Sound BlasterX AE-5

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by angelgraves13, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. insp1re2600

    insp1re2600 Master Guru

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    RGB control?
     
  2. kosta20071

    kosta20071 Active Member

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    Nope.
     
  3. vf

    vf Ancient Guru

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    Sometimes I despair in 2019 and it's RGB on sound cards.
     
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  4. insp1re2600

    insp1re2600 Master Guru

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    its not that i enjoy RGB, i just prefer to set it to static colour and if i can't theres no point in making the switch to command.
     

  5. DW75

    DW75 Maha Guru

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  6. lukas_1987_dion

    lukas_1987_dion Master Guru

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    On my Sound Blaster Z connected to my 5.1 speakers (S760D 2017 Version) using digital TOSLINK, and enabling DTS Connect I can still control volume in Windows 10 even if I choose exclusive WASAPI Event mode in Foobar2000, which means that probably Creative allows full control on digital just like on analog connection on theirs cards, and that means that not only DAC from my speakers is doing all the job but also sound card.. I did small experiment, connected my speakers via analog, and set the same settings as on digital before, to my surprise sound volume and quality was the same, BUT on analog there was much more noise especially on higher volumes, so I went back to digital/DTS. Another odd thing is that DTS Connect is 24/48, but I have choose 24/96 in Windows settings and DTS still works even in 5.1, and my speakers console shows shows DTS enabled.

    I want to buy AE-7 to replace my old SBZ, I would go with AE-5 as it's cheaper, but it does not support DD/DTS, and it needs old MOLEX connection to PSU, plus AE-7 has slightly better DAC, but I don't know if analog connection will still give much more noise than digital, while offering the same volume and overall quality due to Creative ''combining'' analog and digital if using TOSLINK.

    P.S. Anyone was using SBZ/AE-5 and/or AE-7 to give me some thoughts? Thanks in advance.
     
  7. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    The reason sound quality is similar is because the DAC quality in the speakers is close to that of the SBZ.
    I found the same thing with my Auzentech Prelude analogue out and an Emotiva UMC-1 via optical.

    If you are after better detail/imaging/soundstage the AE-7 will surely give you this via analogue as long as you arent using crap cables. As short as possible is better too. You dont need expensive cables, oxygen free copper will work well.
    Alternatively if you can try an Oxygen free copper silver plated cable you may love the extra detail etc that brings. But it can change the balance of the sound too much on some speakers (it makes the sound a bit brighter).
    I use pure silver single strand interconnects (home made) and will not change, they blow everything else to the weeds.
    I tried the AE-5 and it is a lovely sound but is missing a bit of treble detail/imaging, you should be able to notice the improvement with a better DAC and your speakers.
    If you can possibly save for the AE-9 @ £300, do it. It has the same class of DAC chip as the Oppo 205 BD player @ £1400.
    It is also external which means the noise floor will be lower and more detail will be exposed, as well as the improvement of the better DAC chip.

    Changing the volume in Windows is done in one of 2 ways.
    It either uses the Windows mixer or the DAC has an internal volume controller which is programmed directly via the windows volume control. The mixer will still be in operation when not using codecs like WASAPI direct, just not to control the volume.
    If the Windows mixer is used, that will ruin the sound quality of a decent DAC.
    If you are using a volume controller on an external DAC (ie sending audio digitally) I would set Windows output to maximum.

    fyi:1
    DTS connect is what windows uses, it isnt used for pre-encoded material like movies or some games.
    If you can select DTS in the Creative software as well as Windows, they might not always be synchronised.
    Pre-encoded DTS material (video or games) will use whatever format it is already set to and will override the windows setting.
    Setting 24/96 will be used on analogue out, and only stereo for optical out (when DTS is not in use).
    You cannot send 24/96 "multichannel 5.1" over optical, the bandwidth is simply not there. It can barely manage 24/192 stereo with a good quality optical cable.

    fyi:2
    The molex connector on the AE-5 is for the LEDs, you dont have to use it.

    fyi:3
    If you are getting noise over analogue you either have bad cables or your SBZ or perhaps your speakers analogue in has a problem.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
    lukas_1987_dion likes this.
  8. lukas_1987_dion

    lukas_1987_dion Master Guru

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    Thank you for your detailed reply Mufflore! I will go with AE-7 I think, just need to find good Mini Jack 2x RCA cables. I heard the shortest the cable the better, I will choose 1m cables.
     
  9. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    By the way, with AE-5 the volume control is wired to DAC and it will work in exclusive WASAPI and ASIO mode too even when the card is set to direct mode. It will not use Windows mixer volume control (which actually is actually rather high quality too though). The built in volume control in Sabre DAC is great.

    Measurement wise AE-5 is so close to Topping DX3 Pro that it would be next to impossible to spot the difference by ear. If AE-7 can improve from that then it would be great. PCB is really close but there are minor changes and obviously better DAC so It could very well be better than Topping DX3 Pro.
     
  10. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    I agree, I hope what I said isnt somehow in conflict.

    Bear in mind there is a loss of bit definition with any digital volume control (which is why I recommend only using one digital volume control, although some ways of using the PC to control volume digitally might be the best vs on an external DAC).
    The Oppo 205 for example has to be used at 70%+ volume to not reduce sound quality too much.
    For my headphones I use a switched high quality resistor analogue volume control in its amp so my DAC can be used at 100% output, full quality.

    The AE-7s Sabre32 9018 DAC chip is about the best DAC chip you will get inside a PC because there is simply too much noise to expose more detail, a better DAC chip would be wasted. This is why the AE-9 is external.
    I dont believe the best use of the 9018 can be extracted inside a PC but the high freq detail missing from the AE-5 should be present, just not all it could be.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019

  11. lukas_1987_dion

    lukas_1987_dion Master Guru

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    Last edited: Nov 4, 2019
  12. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Most odd, I wonder if they received a problem card, the AE-7 should present better than the AE-5 in the same circuit.

    I've been trying to find other reviews that include s/n, thd etc measurements but have come up blank.
    Anyone found a good AE-7 review?
     
  13. lukas_1987_dion

    lukas_1987_dion Master Guru

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    ^ I'm trying to find more, there is one review in my native language (Polish), they have similar results in 16bit/48, slightly better in 24bit/48, and much better in 24/96 and 32/96.
     
  14. lukas_1987_dion

    lukas_1987_dion Master Guru

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    I ordered the AE-7 directly from the Creative store (along with a 15% discount for regular customers), plus silver-plated 4N oxygen-free copper cables (male 3,5mm mini jack <--> 2x male RCA - x3 for my 5.1 speakers), I will let you know in a few days when I will test everything and compare it to my current Sound Blaster Z card.
     
  15. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Be sure to test it with normal RCA leads first and write it down because once you hear the silver plated leads you will be spoiled, nothing will be the same again.
     

  16. lukas_1987_dion

    lukas_1987_dion Master Guru

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    So everything works, analogue 5.1, silver plated OFC cables, 32/96 in 5.1 and 32/384 in Direct Mode, sound quality is amazing! Wow, I mean it, coming from Sound Blaster Z it's like night and day experiecne! I assume AE-9 is even better, well maybe someday lol
    For now I'm very happy!

    P.S. Is that true that sound cards need some time to warm up just like speakers, so they can play a little better after some time?

    Edit. Clarity is insane, SBZ had more aggressive bass, but it was not that deep as on AE-7, also highs were too harsh on SBZ (not to mention much more noise and distortions), on AE-7 they are more detailed, and crisper, without being too harsh, also no isses on latest drivers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
  17. hura

    hura New Member

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    Hi guys,
    I have AE-5 sound card and logitech z906 speakers and I have few questions about them.I've read half of the thread , but most of it is about high quality stereo music and so much about my case. My goal is to watch some BR rips i have and want to get the best audio possible with my setup.
    So my questions are:
    Is AE-5 able to play lossless audio from movie tracks like dts-hd or dd-truehd ? Do they convert to lower quality because the card is only 5.1 ?
    Which is the best way to connect AE-5 to z906 3.5mm analog or optical (for movies) ? This is related to which DAC is better ?
    What is the difference between mine AE-5 that don't have DD live / DTS connect encoding compared to lets say AE-7 which have this encoding. Is there any benefit for z906 for movies with this type of encoding?
    The 3.5mm cable that comes together with z906 is good quality or it's better to replace it ?
    Any help will be great. Thanks!
     
  18. vestibule

    vestibule Master Guru

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    I noticed with Windows November Update 1909 That I also got Creative driver for my AE-5 / 6.0.150.50. Well all good a better sound for sure for me. This driver seems to like my WAV files.
     
  19. Anarion

    Anarion Ancient Guru

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    To be honest, AE-5 is stereo card mainly. Rest channels other than front stereo will use Sound Core 3D DAC which is rather subpar (though mostly that shouldn't be a problem). Not sure what DAC Z906 uses and if the implementation is any good.
     
  20. Cosmic Ray

    Cosmic Ray New Member

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    Hi,

    I come to you people, humble and desperate. I loaded this version of Command that has the .105.50 driver. I've loaded other versions of Command and I've loaded Connect. SB tells me that these have a driver set that contains the ASIO driver. PLEASE, PLEASE, please, can someone tell me where the regular ASIO driver is located after one loads Command or Connect????? I loaded this recent version of Command that Kosta mentioned, and I have the .105.50 driver installed. I have the AE-5. Thank you colossally.

    Ray
     

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