Well the THX info I base on another respectable forum user's experience which have tried all the different cards and technologies for surround sound and was very positively suprised by the ZxR's THX and thought it was the best he had used so far... just cuz the settings are the same doesn't mean under the cover is going on the same thing. So I'm still of the opinion, don't judge THX of Z-series unless having tried it. I mean there has to be a reason CMSS3D was ditched alltogether and I think it's due to the THX is actually catching up now. I would gladly comment on it myself if I could only get my card shipped to me!
A few testimonials I found from a quick search:
"What I've heard". You're wrong. It is the next generation of surround software/hardware from creative, and is not the same as THX Tru Studio.
Having owned the Titanium HD and used the rather ****ty Recon3d , i've done comparisons of all 3 types of surround with THX Tru Studio surround being by far the worst. SBX surround is next generation and is a vast improvement over THX studio surround; the differences are very obvious when testing surround sound with THXTS on a recon3d and then trying SBXS on the Z/ZX. Perhaps you should take your own advice about "knowing what you're talking about".
Here's where I would put the Z series ahead of the STX. The 3d positional audio is excellent in games - it is far better than THX surround used with the recon3d line, and you can also use SBX surround for general use. With the x-fi cards, 3d surround was great in games but could cause distortion in music. I haven't found that to be the case with the Z series. You can turn surround on and leave it turned on for everything with no adverse effects. Anyway, the ZX/ZXR are definitely better for positional audio in games compared to the essence STX.
For music playback and content creation i'd say the STX is about equal - but I think the ZX/r is better in every other area.
The Z(x)(r) also have 600ohm headphone amps, so while it comes with an ACM I only use that for the mic. The headphone amp on the ZX is great - while the x-fi titanium doesn't have a headphone amp at all. The quality of the output from the headphone jack on the card is pretty phenomenal, definitely one ups that x-fi titanium HD in that respect. The titanium HD definitely required an external headphone amp, while the ZX/R do not.
Personally, I would give it a shot. I had a titanium HD and got a ZX and was blown away - so much so that I'm definitely buying a ZXR as soon as it becomes available. I really feel like this is Creative's best audio card in a long, long time.
The 3D is also far better than what the Recon3D had. So far i'd put it on par with the titanium HD, although I haven't done a direct headphone comparison between CMSS3D vs SBX surround. SBX surround is definitely better than the THX surround used on the recon3d line, though.....
The other features are pretty great as well, especially the mic echo cancellation and headphone amp/audio control module.. Really enjoying the card, so far.
Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 5/12/13 at 3:17pm