Creative Sound Blaster Z?
Well I'm receiving my new 2013 A40s today and I realized I need to get a sound card for my PC. My first choice was to go for the Asus Xonar DX, but no nearby store sells them. It would probably take around a week to get these if shipped. The only ones I can find with Dolby Digital are Creative Sound Blaster Z and Creative Sound Blaster Recon3d Fatal1ty Professional.
I was wondering if anyone has any experience with the Sound Blaster Z and how they act with the A40's. Any information of the other sound cards are also welcome.
That card has support for Dolby Digital Live, so from a technical standpoint you'd be good to go. I've no personal experience with that card so you'd need to look up reviews to see how it compares to similar cards in its range
I too just upgraded headset and sound cards. I have the A40s and the Sound Blaster Z. Initially, it was a tad on the confusing side getting the card setup properly but holly crap on a cracker the sound it great. If you are looking save a few dollars, the Sound Blaster cards more than get the job done. As both meet the requirements, I read quite a few posts that led me to believe the Blaster Z is much better than the Recon3d line. There were quite a few posts that stated they weren't that much better than many of the higher end mother board integrated sound. Also, many said that there isn't too much difference from one Recon3d model to the next other than cosmetic. In a nutshell, I haven't had my setup very long but I extremely pleased to this point. Wasn't overly thrilled with the 2 red LEDs on the Blaster Z but wire cutters took care other them until I replace them.
I know what you mean about the red LEDs. My theme is blue.
But anyways for those that have the Sound Blaster Z, what is your configuration for outputting 5.1 to the mixamp, for some reason I'm having trouble trying to make it work for games.
The LED thing is no problem. I looked at the solder points and it's nothing to remove the old and replace them. You could also just clip the current ones near the LED and solder new one on without making an contact with the card itself. That's the route I'm going. That way I could replace LEDs without any possibility of screwing up the card.
Originally Posted by Skullx
As for config, which configuration do you mean? If you mean speaker/headphones tab, I have speakers selected. For some reason when I select headphones, 5.1 is no longer an option. Not sure why but haven't submitted a ticket to find out what the deal is and since I'm up and running I see no since at the moment. Under cinematic, DDL also needs to be selected but not sure if that's what you are looking for. Your problem could also be a Windows' config problem. That's where most of mine initially originated from. The card was nothing to setup after get Windows right. You need to be more specific in what you are looking for in configuration.
I too just bought the A40 + mixamp as a package deal with the sound blaster zx on newegg. So I spent the better part of a week screwing around with different settings, so I'll do my best to relay my experiences here for anyone going through the same thing.
Originally Posted by Skullx
To get 5.1 going through the mixamp, you have to leave speakers selected on the speakers/headphones tab, and make sure dolby digital live is selected as the type of encoding... it's not in front of me so I can't remember which tab it is, second from the bottom I want to say. Run the optical cable from the sound card to the mixamp, and you should be good to go- with surround sound at least. One last thing I'd check is to set your default output device as the sound blaster z, NOT the mixamp in Windows. (Oh and I had issues getting the mic to work but I just chalked it up to operator error... the mic should work fine if you select the default communication device as the mixamp but I started playing around with the "beam-forming mic" that came on the ACM and thus lost track of how to get it working again...)
But here's the thing- from all the research I've done, it seems that running dolby digital live (DDL) through the optical out to the mixamp effectively negates the capabilities of the sound card. So you've got this great sound card with a freakin quad-core processor that's reduced to simply encoding a signal to output in a certain format (DDL). No amplification, no benefits of improved clarity- the mixamp is now doing all the work. Which in most cases would probably be fine (it's arguable which may produce a better sound quality)- but at least in my experience going through the mixamp introduces a SLIGHT BUT EVER SO NOTICEABLE DELAY. You might pick up on it a bit at first but then you get used to it... until you try going straight from the sound card to the headphones, which I'll explain now-
Being that my package deal was for the sound blaster zx, I got the nifty ACM module that basically just serves as a remote input and volume knob that you can place on your desktop for easy access without having to reach around (lol) to the back of your case to access the headphone jack- which I might add appears to be the only jack that outputs from the headphone amplifier on the card (front panel if you choose to plug it in will not be amplified output). To use the headphones directly with the sound card, you simply use the splitter adapter that came with the a40 to plug the headphone and mic into their respective jacks either on the ACM or directly into the card. Other than the ACM, the actual sound card hardware is identical to the sound blaster z. Whether or not you got the ACM shouldn't matter- but it's just that I had this pretty red anodized gadget hanging out next to the also nifty-looking mixamp, and it bugged me I wasn't using it at all and it seemed redundant.
Well now the mixamp seems redundant, because I instantly noticed a very marked improvement in bass sound AND clarity- and the best part? NO DELAY. And the mic works great.
TL;DR/cliffs- there really is no contest; the sound card outputs far better quality sound to the headphones than the mixamp. Now I will offer the disclaimer that I didn't play around with the eq settings a whole lot to fine tune the audio, but if anything the sound blaster software should have far more customization options than the four presets on the mixamp. It kind of is a letdown as I now have this really cool looking mixamp that I will likely never use again for my pc... but it's not a total loss as it's still an absolute necessity if you ever use it with consoles (which I will).
Long read I know, but I hope this helped.
I've never owned something this nice. Back in the day I had a 4.1 or 5.1 setup, but back then I don't think there was such thing as optical cables. So, I want the Astro A50, but didn't know I needed a sound card.. I've been building computer systems for 20+ years, but haven't bought a Sound Blaster in FOREVER (same thing with a network card). Processors got better, RAM got more, video cards better, onboard stuff better.
So, I've been looking around as well. After reading a lot of reviews, the Sound Blaster Z is the way to go. I don't totally know why.. it just seems the X-Fi's were decent, the Recon3D line was crap, and the Z series is back to being good again.
Now look at this.. Best Buy has the Z for $104.99 right now.. which I'll probably get because I just want to walk in a store and go home. But some places have one callled the Z Varpak.. seems it's a no frills version probably without the red light you hate and it's cheaper:
PS - I'm considering two options since $400 will eat a big chunk of my check this week.. I might get the Astro A50 and no sound card.. just run in stereo for now.. or do I get the sound card and the A30 and say "I'll be honest with you, these ARE most likely being returned in 2 weeks to get the A50's".. in fact it's not most likely.. it's 100% I want wireless.
Last edited by yuppicide; 04-17-2013 at 08:08 PM.
Originally Posted by yuppicide
Dude I just got the Recon 3D, and im using my A50's with it, and they sound badass man, I mine at best buy, and it was on sale for $90.00 bucks, I have had no issues with makes the sound sound amazing man!!
The a40's sound amazing with the mixamp, but I think today I'll give the direct connection to the sound card a try. Has anyone found some equalizer settings good for gaming yet?
Is there another solution so I could get 5.1 in headphones and mic use for gaming without the delay and full capabilities of the Soundblaster ZXR? Is there another hardware piece that I could replace the mixamp with that would be better?
Originally Posted by TheIlluminati
Also curious, if I use the mixamp am i getting any ASIO capability from the soundcard? i.e. if I want to use "Reason" with ASIO?