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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 41

post #601 of 2237

Yeah, bit-tech review states the same.

 

I want to try it vs. my HD, unfortunately the installation of the Z will possibly overwrite the OpenAL settings unless the files come with different names.

 

WIth the Essence STX it was pretty easy, I just installed UNI Xonar without GSX support (no open AL for Asus then) and could test Dolby Headphone vs. CMSS-3D without any sort of installation. With regular Asus drivers OpenAL/Alchemy wouldn't work with the Titanium HD. 

post #602 of 2237
Quote:
Originally Posted by genclaymore View Post

It should have the output Stereo mix thru SPDIF in it's control panel, like the Recon3D does. That option will do just that.
Or basically you just set it as default sound device and that's it (like with other outputs), everything plays through it. It's a standard windows feature. But yeah, that option in CP should do the job too (and in that case analogue out ports should keep working too).

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Edited by Anarion - 5/22/13 at 3:23am
post #603 of 2237
Quote:
Originally Posted by xeizo View Post

Interesting, Realtek do have a rather mature solution by now - the ALC892 in one of my boxes sounds quite ok, if not esoteric. Best integrated I've had was the SoundMax 2000. But choosing the ZxR seems like a massive overkill if you're mostly/only into virtual surround. You should have opted for the much cheaper Z instead, if you were just curious over Creatives implementation of surround. It has the exact same surround features. All the extra efforts on the ZxR have been spent on improving pure stereo-sound, which seems to be of no particular use in your case.

 

Best surround I've had was with the very cheap Xonar DG and Dolby Digital, when I had it optimally configured it was spooky - the headphones totally disappeared. Sadly, there was extreme regression in later drivers for the card and I don't remember which driver set it was that worked the best ...

 

For myself, I consider music reproduction being the most important factor, I would probably have appreciated the ZxR more than you :-)

 

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the "hifi" sound of the ZxR, the instruments and everything has more body to them, the highs are slightly clearer etc, I'm just a little disappointed that I can't get the nice open soundstage of the Realtek onboard as long as I use 5.1 speakers there. 5.1 speakers with headphones is a common practice, it gives better positioning/soundstaging so why not? This goes for both gaming and music listening. However with the Creative driver software it seems to not work as nicely as with Realtek. If you could only hear how natural the soundstage is on the Realtek when using 5.1 speakers ("Front left and right" and "Surround speakers" checked, rest like center, subwoofer etc boxed unticked). While testing with UT3 it's like a perfectly working virtual surround sound where I can even locate and position enemies based on the gunfights from very far away with lots of walls in-between. I can pretty well both estimate distance as well as direction the sound comes from and even if it comes a bit below or a bit above, it's extremely accurate and the positioning turns extremely smoothly as I turn the character in 360 degrees so it sounds very natural.

With music it also gives a larger soundstage with more space in-between the instruments and positioning is very good. So going to the ZxR I really enjoy how the invidual instruments, vocals etc sounds like but the whole presentation sounds slightly dull and closed-in compared to the Realtek. I tried with all possible software speaker configs in ZxR series but it doesn't quite seem to work the same as with Realtek.

 

I said I don't like stereo sound because I don't want sound focused on two sides but I want to feel I'm in middle of the music with everything else surrounding me so it's like a 3D field or that it doesn't sound like music is coming from a certain direction but that it sounds like I'm in the same room with the band. The SBX on ZxR didn't work too well for me either and it certainly has a slight SQ impact too. The 5.1 surround config on Realtek onboard however is 100% SQ-impactless so it actually increase SQ as the surround sound is greatly enhanced.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 5/22/13 at 3:47am
post #604 of 2237

Maybe I'm overlooking something but you are using multichannel music, like live concerts and such? 

I never used the upmix these cards offer but the downmix has always suited me reasonably well.

post #605 of 2237
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post

Maybe I'm overlooking something but you are using multichannel music, like live concerts and such? 

I never used the upmix these cards offer but the downmix has always suited me reasonably well.

 

Nah not multichannel music, just normally recorded stereo music that I also prefer how it sounds if using 5.1 speakers (With Realtek onboard, with the Creative card 5.1 speaker config doesn't do much difference at all for the music compared to using stereo).


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 5/22/13 at 2:36pm
post #606 of 2237

As far as I know it should sound just the same, at least if it's "stereo" music. I don't think there's any upsampling being done, unless you're using something in addition to do that (I think there's a Foobar plugin for example). 

It would do that if you had 5.1 speakers plugged into the card but not otherwise (maybe I'm missing the obvious here?).

post #607 of 2237
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post

As far as I know it should sound just the same, at least if it's "stereo" music. I don't think there's any upsampling being done, unless you're using something in addition to do that (I think there's a Foobar plugin for example). 

It would do that if you had 5.1 speakers plugged into the card but not otherwise (maybe I'm missing the obvious here?).

 

I don't know what everything is happening with the signal but I know it doesn't sound the same, well on the Creative card it does but my experience with Creative cards is that their software side "speaker config" always worked a bit different compared to other manufacturer's offerings. There is for example this channel test in both Realtek software and Creative and with the Creative rear & front speakers sounded the same when set to 5.1 but with Realtek it's like there is some kind of HRTF tweaks, there you can actually tell very clearly that the front speakers sounds like coming from in front of you while the rear speakers really do sound like coming from behind you. The same thing can be heard compared with stereo music too when comparing stereo vs 5.1 speaker config on the Realtek, with 5.1 there is more surround processing going on, music surrounds you better, the soundstage is more open / "free-roaming" and I really like this, so much that I'm not sure that I'm even gonna keep the ZxR card even if the instrument and all do sound fantastic, it's just so hard to overlook the soundstage differences as I'm a fan of listening to music with more surround-like experience.

post #608 of 2237

I think I know what you mean as I've experienced that front/back problem also. In the worst case it even sounded like the singer was standing behind me... 

To get rid of it I swapped out some of the opamps I was using and it helped to get positioning back to where I thought it should be.

The Realtek effect you're talking about is quite nice thouh. I like to use that on my laptops.

post #609 of 2237

Well I will soon upgrade computer as Intel Haswell CPUs get launched so I will probably hunt for the latest & best Realtek chip featured mobo I can get a hold of in case this surround sound is something exclusive to Realtek driver software. I saw there's now a new ALC1150 chip with 115dB SNR, which is pretty damn good spec for onboard (probably not accurate but yea).

 

http://www.bit-tech.net/news/hardware/2013/05/03/asrock-purity-sound/1 (supports up to 600 ohm xD)


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 5/23/13 at 3:38am
post #610 of 2237

First short Soundblaster ZxR impressions:

 

SBX is NOT a relabel of THX Tru Studio Pro. It is much better, especially in Soundstage (both depth and width) and by the fact that it renders much more accurately while being very truthful to the source compared to other solutions, especially CMSS-3D. You'll appreciate this a lot. 

 

One important thing I found out is that if you use OpenAL in any form, if "naturally" or through Alchemy, SBX is turned off and you don't get 7.1/5.1 downmix but a "standard" 2.0 headphone mix. Maybe it doesn't happen to you but it does in my case. I tested it with Mirror's Edge, Prey, Guild Wars, Bioshock. After getting suspicious during my testing I went ALT+TAB onto the desktop and opening the SBX panel I found out that SBX was turned off. I turned it on again, switched back to the game and voilá, Everything working wonderfully and actually quite good.

 

I am positively surprised by this new card and while I haven't studied older games enough to make a final overall conclusion (regarding OpenAL) I advise everyone in search for a new gaming card to get a Z-series card before anything else, depending on the amplifier needs.

post #611 of 2237

I recently bought the normal Z to replace my aging xonar DG to use with my HD 598's.

 

Problem is, inside the control panel there is supposed to be a 32ohm and 600hm setting. ---> http://i.imgur.com/Jf4Soc3.jpg

 

But mine doesn't give me the option.  ---> http://i.imgur.com/HCTm5vB.png

 

Does anyone have an idea why? The question was asked earlier in this thread, but it never got resolved.


Edited by alphawolff - 5/25/13 at 12:48pm
post #612 of 2237
Quote:
Originally Posted by alphawolff View Post

I recently bought the normal Z to replace my aging xonar DG to use with my HD 598's.

 

Problem is, inside the control panel there is supposed to be a 32ohm and 600hm setting. ---> http://i.imgur.com/Jf4Soc3.jpg

 

But mine doesn't give me the option.  ---> http://i.imgur.com/HCTm5vB.png

 

Does anyone have an idea why? The question was asked earlier in this thread, but it never got resolved.


Hi alpha,

 

I believe this option is only available on the ZXR Control Panel, as discussed in this thread:

 

http://forums.overclockers.co.uk/showthread.php?t=18476297

post #613 of 2237

A little update on SBX

SBX seems to work way better as long as "stereo" speakers are set in windows control panel. Obviously needs "enable audio enhancements" in the Advanced tab to work but worth pointing out. Stereo speaker config + headphones and it works very well for me. The ideal Surround value for me is 91%, it sounds most natural with the positioning and the most suitable width. Even music sounds very good with it for my taste (again only with the ideal surround-% value set) and there's no noteworthy sound quality impact worth pointing out unless using a weird surround value, it gets a little louder so you have to take that into account if trying to A/B the differences. With 5.1 speakers set in windows control panel it had a noticeable sound quality impact and didn't work as good with the positioning.

 

I would even go as far as to say the SBX when using stereo speakers + headphones + ideal surround value reminds me a lot of my carefully tweaked Dolby Headphone foobar2000 config, it also greatly enhances surround sound + expands the soundstage a bit without taking any noteworthy SQ hit due to counter EQ adjustments + carefully tweaked channel mixer settings.

 

I'm still unsure about the soundstage differences comparing Realtek with 5.1 speakers but the ZxR has like a very big noticeable difference sound quality wise and the biggest difference is probably in the lower mids with the Q40 headphones, with the Realtek chip it sounds as if there's a slight lower-mid recession and instruments and mids can sound somewhat "skinny" unless using ZO2.1 amp which adds some weight to the lower-mids as well while with the ZxR it becomes almost too forward there getting on the border of muddy as a result, muddy is obviously an overexaggeration but it's just to express there's a very big difference there, all instruments as a result tend to sound much heavier on the ZxR card.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 5/25/13 at 6:42pm
post #614 of 2237

Since the ZxR has apparently 2 processors, does that mean that the Analogue and Digital outputs can be used completely independent of each other with full EAX etc. processing on both?

 

EDIT: Never mind, just read that hardware OpenAL/EAX was dropped starting from Recon3D series. Guess I'm out of the loop...


Edited by Oubadah - 5/26/13 at 1:37am
post #615 of 2237
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fegefeuer View Post

First short Soundblaster ZxR impressions:

 

SBX is NOT a relabel of THX Tru Studio Pro. It is much better, especially in Soundstage (both depth and width) and by the fact that it renders much more accurately while being very truthful to the source compared to other solutions, especially CMSS-3D. You'll appreciate this a lot. 

 

One important thing I found out is that if you use OpenAL in any form, if "naturally" or through Alchemy, SBX is turned off and you don't get 7.1/5.1 downmix but a "standard" 2.0 headphone mix. Maybe it doesn't happen to you but it does in my case. I tested it with Mirror's Edge, Prey, Guild Wars, Bioshock. After getting suspicious during my testing I went ALT+TAB onto the desktop and opening the SBX panel I found out that SBX was turned off. I turned it on again, switched back to the game and voilá, Everything working wonderfully and actually quite good.

 

I am positively surprised by this new card and while I haven't studied older games enough to make a final overall conclusion (regarding OpenAL) I advise everyone in search for a new gaming card to get a Z-series card before anything else, depending on the amplifier needs.

 

Now I'm really intrigued, especially since THX was a grave disappointment to me...but SBX surround shutting off every time I fire up anything that uses OpenAL would get very annoying, very quickly. X-Fi cards may have their quirks like resetting volume, but CMSS-3D Headphone switching on or off without me explicitly setting it was never one of them.

 

Can you test it with Battlefield 2? X-Fi, Ultra High, EAX on in the sound settings, of course. I'm hoping they fixed it up so that EAX functions like it's supposed to instead of reverbing things that wouldn't be reverberated on a real X-Fi card in Game Mode.

 

Oh, and if it's a 7.1 downmix in OpenAL, then it's doing it wrong. OpenAL games (and DirectSound3D games wrapped with ALchemy) should NEVER sound like a mere emulated 7.1 speaker system, but more like a direct binaural HRTF mix, true 3D sound.

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