Originally Posted by Kel Ghu
No opamp experts opinion on the pictures we've seen?
OK, I spent some searching a bit. Comparing the pictures with information I gathered, the ZxR card has the exact same hardware as the Titanium HD for the most part it seems:
- Same Opamp (JRC2114D, LME49710NA: http://www.head-fi.org/t/634548/x-fi-titanium-hd-opamp-rolling
- Same DAC ( Burr-Brown PCM1794: http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/pcm1794.pdf
). Though they now claim 124dB vs 122dB for the Titanium HD.
Difference is the TPA6120A2 amp which is really specified at 80mW into 600 Ohm and SNR at 120dB (http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/tpa6120a2.pdf
I'm not a techie, but it sounds like an update of the Recon3D with the "audiophile" hardware of the Titanium HD + a new powerful headphone amp. Is this going to be better than a STX?
Roller, I think you said the Z-serie only has partial gaming support. Why?
You're right, a PCM1794 is used for the main channels, just like the Titanium HD, but curiously it seems that a second chip is used, the PCM1798 for the remaining channels, and that takes over when multichannel output is configured as the main output.
A quick look indicates that the Titanium HD, the ZxR and the Essence STX all stand at the top of the consumer internal soundcard market, in terms of sound quality.
The Z series have partial gaming audio support because they no longer have a dedicated processor for handling audio tasks, which by itself isn't a problem from a performance perspective, but that means no hardware accelerated audio is available, and games that do support hardware audio will either limit or disable advanced audio features altogether. Also, it doesn't have positional cue improvement algorithms that are found on the X-Fi chip (those algorithms aren't found on software based X-Fi cards like the XtremeAudio), and along with the lack of hardware OpenAL, makes for partial gaming audio support, that's still above Asus cards' gaming audio support, but clearly below X-Fi cards, notably the Titanium HD.
Originally Posted by Kel Ghu
Stripped down? I think it's a totally different processor. Titanium used to process everything on its audio processor, EAX, Crystalizer, CMS3D, etc etc... But now, everything has been moved to the CPU, only remains 4 specialized DSPs (CrystalVoice, THX TruStudio Pro, Smart Volume and Pro Bass).
But apparently, the version of the SoundCore 3D on ZxR doesn't make use of the embedded DAC. That task has been off-loaded to a real DAC, the PCM1794 which is amongst the best DAC according to Guru3D. That's why people say Titanium's DAC is better than STX's. So ZxR's SoundCore 3D is actually a stripped down version on Recon 3D's.
I don't mind that. It's doesn't make the sound worse as CPUs have more than enough power to process all that so one won't see any impact on speed. And the design actually makes the sound better as the DAC is way better than what we had on Recon3D's and Titanium HD's analog hardware is back.
It took them this long to take a Titanium HD, replace the audio processor with SoundCore3D and update the headphone amp... Anyway, it does really look to me that we have a winner here with the ZxR. My time waiting is soon arriving to an end... I really needed a audiophile gaming card.
Spec wise, the Titanium HD's DAC chip (PCM1794) is superior to the Essence STX's DAC chip (PCM1792), but implementation plays a big part on this as well.
First of all, I basically dismiss the entire Recon3D card series, as they're quite inferior to both the X-Fi series and the Z series, yet unfortunately they have high enough price tags that might mislead people into thinking they're actually worth getting.
What Creative should've done was to update the Titanium HD's design, upgrading components, possibly adding a headphone amp that could be bypassed on command.
Overall, if someone is looking for a high-end consumer internal soundcard and does light to medium gaming, the ZxR will fit the bill. For those who do little gaming but still some gaming, the Essence STX fits the bill. And for those who do medium to heavy gaming, the Titanium HD is the card to get.