Time for a new sound card/pc audio solution?
May 22, 2015 at 8:36 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

tfninja

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So, my old Sennheiser HD215 have long since fallen apart so ive ordered some LINDY HF-100 headphones (same as Brainwavz hm5) which i hope will be decent for gaming and listening to music. I have been running an Xfi-extreme music for about 10 years now, and wonder if its time to upgrade/change up that too. Along with the LINDY headphones i also use some z5500 speakers.
 
I see you have a 190 page thread on the Soundblaster Z, but its too long to find any conclusions about it. i am wondering if it would be worth changing out the xfi for the SB Z? Will it be a significant improvement for headphone listening?
 
Or do you have better suggestions for around the same price point? (£50-60)
 
The OEM SB Z seems to be about £15 cheaper, but lacks the red casing, is that casing important for shielding interference from the other pc components, or are both OEM and full retain identical performance-wise?
 
Thanks for any help! 
 
May 22, 2015 at 10:36 PM Post #2 of 5

PurpleAngel

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  So, my old Sennheiser HD215 have long since fallen apart so I've ordered some LINDY HF-100 headphones (same as Brainwavz hm5) which i hope will be decent for gaming and listening to music. I have been running an X-Fi Xtreme Music for about 10 years now, and wonder if its time to upgrade/change up that too. Along with the LINDY headphones i also use some Z5500 speakers.
I see you have a 190 page thread on the Sound Blaster Z, but its too long to find any conclusions about it. i am wondering if it would be worth changing out the X-Fi for the SB Z? Will it be a significant improvement for headphone listening?
Or do you have better suggestions for around the same price point? (£50-60)
The OEM SB Z seems to be about £15 cheaper, but lacks the red casing, is that casing important for shielding interference from the other PC components, or are both OEM and full retain identical performance-wise?

 
The SB-Z comes with a dedicated jack and headphone amplifier, where as the Xtreme Music seems to use a shared jack that seems more like a line-output jack, that also pretends to be a headphone jack.
The SB-Z's comes with the CS4398 DAC (Digital to Analog Converter, SNR 120dB) chip, which is better the the Xtreme Music's DAC chip (CS4382, SNR 114dB).
As far as I know the SB-Z retail and OEM are the same card (?), the retail just comes with the EMI shield and the microphone and retail packaging.
 
To the best of my personal knowledge, the Xtreme Music will do more hardware processing with it's DSP (Digital Signal Processor), where as the the newer Soundcore3D DSP (Z, Zx, ZxR) shares more of the workload with the main CPU.
With new computers coming with 4 or 6 or 8 cores, guess the CPU can take more of the workload.
 
Try the Z5500 hooked up to the SB-Z using both optical and analog, see which sounds better.
 
Also remember to use a driver cleaner (after removing the Xtreme Music and all it's software), before you install the SB-Z and it's software.
Hopefully you have also disabled the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIOS.
 
May 23, 2015 at 8:45 PM Post #3 of 5

tfninja

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Thanks very much for your response, the technical jargon goes above my head. Will i see a very significant improvement, do you think?
 
Is the EMI shield worth the extra £15?
 
Thanks
 
May 23, 2015 at 10:58 PM Post #4 of 5

PurpleAngel

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  Thanks very much for your response, the technical jargon goes above my head. Will i see a very significant improvement, do you think?
Is the EMI shield worth the extra £15?

 
Should be a noticeable improvement in audio quality, over the Xtreme Music, just not sure how much.
With today's improved motherboards, guess there is less electrical noise generated inside the computer case, then in the past.
So the EMI shield is not as big a deal.
Personal I would prefer it, just for that extra protection.
 
May 23, 2015 at 11:01 PM Post #5 of 5

cel4145

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Should be a noticeable improvement in audio quality, over the Xtreme Music, just not sure how much.
With today's improved motherboards, guess there is less electrical noise generated inside the computer case, then in the past.
So the EMI shield is not as big a deal.
Personal I would prefer it, just for that extra protection.


Agreed. And it's not just the motherboard that can generate EMI, but the graphics card and even the PSU.
 

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