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Best Soundcard for Gaming with Sennheiser PC360?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hello folks.

I'm an FPS (first person shooter) gamer looking for a new soundcard.

I listen to gaming sound via headset/headphones only.

My main gaming headset/headphones are both (in my opinion) good quality stereo options, as follows:

* Sennheiser PC360
* Sennheiser HD595 (superceded by the very similar Sennheiser HD598)

Given the above, I'll be using virtual surround sound for positional audio in FPS.

I'm extremely close to buying one of these -- in this order -- and hope that you can help me decide on the best option:

(1) Creative Sound Blaster Z
(2) Creative Sound Blaster ZxR
(3) Asus Xonar Essence STX

I have ruled-out many others and would be delighted to hear anyone's views.


Edited by david__001 - 4/11/13 at 10:35am
post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 

Some ancillary details (not crucially important):

I may try out some "true" 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound gaming headsets at a later date, in order to test whether they provide any extra positional audio benefits in FPS games.

(A "true" 5.1. or 7.1 headset is one which has multiple drivers in each earcup and which typically connect via a number of 3.5mm jacks -- four for 5.1 [including mic] and five for 7.1 [including mic].  Some examples of a "true" 5.1 headset are the Roccat Kave or the Tritton Pro+.  An example of a "true" 7.1 headset is the Razer Tiamat.)

That said, if a good quality stereo headset (or set of headphones), good quality sound card and virtualised surround solution works well, I might not bother testing any "true" 5.1/7.1 headsets at all.

The FPS games I take an interest in are: Counter Strike: Source, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Battlefield 3.


Edited by david__001 - 4/1/13 at 8:21pm
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Here are some more detailed opinions on the Pros/Cons of each card from my gaming perspective:

 

 

 

_______________________________________
(1) Creative Sound Blaster Z  (PCI-E)

Pros:

* Virtualised headphone surround sound solution provided by SBX Pro Studio.

* Supports 5.1 channel out.  Five 3.5mm input/output connectors at the back (pics).  Will allow me to test a "true" 5.1 headset at a later date if I wish to do that.

* Amp.  (Can drive high-end headphones.)

* Does not require a power source over-and-above that drawn from its PCI-E connection.

* Purportedly: a solid choice for positional audio in gaming; stable and easy to use; drivers and software suite much improved from previous efforts.  The "Creative Sound Blaster Z Initial Impression" thread on the HardOCP forum is encouraging.

* Reasonable value (specifications versus price-point).

Cons:

* Does not support 7.1 channel out.  Cannot test a "true" 7.1 headset at a later date.  (A minor criticism.)



_______________________________________
(2) Creative Sound Blaster ZxR  (PCI-E)

Pros:

* Virtualised headphone surround sound solution provided by SBX Pro Studio.

* Supports 5.1 channel out.  Six input/output connectors at the back (pics).  Will allow me to test a "true" 5.1 headset at a later date if I wish to do that.

* Amp.  (Can drive high-end headphones.)

* Does not require a power source over-and-above that drawn from its PCI-E connection.

* Offers good quality gaming audio, plus good quality audio for other contexts (e.g., Music, Video).

* Purportedly: a solid choice for positional audio in gaming; stable; drivers and software suite much improved from previous efforts.

* Some nice componentry.  Some componentry improvements over the Z and Zx.

Cons:

* Does not support 7.1 channel out.  Cannot test a "true" 7.1 headset at a later date.  (A minor criticism.)

* Probably will not use the daughter card or the control box.  High price paid to leave certain components in the box.

* High cost generally.



_______________________________________
(3) Asus Xonar Essence STX  (PCI-E)

Pros:

* Virtualised headphone surround sound solution provided by Dolby Headphone.

* Amp.  (Can drive high-end headphones.)

* Seemingly has among the more stable drivers / accompanying software suites for the ASUS Xonar series of cards.  3rd party alternative drivers also available (Daniel_K's or Unified Drivers).

* Impressive physical appearance and componentry.  The card is a real beauty (pics).

Cons:

* Does not support 7.1 or 5.1 channel out (as its focus is on very high quality stereo out (pic [scroll down]).  Rather, if I want to test a "true" 5.1 headset or a "true" 7.1 headset at a later date, I'll need to: (a) buy the Asus Xonar Essence ST model, which sadly happens to be a PCI type card, and (b), buy the Asus Xonar H6 Expansion card (a very nice daughter board, but one which can only be used in conjuction with the ST model).  The PCI-only nature of this solution is a shame, as I really want to stick with a PCI-E soundcard.

* Requires power from a 4-pin molex connector.  (A minor criticism.)


Edited by david__001 - 4/3/13 at 3:47am
post #4 of 18
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the links weez.  I'll give those a read.

 

Probably looking at the Z or the ZxR now.

post #6 of 18

Is there any reason the X-Fi Titanium HD isn't on your list if you're looking at those other cards that don't have 7.1 output through analog?

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Is there any reason the X-Fi Titanium HD isn't on your list if you're looking at those other cards that don't have 7.1 output through analog?

 

The X-Fi Titanium HD is no doubt a nice card. I simply wanted something a little more up to date.

 

Also, I do concede that the Sound Blaster Z series cards don't support analog 7.1 (and that the Asus Essence ST [not STX] + H6 cards would be required if I really wanted it).  I can live with that.

 

The "true" 5.1/7.1 headset thing is mostly about curiosity for me.  That said, at present, I'm happy to proceed with a good quality set of stereo headphones (or headset), a good soundcard, and with surround virtualisation.


Edited by david__001 - 4/2/13 at 5:00am
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

In the end, I selected the Z, as I believe it fully satisfies my gaming aims at a reasonable price point.

Looking forwards to trying it and thanks for the replies everyone.

post #9 of 18

I am also thinking about buying the same setup as u. Is it woth the money?

Are they good for sound whoring? :)

post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunemi View Post

I am also thinking about buying the same setup as u. Is it woth the money?

Are they good for sound whoring? :)

 

Sadly I can't tell you yet, as although I now own the card, it is laying dormant in its box until a few other bits of tech arrive in the post.

 

That said, I've browsed around a number of forums, and have encountered a number of people who have claimed it is good for their FPS gaming activities.


Edited by david__001 - 4/10/13 at 1:18pm
post #11 of 18
Thx for the reply! When u have gotten everything setup. Can u wright a very short little "review" on the sound? I would appreciate it very much!
Edited by lunemi - 4/11/13 at 9:10am
post #12 of 18
If you're going to use HD 595's with Z, I hope you have external volume controller because at least I just can't use them directly if I want to keep my hearing. Also what I've noticed, it's best to no install the speaker setup thingy if you plan to use line out for headphones.
Edited by Anarion - 4/11/13 at 4:18am
post #13 of 18
I think I am going to buy the ad700 and the Z. Do I need an external volume controller for this? And I have not bought anything yet so any suggestions on a better soundcard or headphones/headset is much appreciated! smily_headphones1.gif As David_001 I play fps games like counterstrike source, so I want to be able to "sound whore" with great positional accurecy.
Edited by lunemi - 4/11/13 at 9:12am
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by lunemi View Post

I think I am going to buy the ad700 and the Z. Do I need an external volume controller for this? And I have not bought anything yet so any suggestions on a better soundcard or headphones/headset is much appreciated! smily_headphones1.gif As David_001 I play fps games like counterstrike source, so I want to be able to "sound whore" with great positional accurecy.
I know one who has that combo and he claims that it's rather loud so there's not much room in volume control I doubt that the problem is as large as with HD 595's though.
post #15 of 18

Does he recommend that combo for competitive gaming(sound whoring)? 


Edited by lunemi - 4/11/13 at 11:52am
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