Sound blaster Z vs normal XFI Titanium which one is better ?

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by playst, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. benbenkr

    benbenkr New Member

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    Well, at least the drivers on Creative Z series has been pretty good thus far. Much different from the X-fi days, where things just downright didn't work, that's the reason why PAX drivers existed in the first place.

    So, give Creative a chance here. They have stepped up their game on the support side.

    Also, the Soundblaster Z IS 5.1 capable. Confirmed personally by connecting it to a Logitech Z5500.
    Also the digital out does go to 5.1 as well, again confirmed (just for testing, not my normal setup) with connecting a PS3 to the card with an optical cable in, then optical out to the Z5500.

    *EDIT*
    And since we're on the talk of 5.1 here, virtual surround sound for headphones does exist as well eventhough it isn't made clear by Creative. You really just need to go around the settings on the SBX control panel.

    The stark difference is however the vss on the Z is only limited to 5.1 (nothing a few tweaks to the ini won't solve), where as back on the X-fi you could get 7.1 (or 5.1 if you so choose).
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  2. dsbig

    dsbig Ancient Guru

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    my hd does great with the digital out on 5.1, tested and confirmed.


    I didnt use the dolby digitial software that came with the drivers.

    I just use vlc and movies encoded in 5.1 kick in and play in 5.1 on my receiver.
     
  3. playst

    playst Member

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    I just bought the Sound Blaster Z to replace XFI Titanium (non-HD) and the difference is day and night ! Sound is decisively much louder and clearer !

    Huge improvement in the driver aspect. All the control panel and sound driver are integrate into 1 package easy to install.

    :eek::eek::gape:
     
  4. ati666

    ati666 Master Guru

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    But does the sound blaster Z use a lot of cpu cycles just like the Reacon3D, OR is the sound blaster Z a true dedicated sound hardware like the Sound Blaster Titanium?
     

  5. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    Use a lot of CPU cycles? I've yet to measure any difference in hardware accelerated OpenAL game with my Forte and since 99/100 games now are software audio only, it doesn't matter at all.
     
  6. harkinsteven

    harkinsteven Ancient Guru

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    Coming from a Auzen Prelude with custom opamps to a Soundblaster ZX the difference is fantastic. Everything is so clear and defined. Loving this new card, creative are onto a winner with this one. I highly recommend getting a ZX. You will not be disappointed.
    The build quality of the card and ACM are top quality too, I could tell the minute I held it in my hand. Very solid and weighty and finally GOLD connectors again.
     
  7. Tacoboy

    Tacoboy Master Guru

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    I believe the Sound Blaster Z series and Recon3D series use the same Creative Labs SoundCore audio processor.
    I believe the Recon3D series uses the DAC feature built into the SoundCore processor and the Z series uses (better audio quality) add-on DAC chips.

    The older Titanium (non-HD) uses the CS4385 DAC chip and the new Sound Blaster Z (& Zx) use the CS4398 (which I assume is better)

    The Sound blaster ZxR uses 2 (or 3?) DAC chips, each one better then the CS4398(?).
     
  8. ati666

    ati666 Master Guru

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    if it uses the same soundcore chip from the reacon3d, which is nothing more than just a codec cuz the reacon3d would just offload all its stuff to the cpu. making the cpu do all the sound processing.

    then the sound blaster Z is no better than reacon3d, which makes the sound blaster titanium a lot better since it does all the sound processing itself, not offloading it to the cpu
     
  9. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    Unless you are playing OpenAL games or using Alchemy, I'd bet my ass that Titanium cards do all in software. Offloading is meaningless anyway, there's zero speed difference and all OpenAL games are old let alone DS3D.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2013
  10. ati666

    ati666 Master Guru

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    but if I wasnt using openAL or Alchemy, then the sound blaster titanium would be better than sound blaster Z ??
     

  11. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    If you don't use OpenAL or Alchemy, then it's all software audio. Although I'm not sure whether or not the "multi-core Sound Core3D" chip in Z series cards does processing for some effects. Same goes to X-Fi DSP chips. But in any case offloading audio doesn't happen unless you use OpenAL (and have hardware acceleration enabled) or Alchemy. That means no difference in performance in pretty much any game in last two years or so.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2013
  12. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    To clarify a bit, on a hardware card ANY audio task is accelerated by the hardware to some extent. Tasks like EQ, resampling....etc are all processed on the card and not by the host CPU.
     
  13. sykozis

    sykozis Ancient Guru

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    I've run 3 different internal sound cards and 2 USB audio adapters (codec chips) on this particular system....and have yet to see even a 1% CPU usage increase from any of them. In fact, the only thing on my system using processor time (according to task manager) while typing this post....nVidia's drivers, IE and Rhapsody.....
     
  14. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    The only time you would get a marked increase is if you were doing some task that is audio calculation heavy such as a game with a bunch of effects...etc. A modern CPU can handle whatever audio task throw at it anyway especially with multiple cores.
     
  15. sykozis

    sykozis Ancient Guru

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    I've also checked during game play and seen no increase worth being concerned about from any card.
     

  16. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Which is what I mentioned in the last line of my post. It is not a big deal anymore with modern CPU's even if you are using a software based card.
     
  17. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    Re-sampling is done entirely by software in Vista and up tho, unless you bypass Windows mixer as far as I know (though the card may re-sample and do whatever it wants after window passes it to soundcard).
     
  18. ati666

    ati666 Master Guru

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    Now i am confused....
     
  19. sykozis

    sykozis Ancient Guru

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    If you buy a card that has an actual DSP.....you'll get at least some "acceleration" of audio tasks. If you buy a card that has nothing but a codec chip....you'll get zero. In either case, the CPU will handle some portion of the audio processing. There's no way around that.
     
  20. pagusas

    pagusas Member Guru

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    Been a long time sense i posted on Guru3d, but as I was in the neighborhood and saw this thread figured I'd drop off my Zx review.

    Basically I got it to replace my Xfi, and after just a few weeks I've already returned it to Amazon for a refund and the old xfi is back in.

    Here is the full thoughts I wrote out at another forum (and on amazon):

    I've front loaded this with some useless background information, so jump to the bolded if you want a quick review

    Let me start by saying I'm a long time creative supporter, from the earlier days of the Sound Blaster 16. The last card I bought prior to this new Zx was an Xfi Xtrememusic. A card that has worked wonderfully for a very long time, by far the oldest piece of hardware I currently have in my desktop. The only ONLY reason I decided to replace is was the driver support for Windows 8 has really been poor. I use Dolby Live and DTS Connect exclusively in my setup as I have a home theater down stairs and my office upstairs, both connected to the same computer (and many feet of HDMI cable). As of recently the XFI hasnt been retaining setting on reboot (a driver flaw with a weird fix of putting the computer into sleep mode first) and Dolby Live/DTS Connect sometime dont work, or worse will create a weird feedback loop sound that builds on it self and eventually crashes the computer.

    Regardless the card had served me a long time and I dont feel creative owes the series any more true support, its been alive long enough.

    So to the good part, the new Soundblaster Zx. My first impression..... I hate it.

    Well lets start over, I didn't hate it when I removed it from the box, in fact I thought it was there best looking piece of hardware yet. It looks very well built.

    Putting it in the system, starting it up, and installing the drivers all went perfectly fine (skipped the CD and just downloaded the newest strait from the site.)

    Once everything was completed I noticed How I liked everything is now installed together, no need for separate installers (like the dolby live installer). Thats all great

    So I was excited to fire this girl up and get a listen. I set all the settings how I figured would sound best initially, turned on DTS Connected, set the SBX pro surround setting on, turned crystallization on just a bit and the result...

    Terrible.


    I was shocked, I played several different music tracks I know by heart, played several movies. All of them came off far to warm, far to "Echo-y" almost. As if the SBX was adding some sort of light reverb to every track.


    I turned of SBX and bam, everything was back to sounding fine, except now I've lost all upmixing to 5.1 ability, all music/stereo will now only be played through the mains, which I dont want (If thats all I wanted, as I'm using an all digital connection, I would just switch to onboard). Now I could just use my reciever to upmix for me, but that means changing settings everytime I want to jump from music to true discreet surround sources. Not an option, as why should it be, the Xfi didnt require that, set CSMM to stereo surround and all stereo sources were upmixed, and real 5.1 sources were left alone.

    So I figure, no problem, I'll just find the CSMM Stereo surround setting thats been on all Soundblasters sense the audigy.... wait where are the other options for this card????

    Seriously, and this is the main problem I'm having with this card, WHY are there no other surround options then just the SBX? The SBX surround is instantly bad in terms of telling you what its actually doing. Is it strait upmixing to the rears/duplicating to the back, is it pulling a Pro Logic effect? Nothing is described or told to the user about what its doing other than a graphic at the top that shows speakers fading in it out. Along with the reverb effect its adding I find this completely useless.

    But where are the other options? Why do we have no choice in how stereo sounds are upmixed? Why do we not have the simple things we had with the old xfi's? like choosing between Stereo expand or Stereo Surround? Theres a DTS Neo setting, but ticking it has resulted in no effect (another driver issue perhaps?) regardless DTS Neo upmixing has never sounded good to me. :confused:

    This is a $150 card in a day in age when most users feel happy about there onboard solutions. That means its a premium piece of hardware that should be given the users premium options, stuff that makes there upgrade worth it.

    Now I'm trying to decide if I want to keep this card and hope that its just early drivers that are the issue here. Perhaps in the coming months we will see improvements and some of the old options return? Maybe the reverb/overly warm sound im hearing is just a driver issue that can be corrected? I dont know, I'm hopping. I have 20 more days to keep her and test it out. Here's hopping.

    But this is my summary of this card: for the price its missing key features and driver level options that should be in it. I dont feel I've "upgraded" from my xfi at all, in fact I feel I've downgraded as Stereo surround was my favorite sounding setting as My home theater uses a full array of matched speakers that sound great together.

    So anyone here considering a Z, I suggest holding off until the drivers either mature, or consider something else (though your needs maybe different then mine and it might work perfectly for you)

    Pros:

    Dolby Live/DTS Connect work flawlessly
    Headphone software switch
    Great output sound (in regards to uniformity, no static, nice upper limit)

    Cons:

    Lack of traditional surround upmixing options
    Sofware headphoen switch does NOT disable/mute the Dolby Live/DTS Connect output, making it useless if you use those.
    SBX is junk but you have no other options available for upmixing.
     

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