Creative's Sound Blaster Z SE promises an even better audio experience

erek

Supreme [H]ardness
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Messages
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"The Sound Blaster Z SE sports a myriad of newly added profiles for games like PUBG, as well as microphone and headphones EQ presets. It has the same high-quality audio specifications as its predecessor, with up to 116 dB SNR at a bit rate of up to 24-bit / 192 kHz.

The new card supports 7.1 virtual surround sound on headphones and discrete 5.1 on speakers with an expanded list of headphone profiles."


"Creative's Sound Blaster Z SE promises an even better audio experience" -- https://betanews.com/2021/01/13/creative-sound-blaster-z-se/
 

equinox654

Limp Gawd
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Messages
406
Wonder if it's the same hardware with different drivers that can be modded to the original.
 

jfreund

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I use an older receiver that doesn't have HDMI, so I use a sound card for DD Live or DTS Connect. I don't need "virtual" surround, I just need the encoded digital out. I'm using a Creative USB sound adapter right now, because the DPC latency with my old Auzentech XFi Forte was atrocious. I also have an Asus card with DTS Connect I need to try in my rebuilt system.
 

Ocellaris

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Jan 1, 2008
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"The Sound Blaster Z SE sports a myriad of newly added profiles for games like PUBG, as well as microphone and headphones EQ presets. It has the same high-quality audio specifications as its predecessor, with up to 116 dB SNR at a bit rate of up to 24-bit / 192 kHz.

The new card supports 7.1 virtual surround sound on headphones and discrete 5.1 on speakers with an expanded list of headphone profiles."


"Creative's Sound Blaster Z SE promises an even better audio experience" -- https://betanews.com/2021/01/13/creative-sound-blaster-z-se/
So this is the exact same card they launched over 8 years ago... Now with new drivers? They aren’t even trying, they are shoving an old card in a new box:

https://www.vortez.net/articles_pages/creative_sound_blaster_z_review,1.html
 

DanNeely

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So this is the exact same card they launched over 8 years ago... Now with new drivers? They aren’t even trying, they are shoving an old card in a new box:

https://www.vortez.net/articles_pages/creative_sound_blaster_z_review,1.html

It's not the exact same card. both optical ports are black, one of them on the old model was gray.

Beyond that, after 8 years it could also now be manufactured on a newer process (because the ancient one they were using was finally discontinued). 🙄🙄🙄
 
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Comixbooks

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16,628
I'm not really impressed with my Saber chip Creative AE5 the onboard Realtek in my Asus sounds better for Headphones. I use the Creative card for my Speakers still the optical is top notch.
 

HAL_404

[H]ard|Gawd
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Messages
1,069
Which receiver and speakers are you using?
A system that puts out 5 channels of Audio Joy. Speaker placement is an important part of it sounding best. The AVR is Yamaha niceness
but make sure to get the original remote included because there's a few different remote models depending on the year the RX-V463
was made. Earlier RX-V463's have an Amber LCD display (IMO best choice) compared to BRIGHT white on the newer releases.
Only drawback of this AVR is the HDMI ports. They are not 4K but it does have a Composite Video input. If you absolutely have to have
4K HDMI ports there's a few AVR's built today and the low end sells for about $250 or so for New.
The Sony's are built solid, hefty little buggers, sound very good for their size and I think they are more than good enough for the surround
rear speaker position and cost me $10 / pair (shipped) @ eBay
The Micca's are really nice for the price (sports magnetically attached removable front grills), sounds very good ... what more does one
really need?
The Yamaha sub is excellent - best audio sub I ever owned (I'm a used to be weekend musician, not an audiophile, if that helps)

Total cost (shipped) >>> $360 (early 2020) ... that's the cost of a Creative Labs Sound Blaster AE-9 for a system that will shake the walls and
floor with hi-fidelity audio pleasure. As stated earlier by leonemesisbra, once you taste you will never go back ... you've been warned :barefoot:

Side note: I wouldn't pay more than $100 shipped for the RX-V463 since a new 4k HDMI AVR is just a bit more than twice that price.

System Specs:

Yamaha RX-V463
YAMAHA YST-SW150 SUBWOOFER
Micca MB42X-C
Micca MB42X
Sony SS-MSP 75 (for rear)

MB42X-C
Woofer: Dual 4” Carbon Fiber Cone + Rubber Surround
Tweeter: 0.75” Silk Dome
Enclosure: Ported Cabinet
Frequency Response: 60Hz-20kHz (Typical In-Room)
Impedance: 4-8 Ohms
Power Handling: 100 Watts rms
Dimensions: 5.3” (H) x 15” (W) x 7.1” (D)

MB42X
Same as MB42X-C except :
Power Handling: 75 Watts rms
Dimensions: 9.5” (H) x 5.8” (W) x 6.5” (D)

YAMAHA YST-SW150 SUBWOOFER
Type: Active Servo Processing Subwoofer System
Speaker: 20 cm (7-7/8”) cone woofer (JA2156)
magnetic-shield type x 2 Amplifier Output: 120W @ 5 ohms
High-Cut Filter: 40 Hz–140 Hz (–24 dB/oct)
Frequency Response: 20 Hz–160 Hz (–10 dB)

Sony SS-MSP 75
Speaker system: Full range, magnetically shielded
Speaker: 70 mm
Enclosure: Bass reflex
Impedance: 8 ohms
Power handling:100 Watts
Frequcency range: 160 Hz – 20,000 Hz
 
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Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
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Sep 29, 2001
Messages
18,343
I'm truly amazed this company is still in business. I have to give them props for that.
I run the Soundblaster ZxR in my new rig,

IMG_0116.JPEG



The only reason I got it was that I wanted the Black Mic/IO pod and the Soundblaster ZX I had had the Red pod.
it's the thing under the middle of the monitor,
IMG_0372.JPEG
 
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Furious Nerd

2[H]4U
Joined
Sep 14, 2006
Messages
3,194
I recently got a Sound Blaster X3 external DAC/audio card and it's pretty sweet for headphones. It really is a nice upgrade over onboard with it's 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound Super X-Fi option, it really is kick ass for gaming and movies and totally different than onboard.

I'm confused why they released this new product without S-XFI though. It is better sounding than SBX (the X3 has both SBX and S-XFI).

I was also amazed and how well it made my Bose QC35's shit microphone sound!

I can't go back to onboad after using the X3. Even disregarding the X3's Super-XFI mode (which isn't available on this new card) just using the 5.1/7.1 headphone virtualization and SBX on top of it is so much better for movies, games and music than onboard... no comparison.

Super X-Fi does additional processing on its hardware (can't be emulated by software, needs dedicated hardware on the X3) which makes it sound like you're not wearing headphones. You put on headphones and it sounds like they're not working, you swear you didn't switch your output from your external speakers to your headphones xD it's that real sounding!

This card is $109, the X3 is $119. I'd definitely go with the Sound Blaster X3.. not sure what the advantage of this card is.
Maybe an audiophile familair with Creative's lineup can chime in.
 

Circumnavigate

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 26, 2009
Messages
202
A system that puts out 5 channels of Audio Joy. Speaker placement is an important part of it sounding best. The AVR is Yamaha niceness
but make sure to get the original remote included because there's a few different remote models depending on the year the RX-V463
was made. Earlier RX-V463's have an Amber LCD display (IMO best choice) compared to BRIGHT white on the newer releases.
Only drawback of this AVR is the HDMI ports. They are not 4K but it does have a Composite Video input. If you absolutely have to have
4K HDMI ports there's a few AVR's built today and the low end sells for about $250 or so for New.
The Sony's are built solid, hefty little buggers, sound very good for their size and I think they are more than good enough for the surround
rear speaker position and cost me $10 / pair (shipped) @ eBay
The Micca's are really nice for the price (sports magnetically attached removable front grills), sounds very good ... what more does one
really need?
The Yamaha sub is excellent - best audio sub I ever owned (I'm a used to be weekend musician, not an audiophile, if that helps)

Total cost (shipped) >>> $360 (early 2020) ... that's the cost of a Creative Labs Sound Blaster AE-9 for a system that will shake the walls and
floor with hi-fidelity audio pleasure. As stated earlier by leonemesisbra, once you taste you will never go back ... you've been warned :barefoot:

Side note: I wouldn't pay more than $100 shipped for the RX-V463 since a new 4k HDMI AVR is just a bit more than twice that price.

System Specs:

Yamaha RX-V463
YAMAHA YST-SW150 SUBWOOFER
Micca MB42X-C
Micca MB42X
Sony SS-MSP 75 (for rear)

MB42X-C
Woofer: Dual 4” Carbon Fiber Cone + Rubber Surround
Tweeter: 0.75” Silk Dome
Enclosure: Ported Cabinet
Frequency Response: 60Hz-20kHz (Typical In-Room)
Impedance: 4-8 Ohms
Power Handling: 100 Watts rms
Dimensions: 5.3” (H) x 15” (W) x 7.1” (D)

MB42X
Same as MB42X-C except :
Power Handling: 75 Watts rms
Dimensions: 9.5” (H) x 5.8” (W) x 6.5” (D)

YAMAHA YST-SW150 SUBWOOFER
Type: Active Servo Processing Subwoofer System
Speaker: 20 cm (7-7/8”) cone woofer (JA2156)
magnetic-shield type x 2 Amplifier Output: 120W @ 5 ohms
High-Cut Filter: 40 Hz–140 Hz (–24 dB/oct)
Frequency Response: 20 Hz–160 Hz (–10 dB)

Sony SS-MSP 75
Speaker system: Full range, magnetically shielded
Speaker: 70 mm
Enclosure: Bass reflex
Impedance: 8 ohms
Power handling:100 Watts
Frequcency range: 160 Hz – 20,000 Hz
Impressive.

So did you build this just for watching movies?
 

THRESHIN

2[H]4U
Joined
Sep 29, 2002
Messages
3,304
I was going to pass on this, but since they have profiles for all the games I don't want to play like PUBG, sign me up!

In all seriousness, I have always liked creative products. Many of us had their old sound cards from back in the day. The live was a wonderful card. Back when everyone was relentlessly humping the asspod I bought a creative mp3 player for less than half the price and it had better sound quality.

These days they've become almost entirely irrelevant. Onboard sound is more than enough for most of us. There's not enough benefit for me to bother.
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2016
Messages
29
Which receiver and speakers are you using?

Nothing too fancy, receiver ´s a Yamaha RX-S600 because I have limited space in my desk. Speakers I can´t really remember the model number, but they are entry level Yamahas, couldn´t get tower speakers because, again, limited space. But when I move to my new house I will be able to get something real nice.

Also got a Polk sub that I got second-hand for a good price. All in all, my setup is really weak if you compare to a setup with proper floor standing speakers, but it sounds way better than any PC speakers I had before. I used to own Logitech´s and even that Creative Gigaworks 7.1 set, at the time I thought it was the best I could get for a PC. It was only when it crapped out a few years later that I looked into audio setups, and found a solution that would work for my room size.
 

GreenLaser

n00b
Joined
Sep 24, 2020
Messages
19
If you get one, plug it in and have a decent 5.1 logitec speaker setup you will immediately notice almost dead silent noise floor and better speaker separation. Also the DSP in the SB can be tweaked on a per app basis. For normal listening levels the SQ cant be beat. My onboard realtech would pop and crackle with a noticeable hiss when turned up no comparison. I also have a pioneer elite in the room i can feed if i want to shake the walls but really who is gonna do this all the time? And the amp creates a LOT of additional heat in the man-cave that just adds to the PC/VID watts you need to deal with. At normal volumes large high power speakers are just a waste unless your trying to compensate :)
 

GotNoRice

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 11, 2001
Messages
10,126
Seriously. Who uses a sound card anymore?

A USB DAC is just a "USB external soundcard", and there is nothing special about USB compared to PCIe.

But one thing you don't usually get with a USB DAC is features. You almost always only get a bare-bones audio interface. A soundcard can come with a lot of features. I find CMSS-3D on my X-Fi cards to be invaluable when it comes to giving me a good positional audio experience using headphones in games or movies with 5.1+ audio.

And to be clear, a sound card and an external DAC are not mutually exclusive. You can always use a soundcard, and then run optical digital output to an external DAC instead of using USB. IMO, optical S/PDIF is better than USB anyway because it actually provides electrical isolation between your DAC and your computer.

So this is the exact same card they launched over 8 years ago... Now with new drivers? They aren’t even trying, they are shoving an old card in a new box:

Just curious, why do you feel that they need to "Re-invent the wheel" every few years when it comes to their audio products? Sound Cards aren't like Video Cards where you usually have a huge improvement each generation. Don't fix it if it isn't broken. Sort of like Logitech releasing new mice every year or two with slightly different shapes and pretending that each one is some amazing new product - until they realized that many people liked their old mice better, so they re-released the MX518. Or Keyboards, where the industry has embraced Cherry-MX switches that were largely designed in the 80's and 90's. Especially when it comes to computers, people too easily get caught up in the idea that any component more than a few years old is automatically obsolete and needs to go in the trash. In reality, many components have long-since reached the point of diminishing returns and it's more about preference. Nothing wrong with using an "old" pair of headphones, an "old" keyboard, an "old" mouse, an "old" mousepad, an "old" power supply, an "old" computer case, or even an "old" soundcard if it's still getting the job done.

And they probably didn't have to put much effort into those "new drivers" considering that they never stopped releasing new drivers for the original Sound Blaster Z series. I use Creative X-Fi soundcards in most of my computers, which is a generation older than the Z series, and they still release new drivers for them also.
 

4saken

[H]F Junkie
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Messages
11,549
I have a soundblaster Zx because i needed multiple inputs. otherwise i wouldnt have bothered.
 

jobert

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
224
I have the sound blaster ZX and I have tried using the onboard solutions on the last two motherboards and they were just garbage. I'm certainly not an audiophile but I know when something sounds like crap. That said of course there's better solutions but I'm too lazy to fool with them.
 

HAL_404

[H]ard|Gawd
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Messages
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In all seriousness, I have always liked creative products.
so did I, once upon a time when there was actually a real need to have to buy one and I also recall how quite a few of the users complained time and time again about how lousy the drivers were and their PC kept locking up, etc

Great product, piss poor implementation ... thanks China
 

jobert

Limp Gawd
Joined
Dec 13, 2020
Messages
224
Do people still have issue with their drivers? I have been using the sound blaster ZX since it was introduced many many years ago and I've not had a single driver issue that I know of even on multiple setups with multiple operating systems over the years.
 

GotNoRice

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 11, 2001
Messages
10,126
Do people still have issue with their drivers?

Not really. Creative got a reputation for bad drivers in the Windows 98 / Sound Blaster Live! era, and early XP era, and have never really been able to live that down. They started getting their act together about 15 years ago and their drivers are actually very good now. There have been some issues in the last couple of years that helped to perpetuate their reputation for bad drivers, even though none of it was their fault. The Windows 10 1903 update for example made some significant changes to the way audio works in Windows 10, which caused most Creative sound cards to stop working. Many jumped to the conclusion that Creative did something wrong, when it was in-fact purely a Microsoft issue. Creative responded to the problem Microsoft caused by promptly releasing new drivers for every card they made going all the way back to the X-Fi series, including the earliest models which were released in mid 2005. Releasing new drivers for 15+ year old sound cards is what I would consider to be an example of good driver support, not bad driver support. Consider that Nvidia and AMD usually abandon support for cards when they are half that old.
 

KazeoHin

[H]F Junkie
Joined
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Messages
8,352
To answer some questions here, Creative still makes a ton of Sound hardware for notebooks, AIO PCs and OEM mainboards. They also make gamer headsets and USB audio interfaces, and if anyone wants to do MIDI production, a sound-card is pretty much REQUIRED if you want to avoid huge amounts of latency.

So Creative is still going well.
 

Krenum

Fully [H]
Joined
Apr 29, 2005
Messages
17,732
Seriously. Who uses a sound card anymore?
Anyone who has a computer hooked up to a surround sound system or receiver is. Be it a sound card in your computer or receiver board. Its probably a think market but theyre staying in business with other products.
 

THRESHIN

2[H]4U
Joined
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Messages
3,304
so did I, once upon a time when there was actually a real need to have to buy one and I also recall how quite a few of the users complained time and time again about how lousy the drivers were and their PC kept locking up, etc

Great product, piss poor implementation ... thanks China

Guess I missed a lot of that nonsense. I did have an issue with the old SB live that required 3rd party software to fix but that was all for me. Their earlier stuff was rock solid. Had a SB16, awe32 and 64. I still miss that old mp3 player sometimes too.

But yeah you're right on about not being a need for it now. If they were smart they'd focus on making high end onboard audio. Sure they do onboard now, but nothing I'd consider a premium product.

Then again maybe it's not practical considering electronic noise?
 

HAL_404

[H]ard|Gawd
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Messages
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Guess I missed a lot of that nonsense. I did have an issue with the old SB live that required 3rd party software to fix but that was all for me. Their earlier stuff was rock solid. Had a SB16, awe32 and 64. I still miss that old mp3 player sometimes too.

But yeah you're right on about not being a need for it now. If they were smart they'd focus on making high end onboard audio. Sure they do onboard now, but nothing I'd consider a premium product.

Then again maybe it's not practical considering electronic noise?
ok, I agree now that I ought to have not mentioned the driver issues, I have not had a soundcard for many a year now.
 

Tactlesss

Weaksauce
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Sep 2, 2017
Messages
79
Finally something other than an oversized second GPU to sit under utilized attached to the motherboard.
At least I can recycle the X-Fi card that keeps popping up in my computer room.
 

cpufrost

n00b
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Messages
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Some of us in fact do use sound cards but we call them interfaces. ;-)

I've been a MOTU user for 17 years.

https://motu.com/products/avb/24ai-24ao

Anyone remember early to mid 90s when the MIDI wars were heating up for realistic (or at least more realistic haha) game music? I remember countless hours of getting my midi voice patches optimized on my Turtle Beach Multi Sound. Eventually I got a GUS (Gravis Ultrasound Max) for a dedicated gaming PC. It too, had its share of issues but when it worked and notes didn't stick, the music was really nice. Sam and Max Hit the Road and even the original Doom with its crazy guitar riffs never sounded better! Far cry above FM synthesis for sure.

Nowadays with terabyte SSDs and gigabit internet connections, everything just gets streamed/stored/et al. So any system can have (Dolby whatever nomenclature you want to add tacked on) sound. Experience is all down to the GPU.
 

Darunion

2[H]4U
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Messages
4,090
havent touched my ae-5 since i got my schiit hel external dac/amp. That said i myself havent really been happy with onboard sound. it is better than it used to be but still feels very empty. Moving to soundblaster from onboard was a nice bump, the move from sb to hel wasnt as big but what i liked most was the clarity of the mic input on it, seemed even the sound blaster card wasnt that great at part.

I know audio quality is a giant pool of snake oils and arguments, but the great thing is that there are still plenty of options for what anyone needs/wants. Glad soundblaster is still around though, would be nice if they hire new software people.
 

Furious Nerd

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Messages
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havent touched my ae-5 since i got my schiit hel external dac/amp. That said i myself havent really been happy with onboard sound. it is better than it used to be but still feels very empty. Moving to soundblaster from onboard was a nice bump, the move from sb to hel wasnt as big but what i liked most was the clarity of the mic input on it, seemed even the sound blaster card wasnt that great at part.

I know audio quality is a giant pool of snake oils and arguments, but the great thing is that there are still plenty of options for what anyone needs/wants. Glad soundblaster is still around though, would be nice if they hire new software people.
I postead earlier in this thread about having a Sound Blaster X3 (USB soundcard/DAC/amp in-one), wonderful sound, and the features are superb!

I use Sound Blaster Commander to control it (Creative software), and it works pretty well. I've owned it for a few weeks now and keep going into the software to mess with EQ, turning features on/off, etc. Honestly I only encounter one bug - sound will switch to just direct mode (meaning it turns off all sound processing, so no EQ, no SBX, no Super X-Fi, just direct output with no effects applied) every 8th launch of the program or so, and all I have to do is toggle one button and it's back to usual, no big deal.

Other than that it's been a great experience and SOOOO much better than onboard. At least using headphones (and I don't have any audiophile headphones with weird Ohm/power requirements - just a Bose QuietComfort 35 that's meant to be driven by smart phones even).

Hardware is excellent for the X3, feature packed, software has been an 8/10 in terms of functionality and bug-free. If the direct mode bug was gone and you could turn off the few animations they include in the program when using it (just adds extra time when toggling switches or selecting SBX profiles, that add up if you frequently use the software), I'd give it a 10/10 in terms of having everything you'd need working really well to control the device)
 

HAL_404

[H]ard|Gawd
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Messages
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"Creative's Sound Blaster Z SE promises an even better audio experience"

they say, "promises are made to be broken"
 

Furious Nerd

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Joined
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Amazing... I just received an update to Sound Blaster Command and just after I was praising it above having used it for the past few weeks with my only complaint being it going into "direct mode" every 8th or so launch... GUESS WHAT! This update is now making it go into direct mode (turning off EQ, surround virtualization, Super X-FI, SBX... everything) EVERY SINGLE TIME! 100% of the time!..

Now, as an added bonus, when this happens and I toggle off direct mode, I have to re-select 7.1 surround virtualization in the program's settings, too, as it changes that to the default stereo for some reason instead of reverting to surround.

I suppose I could just keep it open in the background when I am deciding on which SBX profiles and/or equalizing instead of minimizing it to the tray and opening it as needed as I have been doing. But yup, programming is indeed quite hard I suppose.

Completely jinxed myself in a matter of hours... nice :dead:
 
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