Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR
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TwoEars

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Hi Evshrug,
 
to get it to work:
 
1. In windows control panel for windows sounds the default playback device should be "Speakers SB..... "
 
2. In the creative console launcher (creative control panel) there should be an option "play stereo mix using digital output". Tick that box.
 
Toslink with SBX effects should now be working. You can test by changing the bass or surround effects while playing something simply like a youtube clip and listening for the difference.
 
In Foobar2000 you can then set the default output device to be "event... soundblaster optical out" or similar. That means it will bypass windows and soundblaster for music playing in foobar.
 
Hope it works!
 
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post-10534620
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benbenkr

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  Bloody hell benbenkr - I had no idea MSI had nabbed the SB software. So basically, as you're using optical out then you can effectively dump your SBZ. If somebody builds a new rig - if they got an MSI board they could forget about buying an SBZ. And as you point out it sounds practically the same. Weird business move on Creative's part.
 
Look forward to hearing more about how you get on with it
 
I've been suspsecting it for a while, but had no reason to try it but then my very old P35 (from the C2Q days) just died out. Turns out I'm right... at least, mostly. SBX surround indeed does work through optical out from the MSI Z87 GD65, though the software is very barebones in the likes of SB Cinema. No DDL or DTS Connect of course, which I found to be handy for me personally when I want to go back to Dolby Headphone through a DSS for whatever reason.
 
I connected optical out from the mobo > Aune X1 Pro > headphones (Fidelio X1/AKG Annies/HD558).
 
Playing with the sliders then going back and forth with the SBZ, I do find that the SBZ to have better rear cues at the same 67%. I had to adjust the MSI's onboard to 83% for it to sound almost similar to the SBZ on rear cues alone. Oddly then, the front cues takes a step back.
 
Also, just for testing to see if MSI's claim of having a proper headphone amp on the motherboard is true or not, I connected the X1 Pro directly to the Line Out (there's no headphone port) port and unfortunately, it seems that they are just spewing water on this one. At 100% Windows volume, my X1 wasn't even as loud as 9 o' clock on my Aune. So much for the so called OPA1652 amp it has.... 
 
I'll poke into the .ini config to see what Creative has done to change things around, but so far I'm pretty happy with SBX on a board (after all, we know it's all software implementation) which means I don't have to spend an extra $80-90 for an SBZ/Omni if I didn't already had them. Will continue to examine a little more over the weekend to see how it goes.
 
BTW, Gigabyte has their upcoming Z97x G1 board which uses the same Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC on the SBZ/Zx/Omni and a TI BurrBrown OPA2134 as an op-amp. Would also come with the full version of SBX Pro Studio.
 
  Dang, if the software works through optical on that motherboard, that would be really cool for those who want itx builds. I recently ordered a D03k to check out how optical works out with my SB Z sound card before I get my feet wet with more expensive optical dacs, got it for 16 bucks too.
 
Yup totally agree! Definitely great on ITX builds and an even cleaner setup.
I like what mobo manufacturers are doing these days interms of audio quality, we'd probably get valve amps soon on them if the trend continues.
 
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watsaname

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Haha, it would be funny if they added up tube amps to the audio section of mobos. There will be so many threads like, "My case is really hot and I have no idea why! HELP!!!!"
 
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benbenkr

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Yeah and then the return of gigantic heatsinks.....
 

 
Then manufacturers are going to pour more snake oil by offering watercooling on the tube amps (lol What).... Yeah.
 
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TwoEars

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A tube amp circuit on the motherboard would be funny as hell.
 
Someone should do it just to confuse the competition.

 
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post-10535157
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SaLX

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Great post benbenkr
 
I think whether for good or ill, many PC users now accept the meme that onboard is as good as a physical addon card. Given that, it's entirely logical that Creative wants a piece of the action, so it's not such a weird move after all. I can only speculate (but I'm pretty sure), that sound card sales have been nosediving for many years now.
 
Will keep my eye on the Gigabyte Z97x G1's.
 
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Hmm, I think I got it working, with processing.

Hi Evshrug,

to get it to work:

1. In windows control panel for windows sounds the default playback device should be "Speakers SB..... "

2. In the creative console launcher (creative control panel) there should be an option "play stereo mix using digital output". Tick that box.

Toslink with SBX effects should now be working. You can test by changing the bass or surround effects while playing something simply like a youtube clip and listening for the difference.

In Foobar2000 you can then set the default output device to be "event... soundblaster optical out" or similar. That means it will bypass windows and soundblaster for music playing in foobar.

Hope it works!

I still didn't have sound with these settings, but I did get it working by enabling everything you said EXCEPT I changed windows default playback device to the Omni's Optical output. Played a little Metro: Last Light, and I definitely had surround, front and back is distinct so it's not 2 channel upsampling/guessing. The only downside is sounds originating at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock directly at my sides seem louder than front, back (I'm standing in place and listening to a guy talk from a chair as I spin around), and also sometimes when audio has too much "energy" like a big explosion I hear a hint of clipping, but it only happened like 2 times. I do have the optical output set to use up to 24-bit, 96kHz output.

I haven't used foobar (always reminds me of the war term fubar), but right now I have music on my iPad and I can play it through iTunes, which works well enough for me.
 
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post-10535501
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TwoEars

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Hmm, I think I got it working, with processing.
I still didn't have sound with these settings, but I did get it working by enabling everything you said EXCEPT I changed windows default playback device to the Omni's Optical output. Played a little Metro: Last Light, and I definitely had surround, front and back is distinct so it's not 2 channel upsampling/guessing. The only downside is sounds originating at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock directly at my sides seem louder than front, back (I'm standing in place and listening to a guy talk from a chair as I spin around), and also sometimes when audio has too much "energy" like a big explosion I hear a hint of clipping, but it only happened like 2 times. I do have the optical output set to use up to 24-bit, 96kHz output.

I haven't used foobar (always reminds me of the war term fubar), but right now I have music on my iPad and I can play it through iTunes, which works well enough for me.
 
Really? Ok.
 
You get some basic surround sound in games through the inbuilt game software surround. But it's bettered by SBX.
 
If you really want to confirm it's working open up a youtube music video and adjust the creative bass boost or EQ. There should be a very clear and easy to hear difference.
 
If you do hear a change it's working, but otherwise windows sounds is passing the audio through the optical port directly and not through the creative chip.
 
Just test it like I suggested to be sure.
 
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NamelessPFG

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DJINFERNO806

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I've been suspsecting it for a while, but had no reason to try it but then my very old P35 (from the C2Q days) just died out. Turns out I'm right... at least, mostly. SBX surround indeed does work through optical out from the MSI Z87 GD65, though the software is very barebones in the likes of SB Cinema. No DDL or DTS Connect of course, which I found to be handy for me personally when I want to go back to Dolby Headphone through a DSS for whatever reason.

I connected optical out from the mobo > Aune X1 Pro > headphones (Fidelio X1/AKG Annies/HD558).

Playing with the sliders then going back and forth with the SBZ, I do find that the SBZ to have better rear cues at the same 67%. I had to adjust the MSI's onboard to 83% for it to sound almost similar to the SBZ on rear cues alone. Oddly then, the front cues takes a step back.

Also, just for testing to see if MSI's claim of having a proper headphone amp on the motherboard is true or not, I connected the X1 Pro directly to the Line Out (there's no headphone port) port and unfortunately, it seems that they are just spewing water on this one. At 100% Windows volume, my X1 wasn't even as loud as 9 o' clock on my Aune. So much for the so called OPA1652 amp it has.... 

I'll poke into the .ini config to see what Creative has done to change things around, but so far I'm pretty happy with SBX on a board (after all, we know it's all software implementation) which means I don't have to spend an extra $80-90 for an SBZ/Omni if I didn't already had them. Will continue to examine a little more over the weekend to see how it goes.

BTW, Gigabyte has their upcoming Z97x G1 board which uses the same[COLOR=545454] Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC on the SBZ/Zx/Omni and a[/COLOR] [COLOR=3D3D3D]TI BurrBrown[/COLOR][COLOR=3D3D3D] OPA2134 [/COLOR]as an op-amp. Would also come with the full version of SBX Pro Studio.


Yup totally agree! Definitely great on ITX builds and an even cleaner setup.
I like what mobo manufacturers are doing these days interms of audio quality, we'd probably get valve amps soon on them if the trend continues.

Funny enough, I recently bought an MSI gs70 stealth pro 2 gaming notebook and it came with the sound blaster suite too. I compared it to my z on my main pc and came to the same conclusions you did. I will say though it seems to be done in software due to the lack of a soundcore chip. I actually uninstalled the suite as my audiogd process would be taking up anywhere from 4-10% with sbx surround enabled. I guess there's always downsides to software processing.
 
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TwoEars

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watsaname

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Wow didn't even know that existed, then again I was like ~9 years old and didn't have an interest in computers back then other than my Dreamcast.
 
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XIX47

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Newbie question: I have recently purchased a desktop headphone amp and I am wondering which sets of cables I need to connect the amp to the SB Z. Is it either the 3.5mm-to-RCA cable or 3.5mm-to-3.5mm cable? Thanks.
 
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benbenkr

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So guys, bad news... somewhat.
 
After poking around into the .ini configs and .dll files for the SB Cinema, I found out that enabling SBX Surround through optical on the mobo is different to that of doing through a SBZ soundcard. The settings are different and it's no wonder I get a step back in front audio cues and soundstage. There's no way to manually change the settings by just setting figures though, so that's a bummer.
Not only that, I forgot about the fact there's no option to set Windows to 5.1 in the first place as well when using SB Cinema.
 
Next I tried going from line out from the mobo to line-in on my amp, because there isn't actually a headphone mode on the SB Cinema, headphone mode is actually tied between standard 2.0/2.1 mode. My guess was partially correct, enabling SBX Surround at 67% sounds quite similar to the correct (67%) settings everyone has been using on their SBZ/Omni for a while now with the exception that because the Realtek ALC1150 is very laid back in its nature, mids tend to feel a little lifeless and dried out.
 
So there you go, SBX Surround built into software form on motherboards indeed do work — but only properly through line-out. Optical out does not work entirely well.
 
Consolation prize I guess but because I can't use an external DAC through line-out from the mobo, I'm going back to my SBZ then.
 
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SaLX

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Well, that's a slight bummer. I'm sure they'll get better in the long run.
 
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