Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR
Feb 15, 2014 at 5:54 AM Post #1,936 of 3,462
I get that and appreciate any help  but I did try with 3 different sets of speakers and buy those high end PC speakers (Corsair SP2500) for the ZxR expecting a decent set of speakers to bring it to life.
I tried all settings and think its sounded flat/lacking, the EQ's all sound near the same and low volume apart from the Classical (brought up by a few reviewers), the FPS mode for gaming is quiet so you need mess with EQ every new song/album/game or movie and it still IMO sounds poor.
I have heard it sound muddy mid song and played it back again and its fine, I can at times hear the change in quality, nothing can be messing with it like PCI-E lanes etc. as the other X-FI is fine.
My GPU used the CPU slots bandwidth and the soundcard in the Mobos Chipsets Slot so not related to each other IRQ wise and no other cards fitted.
I tried 2.0/2.1/5.1 set ups, without the Smart Volume set to Loud its very low volume and before I would never use this on my X-Fi's (SVM) as it spoiled the sound and was not even needed.
The Corsairs up full were not loud even for my old age (I am past very loud music) and lacking any bass never mind basshead type bass.
On these old Cambridge Soundworks 5.1 the volume is through the roof with its wired remote down lo and the bass is there even turned down low on Sub but again the overall sound is flat/lacking.
They are good speakers but I doubt very high/expensive end and only mono cone speakers with no tweeters so lack a bit of mids.
It was hard to find reviews on them as so old now but I linked to and I think it was 3 peeps had reviewed them and one commented as recent as Dec 2013 saying he dug these out from his loft or such and they sounded better than any PC speakers he had bought/heard to date.
I cannot be one of the few on here who think its has flat/lacking sound surely when all others including reviews give it glowing reports.
I really wanted to be blown away and love music on this card as I know the past few cards its been ok but not as good as the sound I had back in 2001 that blew all my family/friends away when then came around.
I cannot say I had anywhere near even acceptable PC sound quality from the ZxR.
If buying a £300 set of speakers was the answer I would but I highly doubt it and the footprint is too large for PC area.
There is only a few drivers and the latest one is same old one rehashed/packed and the software is poor for a high end card.
We all know the support sucks.
I am not sure if its even worth trying it again or leaving it in the box to go back on Monday because nothing has changed and I have mixed and matched all the speakers I own and did own (the SP2500's) for a short time.
I have for the 1st time in a long time now got decent sound with the X-Fi and Cambridge speakers (lacking a little mid) but I bought a £200 card to get the best.
Feb 15, 2014 at 6:52 AM Post #1,937 of 3,462
Hey @helmutcheese How it come You believe Corsair is a "high-end" speaker? Anyway, how You connected it to ZxR, You used RCA cables out ZxR and same RCA to SUB? Try to set output to stereo first (not stereo direct) then tun OFF ALL enchacements, EQ, SBX, scout mode. It should give normal sounding sound.
Feb 15, 2014 at 7:01 AM Post #1,938 of 3,462
I never said it was  high end HIFI speaker but PC speaker system and not cheap for 2.1 PC speakers and I knew someone would try and blame the speakers or cables.
If you read my posts fully you will see I did not only try 1 set of speakers.
If you look at them on the Corsair site you will see how they are wired, they have PSU type connections so not easy to swap but the cables are thick/good quality.
The Corsair cable that connects the soundcard to Sub is not as thick/good quality so I replaced it with good quality RCA to RCA and then also tried  a RCA to stereo in the other Subs input and tried 2.0 Stereo and Stereo direct and sound was poor.
Sound volume is already low enough with all enhancements on never mind off and sounds worse as it needs some shaping.
I am here as a last ditch effort to keep the card and know how to wire it up it, does come with instructions so does any speakers.
Feb 15, 2014 at 12:49 PM Post #1,939 of 3,462
It sounds to me like you are pretty sure the card isn't to your liking. If you have all the wacky enhancements turned off and the speakers are setup right and none of the speakers you have and are familiar with sound good with the new card, then I don't think there's much else to do. Maybe try one of the ASUS cards? I haven't heard them, but they are very popular here. Also, Ausentech makes Creative based cards with higher quality output circuitry. I don't know if they have anything based on the Z now, last time I looked, it was all X-Fi. I had their Prelude 7.1 and it was good. The DAC doesn't stand up to my NFB-10SE, but that's in a different class. 
Feb 15, 2014 at 6:52 PM Post #1,940 of 3,462
Save myself £200+more for speakers by keeping my X-Fi and old Speakers from 2001 as sound is acceptable for a PC.
Just read all the raves about how good the Z series was after Creative being crap for years but IMO it sounds crap.
Feb 15, 2014 at 7:07 PM Post #1,941 of 3,462
Something must have been seriously wrong with your setup as the DAC and line out objectively should sound the same at least(being conservative here) if not much better.

Perhaps you just got used to the sound signature of your old card and that's what you prefer. Happens all the time really.
Feb 15, 2014 at 7:17 PM Post #1,942 of 3,462
I did mention I was worried I had become used (or a junkie) to substandard artificial audio due to not so good sound for a long time on more recent Creative cards on my PC after that great set up in 2001.
Surely 3+week would get me detoxed?
Movies and game sound the most lacking on the ZxR without messing with all setting each time but I really primary wanted good music playback (though I am a gamer) because the Audigy/X-Fi cards do ok in movies and games.
Feb 15, 2014 at 8:46 PM Post #1,943 of 3,462
@helmetcheese: something's gone wrong, somewhere. The Z on it's own sounds great. Do a complete reinstall, seeing as you've got old legacy drivers lurking in your OS.
Feb 15, 2014 at 9:04 PM Post #1,944 of 3,462
That is not the issue, Windows 8.1 was installed to a brand new SSD the week the ZxR arrived and I did so with no sound card/onboard installed and did without sound for a few days while I read reviews, ordered and my card arrived.
I then popped card in and installed the latest driver and then found unlike reviews and 99% of owners claim you do need the daughter board to use it fully or you are missing 2 sections in the control panel (Googling confirms this).
I do know how to get rid of old drivers anyhow and I think I have wasted enough time/money and did all that is possible, Creative sure as hell are not supporting it with repacked old drivers.
The card gives no errors just sounds crap IMO, I would still like to know what the early batches of ZxR were recalled for.
I really was excited (1st time with hardware in a long time) to order the card and was disappointed with it on day 1 but tried many different set ups to give it a chance.
Feb 16, 2014 at 12:03 AM Post #1,945 of 3,462
Just to clarify you don't need the daughter board to fully utilize the zxr for analogue out functions. The only missing options are related to the digital in and out and line in.

I don't think anyone has ever stated the opposite that I have ever seen. I myself used my zxr without a daughterboard the entire time. This thread is also full of this same fact.
Feb 16, 2014 at 4:21 AM Post #1,949 of 3,462
Yea DTS Neo is also missing if the daughter board isn't connected which isn't only for "digital out" but another simulation of surround for stereo material and affects every sound played also out of the headphone jack. 
Feb 16, 2014 at 6:35 AM Post #1,950 of 3,462
My soundcard preferences for cards that have the best sound out of box for music is the Asus Xonar D2/PM or D2X. After that & following very very closely is the Asus Xonar Essense STX/ ST. The ZXR  card is below these stock All creative branded X-Fi cards fall below these cards in music sound quality.
For cards that I have modified the order changes to ZXR > Essense STX > X-Fi Titanium HD > All other creative branded true X-Fi cards.
I have modified all variants of these cards except the Asus Xonar D2/PM or D2X which is difficult to modify but sounded acceptable out of the box to me, mind you not as good as the top 3 cards once modified. The only problem with the D2/PM & D2X is they have no headphone amp & the lineout output impedance is quite high for driving headphones but acceptably low for driving a line out to powered/active speakers or amplifiers as cable capacitance should not affect sound quality with these cards.

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