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Hardware Creative Sound Blaster Z review

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by brumgrunt, 11 Feb 2013.

  1. Chris_Waddle

    Chris_Waddle Loving my new digital pinball machine

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    Well I have to say that I recently purchased an OEM Soundblaster Z card for my 2nd PC which I now use as a media PC. Since I built it I had been using on board sound and found that I had to boost the equilizer to max to get decent volume when playing some files or YouTube vids. The sound was ok, but when boosted like this it could get a bit ropey at times.

    I have to say that this new soundblaster card is excellent. I have had no problems with the drivers at all and the sound quality is excellent. It's certainly a hell of a lot louder! I'm very pleased with the purchase.

    My gaming machine has a Zonar D2X. I've had several issues with drivers on this and if it wasn't for finding the unified drivers, I think it would have found itself embedded in a wall.

    Yes Creative have a bad rep and a lot of it is deserved (their original treament of Daniel K was a disgrace), but bad drivers are not just limited to them.
     
  2. Shirty

    Shirty Time travelling rogue Super Moderator

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    TL;DR - Creative make some nice kit, but many people feel that their continued support of said kit is lacking. I had a few issues myself, but good ol' Realtek is as reliable as it is inferior :D
     
  3. true_gamer

    true_gamer Well-Known Member

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    On board sound is so flat...:)
     
  4. Gradius

    Gradius IT Consultant

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    If you expect for real Hi-Fi PRO quality, you need to burn some $$$ for it. As many know, Creative FAILS on support (drivers), and looks like there was NO change on it. For my solution, I burned $1K, perhaps even a bit more. I use an Asus STX w/ Bursons OPAMs + hi precision clock + HD650 heaphones. Now I have something worth $10K or even more! Next steps would be a HD800, but I still thinking if I go that way.
     
  5. Deders

    Deders New Member

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    I've not experienced any issue's with mine and my SSD, had no issue at all with the drivers for a few years now. Tech support was awful when I did though but issues ironed themselves out.
     
  6. Corky42

    Corky42 Where's walle?

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    The old it isn't happening to me so it isn't a problem, good one.
    Almost as good a saying its a lost packet when downloading :sigh:
     
  7. blackworx

    blackworx Cable Wrangler

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    Actually, there is.

    Unless you're talking exclusively about the relative SQ of analogue outputs (and why would you do that?) then you're just wrong.

    As per my previous post, I'm happily using my mobo's onboard S/PDIF output to feed a stereo rackmount DAC which in turn feeds a pair of balanced input studio monitors. I wouldn't go so far as to dismiss out of hand the use of decent consumer grade sound cards, as I don't actually know how good they are. I'll tell you one thing though: they'd have to be helluva good to even come close.
     
  8. true_gamer

    true_gamer Well-Known Member

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    ...:yawn:...I can see you're gonna fit right in here....
     
  9. YEHBABY

    YEHBABY RIP Tel

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    My xfi gamer works fine in all games etc. Where I do have a problem is that every week or two I will lose all sound and the only way to fix it is to reload all the drivers again.

    Drives me crazy :wallbash:

    They definitely need to start updating their legacy product drivers. :nono:
     
  10. Deders

    Deders New Member

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    I wonder why it affect some and not others if they have the same hardware and drivers/os?
     
  11. m0ngy

    m0ngy New Member

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    I was, actually. I've never used a digital output from my mobo.

    They are a helluva lot better, you don't know what you're missing out on. Apparently, the Asus Essence STX sounds particularly sweet, and will improve the sound of you music (according to the Bit-tech review), though I've never owned one.
     
  12. blackworx

    blackworx Cable Wrangler

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    Don't you see the contradiction?
     
  13. LordPyrinc

    LordPyrinc Legomaniac

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    Yeah, keep guessing. What a dick!
     
  14. runadumb

    runadumb New Member

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    If you mainly use S/PDIF (main PC) or HDMI (HTPC) do you really notice much of a difference? I would use headphones on the gaming rig at times so that might allow a big improvement.

    I had a X-fi which worked fine over 3 separate PC builds but I had to give it up with my current PC due to no PCI slot and now I don't even have the space for one. That may change though so I could be tempted in the future.

    I hope I would notice the difference straight away if I did get a dedicated soundcard, however, I don't even really seem to miss it though, onboard sounds okay :/
     
  15. fluxtatic

    fluxtatic New Member

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    You don't see the contradiction there? You're likely playing it back on equipment that's nicer and more costly than what it was recorded on in the first place, if it's really lo-fi (and not some marketing BS for the horn-rimmed glasses crowd.)

    On-topic, though, I'm a bit leery of dedicated sound cards still. Last one I used (can't recall what it was, but it had a C-Media DAC) was shaky at best. It was like building a house of cards just getting it to work, and every couple months or so it would flake out and I'd have to start over. In comparison, on-board was a godsend, as it was just a matter of installing the drivers and moving on with life. Sound may not be as good, but my hearing's not so hot anyway.

    Also, as to whether something like this makes a difference if you're using optical out - no. Unless there's something I'm fundamentally misunderstanding, digital is digital, and your RealTek S/PDIF will send out the same digital signal a discrete card would.

    Of course, for the best possible experience, drop $100 on this card along with a $100 optical Monster cable, both of which have been deoxygenated for the best possible sound ;)
     
  16. azrael-

    azrael- I'm special...

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    I'm still using my Audigy PCI card (yes, also in my new/resurrected totally new and cool rig) and I'm still quite pleased, but I've been eyeing an X-Fi Titanium on and off.

    Now people seem to rave (to a greater or lesser extent) about the new Z series, but it's powered by the same SoundCore processor as the Recon3D. From what I've gathered the SoundCore isn't nearly as powerful as the EMU20K1 and if I look at the specs both the Recon3D and the Z(x) seem to have lower specs than the X-Fi Titanium. So how come the Z series is supposedly better? Is there something I'm not aware of?
     
  17. djzic

    djzic Bokehlicious!

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    long-stranding?;)
     
  18. m0ngy

    m0ngy New Member

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    That's a very good point, but the albums I'm referring to specifically encompass a golden middle period of those artists careers. They'd made it out of their basements, having been been picked up by Drag City on the strength of their 4-track recordings, but continued to incorporate lo-fi and minimalist production values into their music, although recorded in a proper studio.

    I'm pretty sure my sound card causes the majority of crashes... still, I wouldn't be without it.

    I don't know about this, I reckon the sound card would do a better job of sampling than on-board. Certainly, the sound card software will enable you to customize the sound.

    A mate of mine has one of those Monster cords from his TV to his Bose system, he got suckered twice.
     
    Last edited: 16 Feb 2013
  19. ferret141

    ferret141 Well-Known Member

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    Have I got this correct. This card has headphone output plus 5.1 without needing to switch out the Front channel jacks?
     
  20. blackworx

    blackworx Cable Wrangler

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    I took a bit of time to attempt to research this, but any discussion I can find is the usual hi-fi crowd "my toy's better than your toy, no it isn't/yes it is" bull. The few attempts at objectivity I was able to find fall flat; mostly because they've been made by someone who has bought a new toy, compares them to his old toys and decides that - surprise surprise - the new toy wins.

    For my part I'll stick with the trusted opinion of someone with about a decade's sound tech experience who, when she listened to one of her standards on my rig, said: "this is the best I've ever heard this track." When I laughed and asked her to qualify the statement (i.e. "this is the best I've ever heard it from a PC/small system/without EQ/whatever") she said "no, this is the best I've ever heard it, period".

    Regarding "customising the sound", EQ can be done in software, effects can be done in software if you want that sort of thing. (Fair enough for recording you probably want some sort of low latency/hardware accelerated/built in customisation, but that's a whole different game.)

    Likewise though I'd never plug a set of headphones into the onboard analogue outputs, however from everything I've been reading it looks pretty much like anything with its analogue stage actually inside the case is going to be (needlessly IMHO) fighting for effective EM shielding/decoupling. No doubt modern solutions are way better than those of even a few years ago, but if you have the option to take it outside the case then why even fight that battle?
     
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