Creative Sound Blaster new series Z, Zx & ZxR
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Ikarios

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I just picked up an SBZ from the recent $65 sale and was doing some research before I installed the thing. Am I going crazy or are some people talking about "Line Out" on the SBZ like it's a separate thing from the headphone out? Is there a way to bypass the headphone amp portion on the SBZ while keeping the DAC portion intact (i.e. without going through optical out)? I went back some pages and didn't find anything, so it might just be people talking about the ZXR and not mentioning the model or something.
 
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SaLX

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@Ikarios: For both the SBZ and the SB ZxR in 2 channel mode / stereo headphones,
 
Headphone Out: For headphones. Amplified. Uses the DAC (as you'll know!)
 
Line Out: For speakers. Uses the DAC. Not amplified. You can use it for headphones, but you'd require an amp as the output impedance is too high for any headphone. Not recommended for headphone surround as DJInferno stated - it's a mess for the HRTF's needed. This method of connection is solely for speaker users or weirdo's with v-shaped heads.
 
Toslink out: Does not use the DAC as you know. In the SB control panel you can send surround info to your external DAC/Receiver in either 2 channel or Dolby/DTS.
 
Is there a way to bypass the headphone amp portion on the SBZ while keeping the DAC portion intact (i.e. without going through optical out)?
Er.. yes but you wouldn't want to...... Read further back in this thread 
:  Put a low gain and low THD amp into the headphone out. This has been confirmed to work (a Magni user said 10/10 I saw). An O2 on 1x gain I've read works too. The lineouts are a forbidden zone with headphones for virtual surround gaming; unlike past SB's where you at least had the choice of switching between speakers and HP's.
 
Hope this helps. Basically they've dumbed down the latest Creative line. Sad.
 
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I got one as well. You may well be right... The Z doesn't have any RCA outs (which is the line-out on the ZxR). Maybe the L/R front jack serves as a volume-independent line-out? Haven't had the chance to try out that part.

SaLX,
You could send headphone-processed surround through the line-outs in the old X-Fi Titanium HD, but you couldn't have both speakers and headphones plugged in at the same time and had to manually plug/unplug your speakers and headphones to switch between outputs. Now, you can select which output to use in-software, so you win some and lose some.

My SB Z:
Initial impressions were good, although the only FPS I had was BF3. I actually think the K712 sounds good straight out from the 3.5mm jack, thought BF3 just has crazy sharp pops and explosions it's hard to relax and concentrate. When I install Portal 2 and Skyrim (and buy Borderlands 2), the real test will begin.
 
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SaLX

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As you point out all the old X-Fi's could use the line out/RCA out(s) as they pleased for HP or stereo: just like the current Xonars (but tragically not the ST/STX). Who are these people!!!!!!
 
I used to share a flat with a PHD engineer - a genius, but he couldn't even boil an egg.
 
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Lolz
I'm plugging my little desktop monitors into the front R/L's
For the life of me, I thought the card I'd just bought and had in my hand had RCA jacks. I even started writing that to Ikarios! But then I thought "Gee, I'd sure sound stupid if I was wrong," so I got out my setup paper (my computer was tucked back away).

I wonder if I could get my computer's front panel audio jacks working. I tried hooking it up to my motherboard ages ago, but I never got it working and assumed it was faulty.
 
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DJINFERNO806

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^Keep in mind that if you use the front panel audio jack, you still have to be in headphone mode, meaning no line out functionality at the same time.  As well as you are most likely bypassing your the Maxim amp and Cirrus DAC(from the lead arrangement coming from these chips, doesn't seem like its possible to loop back to the front panel connector).  Since the Soundcore3D has its own DAC built in, it would end up using that one.
 
Most users have already commented that the front panel out(apart from all the extra noise) just sounds totally different sound stage wise too.
 
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^ Good thing to keep in mind, plus exposure to EMI right? But still... Part of me wants to do it, "just because it's there."

Another part of me is yelling "Why didn't you just get an Omni, to use with all your computer setups?"

Sometimes, it gets very noisy in here...
 
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You can try it out but front panel has always been very noisy for me. With the phones plugged in I don't want to hear the faintest noise, nothing, unless music is playing. Background noise should be zero.
I typically mute everything I don't use, like the two mic-ins, to get rid of their intereference too. Especially with closed cans, where you can actually hear every detail and every bit of background noise, you don't want anything "on top" to ruin your experience.
 
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Where to download the drivers for SBZ? Creative's server is apparently running on a Celeron 300A and a 56kbps modem. 
  I'm getting max 30kbps dl speeds and it's driving me nuts, having to wait for hours for a puny 162 MB file.
 
 
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Solarium

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For some reason, after installing the TiHD, I think the speaker playback is somehow better than the ZXR's.
 
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DJINFERNO806

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^I highly doubt there is a perceivable difference in audio quality considering it uses the same DAC, pretty much same Op-amps.  Probably a placebo effect.  Its really hard for you to remember how the ZXR sounded exactly since you didnt really use it for so long.
 
 
You sure you didnt have EQ or DSP effects active in either card?  Also are you using speaker positioning software with either?
 
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Solarium

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  ^I highly doubt there is a perceivable difference in audio quality considering it uses the same DAC, pretty much same Op-amps.  Probably a placebo effect.  Its really hard for you to remember how the ZXR sounded exactly since you didnt really use it for so long.
 
 
You sure you didnt have EQ or DSP effects active in either card?  Also are you using speaker positioning software with either?
Comparing both cards with all the EQ/DSP effects off... There may be no appreciable difference between the two, but the TiHD is *definitely* louder at the same volumes (not sure why either).
 
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xnor

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Even if both cards had the same gain, volume control, max output voltage the TiHD would give you a tad higher voltage (volume) into headphones because of the *slightly* lower output impedance. A slightly higher volume is commonly perceived as better sound.
 
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SaLX

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Ah xnor - he's talking about speaker output
 
 
As for that headphone impedance figure of 40 Ohms - I'd really like to pin this down. Remember that ZxR's were reported to have a substandard headamp to the STX (the identical one) and was proven to be totally wrong?
 
The 40Ω figure was based off of one Russian site... I've no doubt that they are serious reviewers (for a change), however I'm a bit concerned as to their methodology ie: was it exactly the same test between the two examples below? I've seen many posts from people using headphones under 40Ω and they say they work well with the ZxR; and quite a few of them seem damned well informed about audio. By the normal 1/8 rule, that ratio would make their ZxR/low impedance headphones sound like a huge pile of steaming ***e.
 
 
Best use Chrome for the translation:
 
http://personalaudio.ru/detail/creative_soundblaster_z_/
 

(Ignore the Recon bit).
 
http://personalaudio.ru/detail/creative_soundblaster_zxr/
 

 
Could any technically minded Head-Fi'ers (stv??) comment on this. Many thanks all.
 
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xnor

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  Ah xnor - he's talking about speaker output
 
[...]
By the normal 1/8 rule, that ratio would make their ZxR/low impedance headphones sound like a huge pile of steaming ***e.
You mean line-outs?
 
No, a high output impedance doesn't make low impedance headphones sound bad.
The biggest difference is going to be
a) lower output voltage (volume) into low impedance headphones
 - 250 ohm headphone => 86% (-1.3 dB)
 - 32 ohm headphone => 44% (-7 dB)
 - 16 ohm headphone => 29% (-10.9 dB)
 
b) frequency response deviations from flat (using a voltage source = 0 ohm output impedance) depending on the impedance of the headphone
 - take a headphone with 16 ohm at 1 kHz but 32 ohm at 100 Hz, look at the numbers above, effectively you get a bass boost of about +4 dB
 
c) slightly measurable increase in harmonic distortion, especially in the bass, but with a good headphone the increase shouldn't be noticeable
 
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