I sincerely apologize for making a double-post, but I wasn't sure whether I posted my other questions in the right threads. I was directed to several threads at once and unfortunately, I haven't found answers to the questions I had after doing some research.
Anyway, below are my PC's audio components & their impedance:
Realtek ALC892 Onboard sound @ 2ohms
ASUS Xonar DGX @ 10ohms w/ UNi drivers & updated Dolby Headphone 7.1 Shifter profile
Sennheiser HD-280 Pro Monitoring headphones @ 64ohms
Logitech Z-680 505W DD/DTS 5.1 speakers @ 8ohms
I'm a PC gamer who enjoys Dolby Headphone positional/surround audio/sound, but I am not an audiophile with a good sense of hearing who can easily differentiate between good & bad sound quality. I can, however, tell when positional audio is not accurate in terms of sound direction and sound distance. The main and the only audio/sound complaint I have is that Dolby Headphone technology has this reverberation / echo with any settings I try, but at the same time it makes the spatial/positional sound cues more differentiated/accurate to my ears than some other technologies I have tried, like CMSS-3D. I can always tell where the sound is coming from and how far away it is with Dolby Headphone. All this led me to try out something else I liked and found not only comparable, but also superior to Dolby Headphone - Creative's SBX Pro @ 30%. SBX Pro seems to produce the cleanest positional audio out of all available technologies/methods/licenses I have tried, like Dolby Headphone, CMSS-3D, Razer Kraken 7.1 Virtual Surround Engine, etc.
There are several questions I would like someone to answer or just provide some feedback before I make a decision to buy Sound Blaster Z, which supports SBX Pro:
- If anyone noticed, SBX Pro offers exactly the same features as THX TruStudio Pro did a few years back. The web page dedicated to SBX Pro has an identical address to the one that used to be dedicated to THX TruStudio Pro. Some say that SBX Pro is simply a re-branded THX TruStudio Pro. Is that true? My Realtek ALC892 onboard sound supports a freely available THX TruStudio Pro package & utilities at http://www.station-drivers.com/. If it sounds exactly or very close to SBX Pro, then I will not need to upgrade to Sound Blaster Z! In fact, I could even get rid of my ASUS Xonar DGX. The most important factors for me are the positional accuracy and the clarity of the sound itself. That is what makes up "sound quality" in my mind.
- What about other technologies such as Dolby Digital Plus Advanced Audio (latest version), Dolby Home Theatre v4, and DTS Surround Sound Sensation? They all feature downmixing 5.7/7.1 multi-channel audio to 2.0 stereo for headphone output. There are other technologies/licenses that may do the same with Realtek ALC892 and here is the list:
+Dolby SRS TruSurround HD
+SRS Premium Sound
+Synopsys Sonic Focus
+DTS Surround Sensation | UltraPC
I know that some of the above technologies, like DTS Connect are used to send 5.1 compressed sound over SPDIF, just like Dolby Digital Live, and they cannot be used for virtual surround sound in headphones. This is why I came here to inquire further. At first, I thought that all of these were just gimmicks, but then I learned that many people thought SBX Pro was the best, while others thought SBX Pro may have been nothing new and nothing more than THX TruStudio Pro, which I can get any time I want.
I know onboard sound can suck at times, but the only real difference between all these soundcards when it comes to sound processing are the licenses that were applied to them. I am sure that just about any decent soundcard like ASUS Xonar DGX could support almost ALL of the features I listed, given they get licensed for them and supporting driver & software are provided. Take a look at Realtek ALC1150 - on some motherboards it supports basic Realtek-support audio technologies,, but on others that had their makers buy the right license, ALC1150 supports SBX Pro!!! Onboard sound has a higher chance of producing crackling sounds, noises, having all kinds of small distortions, but the issue is not with the chip itself or the processing. The issue is how the chip was integrated. Many new motherboards today isolate the sound chip to prevent crackling and distortions from occurring and doing so worked! My motherboard is rather old - ASUS P8Z77-V Pro, but I have no crackling sounds or noises or any issues with it, which is why I would rather use it with THX TruStudio Pro instead of buying Sound Blaster Z.
Impedance is another aspect that may benefit me more if I stick to my onboard Realtek ALC892 sound chip. ALC892 is rated @ 2 ohms, which would perfectly match my Sennheiser HD-280 Pro's with 64ohms and would be a better match for my Logitech Z-680 505W DD/DTS 5.1 8ohms speakers. ASUS Xonar DGX is a 10ohms soundcard, which creates a slight mismatch with my 64ohms headphones, and a huge mismatch with my 8ohms speakers. Sound Blaster Z has even a higher impedance of 22ohms! I know impedance mismatch is not a big deal and my Sennheiser HD-280 Pro 64ohms headphone could handle it with distortions so mild that I'd never even know, but my speakers would probably sound crappy, wouldn't they?
Anyway, I just need to know whether SBX Pro = THX TruStudio Pro by those who actually experienced both and whether there are other technologies superior or comparable to SBX Pro that are supported by my onboard chip. Only then I can decide if upgrading to Sound Blaster Z is worth it or not.
Sorry for the long post! I will appreciate any feedback you can provide.
Edited by MonarchX - 6/6/14 at 10:18am