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Creative Sound Blaster Z review

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djzic 14th February 2013, 22:16 Quote
long-stranding?;)
m0ngy 16th February 2013, 08:49 Quote
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Originally Posted by fluxtatic
You don't see the contradiction there? You're likely playing it back on equipment that's nicer and more costly than what it was recorded on in the first place, if it's really lo-fi (and not some marketing BS for the horn-rimmed glasses crowd.)

That's a very good point, but the albums I'm referring to specifically encompass a golden middle period of those artists careers. They'd made it out of their basements, having been been picked up by Drag City on the strength of their 4-track recordings, but continued to incorporate lo-fi and minimalist production values into their music, although recorded in a proper studio.
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On-topic, though, I'm a bit leery of dedicated sound cards still. Last one I used (can't recall what it was, but it had a C-Media DAC) was shaky at best. It was like building a house of cards just getting it to work, and every couple months or so it would flake out and I'd have to start over. In comparison, on-board was a godsend, as it was just a matter of installing the drivers and moving on with life. Sound may not be as good, but my hearing's not so hot anyway.

I'm pretty sure my sound card causes the majority of crashes... still, I wouldn't be without it.
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Also, as to whether something like this makes a difference if you're using optical out - no. Unless there's something I'm fundamentally misunderstanding, digital is digital, and your RealTek S/PDIF will send out the same digital signal a discrete card would.

I don't know about this, I reckon the sound card would do a better job of sampling than on-board. Certainly, the sound card software will enable you to customize the sound.
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Of course, for the best possible experience, drop $100 on this card along with a $100 optical Monster cable, both of which have been deoxygenated for the best possible sound ;)

A mate of mine has one of those Monster cords from his TV to his Bose system, he got suckered twice.
ferret141 16th February 2013, 13:46 Quote
Have I got this correct. This card has headphone output plus 5.1 without needing to switch out the Front channel jacks?
blackworx 16th February 2013, 16:13 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by m0ngy
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Also, as to whether something like this makes a difference if you're using optical out - no. Unless there's something I'm fundamentally misunderstanding, digital is digital, and your RealTek S/PDIF will send out the same digital signal a discrete card would.

I don't know about this, I reckon the sound card would do a better job of sampling than on-board. Certainly, the sound card software will enable you to customize the sound.

I took a bit of time to attempt to research this, but any discussion I can find is the usual hi-fi crowd "my toy's better than your toy, no it isn't/yes it is" bull. The few attempts at objectivity I was able to find fall flat; mostly because they've been made by someone who has bought a new toy, compares them to his old toys and decides that - surprise surprise - the new toy wins.

For my part I'll stick with the trusted opinion of someone with about a decade's sound tech experience who, when she listened to one of her standards on my rig, said: "this is the best I've ever heard this track." When I laughed and asked her to qualify the statement (i.e. "this is the best I've ever heard it from a PC/small system/without EQ/whatever") she said "no, this is the best I've ever heard it, period".

Regarding "customising the sound", EQ can be done in software, effects can be done in software if you want that sort of thing. (Fair enough for recording you probably want some sort of low latency/hardware accelerated/built in customisation, but that's a whole different game.)

Likewise though I'd never plug a set of headphones into the onboard analogue outputs, however from everything I've been reading it looks pretty much like anything with its analogue stage actually inside the case is going to be (needlessly IMHO) fighting for effective EM shielding/decoupling. No doubt modern solutions are way better than those of even a few years ago, but if you have the option to take it outside the case then why even fight that battle?
hoochy 16th February 2013, 17:09 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ferret141
Have I got this correct. This card has headphone output plus 5.1 without needing to switch out the Front channel jacks?

The card has dedicated headphone output and speaker output that can be swapped between from the bundled software without having to remove or swap out any cables. There is also a pass through cable for the front header panel
ferret141 16th February 2013, 19:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoochy
The card has dedicated headphone output and speaker output that can be swapped between from the bundled software without having to remove or swap out any cables. There is also a pass through cable for the front header panel

Any other soundcards the also have separate headphone and front channel jacks like this?
Xunsu 18th February 2013, 14:06 Quote
I had a X-FI along time ago, guess what I did with it.....

I got a xonar DX istead, and I will get another asus over creative any day.

Also you could get custom drivers for creative but than why should you?
papalarge123 25th February 2013, 20:13 Quote
i am currently still using a very old and trusted Audigy Zs, been using this in multiple builds since 2006, had a few problems with vista drivers, but i skipped that after some months of duel booting with XP, went to Win 7 and havent looked back, drivers worked as specified, but did need a seperate piece of software for use of all features, but will say this, the newer cards do look awsome, including the asus ones, but untill this Audigy Zs dies, i wont be changing. also sounds like missing the X-fi cards was a good idea.
Kovoet 14th March 2013, 19:11 Quote
But one does look attractive to me is the little switch so tempting.
Deders 22nd August 2013, 19:57 Quote
Only just read through this review properly after it was linked form the latest buyers guide but I think I noticed something that may need correcting, (if the Crystalizer is the same as it was on the X-FI):

"...apply a Crystalizer that's designed to compensate for the dynamic range compression that's applied to a lot of modern studio recordings...."

Dynamic range compression is completely different to general compression like MP3's which the original Crystalizer (on the X-FI range at least) was designed to compensate for by filling in the frequencies that are often lost in low bitrate MP3's. It won't compensate for that wishy washy sound you get with very low bitrate audio, just enhance it.

Dynamic range is the difference between the loudest parts and the quietest parts of any give audio track and when used properly can provide extra oomph at the right places in a piece of music or film, and while you are right in saying a lot of studio tracks do over-compress their tracks in this way due to the loudness war, the Crystalizer can't really change this as it can only play back what it has been given.

What the blurb says it can do is expand the sound source to 24bit from 16bit (Most studio tracks will be recorded in at least 24bit and then mixed down to 16bit on a CD) but this only really the definition of the soundwave, not the volume.

If you imagine 16bit only has a certain amount of lines on a grid that the waveform can be plotted, 24bit will increase the amount of points within the same dynamic range giving you a much finer grain for the waveform to be plotted.

It's debatable how much data you can actually extrapolate from a 16 bit track to interpolate it into 24 bit especially as Creative don't really give out much data on the process involved.

I've found that using the Crystalizer at about 50% does make the sound better whether the audio is compressed or not but this is mostly because it adds 3 decibels to the overall sound, whether it's loud or quiet, which of course is going to make the air move more so it has more of an impact on your ears.

I would be interested to know if the Crystalizer on this card is any different to the one on the X-FI.

I'd also be interested to know if it apples the same technique if the sound source is already 24bit.

Edit: actually I may be wrong abut this

http://www.tomsguide.com/us/creative,review-490-3.html

But then the pre-crystalizer audio image here doesn't really look like it's had much compression added to the overall mix in the first place, otherwise the wave peaks would be more uniform to start with. It look more like a recording might look before the decibel war.
lysaer 22nd August 2013, 20:36 Quote
For a long time I always just stuck with onboard sound because I never thought there would be any benefit from a more expensive standalone sound card.

My mate offered me a really good deal on a phobeus and I was like ok then.

Since putting it in there is a considerable difference in ambient sounds from my system it has added a level of depth that was not there before.

The sound is not necessarily better quality but it seems better quality since you hear more

Sent from my GT-I9505 using Tapatalk 2
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