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Creative Sound blasterX AE-5 vs DAC?

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by mendo52, Dec 15, 2017.
  1. mendo52
    i Have a Creative Sound blaster Z. Now I'm looking into purchasing Creative Sound blasterX AE-5 or DAC.
    Shall I go for AE-5 or looking for a 500$ DAC?
  2. Anarion
    I actually just ordered AE-5 to replace my Zx. Judging by measurements it seem to be a clear improvement over Zx/Z and it has some handy features that I want (something that Creative almost certainly won't be porting to Z/Zx drivers).
  3. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Are you into FPS gaming or music or movies or other?
    What headphones you you currently have or are planning on buying in the near future?
    Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIOS, when you installed the SB-Z card?
  4. Shattered (Gamer)
    I bought the creative and had to return it. I regret returning it.

    But i feel as if your question is more PCIE vs USB. And if you are a gamer I would chose creative. I will explain to you why and may be wrong. Im no professional, so anyone feel free to correct or disagree. Im still experimenting/learning. I am tho an 20+ year avid gamer.

    See Im kinda new to audio and took bad advice. Internal sound cards suffer from distortion, true. The solution being USB audio, false. Especially if you already own a PCI/PCIE sound card. USB audio may suffer, especially on gamer rigs withs tons of extras peripherals.

    PCI/E DAC/Sound Cards interference problems can be resolved much cheaper the USB problems. Because PCI peripherals are a much much bigger market then USB audio. As of now I only know one company that really resolves USB audio flawless, iFi. Though I can name dozens of large companies producing the PCIE supplies im about to list.

    Common PCI problems-

    Front Headset Port has distortion due to wire running from back bottom of pc to the top front. You must use front port on most SC's (AX-5 definitively) because it has the amp and extra settings. This is a 3$ problem. Simply buy a 2' header and put it thru the back of your pc avoiding all interference. I've literally watched dozens of Youtubes videos proclaiming this as reason to ****-can your PCI sound card. Thats like throwing away your DAC because you lost the 3$ usb cable it came with.

    Distortion from GPU's and other PC components. This is why the AX-5 comes shielded, sometimes that isnt even enough. This is a 8$ problem. Simply buy a pci-e riser used for crypto currency. Put it outside your computer. Not only that but the AX-5 has a LED header that for 10-15$ can make your desk capable of delivering seizures. So there is actually a 2nd benefit to making it external.

    Still getting distortion? Well that maybe the motherboards powersupply. Even though a motherboards PCI/E power supply is far far far far far superior vs USB 3.0 you may experience problems with the dual 1080ti's using up 600 watts to pump out METRO at a smooth 14 fps. Well thats a 10-50$ dollar problem. Switch your PCIE Riser to external power. iFi produces high quality power supplies for 50$, others lower ends at 10$. I like iFi.

    Really 99% of the problems with PCIE are due to interfence inside a computer. If that happens, start with the Front Port header for 3$. I buy 1 regardless every build for freedom. If you still have interference buy a riser for 8$. None of these products take any know-how. Ikea is more confusing.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2017
    registradus and Fegefeuer like this.
  5. Anarion
    Just got mine, really happy with it. I can finally actually use the headphone out (thanks to low gain setting, which seems to equal to no volume gain) - no more bloated bass. I still need to use the volume pot that came with Zx though. No interference or noise. Actually makes me wonder if this has better headphone amp than the O2 (which I still haven't tried because I'm waiting for power adapter to arrive)... The amp is clearly better than on Zx. It's no contest. The lower ohm output makes difference and separately amplified channels keep the soundstage awesome. There's audible click going from the card when you switch between headphone out and line out. It's really good - clean and neutral (direct hp mode sounds just awesome). Also I'm definitely digging the ESS ES9016K2M DAC. Also now the volume control works even when you exclusive WASAPI output in Direct/Direct HP mode.

    I have no use for the leds so I didn't even plug the molex connector. It's only used to power those lights.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
    registradus likes this.
  6. Wontell
    Why would you connect the headphones trough Front Panel port if AE-5 has dedicated Headphone output on its Back?
  7. Wontell
    How do you like the surround, is it great? I sold my SB-Z and thinking of upgrading to AE-5 or Sennheiser GSX 1000
  8. Anarion
    Generally I use stereo only but it's quite good. They have definitely improved it vs. Z series.
  9. saddleup
  10. soctap
    Good evening. I have it now soundblaster ZX and I'm interested in buying ΑΕ 5 . There are differences between them? Thanks.
  11. Wontell
    The number one feature: it has RGB LED support! It even comes with one LED strip and build in RGB LED controller!
    The less important features are basically: 32 Bit SABRE DAC, 32BIt/384kHz maximum output, XAMP: Bi-Directional headphone AMP, basically each channel has its own amplification, the card is Headphone centrist and has headphone output (usually the headphone output shares its connector with stereo speakers output, now headphones has its own), supports 16-600Ω headphones and its 122dB DNR

    Its also important to know what it doesn't have: if you loved on the fly Dolby and DTS encoding, its gone (I loved the feature, for me it was the only reason i always purchased creative sound card instead onboard audio), SPDIF input is gone too (at least they kept SPDIF out), no 7.1 speaker support either, its 5.1 only but as i said it was made mostly for heapdhones with excellent audio quality and virtual surround
    soctap likes this.
  12. Fire8Fly
    I am using an X7 and use to run the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty (with dts and dolby but honestly with atmos and the DTS equiv out, this are legacy imo). I don't think its worth stepping up to the AE-5. IMO the main hallmark of creative was either hardware sound/surround processing. EAX isn't making a comeback and that was creative's key advantage so most "hardware acceleration" is now on equal ground. Worse, the new creative surround sound is software and is lacking imo. Fantastic for music but gaming I feel like I don't get the same positional cues compared to using a mere g933 (dts:x headphones). Admittedly I've only tested the AE-5 lightly when I borrowed one but I don't think its worth the price of entry compared to the sennheiser gx which does a better surround sim.
  13. soctap
  14. Anarion
    I upgraded from Zx and the AMP on AE-5 is much, much better. They have improved the virtual surround too and it's better than the SBX on Zx. Sound quality is better and it do make a difference that the DAC handles the volume control instead of Sound Core3D chip (it does noticeably better job).

    I'm pretty sure that they use Sound Core3D DSP chip to do the virtual surround too.
  15. soctap
    Thank you very much for your answer. I certainly do not care about rgb led. And if I buy the card I will not use rgp led. It is worth the transition from ZX to AE-5? this is a question. In gaming, since I'm sure I have to be better in the music, I will hear a difference in relation to the ZX. Thanks.

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