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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 20

post #286 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

TBH, the non Rapture 3D has just as good positioning. UT3 has very good positional audio already when you set speakermode to 5.1 from my experience even with onboard sound and openal isn't even required! I've played this game over 5000hrs and during this time lots of times I've used the sound cues to my advantage. :)

 

I remember I was defending a node in warfare game mode, heard an incoming manta vehicle incoming from our own base-side and shoot an AVRIL-missile before he appeared around the corner so it would instantly kill him when he showed up around the corner. Of course the other player was like "HAX!! Wallhack noob" haha

 

EDIT: Seems like the 5.1 vs stereo speaker config difference is also audible through that particular video. If you aren't a 5.1 speakermode user, at least give it a try for this video. The "generic software" will have good positional cues then too which can't be said when using stereo. The speaker config I usually use is (same options is obviously present through the control panel and speaker config when right clicking on the audio device):

 

 

 

Strange how our experiences differ so much...the "Generic Software" OpenAL device often yields less than desirable results for me, and it's not just me; just look at all these people jumping through a few hoops to get other OpenAL devices working with Amnesia: The Dark Descent, just because for some reason, Frictional Games doesn't officially support other OpenAL implementations this time! (Not sure what their problem is when they were more than happy to allow hardware OpenAL with the Penumbra series...)

 

Then there's our somewhat opposing opinions on CMSS-3D Headphone vs. Dolby Headphone, but I chalk that up to "CMSS-3D reduces bass and adds a bit of treble, DH does the opposite, and you're a self-admitted basshead" as one possibility. There's probably more to it, though, like the general...what's that word to describe whether or not something sounds like there's some sort of texture or veil in the way of the sound itself that I notice with certain headphones?

 

I can't be bothered to set up the Realtek ALC889A on my mobo again, though. Too much risk of potentially screwing something up with the X-Fi driver installation. I'll consider it whenever I have another hard drive to run a Windows test install on for experimental purposes like this, though.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fegefeuer View Post

Mirror's Edge  (Open AL)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7JS2_SCTFLM&hd=1 TruStudio Pro

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHhwUT4BYMk&hd=1 CMSS-3D

 

Now we need SBX and DHP

 

Good videos. Sure enough, my opinion remains unchanged on THX TruStudio Surround...this one's from the Titanium HD in Entertainment Mode as opposed to a Recon3D device, right?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fegefeuer View Post

I recorded this with CMSS-3D Headphone in the interface. We have to find out what SBX really does. THX TSP really sucks in comparison with CMSS-3D Headphone, though we have to consider that this is an Open AL Game, something extremely rare today unfortunately that gives CMSS-3D a rendering advantage (and consider that it still lacks EAX etc.). It reminds everyone what a sorry f....sorry state gaming audio is.

 

If people want to I can record games that don't give an advantage to anyone (aka pure middleware) and just show which solution does the "simple" virtualization better. Until then we need someone doing "my" ME run with SBX on and the same INI settings. If SBX is a renamed THX then we can forget about getting these new cards. :D

 

Do you mean software-mixed audio, where everything has to perform on the same virtual 5.1/7.1 level that Dolby Headphone does?

 

In that case, a few games like Dead Island and PlanetSide 2 spring to mind as having decent positional audio cues. I'm also tempted to throw in Just Cause 2, but that's a game that seriously needs some vertical height cues whenever I'm in a helicopter and trying to find that other enemy helicopter to shoot down...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenion View Post

I find that Battlefield 3 or Bad Company 2 have a really good channel-mixing and overall immersive sound. smile.gif

 

And I find that their positional audio mixing is just...terrible, even by XAudio2 and FMOD Ex standards. Can't get any precise positional audio cues no matter how I tweak the sound settings, both in-game and with the sound card settings. It's strange how they're polarizing like this, as Mad Lust Envy's also outspoken on their poor positional audio mixing (meaning it's not just the PC version), yet a lot of other people don't seem to have any problem with it.

 

I wouldn't mind seeing a mod that backports the sound effects to Battlefield 2, though. Now that's the series at its finest gameplay-wise (maybe except for BF1942), and with some of the best positional audio out there to boot, courtesy of OpenAL.

post #287 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

I can't be bothered to set up the Realtek ALC889A on my mobo again, though. Too much risk of potentially screwing something up with the X-Fi driver installation. I'll consider it whenever I have another hard drive to run a Windows test install on for experimental purposes like this, though.

 

Well you can use the same settings on your X-Fi card, was just easier for me posting the Realtek driver interface than posting 3 pics as the options are on separate messageboxes in the windows control panel.

 

With the X-Fi card you have to go set windows control panel speaker config and check those same boxes as in above pic. In the X-Fi driver software should then be set to either Headphone or Stereo, unsure what sounds better among them but shouldn't be a huge difference / if any noticeable difference at all. On my Realtek onboard the connected device is set to "headphones" at least.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 2/22/13 at 12:23pm
post #288 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

Well you can use the same settings on your X-Fi card, was just easier for me posting the Realtek driver interface than posting 3 pics as the options are on separate messageboxes in the windows control panel.

 

With the X-Fi card you have to go set windows control panel speaker config and check those same boxes as in above pic. In the X-Fi driver software should then be set to either Headphone or Stereo, unsure what sounds better among them but shouldn't be a huge difference / if any noticeable difference at all. On my Realtek onboard the connected device is set to "headphones" at least.

 

Wait, you mean setting the Windows speaker setting to 5.1 or 7.1 while the sound device is configured for headphones or downmixed stereo output? That's standard advice, actually.

 

You just have to be sure that the sound device in question knows to downmix the surround channels into the stereo signal properly so you're not missing anything coming from those surround channels. For X-Fi cards running on Vista or later, that requires Headphone mode in the X-Fi control panel, as the checkbox to set synchronization with Windows' own speaker setting is only present in XP for some reason. In other words, it enforces speaker setting synchronization both ways EXCEPT for when the X-Fi is set to Headphones.

post #289 of 2471

OK, wonder what's the case with Z series as it's using a whole new driver interface.

 

Anyway I just saw the lowest tier "Z" model card on amazon.co.uk for only £56.50 / 65 EUR / $85 USD with the free shipping (usually US is cheaper than europe due to the high VAT 18-25% here included in the pricing so that deal strikes me as particularly good for a new product)! Sounds like a deal to me, not much to lose giving it some try. :)

 

EDIT: Looks like it was OEM, ie no package and stuff, just the card, that would explain the price.

 

I'm just getting desperate finding a soundcard I'm truly satisfied with it... it's usually either software or hardware issues... hopefully the Soundblaster Z series will do both for me.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 2/23/13 at 4:00pm
post #290 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

OK, wonder what's the case with Z series as it's using a whole new driver interface.

Anyway I just saw the lowest tier "Z" model card on amazon.co.uk for only £56.50 / 65 EUR / $85 USD with the free shipping (usually US is cheaper than europe due to the high VAT 18-25% here included in the pricing so that deal strikes me as particularly good for a new product)! Sounds like a deal to me, not much to lose giving it some try. smily_headphones1.gif

EDIT: Looks like it was OEM, ie no package and stuff, just the card, that would explain the price.

I'm just getting desperate finding a soundcard I'm truly satisfied with it... it's usually either software or hardware issues... hopefully the Soundblaster Z series will do both for me.
OEM version doesn't have leds, probably does not have good caps and does not have that fancy shield. That probably does not make any real difference though.
post #291 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anarion View Post

OEM version doesn't have leds, probably does not have good caps and does not have that fancy shield. That probably does not make any real difference though.

I highly doubt they would use cheaper caps just because it is OEM. The last thing they want are the caps popping. OEM hardware is almost always identical on the inside except for packaging and visual differences.

And the EMI shield does protect the analog parts from interference. However I think the benefit would be more apparent in higher grade DAC'S and headphone amps with higher snr's. Still every bit of clarity and lower noise is beneficial.
post #292 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJINFERNO806 View Post

I highly doubt they would use cheaper caps just because it is OEM. The last thing they want are the caps popping. OEM hardware is almost always identical on the inside except for packaging and visual differences.

And the EMI shield does protect the analog parts from interference. However I think the benefit would be more apparent in higher grade DAC'S and headphone amps with higher snr's. Still every bit of clarity and lower noise is beneficial.
I basically meant that they almost certainly are not the gold ones.
post #293 of 2471
I agree they wouldn't be nichicon fine gold caps. Only some z's do. Maybe the earlier batch perhaps? Either way the regular ones are fine. I personally think the fine gold are just bragging rights lol. Maybe the lifespan is longer. But I don't think 99% of us would even tell a difference in audio quality. There are a few out there that swear they can hear a difference.
post #294 of 2471

It doesn't really matter if those caps are better or not, the Soundblaster Z will still not be in the same league as the higher priced cards even if the brand of caps are the same. Other choices of components matters way more ....

 

I have the Z and it sounds surprisingly good even as an audiophile card, but there IS coloration even if not much, mostly in the treble. A Xonar ST/STX sounds audibly more refined and transparent, as will the ZxR do. There's a reason for the 65$ price bracket, good value granted but not exceptional.

post #295 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJINFERNO806 View Post

I agree they wouldn't be nichicon fine gold caps. Only some z's do. Maybe the earlier batch perhaps? Either way the regular ones are fine. I personally think the fine gold are just bragging rights lol. Maybe the lifespan is longer. But I don't think 99% of us would even tell a difference in audio quality. There are a few out there that swear they can hear a difference.


There are diffrences between gold- and non-gold capacitors. Here is a document that shows the technical diffrence between aluminum electrolytic caps and gold caps in graphs and detail.

http://www.panasonic.com/industrial/components/pdf/goldcap_tech-guide_052505.pdf

 

Companies state they differ in longlevity and an audible "deeper bass". However, since the Z series cards are targeted more for the "mid-fi" consumer with speaker systems from 50 $~ to 300$~, I don't think most people will care besides their look. smile.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by xeizo View Post

Other choices of components matters way more ....

Yea, thats true.


Edited by Kenion - 2/25/13 at 5:04am
post #296 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJINFERNO806 View Post


I highly doubt they would use cheaper caps just because it is OEM. The last thing they want are the caps popping. OEM hardware is almost always identical on the inside except for packaging and visual differences.

And the EMI shield does protect the analog parts from interference. However I think the benefit would be more apparent in higher grade DAC'S and headphone amps with higher snr's. Still every bit of clarity and lower noise is beneficial.

I'm confused. I thought the TI Burr-Brown was supposed to be a really good 24-bit DAC, and support up to 123 dB. Any higher, and you're getting close to the threshhold of pain.

post #297 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetaWolf View Post

I'm confused. I thought the TI Burr-Brown was supposed to be a really good 24-bit DAC, and support up to 123 dB. Any higher, and you're getting close to the threshhold of pain.

 

You're mixing up the cards discussed; it's the ZxR which has Burr-Brown, which indeed is a good DAC, but the question is if it's not of more importance for the ZxR because of the integrated power supply section and voltage filtering on the ZxR vs the lesser Z and Zx and also the use of the National LM4562 OP-amp on the line out instead of the generic JRC2114D on the Z and Zx. Also, the decoupling caps are much beefier, even if by the same brand. As you see, there's reason to believe the lesser cards are indeed lesser. They have a good DAC too though, the Cirrus CS4398 at 120dB S/N, but it's not only the DAC but the implementation and it's way more serious on the ZxR(or the Xonar ST/STX).

post #298 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetaWolf View Post

I'm confused. I thought the TI Burr-Brown was supposed to be a really good 24-bit DAC, and support up to 123 dB. Any higher, and you're getting close to the threshhold of pain.
Just to add, because of your "threshold of pain" comment, the 123 dB spec you're quoting (I thought the ZxR was better than that even?) is the difference of the signal-to-noise ratio (also written as SNR, S/N, or S:N), NOT the decibels of volume "loudness" and sound pressure. Just means the noise floor is very low, not necessarily how loud the soundcard can go.
post #299 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by Evshrug View Post

Just to add, because of your "threshold of pain" comment, the 123 dB spec you're quoting (I thought the ZxR was better than that even?) is the difference of the signal-to-noise ratio (also written as SNR, S/N, or S:N), NOT the decibels of volume "loudness" and sound pressure. Just means the noise floor is very low, not necessarily how loud the soundcard can go.

 

However, if the peak SPL is not high enough, the noise will be under the threshold of audibility. Also, unless you listen to silence with the volume turned all the way up, noise tends to be masked by the music and ambient noise. Other than providing extra dynamic range for digital volume control, SNR much higher than 100-110 dB is more marketing than something that is really useful in practice, assuming that it is really achieved (manufacturers may lie about the specs, or they are only valid under best case conditions, or the specs are copied from the datasheet of the DAC chip). Try comparing these files to get an idea what various levels of noise sound like (the 16-bit version has an A-weighted noise level of about -97.5 dB added, and each bit of reduced resolution makes it worse by an additional 6 dB). Of course, having some safety margin is useful, but you will be surprised how difficult it is to hear even noise that looks bad on paper.

When using the built-in headphone amplifier of a sound card, the extra SNR can be useful if you have sensitive headphones, because the volume control is often digital (it is on the Xonar Essence cards, for example), and then much of the dynamic range is not used.

post #300 of 2471
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenion View Post

 

There are diffrences between gold- and non-gold capacitors. Here is a document that shows the technical diffrence between aluminum electrolytic caps and gold caps in graphs and detail.

http://www.panasonic.com/industrial/components/pdf/goldcap_tech-guide_052505.pdf

 

It does not really show what the practical advantages of those gold capacitors are for audio applications in particular, though. Of course, a good design does not have many electrolytic capacitors in the audio signal path in the first place, regardless of whether they are gold or not.

Here and here there are some samples recorded from a Xonar D1 - which has a lowly CS4398 DAC, NJM5532 op amps, and generic non-gold capacitors - that can be compared against the original audio. Chances are that you would have difficulty hearing the difference without knowing which file is which.

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