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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 83

post #1231 of 2603
Ya that would be nice but I'm still going to need a z for its features.

Hmm I guess selling the zxr for an OEM z and magni modi combo would be the best option....

But my question now is how much better sounding is the burr brown DAC compared to the modi? Thats my main concern.

EDIT: nvm, the modi doesn't have optical in, not a viable option for using a z with.
Edited by DJINFERNO806 - 11/6/13 at 11:30am
post #1232 of 2603

They won't do much of a difference imo. Purely on the output impedance ok, but SQ and drive isn't really far away. I'd get something from Asus, Yulong, Matrix, Anedio and have something for 10 years+. Gaming on PC over ten years is quite a difference in terms of money if you compare. 

post #1233 of 2603

Regarding the measurement of the output impedance, the basic idea is to measure the output voltage of the device unloaded, and then (without changing anything else) with a known load connected. From the reduction of voltage with the load, the output impedance can be calculated as Rload * ((Vnoload / Vload) - 1). Therefore, you need:

 

- a splitter (1 female and 2 male 1/8" jacks) or other suitable cable to be able to drive some load and measure the voltage at the same time

- some kind of test load; ideally, a resistor, but even a headphone can be suitable, if tested at a frequency where it has mostly resistive impedance (like ~2 kHz for most full size dynamic headphones)

- something to measure the voltage with. It can be a cheap digital multimeter (note that some of these only work reliably over a limited frequency range), or a sound card line input, which you should already have. It is not necessary to be able to measure absolute levels accurately, since only a ratio of voltages will be needed

 

In case you only have the splitter, and no resistors or DMM, connect the two male jacks to the headphone output of the card to be tested, and the line input of the card used for recording. Make sure that the mixer settings are correct for loopback recording, and that you can play a test tone at a reasonable (not very low or high) volume. Generate a sine wave at 2 kHz with some suitable software, and create a loopback recording of it, with and without the headphones connected to the female jack of the splitter. Use any audio editor of your choice to measure the RMS levels of the recorded tones. You can then calculate the output impedance with the above formula (Rload = the impedance of your headphones).

post #1234 of 2603

Won't using Modi's DAC bypass the Z's DAC, so you won't get any of Creative EAX/3D 5.0 effects?

 

What determines the impedance output, the DAC or amplifier?

post #1235 of 2603
Stv014, thanks for the info on how to do this, its invaluable buddy. I probably most likely wont go through all the trouble of testing it to that extent but I'm going to see if I can borrow an amp to hook up to the zxr and listen for differences.

But most likely I'll be selling the zxr anyway in favour of an external solution since it will work for console gaming too. I just need to find a reasonably priced DAC with optical in. The ones you suggested or a bit pricey. I need to make an investment in long term I guess lol.

@Solarium

Ya the modi doesn't have optical that's why its not an option for me anymore. Its USB audio device. The bifrost has optical but its also $350 instead of $99...

And the output impedance is determined by the last part of the audio loop before headphones in this case the headphone amp.
post #1236 of 2603

@DJ: I've been looking around for something that bit better than an ZxR or STX with optical input: It's just that I can't source a better setup anywhere for an equivalent price. Maybe.. hate to say it, but hang on to your ZxR unless you have cash to burn.

 

Basically: OEM SBZ > SPDIF/Toslink > DAC/AMP .. having a hard time finding any decent DAC/AMP which would offer better performance than the two soundcards listed above, especially when you consider the price (volume marketing from Creative/Asus). Feg helpfully suggested some seriously expensive kit like the Yulong (probably he means the D100 MKII - Sabre32), but it has way too many features which I'd never use, no matter how attractive it is - also it's way too expensive to import to the UK.

 

The Sabre32 DAC seems to be the very best route for a decent and in your face upgrade over the STX/ZxR whilst keeping the Sound Blaster OEM ($60) for the EQ/Surround/Microphone options. One thing though - it's a significant jump in price. I'm circling the NFB Sabre32 DAC 11.32. Also there's the Audio-GD Wolfson 15.32 which is cheaper but warmer. Both are roughly a 3rd or more expensive than these two soundcards. Both are, by all accounts a huge bang for buck purchase when compared to far more expensive gear. BTW Feg.. the new models don't suffer the treble grain you mentioned. Any chance you can comment on this?? Sorry.. know this is veering way off topic. Anyway.

 

Another option is this:

  • Buy the SBZ OEM for games.
  • Buy an extra USB DAC/AMP of your choice for everything else if you want to go for really good music. This will just involve moving your headphone cables' jack around when you want to switch. You'd have to also swap your output in Windows Sound Control Panel, but this is uber easy.

 

OR

 

  • If you're really not that much into surround for competitive FPS, but would still like some now and then, then just get a USB DAC/AMP and install the free Razer Surround software.. it's easily toggled on and off (H/T Genclaymore). It's nowhere as good SQ wise as SB or Dolby, but it appears to get the job done.

 

The above is completely and utterly useless to anybody wanting a soundcard to go with their headset and be done with it. If any of you have read through this thread you will have seen why some of us are getting tangled up and hitting brick walls when looking at these options for the new SBZ's.


Edited by SaLX - 11/7/13 at 11:14am
post #1237 of 2603
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJINFERNO806 View Post

Stv014, thanks for the info on how to do this, its invaluable buddy. I probably most likely wont go through all the trouble of testing it to that extent but I'm going to see if I can borrow an amp to hook up to the zxr and listen for differences.

But most likely I'll be selling the zxr anyway in favour of an external solution since it will work for console gaming too. I just need to find a reasonably priced DAC with optical in. The ones you suggested or a bit pricey. I need to make an investment in long term I guess lol.

@Solarium

Ya the modi doesn't have optical that's why its not an option for me anymore. Its USB audio device. The bifrost has optical but its also $350 instead of $99...

And the output impedance is determined by the last part of the audio loop before headphones in this case the headphone amp.

 

FiiO E17 + E09k, doesn't even come close to $350. Settles all issue between console and PC usage, it's what I'm using now and I think it's the most reasonable setup without breaking the bank.

post #1238 of 2603

How about SBZ OEM + E11 amp, will that provide low impedance output with the HD598?

 

Honestly I don't know why ppl keep recommending Magni over E11, I don't care about having more power to drive higher ohm headphones, since I will unlikely to upgrade my headphones in the next 5 years.

post #1239 of 2603
First off thanks Ben and Sal for the opinions and suggestions.

I figure a magni/bifrost would be a decent side grade from zxr. I get a pretty good DAC with USB and optical and enough power from the amp if I ever want to get higher impedance headphones. But this is my assumption by looking at the DAC specs.

Maybe someone else has a more educated opinion on the bifrost.

I didn't want to go with a fiio combo as it wouldn't give me enough power for my beyers at 250 ohms. Also I couldn't find enough info on what DAC IC is inside the e17.

I know its difficult to find an external solution for same price as zxr and I'm OK with spending max $500 for a decent combo. Just don't have experience with many external units. And I definitely need a z at least since I want sbx surround for gaming.

@solarium,

Yup it only has a 0.3 ohm output impedance. Should be fine. Not sure how the double amping will affect the signal though.
Edited by DJINFERNO806 - 11/6/13 at 9:32pm
post #1240 of 2603
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJINFERNO806 View Post

First off thanks Ben and Sal for the opinions and suggestions.

I figure a magni/bifrost would be a decent side grade from zxr. I get a pretty good DAC with USB and optical and enough power from the amp if I ever want to get higher impedance headphones. But this is my assumption by looking at the DAC specs.

Maybe someone else has a more educated opinion on the bifrost.

I didn't want to go with a fiio combo as it wouldn't give me enough power for my beyers at 250 ohms. Also I couldn't find enough info on what DAC IC is inside the e17.

I know its difficult to find an external solution for same price as zxr and I'm OK with spending max $500 for a decent combo. Just don't have experience with many external units. And I definitely need a z at least since I want sbx surround for gaming.

@solarium,

Yup it only has a 0.3 ohm output impedance. Should be fine. Not sure how the double amping will affect the signal though.

 

Well the thing is, if you were to go for the Bifrost, you may be able to use SBX with it but not (I'm assuming) with a console in which I think you would wanna use DH then? Neither Mixamp nor TB DSS has optical out. So the Bifrost DAC is then mitigated.

 

The E17 uses a WM8740, which is comparable to the Xonar STX's TI PCM1792A. I understand your dillema though, because just recently I was trying to decide between a FiiO E09k + E17 combo or a Schiit M&M, or even an Aune T1. At the end I just stuck with the FiiO though, which I think is enough power for many cans up to 250ohms even.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solarium View Post
 

How about SBZ OEM + E11 amp, will that provide low impedance output with the HD598?

 

Honestly I don't know why ppl keep recommending Magni over E11, I don't care about having more power to drive higher ohm headphones, since I will unlikely to upgrade my headphones in the next 5 years.

 

That isn't bad for a budget line up to be quite honest. Many people recommend the Magni over the E11 is because well, the Magni is a better amp in the long run.

The E11 was quite an unrefined portable amp from FiiO, was one of their first forray into powerful portable amps. If you have the money, the E12 would do you better though as it nearly rivals the E09k in power and in turn, the Magni as well.

post #1241 of 2603
Ya see the e17 would be fine for me since it has optical in BUT my biggest quirk with it is the battery power if you don't use it with the e09k which I don't want.

Initially I didn't want the e09k because I had read somewhere that it barely gave out enough power for 300 ish ohm headphones. But now it seems it can supply 80mw at 600 ohm from further research. Seeing as it uses same TI headamp as stx/zxr, this seems plausible.

However the other reason I don't want to use it is because of the same 10 ohm output impedence as the stx. So this is half the reason for me to rather get the magni.

And I wouldn't care about not having hrtf too much for consoles because that's only 5-10% of gaming for me. The rest is in PC. But using my headphones with my avr is painful and disgusting... Plus I could actually watch beautiful blurays with headphones at night with lossless sound not being borked by my avr's abyssmal headphone port.

Thanks for the info though.

I was also looking at the DAC magic 100 as its currently $200 locally. Reviews seem iffy though.
Edited by DJINFERNO806 - 11/7/13 at 2:59am
post #1242 of 2603
Quote:
Originally Posted by benbenkr View Post
 

That isn't bad for a budget line up to be quite honest. Many people recommend the Magni over the E11 is because well, the Magni is a better amp in the long run.

The E11 was quite an unrefined portable amp from FiiO, was one of their first forray into powerful portable amps. If you have the money, the E12 would do you better though as it nearly rivals the E09k in power and in turn, the Magni as well.

 

If I connect an amp (like Magni or E11) to a sound card already with a built in amp (like SBZ), would double amping somehow degrade the sound quality, or interfere with the different output impedance?

 

Would it be more preferable to get a sound card without an amp (I'm thinking the Titanium-HD) with good 3D gaming capabilities and a decent DAC, THEN connect it to a Magni?

post #1243 of 2603
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solarium View Post
If I connect an amp (like Magni or E11) to a sound card already with a built in amp (like SBZ), would double amping somehow degrade the sound quality, or interfere with the different output impedance?

 

Would it be more preferable to get a sound card without an amp (I'm thinking the Titanium-HD) with good 3D gaming capabilities and a decent DAC, THEN connect it to a Magni?

 

Let me put it this way: even when you connect something to a line-out, you're already "double-amping". EVERY analog output is amplified to some extent. The question is whether the analog signal is clean, with a high SNR.

 

When you feed an analog signal into an amplifier, the amp more or less filters out the audio signal from everything else, then amplifies that signal. That's why you don't have to worry about output impedance for anything other than the last device in the chain.

 

Personally, I prefer discrete components for everything; the more that's integrated, the more you have to replace when you want to upgrade. However, if you plan on getting a dedicated external DAC, then you don't really need a card on the level of the X-Fi Titanium HD or ZxR; you can just get a cheap X-Fi Titanium and run S/PDIF to the external DAC with no quality loss, since you're bypassing the sound card's own DAC anyway, and the more expensive cards' primary improvements are in the DAC and amp sections.

post #1244 of 2603
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 

 

Let me put it this way: even when you connect something to a line-out, you're already "double-amping". EVERY analog output is amplified to some extent. The question is whether the analog signal is clean, with a high SNR.

 

When you feed an analog signal into an amplifier, the amp more or less filters out the audio signal from everything else, then amplifies that signal. That's why you don't have to worry about output impedance for anything other than the last device in the chain.

 

Personally, I prefer discrete components for everything; the more that's integrated, the more you have to replace when you want to upgrade. However, if you plan on getting a dedicated external DAC, then you don't really need a card on the level of the X-Fi Titanium HD or ZxR; you can just get a cheap X-Fi Titanium and run S/PDIF to the external DAC with no quality loss, since you're bypassing the sound card's own DAC anyway, and the more expensive cards' primary improvements are in the DAC and amp sections.

I don't plan on getting another DAC besides the sound card. Plus doesn't using an external DAC bypass the sound card's 3D positioning? I plan to do one of the following:

 

(Sound card/DAC --> external amp --> headphones)

 

1. Sound Blaster Z OEM --> E11 or Magni --> HD 598

2. Titanium-HD --> E11 or Magni --> HD 598

3. Xonar DX --> E11 or Magni --> HD 598

 

Now just to choose a good valued sound card for 3D audio and DAC, and an amp that's sufficient for 50-ohm headphones with low output impedance, both with a budget of approx $100-150.

post #1245 of 2603
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solarium View Post
 

I don't plan on getting another DAC besides the sound card. Plus doesn't using an external DAC bypass the sound card's 3D positioning? I plan to do one of the following:

 

(Sound card/DAC --> external amp --> headphones)

 

1. Sound Blaster Z OEM --> E11 or Magni --> HD 598

2. Titanium-HD --> E11 or Magni --> HD 598

3. Xonar DX --> E11 or Magni --> HD 598

 

Now just to choose a good valued sound card for 3D audio and DAC, and an amp that's sufficient for 50-ohm headphones with low output impedance, both with a budget of approx $100-150.

It is understood by from this thread, that if you get a DAC that has optical in, you can still use the Z's SBX headphone surround for 5.1 audio->2.0 pcm.

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