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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 14

post #196 of 2106
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.

 

It should work with headphone out too. DAC comes after sound processing and shares the same I/V stage for both headphones and line out.

post #197 of 2106
The option is missing in headphone mode though
post #198 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by melterx12 View Post

The option is missing in headphone mode though

Yes, the high-end CS4398-CZZ DAC is exclusive for the line out afaik, headphone out is served by the internal DAC:s of the Core3D-chip, which explains the not as good S/N-ratio for headphones 105dB vs 116dB on line out ...

The Soundblaster Z is a mixed bag, line out is the same or above as Xonar DX almost Xonar STX-class while headphone out is Xonar DG/DGX-class but with higher gain. The driver seems better than for the Xonars, definetely a better control panel, except missing ASIO.

But, the "192kHz Stereo Direct"-option IS the killer feature for headofiles, bare naked digital metal to a low cost biggrin.gif
post #199 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by xeizo View Post

Yes, the high-end CS4398-CZZ DAC is exclusive for the line out afaik, headphone out is served by the internal DAC:s of the Core3D-chip, which explains the not as good S/N-ratio for headphones 105dB vs 116dB on line out ...

The Soundblaster Z is a mixed bag, line out is the same or above as Xonar DX almost Xonar STX-class while headphone out is Xonar DG/DGX-class but with higher gain. The driver seems better than for the Xonars, definetely a better control panel, except missing ASIO.

But, the "192kHz Stereo Direct"-option IS the killer feature for headofiles, bare naked digital metal to a low cost biggrin.gif
That's not the case. Recon3D has SNR of 102 dB. Zx has >105 dB SNR for headphone out, if I remember correctly they have said that CS4398 handles both outputs. Maxim headphone amp chip probably bottlenecks the quality though. In any case, ZxR has the same limitation so the reason is somewhere else.
Edited by Anarion - 2/4/13 at 12:12pm
post #200 of 2106
What about the current output, has anybody found out if the Z-series have the current to replace an amp like the FiiO E9? Apparently the STX does, but I'd rather have a Creative card while gaming, and not "needing" an external amp would be a great selling point for me.
post #201 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

What about the current output, has anybody found out if the Z-series have the current to replace an amp like the FiiO E9? Apparently the STX does, but I'd rather have a Creative card while gaming, and not "needing" an external amp would be a great selling point for me.

I would guess, again, that a spec sheet on the Maxim amp chip would clarify that ...
post #202 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anarion View Post

That's not the case. Recon3D has SNR of 102 dB. Zx has >105 dB SNR for headphone out, if I remember correctly they have said that CS4398 handles both outputs. Maxim headphone amp chip probably bottlenecks the quality though. In any case, ZxR has the same limitation so the reason is somewhere else.

Well, I don't know, one interesting aspect to find out about :-)
post #203 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

What about the current output, has anybody found out if the Z-series have the current to replace an amp like the FiiO E9? Apparently the STX does, but I'd rather have a Creative card while gaming, and not "needing" an external amp would be a great selling point for me.

I can't really comment on that since my headphones are easy to drive I dont had Fiio E9 but these are the power related specs for the amp chip:
textrnj6c.png
post #204 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by xeizo View Post

I would guess, again, that a spec sheet on the Maxim amp chip would clarify that ...

 

The ZxR uses a TPA6120A2, and from the specs it looks like the power supply voltage is +/- 12 V, similarly to the Xonar Essence cards. So, with high impedance headphones, it would probably perform similarly. But the maximum current output and distortion when driving inefficient low impedance headphones depends on the implementation.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xeizo View Post

I would guess, again, that a spec sheet on the Maxim amp chip would clarify that ...

 

http://datasheets.maximintegrated.com/en/ds/MAX97220A-MAX97220E.pdf


Edited by stv014 - 2/4/13 at 1:44pm
post #205 of 2106
Anarion,
Thanks for that info, I think I could calculate current from that info. The problem is, I've spent the past hour since you posted that making my head spin, reading Wikipedia and info across the web to determine what, exactly, effect power has on audio reproduction. And I don't think I can make any solid conclusions, except that headphones typically have impedance vary as they produce different frequencies, so that while double-digit mW may be enough to generally power HE-400 headphones (for example) to listening volume, certain frequencies require more power.

For comparison, FiiO lists it's E09k as having Output Power > 900 mW@32Ω

But if it's loud enough, does it matter? Hantamanmdsknljfnnmsmdmsdnnnm....
Edited by Evshrug - 2/4/13 at 1:50pm
post #206 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

Anarion,
Thanks for that info, I think I could calculate current from that info. The problem is, I've spent the past hour since you posted that making my head spin, reading Wikipedia and info across the web to determine what, exactly, effect power has on audio reproduction. And I don't think I can make any solid conclusions, except that headphones typically have impedance vary as they produce different frequencies, so that while double-digit mW may be enough to generally power HE-400 headphones (for example) to listening volume, certain frequencies require more power.

For comparison, FiiO lists it's E09k as having Output Power > 900 mW@32Ω

But if it's loud enough, does it matter? Hantamanmdsknljfnnmsmdmsdnnnm....
I don't claim to know anything really when it comes to amping headphones but Zx has the loudest line-out I've ever seen on soundcard. It's louder than the headphone amp out on Forte and there doesn't even seem to be much if any volume difference between headphone out and line-out with my headphones. Both would be unusable loud without ACM and line-out seems to power these without any issues what so ever. HD 595 is really sensitive though. Many say that it's not just about the volume but at least with HD 595s they do not sound any better when amped, it's the other way around if anything. It's too loud without amping already so giving more power.... doesn't sound like a good idea. smily_headphones1.gif

But anyway, I'd assume that this shouldn't have too much difficulties powering "average" headphones.

Also a word of warning... Do not use WASAPI when you use stereo direct mode. I almost blow my head to kingdom come while testing that mode...
Edited by Anarion - 2/4/13 at 4:36pm
post #207 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anarion View Post


I don't claim to know anything really when it comes to amping headphones but Zx has the loudest line-out I've ever seen on soundcard. It's louder than the headphone amp out on Forte and there doesn't even seem to be much if any volume difference between headphone out and line-out with my headphones. Both would be unusable loud without ACM and line-out seems to power these without any issues what so ever. HD 595 is really sensitive though. Many say that it's not just about the volume but at least with HD 595s they do not sound any better when amped, it's the other way around if anything. It's too loud without amping already so giving more power.... doesn't sound like a good idea. smily_headphones1.gif

But anyway, I'd assume that this shouldn't have too much difficulties powering "average" headphones.

Also a word of warning... Do not use WASAPI when you use stereo direct mode. I almost blow my head to kingdom come while testing that mode...


You prolly went flying out your chair when you hit play, only to be pull back down by the headphones. Yea, I did that once too when I had bit match playback enabled when I was plugged directly into a Xonar STX.

post #208 of 2106

Gosh, what a chock  o2smile.gif Glad I'm using an external amp, so I don't have to worry about that WASAPI issue tongue_smile.gif

 

I switched back to Xonar ST in my Linuxbox, they do sound different but really at the same level of resolution, but ST is mabe more analogue and darker sounding and the Z is a little more analytical and with slightly more pronounced treble while not harsh. The ST has a wider soundstage, but the Z is not narrow. I'm still running stock OP on the ST but have 3 brand new 4562:s coming in the mail today, mabe they will push ST to best of both worlds ie a little less dark while overall the same. Both soundcards are very noise-free, I can have extremely high sound levels and it's still totally silent between songs.

 

I was inspired by the "192kHz Stereo Direct"-mode on the Z so i made some extreme settings in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf:

 

src-sinq-best-quality

s24be

192000

 

Which should match the "Stereo Direct"-mode in the type of signal fed to the DAC, but the above settings have the disadvantage of doing the resampling/oversampling on the cpu however no big problem on a reasonably fast Quad-core. If one has a cpu one should use it! I had to spec a large bufffer in the above file, for the sound not to stutter while doing other cpu-intensive tasks, and it doesn't. The resulting sound is like I described it above, very good, but so are the Z-sound  gs1000.gif

post #209 of 2106
Quote:
Originally Posted by xeizo View Post

Gosh, what a chock  o2smile.gif Glad I'm using an external amp, so I don't have to worry about that WASAPI issue tongue_smile.gif

 

I switched back to Xonar ST in my Linuxbox, they do sound different but really at the same level of resolution, but ST is mabe more analogue and darker sounding and the Z is a little more analytical and with slightly more pronounced treble while not harsh. The ST has a wider soundstage, but the Z is not narrow. I'm still running stock OP on the ST but have 3 brand new 4562:s coming in the mail today, mabe they will push ST to best of both worlds ie a little less dark while overall the same. Both soundcards are very noise-free, I can have extremely high sound levels and it's still totally silent between songs.

 

I was inspired by the "192kHz Stereo Direct"-mode on the Z so i made some extreme settings in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf:

 

src-sinq-best-quality

s24be

192000

 

Which should match the "Stereo Direct"-mode in the type of signal fed to the DAC, but the above settings have the disadvantage of doing the resampling/oversampling on the cpu however no big problem on a reasonably fast Quad-core. If one has a cpu one should use it! I had to spec a large bufffer in the above file, for the sound not to stutter while doing other cpu-intensive tasks, and it doesn't. The resulting sound is like I described it above, very good, but so are the Z-sound  gs1000.gif

 

 

Sorry to sound ignorant but you said you were able to adjust the buffer size?

 

What program or where in windows would I be able to do this?

 

Thanks in advance.

post #210 of 2106

No, that was in Linux, where you just change numbers in a conf-file. Under Windows it will be harder with Soundblaster Z as it doesn't support ASIO, in ASIO you can normally adjust the buffer with a slider. Of course that will only work in soundprograms that also support ASIO.

 

But, if you use such programs one possible solution is to try ASIO4ALL which may work with Soundblaster Z and ASIO4ALL certainly has adjustable buffer size.

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