of cards obsolete outside of their amplification abilities.

lol good question but looks like all hype just like amd mantle:)

And I have no idea why you can't do basic 5.1 stereo upmix / speaker fill with the Z.
OK maybe i'm dumb but what are you talking about? I haven't noticed this card not being able to do anything....but im only running it in a stereo config...music, movies games all seem to sound correct to me:( What is it your card can't do again?
 
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octoberasian

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Regarding the Sound Blaster Z versus Titanium HD from reading other forums including Head-fi is this: (Not my opinions, but stuff I picked up around the internet.)

Titanium HD:
  • Hardware accelerated audio processing
  • MIDI support via hardware
  • Virtual surround sound through headphones
  • Better legacy support for older games
  • CMSS3D supposedly sounds better for games than SBX Surround
Sound Blaster Z-series
  • Better DAC and amplifier for headphones
  • Audio processing done in software (processed on Core3D DSP)
  • Better driver support especially for newer OS like Windows 8
  • No hardware accelerated audio processing
  • No MIDI support via hardware
  • SBX Surround is good for newer and future released games
  • No virtual surround for headphones
So, it's a bit of a tossup between sticking with something old versus something new. Like others said, the Z-series is more of a sidegrade than an upgrade.

And, unfortunately, of the Z-series if you care about audio quality a lot, the ZxR has the better DAC and audio quality because of the replaceable OPAMPs. But, it costs $220 to $250 in a lot of places.

For general gaming and music listening, the Z alone is more than enough. The Zx is not a better deal at $30 to $40 more unless you are inconvenienced by going to the back of your computer to plug in your mic and headphones.

All in all, as someone suggested to me on the Head-fi forums since I need a replacement sound card given my current onboard one is cutting audio at random now, I'm on the fence on this. One suggested I go with a cheap sound card and output digitally via optical to a DAC paired with good headphones for both gaming and music.
 

primetime

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SBX Surround is good for newer and future released games
No virtual surround for headphones

you realize these 2 things are in fact the same thing right? SBX Surround is virtual surround....same thing as cmss3d imo anyway...I'd be shocked if anyone could label one from another in a blind test...lol i could be partially deaf
 

octoberasian

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you realize these 2 things are in fact the same thing right? SBX Surround is virtual surround....same thing as cmss3d imo anyway...I'd be shocked if anyone could label one from another in a blind test...lol i could be partially deaf

Like I said, not my opinion but stuff I've picked up on various forums.

One on Head-fi linked videos of Mirror's Edge using SBX and the other CMSS3D. Supposedly the CMSS3D sound better and you can hear more of what's happening in the background.
 

Dark12

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I upgraded to the Z from a Titanium and I think the SBX surround is way better than CMSS3D in CS:GO
 

Ryun

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Have to agree that this is a warm deal but thanks for pointing it out anyhow.

For those in the know: how would this compare to, say, an Auzentech X-Fi Forte?

I like my Forte a lot but there are a few nagging issues I have with it. I was thinking about picking this up once it goes on sale around $65 again and putting the Forte on HTPC duty (or selling it).

*EDIT* - Other question: can you turn off the beamforming mic via a switch or anything?
 
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primetime

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*EDIT* - Other question: can you turn off the beamforming mic via a switch or anything?

its no different than any other mic in that respect...dont plug it in or just mute it:)
 

ccityinstaller

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Regarding the Sound Blaster Z versus Titanium HD from reading other forums including Head-fi is this: (Not my opinions, but stuff I picked up around the internet.)

Titanium HD:
  • Hardware accelerated audio processing
  • MIDI support via hardware
  • Virtual surround sound through headphones
  • Better legacy support for older games
  • CMSS3D supposedly sounds better for games than SBX Surround
Sound Blaster Z-series
  • Better DAC and amplifier for headphones
    [*] Audio processing done in software (processed on Core3D DSP)
  • Better driver support especially for newer OS like Windows 8
  • No hardware accelerated audio processing
  • No MIDI support via hardware
  • SBX Surround is good for newer and future released games
    [*] No virtual surround for headphones

Just to clarify, the Audio processing is offloaded to the Core3D (aka the ARM QuadCore chip on the card)...You can do a simple test by opening Resource Manager and watch your CPU usage when playing back audio..Mine doesn't change 1%...:confused::confused:

I use Virtual Surround with my Headphones every minute I am on the computer..

I have the OEM (aka non shielded version) and don't have any EMI related noise for those of you really wonder if there is a difference..I also have a clean power, with an AVR UPS and High Quality PSU though..
 

Bop

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Just a heads up for anyone thinking of buying these cards and using Linux... you can't (yet).
 

Island

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meh...I have been using my trusty x-fi titanium in my last 2 rigs I built. You can't beat it for native 7.1

I run optical out to my Denon receiver to 5.1 speakers and it rocks.

But the ultimate which I use 99% of the time, is straight out the back of the x-fi to my Razer Tiamat for true 7.1

Gaming is just bliss..... I always like to buy the newest and best, but I don't think there is anything better then the Titanium for the price point/features.... Still rocking after all these years
 
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Got one of these the last sale as well. I'm not sure how you guys can say going from an X-fi Titanium is a huge upgrade...

I feel the same. Going from an X-fi to a Z, or even an TiHD to ZxR should be considered a side grade at best. If you are into virtual surround then one might go so far as to say it would be a downgrade as CMSS3D is a better option than THX Pro Studio / SBX Pro Studio.

I wonder if AMD's upcoming TrueAudio tech is gonna render these types of cards obsolete outside of their amplification abilities.

Eh... no?

MPC: So a person could keep their existing discrete X-Fi/Xonar/Recon for the superior DACs/ADC, and switch off their effects to use TrueAudio but then switch them back for games that use OpenAL or don’t support TrueAudio?

AMD: That’s 100 percent correct. We designed AMD TrueAudio in the manner that we did precisely because we know users have great audio hardware with high-quality OPAMPS that they don’t want or need to forfeit. Whatever audio device(s) a user has right now, that hardware is ready to go with AMD TrueAudio.

- Source

In short; True Audio will process sound on the GPU - but it still needs to be output by something else. It could be via HDMI on your GPU, it could be via crappy onboard sound or it could come from your sound card / external DAC. Point being that you will still need a DAC for output. Having a sound card / external DAC to make it sound nice will still be required as far as I can tell.
 

MavericK

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To those saying the Z doesn't do 5.1 stereo upmix or virtual surround for headphones...wrong, that's what the Surround feature in the control panel is for.

I like the Crystallizer feature sometimes, but it also can cause a lot of clipping and weirdness, so I can't generally use it, unfortunately.
 

::cRim::

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lol good question but looks like all hype just like amd mantle:)

OK maybe i'm dumb but what are you talking about? I haven't noticed this card not being able to do anything....but im only running it in a stereo config...music, movies games all seem to sound correct to me:( What is it your card can't do again?

The Z cannot do basic speaker fill. That is mirror the Front Left and Right to the Rear Left and Right. The most basic sound cards can do this. This is for 5.1 setups. Here is a thread on creative forums.

http://forums.creative.com/showthread.php?t=699845

To those saying the Z doesn't do 5.1 stereo upmix or virtual surround for headphones...wrong, that's what the Surround feature in the control panel is for.

I like the Crystallizer feature sometimes, but it also can cause a lot of clipping and weirdness, so I can't generally use it, unfortunately.

We're not talking about headphones. We're talking about 5.1 analog speaker setups. You cannot mirror front to rear. If you think that SBX surround bullshit is the same, it's not. It's actually stereo EXPAND and adds terrible distortion.

Again this only matters if your source is stereo and not 5.1 but its a basic feature that an 80 dollar card should be able to do.
 

primetime

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The Z cannot do basic speaker fill. That is mirror the Front Left and Right to the Rear Left and Right. The most basic sound cards can do this. This is for 5.1 setups. Here is a thread on creative forums.

http://forums.creative.com/showthread.php?t=699845



We're not talking about headphones. We're talking about 5.1 analog speaker setups. You cannot mirror front to rear. If you think that SBX surround bullshit is the same, it's not. It's actually stereo EXPAND and adds terrible distortion.

Again this only matters if your source is stereo and not 5.1 but its a basic feature that an 80 dollar card should be able to do.


ok that makes sense even though appljack posted some complete workarounds you guys want the ability back in the drivers.....no wonder i haven't noticed any issues as i run in plain stereo
 

MavericK

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We're not talking about headphones. We're talking about 5.1 analog speaker setups. You cannot mirror front to rear. If you think that SBX surround bullshit is the same, it's not. It's actually stereo EXPAND and adds terrible distortion.

Again this only matters if your source is stereo and not 5.1 but its a basic feature that an 80 dollar card should be able to do.

Ah, okay. Actually I do have an analog 5.1 setup and the Surround sounds pretty decent to me with music, although that is true, it is not a direct 1:1 mirror front to back of the stereo sound.
 

MavericK

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Also, people that like this card...might I ask what your driver/EQ settings are? Maybe I just haven't found the right ones yet. Using a 5.1 Logitech analog system as well as Senn HD590s on occasion.
 

ccityinstaller

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Also, people that like this card...might I ask what your driver/EQ settings are? Maybe I just haven't found the right ones yet. Using a 5.1 Logitech analog system as well as Senn HD590s on occasion.

For what? Music? Games? Movies?

For streaming music (Pandora One) I use the following custom:

31~62Hz: 3dB boost

125~250hz: 1dB boost

500~2.5Khz: Flat

4K~8K~16K: -1dB reduction

For gaming I leave the EQ flat, and for movies when I remember..I often use the Pandora EQ (as I have it named) for movies as well since the low end needs a boost in my Beyer's..
 

chameleoneel

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meh...I have been using my trusty x-fi titanium in my last 2 rigs I built. You can't beat it for native 7.1

I run optical out to my Denon receiver to 5.1 speakers and it rocks.

But the ultimate which I use 99% of the time, is straight out the back of the x-fi to my Razer Tiamat for true 7.1

Gaming is just bliss..... I always like to buy the newest and best, but I don't think there is anything better then the Titanium for the price point/features.... Still rocking after all these years

are your titans not able to do 7.1 over hdmi?
 

Island

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are your titans not able to do 7.1 over hdmi?

I game on a 30" Dell monitor dude. I can't use HDMI. I use dual Link DVI. Plus I think a dedicated sound card is better quality then what onboard audio or GPU graphics card can offer
 
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