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Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR - Page 48

post #706 of 2103
Quote:
Originally Posted by rocketron1 View Post

hi everyone,

 

I just got this ZxR sound card and use it with a set of MMX 300 cans, im not that impressed with it gaming atm, I feel like the surround is not great..

 

I have read the whole thread.

 

I do not use any speakers just use my headset.

 

what are the ideal settings, I think iv played with all the sbx studio settings and still cant find the right spot.

 

@ RPGwizzard,

 

so what would you recommend are the ideal settings for games?

 

windows cp set to stereo, sbx disabled and dts set in cinematic, eq disabled? would this be your recommendation for gaming, I play games like bf3 and Arma 2/3

 

thanks

I need to do further testing with my setup, hard to do a/b testing when you have to exit game and change setting and all that.

 

For me, I think the best set-up so far is 5.1(Windows settings), Dolby Digital Live(set to headphones), and whatever settings need to be changed in the game.

 

For Battlefield 3, use Home Cinema and turn off Enhanced Stereo mode. I had enhanced stereo mode on and at first didn't care for the surround. When I turned it off, it was like playing a whole new game. Just an FYI.

 

I am using Audio Technica AD700, so YMMV. As I said I need to do further testing as well as find a way to a/b compare better.

post #707 of 2103

I had better results with "Music Mode" with the DTS setting than movie and the slider set 2nd furthermost to the right side (narrow). With it set to wide you loose positional accuracy/surround cues to my ears. This is tested while being windowed mode in UT3 and listened critically while testing different settings back n forth.

 

But I was also unsure whether just having DTS enabled but leaving DTS Neo disabled if that was better or not. For sure it messes less with the audio if DTS NeoPC is disabled and volume levels seem more "appropriate" and doesn't vary as much and will work fine with music (everything) too.

 

Windows cpanel I thought 5.1 worked best (I usually have best results if then selecting only the "Full-range speakers" -> "Left and right" and "surround speakers" and the rest like center, rear etc speakers unticked). But if using SBX surround then stereo speakers worked a lot better and the surround value 91% was clearly ideal for me. Can't really say which setting worked best but my top-3 contenders:

 

- Windows cpanel 5.1 -> DTS NeoPC Music mode with slider set 2nd furthest to the right (narrow), yes exactly that setting, I tested it very carefully

- Windows cpanel 5.1 -> DTS enabled but NeoPC disabled

- Windows cpanel stereo speakers -> SBX Surround enabled and set to 91%

In the end I wasn't still 100% satisfied with the soundstaging no matter how I set it up, I swapped back to Realtek ALC889A and was more satisfied with the soundstaging (only need to use 5.1 speakers and you're set for wonderful positional sound and NATURAL soundstage). I think the Creative software side speaker config must be messing with the signal somehow as it seems to be an additional layer added to the signal processing before it goes to the headphones, it's something I've disliked for a long time with Creative how it sounded very different depending what speaker mode was selected in Creative's driver panel since Audigy days. I wish it was possible to bypass that crap altogether so it simply 100% follows Microsoft standards when it comes to speaker config and doesn't do anything additionally.

 

It's a shame about the soundstaging as I really like how the mids sounds on it, I'd say that's the best range on the cards, has a lot of meat and presence and a bit of a fullbodied analog warm sound to them. The highs are pretty natural sounding, no artificial boosting, maybe tiny bit "roughness" but only the faintest kind. Bass seems for my personal taste even sliiiiiiightly bloated down very low, it's as if it got extra current feed to bring up the <50Hz one notch and well it works good with less bassy or especially open headphones which rolls off a bit but for my bassy closed headphones it gets sliiiiiightly too much. At least it's the bassiest source I've tried when comparing its stock state without any adjustments on EQ or anything. Overall a pretty "analog" sound signature, quite similar to that of Titanium HD I also tried but I really think the mids sound one step better on this card from my memory. 


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 6/22/13 at 2:28am
post #708 of 2103
Quote:
Originally Posted by RPGWiZaRD View Post

I had better results with "Music Mode" with the DTS setting than movie and the slider set 2nd furthermost to the right side (narrow). With it set to wide you loose positional accuracy/surround cues to my ears. This is tested while being windowed mode in UT3 and listened critically while testing different settings back n forth.

But I was also unsure whether just having DTS enabled but leaving DTS Neo disabled if that was better or not. For sure it messes less with the audio if DTS NeoPC is disabled and volume levels seem more "appropriate" and doesn't vary as much and will work fine with music (everything) too.

Windows cpanel I thought 5.1 worked best (I usually have best results if then selecting only the "Full-range speakers" -> "Left and right" and "surround speakers" and the rest like center, rear etc speakers unticked). But if using SBX surround then stereo speakers worked a lot better and the surround value 91% was clearly ideal for me. Can't really say which setting worked best but my top-3 contenders:

- Windows cpanel 5.1 -> DTS NeoPC Music mode with slider set 2nd furthest to the right (narrow), yes exactly that setting, I tested it very carefully
- Windows cpanel 5.1 -> DTS enabled but NeoPC disabled
- Windows cpanel stereo speakers -> SBX Surround enabled and set to 91%


In the end I wasn't still 100% satisfied with the soundstaging no matter how I set it up, I swapped back to Realtek ALC889A and was more satisfied with the soundstaging (only need to use 5.1 speakers and you're set for wonderful positional sound and NATURAL soundstage). I think the Creative software side speaker config must be messing with the signal somehow as it seems to be an additional layer added to the signal processing before it goes to the headphones, it's something I've disliked for a long time with Creative how it sounded very different depending what speaker mode was selected in Creative's driver panel since Audigy days. I wish it was possible to bypass that crap altogether so it simply 100% follows Microsoft standards when it comes to speaker config and doesn't do anything additionally.

It's a shame about the soundstaging as I really like how the mids sounds on it, I'd say that's the best range on the cards, has a lot of meat and presence and a bit of a fullbodied analog warm sound to them. The highs are pretty natural sounding, no artificial boosting, maybe tiny bit "roughness" but only the faintest kind. Bass seems for my personal taste even sliiiiiiightly bloated down very low, it's as if it got extra current feed to bring up the <50Hz one notch and well it works good with less bassy or especially open headphones which rolls off a bit but for my bassy closed headphones it gets sliiiiiightly too much. At least it's the bassiest source I've tried when comparing its stock state without any adjustments on EQ or anything. Overall a pretty "analog" sound signature, quite similar to that of Titanium HD I also tried but I really think the mids sound one step better on this card from my memory. 

It sucks that the one of the things holding you back from liking the card is the inferior soundstage. I don't want to send you on a wild goose chas, but do you think if you swap out the op amps in the card it will help bring out some of the soundstage that you really miss?

I tried your config your the config with it set to music and it sounds pretty great!
post #709 of 2103
I may have mentioned it here before but I had a pair of OPA2228s lying around that really helped me with the soundstage. It's just an idea of course, one likes rolling while others hate it.
post #710 of 2103

I really don't think the soundstaging is a hardware-side specific problem but driver implementation problem. I used to use "speakers" in the Creative control panel instead of headphone with previous Creative offerings as "headphone" made soundstage more closed-in. With Z-series however it's impossible to select other than "Headphone" if using headphone jack as it automaticly disables the headphone port if selecting speakers and activates the speaker outputs instead.

 

The speaker outputs then again sounds really bad to my ears, it's not worth paying 200 EUR for a card (the Burr-brown DAC isn't worth that much) if you end up using the speaker outputs for your headphones that aren't amped, you may just go for the cheaper "Z" card then if you're ending up using that just to be able to take advantage of its software capabilities and use your own amp with it. As a comparision the speaker RCA outputs provide even less volume than a Realtek ALC889A. :p I think I had to use like 18% windows volume versus 14% on Realtek ALC889A for comparable volume levels so speaker outputs on the card has absolutely no extra amping to it than what the DAC provides.

 

So unless there's a hack to bring back speaker config usability with headphone jack I don't think Z-series will be finding my home again.


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 6/24/13 at 1:00am
post #711 of 2103

So I picked up a Creative Sound Blaster Z this weekend. As someone who's never owned a sound card, the installation was kind of a mess (not to mention the 1.5 day stall during the process because of an electrical outage). I'm talking repeat BSODs, boot looping; the whole nine yards. In the end I did get it to work, however, I have a few comments:

 

1. For someone who appreciates good sounding music (I wouldn't consider myself an audiophile as this is my first soundcard and I am using a "headset"), some of the preset EQs (without adjusting any other settings) definitely CHANGE the sound as opposed to my onboard audio but I'm not entirely sure if it's better or worse. I'm seeing a lot of interesting set ups here for good gaming set ups, but I was wondering if anyone had any insight to a good mix for say, metal, or pop, or blue grass, or jazz, or anything other than country (haha). Now I'm not talking strictly EQ. I am talking changing any of the settings in the Creative software. 

 

2. For an avid gamer, I jumped straight into Crysis 3 multiplayer to test out the audio queues in 3D space and I was certainly not impressed. Couple things to note, however: 

- I was trying very hard to be guided by strictly audio and not spawn locations, map locations, ally locations or anything else. I was putting all the work on the sound and I was sucking wretchedly. I did the same test with my onboard and sucked just as much. 

- Crysis 3 uses FMOD Ex middleware.

- I own Sennheiser PC360s 

- I was using the "Scout" preset. 

 

I feel like if someone advertises their product as great for gaming should at least have a good standard preset that we can use without too much finagling. Also, after changing all the settings in the creative software, the control panel, etc. is this still going to sound good for music? Changing back and forth between non-preset settings sounds incredibly tedious. 

post #712 of 2103
Two ideas to try out:

- do not use the Scout mode...
- play around with the SBX surround slider and keep Windows set to surround speakers (5.1 full range) to get a nice effect

On a side note: I never really liked the sound of the PC360. A friend of mine came over with a pair once and I was happy to take them off again.
post #713 of 2103
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radical_53 View Post

Two ideas to try out:

- do not use the Scout mode...
- play around with the SBX surround slider and keep Windows set to surround speakers (5.1 full range) to get a nice effect

On a side note: I never really liked the sound of the PC360. A friend of mine came over with a pair once and I was happy to take them off again.

Yeah, no kidding! Sorry for the ignorance, but it's my first card so the set up process was something unknown to me. I will give it a try and report back when I am home from work. 

post #714 of 2103

I just joined today to rant about this... The ACM of my Creative Zx really sounds like it is deteriorating the signal, clarity is noticeably lost.

 

I read that a few others on this thread noticed it as well. I'm feeling extremely irritated as I purposely bought the Zx (before reading those comments) to use the ACM as a volume control for my KRK Rokit studio monitors (no convenient stereo volume control) when plugged into PC. Any ideas what I should do now? Is there anyway I can complain directly to Creative about this?

 

We Asians have smaller incomes compared to Westerners, can't blow off cash testing all the soundcards/amps to see which isn't perfect... *sob*

 

P.s Sorry for interrupting the conversation above me...


Edited by dare2die - 6/25/13 at 3:50am
post #715 of 2103
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDub View Post

Yeah, no kidding! Sorry for the ignorance, but it's my first card so the set up process was something unknown to me. I will give it a try and report back when I am home from work. 

Reporting back...

 

..With the new settings I had to drop the bass a bit because footsteps would trigger a really bassy tone which wasn't necessary and frankly would make my brain explode if I listened to it for several hours due to epic vibrations. However, it was MUCH better than anything I had played with before. I still have the dilemna of not knowing what good music sounds like. I know it's subjective, and I know that the audio from my Realtek onboard and from the Creative Sound Blaster Z is different when it comes to music but I don't know which is better. 

post #716 of 2103
Just an FYI drop for USA people,
Newegg has the Zx and ZxR on sale. The ZxR is 30% off.
post #717 of 2103
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoryGillmore View Post

Gonna touch again on ACM audio degradation. It seems the 1/8 inch jack on my ACM is faulty. I mean I plugged my MD Trumpets into it and was mortified. Now using my DT880 and the 1/4 inch jack on the ACM is fine. But I'm actually extremely pleased with using the included RCA to 1/8 inch adapter from the soundcard to my RSA SR-71a. Sounds great. Better than using my iPod Video 5.5G, $200 ALO LOD and the SR-71a. I posted this earlier but it took me a while to figure out that in order to use the RCA to 1/8 inch adapter and amp I had to set the card to speaker mode in the Creative control panel and set it to stereo.

 

Excuse me, but I'd like to ask you if the ACM audio degradation problem completely goes away if using the 1/4 inch output? I'd like to know before I go hunting for a gold-plated 1/8" to 1/4" adapter (not easy to find here). Thanks beforehand for your reply.

post #718 of 2103
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDub View Post

Reporting back...

 

..With the new settings I had to drop the bass a bit because footsteps would trigger a really bassy tone which wasn't necessary and frankly would make my brain explode if I listened to it for several hours due to epic vibrations. However, it was MUCH better than anything I had played with before. I still have the dilemna of not knowing what good music sounds like. I know it's subjective, and I know that the audio from my Realtek onboard and from the Creative Sound Blaster Z is different when it comes to music but I don't know which is better. 

Yeah, same here! When I first installed the card and listening to music I wasn't sure if I liked the new sound or not. After a while, I just decided to turn the SBX Pro Studio off all together because I didn't like all the stuff it added to music. I have been to lazy to actually check which I like the most in terms of different settings, but I think you should turn off the SBX Pro Studio off all together and see if the music sounds good to you.  

 

RPGWizard says that he likes setting windows to Stereo and have everything else off. He also mentioned that he liked using DTS Connect>DTS Neo:PC>Music Mode. Just some different things to check out.


Edited by watsaname - 6/26/13 at 9:35pm
post #719 of 2103
Quote:
Originally Posted by watsaname View Post

RPGWizard says that he likes setting windows to Stereo and have everything else off. He also mentioned that he liked using DTS Connect>DTS Neo:PC>Music Mode. Just some different things to check out.

 

I only think it worked great with stereo speakers in windows if using SBX Surround, if using DTS connect then 5.1 should be used.

post #720 of 2103

Sounds like, I'm going to keep my Titanium HD for quite a while. 

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