Sound Blaster Z, Zx, and ZXR question

Games, Gaming and Hardware
I've been waiting for the reviews on these to roll out before making a purchase. It seems like there might be a sound card better than what comes onboard with the mother board.

My only big decision now is trying to figure out if the newly released ZxR is worth $260 over the Zx (Price of $120 on newegg). The Z is the base model and the Zx is middle of the line of the three.
Honestly, I wouldn't bother buying a sound card unless you are a serious audiophile with equally hi-fi headphones/speakers. Especially for gaming, since Microsoft killed off DirectSound.
01/15/2013 07:01 PMPosted by Kalganized
Honestly, I wouldn't bother buying a sound card unless you are a serious audiophile with equally hi-fi headphones/speakers. Especially for gaming, since Microsoft killed off DirectSound.


Yeah, I know you feel that way. I do have the headphones that would work with the card. And sound is a major issue for me. I can tell a difference between all 12 of my headsets. Each one has a uniquely different sound.

I like to collect headsets.
I've been waiting for the reviews on these to roll out before making a purchase. It seems like there might be a sound card better than what comes onboard with the mother board.

My only big decision now is trying to figure out if the newly released ZxR is worth $260 over the Zx (Price of $120 on newegg). The Z is the base model and the Zx is middle of the line of the three.


There is absolutely NO difference between the 3 models of sound card, except that each "more expensive" model comes with additional gadgets. The ZxR comes with a separate daughterboard with (supposedly) higher quality digital to analog converters and a thing that fits in a 5.25 drive bay with additional connectors. The Zx is missing the separate daughterboard. The regular Z is just the sound card itself.

All depends on if you want the extra gadgets or not. As for the sound card itself, it is absolutely identical between the 3 models.
I've been waiting for the reviews on these to roll out before making a purchase. It seems like there might be a sound card better than what comes onboard with the mother board.

My only big decision now is trying to figure out if the newly released ZxR is worth $260 over the Zx (Price of $120 on newegg). The Z is the base model and the Zx is middle of the line of the three.


There is absolutely NO difference between the 3 models of sound card, except that each "more expensive" model comes with additional gadgets. The ZxR comes with a separate daughterboard with (supposedly) higher quality digital to analog converters and a thing that fits in a 5.25 drive bay with additional connectors. The Zx is missing the separate daughterboard. The regular Z is just the sound card itself.

All depends on if you want the extra gadgets or not. As for the sound card itself, it is absolutely identical between the 3 models.


I think the Zx might be worth it then. I like the extra "gadget."
Only the Z and the ZX are the same identical sound card with the only difference of the ACM unit which is the volume and microphone array module with headphone out and mic in in the mini jack and the 1/4" flavours.

the ZxR is a completely different soundcard, as it has a better DAC in the form of a BURR BROWN DAC and has a Texas Instrument 600Ohms high fidelity AMP both of which ARE NOT on the Z or the ZX. The ZxR is also almost 2x the size of the Z/Zx card and also comes with another daughter board which comes with it's own soundcore chip on it meaning you get 2 soundcores on the ZxR vs the Z/ZX. The ZxR is meant to compete if not and in my opinion surpasses the Asus Xonar Essence STX as it's almost identical to the STX legendary sound qaulity but the ZxR has a few up on it as the ZxR supports full DTS and has full support for 5.1 via digital and analog which the STX doesn't.

The specs are here:
Z:
http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-z.aspx#specs

ZX:
http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-zx.aspx

ZxR:
http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-zxr.aspx

There's a major difference, and if you look it up on youtube you can see that the ZxR is a much larger soundcard almost twice the length of the Z/ZX and the fact it requires another daughter board to support it which itself has another soundcore chip means that you get double the soundcore processors which should mean better performance.

the two videos on youtube are the newggTV one where the creative rep discusses all 3 cards and their differences and shows the unboxing of both the Z and ZX.

The other video is by someone lucky enough to get a ZxR and he shows off an unboxing as well as a showing off of the card under the EMI shielding of the card.

I know all of this, because I've been following the ZxR and if you're a real audiophile with studio grade headphones and or monitors this is the card to get. By headphones I'm talking about high end studio stuff like beyerdynamics, sennhiser and others. Ie. the $400-1500+ headphones with no mics attached to them that actually have a higher Ohm rating than 32 Ohms.
This guy is correct and this is the general census on the audiophile forums. However, I came across this thread in search of my own question.

I picked up the Mackie MR5 MK2s for entertainment purposes. Games, movies and music. I love the quality and needed an audio card for my A50s anyway so picked up the Sound Blaster Z.

Amazing quality boost going to DDL and I love how fluid the software is. I don't understand other people's issues with their drivers as I found Asus to be far inferior in this regard since I have dealt with both companies.

Anyway, is it worth it for me to return this and pick up the ZxR instead? Or for my needs will this be more that adequate? Also, how can I fix the buzz I get from the monitors. It only happens when the RCA to 3.5mm cables are connected so I am guessing it is a grounding issue? Maybe better cables will fix this? Please advise. Thank you.

Only the Z and the ZX are the same identical sound card with the only difference of the ACM unit which is the volume and microphone array module with headphone out and mic in in the mini jack and the 1/4" flavours.

the ZxR is a completely different soundcard, as it has a better DAC in the form of a BURR BROWN DAC and has a Texas Instrument 600Ohms high fidelity AMP both of which ARE NOT on the Z or the ZX. The ZxR is also almost 2x the size of the Z/Zx card and also comes with another daughter board which comes with it's own soundcore chip on it meaning you get 2 soundcores on the ZxR vs the Z/ZX. The ZxR is meant to compete if not and in my opinion surpasses the Asus Xonar Essence STX as it's almost identical to the STX legendary sound qaulity but the ZxR has a few up on it as the ZxR supports full DTS and has full support for 5.1 via digital and analog which the STX doesn't.

The specs are here:
Z:
http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-z.aspx#specs

ZX:
http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-zx.aspx

ZxR:
http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-zxr.aspx

There's a major difference, and if you look it up on youtube you can see that the ZxR is a much larger soundcard almost twice the length of the Z/ZX and the fact it requires another daughter board to support it which itself has another soundcore chip means that you get double the soundcore processors which should mean better performance.

the two videos on youtube are the newggTV one where the creative rep discusses all 3 cards and their differences and shows the unboxing of both the Z and ZX.

The other video is by someone lucky enough to get a ZxR and he shows off an unboxing as well as a showing off of the card under the EMI shielding of the card.

I know all of this, because I've been following the ZxR and if you're a real audiophile with studio grade headphones and or monitors this is the card to get. By headphones I'm talking about high end studio stuff like beyerdynamics, sennhiser and others. Ie. the $400-1500+ headphones with no mics attached to them that actually have a higher Ohm rating than 32 Ohms.
for better price you could look into their fatality recon cards, for some of us with onboard sound that doesnt support more than 2.1 sound... its a good upgrade, makes a huge difference even with headphones as you can better tell what direction sounds are coming from
I'm kind of soured on sound cards since Mickeysoft reamed my audigy LS, back in windows vista.

This happened in Wow 2.3. Ironically, it was the reason why I installed opensuse linux again (then 10.0?)

After getting Wow to work under Opensuse linux, I found I had glorious sound again (while my sound was still reamed in Vista, for Wow, after that audio changing patch 2.3.) This was both Microsoft's AND Blizzard's fault.

Initially I was logging into linux mostly to play Wow (yeah, backwards much? LOLS!), until I found that I could do everything better in Linux and for free. I even went from the "not very good media center xbox 360 streaming", to using Ushare in Linux to stream multimedia files quite well to the xbox (which I still do to this day.)

I still just use that audigy LS, but really have no idea what is a good soundcard today. I could not see spending even 100 bucks on a sound card these days; My guess is if I ever upgrade this aged dinosaur that it would probably have something good enough for me on the motherboard.

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