Creative Sound Blaster Z Initial Impression

jolli

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Dec 17, 2010
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Really wishing I had bought some higher impedance headphones, I can barely adjust the volume before it is too loud!

Maybe next time.
 

Gmok Bonecrusha

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Because I am lazy...

So I currently have a Titanium HD. That goes to a Schiit Lyr to some HD800's.

For gaming will a ZXR be noticeable?

For music with a ZXR be noticable?
 

Gmok Bonecrusha

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Snagged the ZXr.

Compared to the Titanium HD, I can not tell the difference in music.

For gaming. Ya. Night and day.

The CMSS3D has been dethroned as the positional audio king. Not that the positional piece is any better. I can't tell the difference in that part. But jeez the audio is MUCH better. The bass impact, the sharpness overall of the sounds in game.

Where CMSS3D left the sound flat and thin, but provided great positional queues...the SBX is just sweet sounding. WITH great position.

Worth the upgrade over the Titanium HD to those on the fence.
 

B!nd.

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Ok so I didn't see this posted in the thread but this guy wrote a tool that add a ton of features for this card. Mainly, what I was looking for was a hotkey function for switching between headphones and speakers. This includes so much more and it looks like a lot of bugs were ironed out.

There might be some issues with this tool if you are using Windows 8 or 8.1 and if you an anti-virus installed but read through the thread. It's not long and it covers some good questions.

http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=381416
 

The Cobra

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Because I am lazy...

So I currently have a Titanium HD. That goes to a Schiit Lyr to some HD800's.

For gaming will a ZXR be noticeable?

For music with a ZXR be noticable?
I had a X-Fi Titanium HD for the longest time, then I purchased the SB-ZXR.

Music wise, I noticed no diff between the two, although the faint clicking sound I used to get when playing music is now gone with the ZXR.

Gaming is night and day. he ZXR sounds 10 times better then the X-Fi HD.
 

PGHammer

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Will Z fit in the top pcie slot ?

There is macho 120 on the cpu so there is NO space above that pcie slot, so the card have to be leveled with that slot.

And right below in x16 slot there is 7870 from gigabyte.
I have my Recon3D Fatality in the same position - it fits just fine (motherboard is *still* ASUS P5G41-M LX2/GB). It's one of only two cards in the computer (my GTX550Ti is the other). It's the PCI Express slot below it that you will lose with any dual-slot GPU (my Ti replaced a single-slot passive-cooled HD5450 - the upgrade ate the PCI-E slot below it).
 

revenant

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I finally got my Z installed yesterday and it does sound a bit better than the recon3d. One think I noticed that bugged me about the recon was the ambient sound in doom3 got really weird, like way out of balance, but it sounds a lot more balanced with the Z... Skyrim sounds about the same.. I still need to do more listening with the headphones to pick out subtle details. my speaker setup is an old Logitech Z5300e which is ok, but nothing super hi fidelity.. so that's likely a limiting factor when not using headphones... diablo III has some pretty good audio.. will do some testing with that game.

when build my next office I am thinking about using my yamaha rx-v1400 and surround speakers for the gaming rig audio... like building a "real" system for it.

oh and people weren't kidding about those red leds being bright.. wow!

edit: the Z is for sure a step up from the recon3d.. just a cleaner more balanced sound everywhere. not staggeringly different but to the discerning ear you can tell.
edit2: after spending a lot of time with the Z and my heaphones (vmoda crossfade LP w/ larger cups) the Z is for sure a nice step up from the recon. everything sounds really really good. crisp, clear, balanced - good bass but not too over powering. So I am pretty happy with the upgrade.. even with my external logitech speakers it's better. it's amazing this is based of the same chip that's on the recon. wow! this one sounds so much better.
 
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Syphon Filter

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My Z arrived today. Will install it when I get in after work.

I'm hoping it works well with my DT880 250Ohm headphones. If I find the volume adjustment too coarse I may go for the Fiio E09k amp too but I will see how it sounds without it first.
 

revenant

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from what I have read in this forum anything 250 and up will require an external amp... while the Z will drive them it just doesn't have the grunt to do a good job of it. It does drive my vmoda crossfade LPs with ease... nearly blew me out of my seat when I launched the first audio test... had the vol up just a little too much. ;)
 

elzeus

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New drivers:

Added Enhancement / Features:

Multiple fixes that improve the driver's overall stability and performance
Added support for ASIO playback and recording
 

Ocellaris

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Ocellaris

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Are you freaking kidding me???
I did a binary compare between the file that was up previously (stored on my PC in a backup folder) and a fresh download from the web. The files are identical down to every last bit, all Creative did was change dates.
 

spaceman

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lol creative up to their old tricks. How would they ever think they could get away with such an obvious ploy?

My Zx works just fine on Win 7 64 bit btw.
 

genkifd

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recently replaced my faulty (popping) Asus Pheobus with the SBZ. i have noticed so far that SB drivers are much more stable however the audio quality is slightly worse but its more than enough to satisfy my computer audio needs.
 

Ocellaris

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Was thinking the same thing, when have they not made a mess with the drivers for users :rolleyes:.
Presuming they have people working in the drivers, they should have just released something with a few fixes instead if bullshitting people. Creative is terrible at PR, whoever handles customer expectations doesn't comprehend they just keep pissing people off.
 
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TroyX

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Titanium HD driver wont be available until the end of Feb, but Win8 driver works fine on my system with Win 8.1.
 

b14z3

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any idea why or a way around this: when switching from headphones to speakers (both plugged in to the back of the soundcard in the right spots) if you have a youtube video playing for example, the audio stops until you reload the page... this happens with game audio, etc too

is this a windows issue?
 

Disposed

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any idea why or a way around this: when switching from headphones to speakers (both plugged in to the back of the soundcard in the right spots) if you have a youtube video playing for example, the audio stops until you reload the page... this happens with game audio, etc too

is this a windows issue?

Iirc it's normal if exclusive control is enabled.
 

techie81

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Soooooo, is that it with new drivers? No one has heard of anything new actually being released? This has to be a mistake or a joke.
 

Ocellaris

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Soooooo, is that it with new drivers? No one has heard of anything new actually being released? This has to be a mistake or a joke.
There are no new drivers. Creative just changed the date in the page in a poorly thought out attempt to shut people up.
 

TroyX

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back in the days companies didn't have this much power to do these illegal activities, today they just slide a suitcase under the table and they release BF40% completed out the door.
 

Wiseguy2001

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I really like it, made a massive difference to the audio quality (both through speakers and headphones). The 3d audio in games is fantastic and the noise cancellation for the mic is superb (I'm using a headset), it's really clear.

Couple of negatives, their download site limiting download spped to about 100k is a fucking joke this day and age (3 hour for a 200MB download over 80mb fibre, wtf!!). Also I notice an issue with sbz.exe, for some reason it was constantly using ~10% cpu, too a computer restart to fix it. But that's pretty much it.
 

Cozmo85

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I have sennheiser 558s using realtek onboard and the Razer surround software. Is it worth buying a z for 99% gaming. Also is the front panel audio amped?
 

MavericK

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I have mixed feelings about the Z. I picked it up awhile back when it was like $55 or so, which is a good deal for this card to be sure. However, coming from a Xonar D2X, I can't really say the sound quality is better on the Z. Music seemed to sound a lot better on the Xonar, though I do like the Surround features of the Z for headphone use (along with the dedicated headphone amp). Driver support for the Z seems better as well, though I haven't seen any new drivers come out for quite some time.

I've considered just switching back to the Xonar and using Razer Surround, which seemed to work just as well as the Creative solution when I tried it awhile back.
 

Matthew Kane

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I have sennheiser 558s using realtek onboard and the Razer surround software. Is it worth buying a z for 99% gaming. Also is the front panel audio amped?
Front panel audio has a line level signal feed in from the dual opamp for line out.

Short answer is yes.
 

Cozmo85

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Wow, i cant believe what a difference this made over the onboard audio. The positional audio is excellent. Way better than i got with the razer surround software.
 

MavericK

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Really? I didn't notice much difference between the Z Surround and my Xonar with Razer Surround. Would have to hear them side-by-side but I don't recall it being that different.
 

elzeus

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Anyone know how to get speaker fill turned on for 5.1 speaker setups? I'm new to 5.1 so I don't know if I'm doing it right but my music is only coming out of the L/R speakers. Everything is connected correctly and the speakers all sound off during the tests but music/videos are all on 2 speakers.
 

DarkAngel_ZERO

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Anyone know how to get speaker fill turned on for 5.1 speaker setups? I'm new to 5.1 so I don't know if I'm doing it right but my music is only coming out of the L/R speakers. Everything is connected correctly and the speakers all sound off during the tests but music/videos are all on 2 speakers.
That's normal. If you're not using some form of audio expansion or remapping, your audio will play in whatever format the source is. Videos and Music are generally 2 Speaker (L/R).

As a side question for others in this thread, did anyone just get an WinUpdate for "Creative - Audio Device - Sound Blaster Audio Controller"? Driver version is 6.0.103.25, which is newer than the 6.0.102.23 driver posted on Creative's site, but after installation, both drivers appear as separate devices (SB Audio Controller and SB ZxR). All audio continues to route through the original ZxR drivers...so what the heck did it even do?
 
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VulcaN

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Just a FYI...

I installed a new bios (gigabyte z87 mobo) and my card (zxr) disappeared from control panel. Changed PCI-E slots and it was still missing. Removed all creative drivers, reg keys, the works and still couldn't get it to come back.

Re-installing windows fixed the problem.
 
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