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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 13

post #181 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

Oh, in the Newegg video where they interviewed Creative about the first two Z-series cards, I specifically remember them mentioning ASIO support was important to them and either it was supported or they were adding support. The really encouraging part is that Creative is still active with these cards, they're still working on them and pushing them. Egads, they have some incomplete marketing efforts though.

I've watched that too. He mentioned ASIO support when he talked about ZxR. Maybe the current delays are software related. But if ZxR gets ASIO support, I don't see why ZxR wouldn't get it. Proper multi-client ASIO support would make using Cubase a bit more flexible, I could find use for it.

 

Also talking about OpenAL and Alchemy... I wish that they would do some changes. For example if you use Alchemy in Oblivion, weapon sound will sound messed up (like hit sounds are coming inside your head). X-Fi had CMSS-3D setting that two different settings that could be either on, off or auto. I can't remember exactly what they were called but if one forced both on, you ended up with something that sounded really similar to Host OpenAL. It doesn't know when to enable certain things and thus end up with messed up sound (and there's no setting for that). Same goes to voices in Mass Effect 1 so I just stick with Generic Software. Mirror's Edge sound fine though (it really is game dependant).


Edited by Anarion - 2/1/13 at 3:05am
post #182 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anarion View Post

I've watched that too. He mentioned ASIO support when he talked about ZxR. Maybe the current delays are software related. But if ZxR gets ASIO support, I don't see why ZxR wouldn't get it. Proper multi-client ASIO support would make using Cubase a bit more flexible, I could find use for it.

 

Also talking about OpenAL and Alchemy... I wish that they would do some changes. For example if you use Alchemy in Oblivion, weapon sound will sound messed up (like hit sounds are coming inside your head). X-Fi had CMSS-3D setting that two different settings that could be either on, off or auto. I can't remember exactly what they were called but if one forced both on, you ended up with something that sounded really similar to Host OpenAL. It doesn't know when to enable certain things and thus end up with messed up sound (and there's no setting for that). Same goes to voices in Mass Effect 1 so I just stick with Generic Software. Mirror's Edge sound fine though (it really is game dependant).

I guess the directsound emulation has its limits most likely.  Its too bad because its a rather nice card really.  Its not a deal breaker but would be nice to have direct sound again. Thats more Microsofts fault anyway removing that api.  

 

Honestly i dont mind if it never gets ASIO because wasapi does the same thing really and doesnt need specific drivers written by creative.  

 

For example the wasapi output mode for XBMC is awesome and i would not use anything else ever again.  Bypassing the windows mixer is a treat for sure.


Edited by DJINFERNO806 - 2/2/13 at 7:53am
post #183 of 2502

I just barely inserted my Soundblaster Z in the box so I can't really say how it compares, but at least it works and sounds reasonably good. And gives a nice red glow inside the box ;-)

 

For now I'm running Foobar2000 1.2.2 under Windows 8 Pro x64, I've installed the latest driver from Creatives supportsite(dated 20121224), and nothing from the disc. I opted for choosing what components to install, and unchecked the speaker configuration component as it is said to mess upp any "HiFi" ambitions of the card from others experiences.

 

I disabled ALL sound enhancements in the driver control panel, and choosed "direct sound". That leaves only two options for resolution in the Windows 8 control panel, 16/192 or 24/192. I opted for 24/192. So, I had to use the resampling plugin in Foobar2000 to get any sound at all with WASAPI and "Creative direct sound". That means I'm running resampling at 192000(put in manually) in Ultra Mode, and WASAPI(event) Speakers Soundblaster Z @ 24 bit. Exclusive mode. I've only listened to FLAC-files so far, and I've only used the line out(Front), connected to my PC soundrig, which consists of a Sony TA-FB940R integrated 2-channel amp and a 2.1 system(Proson SAT31SA.2 speakers and a Proson R-8.2 sub).

 

The only soundcard I've compared just a wee little to is Xonar DG, which remains in the same box, there's no doubt that Soundblaster Z with the above settings sounds audibly more clear than the Xonar DG - which in turn sounds attractive and nice but a little muddy. Biggest difference is in the extremes of the frequency spectrum, Soundblaster Z have a really punchy bass and a crystal clear treble resolution the rest is harder to define. There is soundstage though, and the sound lifts from the speakers and is not "left inside the box". Someone complained about just that, but I guess he got lost in the Creative control panel. From what I remember, even though I haven't compared directly yet, the Soundblaster Z is no match for the Xonar ST. There's still a slight agressiveness to the sound in Soundblaster Z, which can be good for some music, like aggressive metal, whereas the Xonar ST is really silky smooth almost ethereal in all music over it's line out(I'm not comparing the headphone out sound, and I will not, as my Sony amplifier has a audibly better headphone output than even the Xonar ST -  hence I'm only interested in line out-quality ie DAC-quality).

 

Anyway, no conclusions yet, but Soundblaster Z sounds good no doubt about it, And apparently it has a slightly different sound than Xonar ST, which also can be a good thing for matching some music. I still have to do more direct comparisons, and also to compare with the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 in the very same box(used for music production, I'm not missing ASIO in the Z as the 2496 has very good ASIO and is already comfortably anchored to my mixer). But Xonar ST seems sure to remain the exclusive choice for critical listening, sitting in it's Linux box, any other conclusion is unlikely from what I can hear but not impossible of course.

 

It's good to have a high quality source in the Windows gaming box too, I use Windows only for gaming and running a DAW - everything else is done in Linux. The 2496 is a great working tool, but it's DAC-system is getting a little long in the tooth for pure HiFi-listening. And when it comes to gaming, the Soundblaster has a whole array of methods to enhance gaming sound, which no Xonar can match and certainly not the 2496. A nice stepup from the Xonar DG in that particular box. I'll be back when I'm more in the "know"   :-)

 

edit. Oh, and all the caps are yellow with Nichicon written on them  :P

 

edit2. I switched to headphones and one thing is for sure, the really really deep deep bass is excellent with this soundcard. My Philips SHP-8900 cans shouldn't have such impact this deep ~20Hz from previous experience, but they have, I couldn't have guessed because the midbass sounds really tight on the lean side with the Soundblaster Z, not bassy. And the SHP-8900:s normally are slightly boomy. But, now they go deep, with energy while sounding slim. Mids-High are still slightly aggressive, compared to what I remember from Xonar ST, and the sound is on the dry side. But with very high res. It will be interesting to switch back to ST. Now I have tested some other players than Foobar2000, like Spotifys native client and Clementine, by necessity they can't use WASAPI but plays through the Windows 8 mixer and it works very well and sound good while still keeping the 24/192-setting in Windows control panel. The Windows 8 mixer aint that bad. Still using line out of course.


Edited by xeizo - 2/2/13 at 2:56pm
post #184 of 2502
Cool review, xeizo! smily_headphones1.gif
post #185 of 2502

Thanks! As I said, I will be back later when real comparisons have been done but in the meantime I can just confirm that this really is an Audiophile card on a budget when using line out and it's "192kHz direct mode" to an external amplifier. I find myself digging through different types of music from old to new, to great enjoyment, and the SHP-8900:s really shine. The sound belongs to the analytical type of sound and may not be to everyones liking, or match every headphone, though. Personally I like "analytical" sound as long as it doesn't get harsh, I want to hear what everyone is playing/singing and the Soundblaster Z certainly reveals it all  :-)
 


Edited by xeizo - 2/3/13 at 9:28am
post #186 of 2502
I also do not mind an analytical bent to the sound, as long as it doesn't sound too bright or treble-hot. Revealing the music & musician's performance is certainly a noble goal! biggrin.gif
Don't be sad, be glad wink.gif
post #187 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

I also do not mind an analytical bent to the sound, as long as it doesn't sound too bright or treble-hot. Revealing the music & musician's performance is certainly a noble goal! biggrin.gif
Don't be sad, be glad wink.gif


Yeah, typos are funny so I laugh biggrin.gif (corrected)

post #188 of 2502
It's good to laugh, but in general I just want to say I appreciate your input and experimentation. smily_headphones1.gif
post #189 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

It's good to laugh, but in general I just want to say I appreciate your input and experimentation. smily_headphones1.gif

 

That feels encouraging, however there's a whole lot left to do, and when I'm done there's still an ocean of cans out there to try  L3000.gif

post #190 of 2502
Isn't it fun to have more to do?
Also:

post #191 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

Isn't it fun to have more to do?
Also:

 

Anthem of the head-fiers!  beyersmile.png

post #192 of 2502

can someone enlighten me on what the difference between "Stereo" and "Stereo Direct" is on this sound card?

post #193 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by melterx12 View Post

can someone enlighten me on what the difference between "Stereo" and "Stereo Direct" is on this sound card?

Stereo is just what it sounds like, 2 channel operation with everything working as usual. "Stereo Direct" feeds the signal directly to the Cirrus Logic DAC with 192kHz sampling frequency, no processing whatsoever done on the Core3D-chip, I guess that mode will not work on the headphone out.
post #194 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by xeizo View Post


Stereo is just what it sounds like, 2 channel operation with everything working as usual. "Stereo Direct" feeds the signal directly to the Cirrus Logic DAC with 192kHz sampling frequency, no processing whatsoever done on the Core3D-chip, I guess that mode will not work on the headphone out.

yeah, but using line out would it be better to use stereo or stereo direct? I assumed that stereo direct bypasses all the sound processing, but in the end is that good or bad?

post #195 of 2502
Quote:
Originally Posted by melterx12 View Post

yeah, but using line out would it be better to use stereo or stereo direct? I assumed that stereo direct bypasses all the sound processing, but in the end is that good or bad?

For straight forward music playing that is as good as it gets. Pure unmolested sound out of a decent DAC.  For movies and games probably not so much since you might want to use the surround or crystal settings.

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