https://********/7QgRkT2/contentteller.png I've decided to update to the AE-7 for the headphone surround sound that the SB Command offers over the headphones. With the Zx I had a very hard time determining footsteps in Modern Warfare and those on console had a pretty big advantage over me if they were quick enough. So I decided to get a AE-7 over the AE-5 as I wanted the ACM as well as encoding capabilities that I have with the Zx. I do actually use those features so that was important for me.The AE-5 was a slight down grade in that regard. However, with the AE-7 I lost the case audio header connector (at the back of the unit) that the Zx offered (the AE-5 did offer that). But it was something I could live with. (In hindsight could I have used the ACM from the Zx with the AE-5...yes. However, I still wanted the use of the Encoding). I also wanted 32bit audio capabilities as well. And I don't have any use for Optical In either. The software for the Zx is the Sound Blaster Z-series Control Panel. The Software for the AE-7 is called Command. Now this isn't a complete list of differences but here is what I noticed so far. Scout Mode Scout Mode is much better with the AE-7. With the Zx all the sound was simply low. With the AE-7 all other sounds except footsteps, etc were lowered. I could tell what direction a player was coming from without seeing them (this is within a 10' radius IMO). This was a huge difference between the 2 cards. I really don't know if that was a result of the card or the software. But now all ambient noises are reduced so that you can hear the player. That includes movement, footsteps and other sounds. I can even hear difference in footsteps between indoors and outdoors for example. Audio Control Module The ACM that came with the AE-7 exhibited a hum that I was able to fix by taking the unit apart and cleaning the the 1st and 2nd circuit board with 90% alcohol as it had a film of something on it. Perhaps it was flux? Not sure. I also cleaned the inside of the 3.5mm and 1/4" jack ports. I have special needle like cotton swaps that I use for other electrical stuff for the 3.5mm jack port. I don't have pics of the new ACM but it's identical to the old one. Here: https://********/c6vPWJT/Inked20181025-225703-LI.jpg https://********/Zm14vjW/20181025-230732.jpg https://********/7NVBWRs/20181025-230432.jpg Once cleaned the noise stopped. And I haven't had a problem since. Software If you were use to the "Control Panel" from the Zx it's going take getting use to the "Command" as it re-organizes things and makes it a bit more cumbersome using the SBX Pro Studio. The sliders and radial dial buttons on the Control Panel are replaced and consolidated into "Dials". Not hard just a tad less intuitive then before. But it does work. I haven't tried many of the other profiles though. Pitty, I didn't find a profile for Modern Warfare. I had to create my on. https://********/C9Gkyfs/controlpanel.jpg https://********/ygyb6nn/Command.jpg Headphone Used: Sennhesier 598 @ 50 Ohm Audio Quality for both: 24bit 48kHz AE-7: 7.1 Surround Sound Headphones vs Zx: 2.0 In games Zx has shown it's age in Modern Warfare. Although I could hear footsteps and could tell where they were coming from it wasn't precise. I was limited to 2.0 audio in Control Panel for headphones. Although I could trick it in win10 to use 5.1 it wasn't reliable in games. And in all honesty only seem to be 2.0 as well. I do wonder if Commander could be used in Zx and instantly get 7.1 virtual? I really don't know at this point and don't believe that Commander would recognize Zx as compatible. With AE-7 Surround Sound sound is more directional and I can pinpoint it better. With Scout, although it's a bit quieter I hear footsteps and other movements with more precision now. I can tell when they get close to me vs just hearing them on the other side of the wall, for example. I can tell when someone is passing me now and can change direction and follow them although I can't see them. This is a huge difference between the AE-7 vs the Zx. Keep in mind this is when players are sprinting, etc. Not when dead silence is used. One Caveat With the Zx I never had any volume issues. But wit the AE-7 it was always low. I would keep the audio in win10 around 30-50% and keep the knob no more then half way. So whenever I used the volume for Youtube, VLC, etc it would be set to low.So when I installed the new card I was surprised that the sound was low. It took me a day to realize that Headphone Gain set to Normal (in Commander) was still to low for my headphones. I had to use the highest setting to get the volume to where I had it before. So if you notice low volume check with that 1st. Second Caveat The icons that show up in the lower right corner are different. Personally, I liked the old one. AE-7 Zx Third Caveat The Command offers updates that you simply cannot get through the Sound Blaster website. You have to navigate Commander and check for updates in order to get the most current driver (at the time of this writing): 220.127.116.11 (Jan 2020). I don't understand why this version is not available from SB own website (IE: AE-7 > Support > etc) which shows the latest from October 2019. I highly suggest you get the update as it re tweaks the GUI and adds features missing with the Oct 2019 version. Odd though, as it was there in "Control Panel". For example the Level option found in the EQ. etc. I am not sure why it took them so long to fix that? Update from Last Year (which is available from SB website). This is from an AE-9 though. As I didn't take a pic of the EQ before I updated myself. However, this still represents what I saw on the AE-7. 18.104.22.168 Update from 2020. Although I didn't included BF5, BO4 and other games I wanted to concentrate on a game that actually is known for directional audio cues like footsteps, etc. Which is why I used MW 2019. I'm sure I missed some things as this is an initial impression.