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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 74

post #1096 of 3297

Further confirmation that Speakers mode (unlike the previous X-FI's) is not in any way compatible for surround headphone use if you're using the lineouts to an amp; or if you're using SPDIF/Optical out either. Speaker mode is totally for Speakers and that's it.

 

Fegefeuer, thanks for replying - I take it that you can at least switch to clean 2 channel audio, using 'stereo direct' for the very best stereo audio in Headphone mode? Does it do it at 192Khz? One thing though.. you said that you "switch all the time" - why'd you do that if the sound is all fluffed up?

 

**EDIT**

Now that Feg (thank you.. at last somebody here is using optical) has confirmed that headphone mode works via SPDIF (*EDIT* new article from Creative supports this http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=121466.), it looks likely I'll be going for a cheap $65 OEM Soundblaster Z and an Audio-GD DAC/AMP version 11 or 15 via SPDIF out. You could do the same setup with a cheap Xonar too I'm sure.

 

This option is almost half as much again as getting a ZxR/STX, but ***k it... The ACM and daughterboard are extraneous unneeded junk to me as far as Creative's offering goes. The STX has Dolby Headphone: but after comparing the two surround technologies in RL, I far prefer SBZ Pro Studio. DH sounds lush though; bit messy but great. (Only heard through the DG v an SBZ).

 

Also: having a concurrent USB connection (for pure uber-stereo) along with an optical out is extremely attractive. It appears that you can easily switch audio output between the soundcard and USB out via Windows Sound Control Panel. I'm pretty sure you can get max 192khz output this way with USB if you're into that. If I select the soundcard however, using SPDIF out, I'd also get to use Creative's software control panel and full surround processing (2ch Virtual Stereo for games and movies) with headphones. And no: I would rather not personally use my motherboard's surround DSP's, however that would shave $70 off the price if I dropped the SBZ.

 

With this setup I'd also get a powerful DAC/AMP with an extremely low output impedance, meaning that in turn my low impedance headphones of choice are perfectly matched.

 

In the future I could maybe get the cheapest Zonar and put in my system along with the SBZ; both attached to a 2 Way Toslink Digital Optical Audio Switch > DAC/AMP.


Edited by SaLX - 10/29/13 at 10:47am
post #1097 of 3297

I only switch to speakers when using my Neumann Monitors so whenever I don't want to use headphones. 

 

I don't listen to music via the ZxR or let's say I transport the music over the USB of my D2 and use the ZxR for games and movies only.

 

Stereo direct goes into speaker mode and in my case it sets the optical out to default playback device. You can set 192khz.

post #1098 of 3297

@Fegefeuer > so basically stereo direct in SPDIF mode from your Sound Blaster @192 kHz can't be used by headphones? So no use then?

post #1099 of 3297

if you set the option "Stereo Direct" then the panel switches to speakers and sets the card to 192/24.

If you try to switch back to headphones then "stereo direct" will get removed and you're back with headphones but that is not an issue if you want your pure stereo signal. 

post #1100 of 3297
Since stereo direct is a direct pathway from the windows mixer to the z's DAC, I wouldn't think it would have an effect on the optical out.
post #1101 of 3297

Hey DJ,

 

did you experiment with the SBX slider? What did you like between 67% default and 100%? 

post #1102 of 3297
Well I use 67% default. The reason is I find its the best compromise of accuracy and surround immersion.

The higher I go towards 100% the less accurate the sound stage begins to be. Let me try and explain.

So if I sound came from my rear right at lets say coordinates (10,10). At 67% I can hear that its at (10,10) but at 100% I can only tell its in between my rear right and my absolute right, or (5 to 10, 5 to 10).

Another explanation is the channels start to bleed together. Lower than 67% you lose immersion and the channels start to close off and you begin to get a straight stereo effect without any hrtf.

Hope that makes sense.

For me accuracy is more important so that's why I pick this. Also I felt like it muffled or exaggerated sounds at distances when set towards 100%. Hard to explain this one but maybe it messes with the volume and eq of some sounds.

67% seems best at emulating a properly calibrated and eq'd 5.1 home theatre(I use mine in comparison). Seems reasonable that creative would use this as default.

As always whatever sounds best to you is the best choice.
Edited by DJINFERNO806 - 10/19/13 at 2:58am
post #1103 of 3297

I agree with your findings :beerchug:

 

There's something I forgot to mention in all these weeks!

 

A WARNING:

 

If you previously had an X-Fi card in your system and didn't do a fresh install for the SB-Z(xR) you might risk getting wrong settings for ALL your OpenAL/Alchemy "settings". I remember someone in the OC forums talk about a certain stereo effect (I also call it dead ear effect) during OpenAL/EAX games and I had the same experience. I even deleted every piece of Creative file or folder manually (when I got this card) after using tools I normally not recommend (Driver Cleaner) but it never worked so I blamed "Software OpenAL" for not being that good compared to Hardware acc.  What really happened was classic oldschool Creative software bullcrap. 

 

Anyway, after a fresh install everything works much better now, the effect is gone. There's no weird panning now in OpenAL/DS3D games, UT3 is fantastic to play (or to test as I just fool around since I stopped playing these kind of games ages go - also explains how bad I am :D).

 

Guild Wars works with all effects and does not have the dead ear effect. Not sure what other problems arose for other users but Creative software fragments causing erratical behaviour is still a threat in 2013, even though I didn't have a single problem with my X-Fis (since I didn't change to something else like in this case).

 

So yes, be warned, really try a fresh windows install.

 

So let me narrow people's decision once again:

 

The only case where you could prefer a Titanium HD or any other X-Fi is when you need the Elevation/MacroFX Filters to be at AUTO (Software OpenAL is default ON) or selectable. AUTO is safe, ON causes problems in games like Medieval 2 with squealing units when flying over them with the camera. Note sure about other games. 

 

Other than that there's no reason to get an older card anymore.


Edited by Fegefeuer - 10/19/13 at 2:13am
post #1104 of 3297
^ hmmm that's interesting because a lot of guys over in the overclock.net forums were blaming the z and generic software openal for this effect. And I always thought it strange because I had perfect openal hrtf.

I think you should post this over there in their z thread. It would help a lot of guys I imagine.

Great find bro!! wink.gif

+1
post #1105 of 3297
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fegefeuer View Post

I agree with your findings beerchug.gif

There's something I forgot to mention in all these weeks!

A WARNING:

If you previously had an X-Fi card in your system and didn't do a fresh install for the SB-Z(xR) you might risk getting wrong settings for ALL your OpenAL/Alchemy "settings". I remember someone in the OC forums talk about a certain stereo effect (I also call it dead ear effect) during OpenAL/EAX games and I had the same experience. I even deleted every piece of Creative file or folder manually (when I got this card) after using tools I normally not recommend (Driver Cleaner) but it never worked so I blamed "Software OpenAL" for not being that good compared to Hardware acc.  What really happened was classic oldschool Creative software bullcrap. 

Anyway, after a fresh install everything works much better now, the effect is gone. There's no weird panning now in OpenAL/DS3D games, UT3 is fantastic to play (or to test as I just fool around since I stopped playing these kind of games ages go - also explains how bad I am biggrin.gif).

Guild Wars works with all effects and does not have the dead ear effect. Not sure what other problems arose for other users but Creative software fragments causing erratical behaviour is still a threat in 2013, even though I didn't have a single problem with my X-Fis (since I didn't change to something else like in this case).

So yes, be warned, really try a fresh windows install.

So let me narrow people's decision once again:

The only case where you could prefer a Titanium HD or any other X-Fi is when you need the Elevation/MacroFX Filters to be at AUTO (Software OpenAL is default ON) or selectable. AUTO is safe, ON causes problems in games like Medieval 2 with squealing units when flying over them with the camera. Note sure about other games. 

Other than that there's no reason to get an older card anymore.
It would be so great if they added the Elevation Filters and MacroFX auto/on/off setting. I have quit many games that do not sound right when those are forced on (which is what it currently does). Other than that it works great.
post #1106 of 3297

Wow.....thanks Fegefeuer for confirming that Headphone mode works over optical. I'll now ditch my STX and too purchase a SB-Z.

 

I too will be buying an external DAC and connecting this via USB to my computer @ 192/24 for Music reproduction and using the optical from the SB-z for games and movies.

 

I'm no longer a sad Panda :)

post #1107 of 3297
Ya it seems a lot more people will be buying the cheaper z and just going optical out to DAC/amp. Especially now its been confirmed.

Even I'm contemplating selling my zxr and going that route..... Oh dear...
post #1108 of 3297

A dac/amp is more flexible but it needs to be really good. I wouldn't touch a DAC/AMP that gives a hum/hiss or noise with very sensitive inears or headphones. 

post #1109 of 3297
Ya I know that's definitely a concern.

I was looking at an asgard2 or Valhalla coupled with a Loki or bifrost... Need to read some more reviews.
post #1110 of 3297

I was looking at the Audio GD 15.32 or the Tubemagic D1, but it seems more people recommend or only have the Audio GD when looking at the HD600 thread.

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