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Thread: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

  1. #1

    New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Hey guys, I'm really hoping some of you will be able to help me with some much needed soundcard advice please!

    I've owned my PCI XtremeMusic (Model SB0460) from new since 2005 and can't fault it. It's easily by far the best soundcard I've ever owned and I've owned quite a lot over the past 25 years.

    On Monday my wife purchased me a Soundblaster Z PCI-E card as I needed a new soundcard that used the x1 PCI-E socket as a recent GPU upgrade meant I was no longer able to get access to the PCI slot on my motherboard.

    "No problem, the X-Fi soundcard is years old now and they must be a lot better these days" so I thought to myself! - How wrong and bitterly disappointed was I to be!!

    I've now spent the past four days trying to get my new Soundblaseter Z to sound anywhere near as good as my old X-Fi XtremeMusic. I've been through all the surround sound and crystalization options, tried every known configuration on the Equalizer and individual volume controls and uninstalled and re-installed individual software components etc and yet can't get it to sound anywhere near as good as my old X-Fi card Even my wife could tell that the sound quality wasn't as good as that of the old card and even though she purchased the soundblaster Z for me as a present she was the one who recommended putting my old X-Fi soundcard back in - that's how bad the sound was.

    I'm using a set of Logitech 5.1 surround speakers that I've had for years and like the X-Fi I've never had a reason to consider changing them as I'm happy with them. I listen to Music 90% of the time and have always used these settings:

    Entertainment Mode
    Speakers: 5.1 Mode
    CMSS-3D: Stereo Surround 50%
    X-Fi Crystalizer: 100%

    Windows Tone Settings:

    Bass Balance: 0.0 dB
    Treble: +12.0 dB

    The sound quality on the Soundblaster Z is extremely muddy and lacks any kind of clarity. The sound comes across as over-processed and extremely dull. I also wasn't aware that installing the Soundblaster software would result in losing the Windows based treble and bass functions. This only made matters worse. Even though the EQ software settings are designed to replace them there was no way I could match the clean vibrant sound I get from my X-Fi XtremeMusic.

    I can't be convinced by anybody that the Soundblaster Z is a 'better' card than my old X-Fi XtremeMusic. Even if it is 'technically' better if the sound output doesn't match up then there's simply no point in having it installed in my system.

    I also wanted to try connecting up my Sony Playstation to the soundcard using the Optical In port on the Soundblaster Z and connecting it to the Optical out on the Playstation. I'm using a HDMI lead on my Playstation but this passes audio to the monitor speakers and we all know monitor speakers are pretty bad. No matter what settings I tried all I got was a loud continuous distorted noise coming out of my PC speakers, even though the Playstation was configured to output audio via Optical and the settings within the Soundblaster software were set to Max and wern't muted. I tried 2 different optical cables and rebooted both my PC and Playstation many times but it made my difference. I also checked to make sure the red light was visible on the end of the optical cable when plugged in etc.

    To cut to the chase, can you guys recommend a soundcard that gives equal or better audio quality to the X-Fi XtremeMusic? I listen mostly to music, never use headphones, I need 5.1 surround sound for gaming and in an ideal world an Optical In port would be useful but isn't crucial.

    I don't mind spending more, I just want the sound to be an improvement or considered an upgrade over the X-Fi XtremeMusic otherwise there's no point.

    Is there an X-Fi card out there that uses the x1 PCI-E port that somehow sounds better than the X-Fi XtremeMusic or do all X-Fi's cards generally sound the same????

    I'm really hoping that some of you that are reading this have once owned an X-Fi card and have found something you consider to be better and use it to playback mostly music rather than for movies or in-game surround sound effects etc.

    Big thanks to anyone that can offer some advice and thanks for reading through my lengthy post, your views are important and I look forward to hearing form you guys

  2. #2
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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by POOTERMAN View Post
    ...I've owned my PCI XtremeMusic (Model SB0460) from new since 2005 and can't fault it. It's easily by far the best soundcard I've ever owned and I've owned quite a lot over the past 25 years.

    ....I don't mind spending more, I just want the sound to be an improvement or considered an upgrade over the X-Fi XtremeMusic otherwise there's no point.

    Is there an X-Fi card out there that uses the x1 PCI-E port that somehow sounds better than the X-Fi XtremeMusic or do all X-Fi's cards generally sound the same????
    There are several Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium with pcie like the excellent Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD (SB1270). Unfortunately, the SB1270 has also expired and has been classified as 'End of Service Life' just like the others have leakead.
    I`m running a Linn Majik 6100 power amplifier behind the SB 550 and I don`t want to replace these sound cards either. For now let`s assume, that creative continues to supply the cards with Drivers.

  3. #3

    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Wasn't "the excellent Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD" a stereo 2.1 only soundcard though? I've had another look at my X-Fi soundcard and also the X-Fi card installed in my wife's PC and there ever so slightly different, even though they both clearly have a model number of SB0460 printed on them.

    On closer examination there are 2 obvious visual differences between the two cards. Mine has a black heatsink near the centre of the PCB and also a small black box in the top right corner that has 'X-Fi' stamped into it which displays a red light with the 'Fatal1ty' logo when powered on. My wife's X-Fi XtremeMusic doesn't have any of these!

    Is there going to be any actual performance differences between these 2 soundcards, is one better than the other or will they both give the exact same sound quality output?

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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by POOTERMAN View Post
    Wasn't "the excellent Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD" a stereo 2.1 only soundcard though?
    It supports 5.1 via optical out.

    Quote Originally Posted by POOTERMAN View Post
    On closer examination there are 2 obvious visual differences between the two cards.
    I think you talk about the X-Ram. The X-Ram is a Micron 512-Mbit-Chip, if I`m not mistaken.

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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    To use a cards optical means a card is pointless may as well use the Mobos onboard optical as it bypasses all the fancy processing parts of card you pay for.

    XRam was only 64MB.

    I have the ZxR ands I do not think its good for audio or even games, never really liked it since day one TBH.

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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by helmutcheese View Post
    To use a cards optical means a card is pointless may as well use the Mobos onboard optical as it bypasses all the fancy processing parts of card you pay for.
    ... if you bypass

    Quote Originally Posted by helmutcheese View Post
    XRam was only 64MB.
    If you see a MT48LC32M16A2TG-75 Chip next to the X-Fi processor of your card, this ist the Micron 512-Mbit-Chip. For example the X-Fi Xtreme Music and X-Fi Platinum are exceptions, they have 16-Mbit-Chips of Samsung or Hynix. As far as I know the black box at the edge is just a lamp. : )

    Quote Originally Posted by helmutcheese View Post
    I have the ZxR ands I do not think its good for audio or even games, never really liked it since day one TBH.
    Oh, the ZxR is actually a good card or isn`t it ... I had never tried it ...
    Last edited by cebo; 11-13-2017 at 06:35 AM.

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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by helmutcheese View Post
    To use a cards optical means a card is pointless may as well use the Mobos onboard optical as it bypasses all the fancy processing parts of card you pay for.

    XRam was only 64MB.

    I have the ZxR ands I do not think its good for audio or even games, never really liked it since day one TBH.
    It doesn't bypass all the processing, just the DAC ����

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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    1) The card I had had 64MB XRam not 512 or many other size, the "black part" you talk of was the Fatal1ty LED on my card.

    "X-RAM: Audio data obviously consumes system memory, and throwing it back and forth across the PCI bus can be slow. Because only so much system RAM can be used for audio, there is a limit to the number of streams of audio that can be processed simultaneously. X-Fi alleviates these bottlenecks by bringing back on-board RAM. The Fatal1ty version of the card has 64MB on-board"

    https://www.bit-tech.net/reviews/tech/creative_xfi/1/

    Optical does bypass the processing that is why you get pure sound and many today do not even bother buying a soundcard.

    I have a ZxR right here connected via both analogue cables and Optical to a Logitech Z906 so I can say I have tried it.

    In optical output the ZX906 processes and shapes the sound.

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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by helmutcheese View Post
    1) The card I had had 64MB XRam not 512 or many other size, the "black part" you talk of was the Fatal1ty LED on my card.

    "X-RAM: Audio data obviously consumes system memory, and throwing it back and forth across the PCI bus can be slow. Because only so much system RAM can be used for audio, there is a limit to the number of streams of audio that can be processed simultaneously. X-Fi alleviates these bottlenecks by bringing back on-board RAM. The Fatal1ty version of the card has 64MB on-board"

    https://www.bit-tech.net/reviews/tech/creative_xfi/1/

    Optical does bypass the processing that is why you get pure sound and many today do not even bother buying a soundcard.

    I have a ZxR right here connected via both analogue cables and Optical to a Logitech Z906 so I can say I have tried it.

    In optical output the ZX906 processes and shapes the sound.
    I tested with with a X-Fi SB0770, X-Fi Titanium Fatality and a X-Fi Titanium HD. They all could send processed audio through spdif. Just because it is not analog it does not mean it can not have been processed.

    The X-Fi is not the same as the Z series, it has a proper DSP and processing unit. I can choose if I want processed sound or not, on any output. As you said that the signal is always not processed on your ZxR, with no other choice, is just another reason for me to keep my Titaniums.

    Also, 512Mbit is the same as 64MB.

  10. #10
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    Re: New Soundblaster Z Card doesn't sound as good as my 12 year old X-Fi Card. Need Advice Please Guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by POOTERMAN View Post
    Hey guys, I'm really hoping some of you will be able to help me with some much needed soundcard advice please!

    I've owned my PCI XtremeMusic (Model SB0460) from new since 2005 and can't fault it. It's easily by far the best soundcard I've ever owned and I've owned quite a lot over the past 25 years.

    On Monday my wife purchased me a Soundblaster Z PCI-E card as I needed a new soundcard that used the x1 PCI-E socket as a recent GPU upgrade meant I was no longer able to get access to the PCI slot on my motherboard.

    "No problem, the X-Fi soundcard is years old now and they must be a lot better these days" so I thought to myself! - How wrong and bitterly disappointed was I to be!!

    I've now spent the past four days trying to get my new Soundblaseter Z to sound anywhere near as good as my old X-Fi XtremeMusic. I've been through all the surround sound and crystalization options, tried every known configuration on the Equalizer and individual volume controls and uninstalled and re-installed individual software components etc and yet can't get it to sound anywhere near as good as my old X-Fi card Even my wife could tell that the sound quality wasn't as good as that of the old card and even though she purchased the soundblaster Z for me as a present she was the one who recommended putting my old X-Fi soundcard back in - that's how bad the sound was.

    I'm using a set of Logitech 5.1 surround speakers that I've had for years and like the X-Fi I've never had a reason to consider changing them as I'm happy with them. I listen to Music 90% of the time and have always used these settings:

    Entertainment Mode
    Speakers: 5.1 Mode
    CMSS-3D: Stereo Surround 50%
    X-Fi Crystalizer: 100%

    Windows Tone Settings:

    Bass Balance: 0.0 dB
    Treble: +12.0 dB

    The sound quality on the Soundblaster Z is extremely muddy and lacks any kind of clarity. The sound comes across as over-processed and extremely dull. I also wasn't aware that installing the Soundblaster software would result in losing the Windows based treble and bass functions. This only made matters worse. Even though the EQ software settings are designed to replace them there was no way I could match the clean vibrant sound I get from my X-Fi XtremeMusic.

    I can't be convinced by anybody that the Soundblaster Z is a 'better' card than my old X-Fi XtremeMusic. Even if it is 'technically' better if the sound output doesn't match up then there's simply no point in having it installed in my system.

    I also wanted to try connecting up my Sony Playstation to the soundcard using the Optical In port on the Soundblaster Z and connecting it to the Optical out on the Playstation. I'm using a HDMI lead on my Playstation but this passes audio to the monitor speakers and we all know monitor speakers are pretty bad. No matter what settings I tried all I got was a loud continuous distorted noise coming out of my PC speakers, even though the Playstation was configured to output audio via Optical and the settings within the Soundblaster software were set to Max and wern't muted. I tried 2 different optical cables and rebooted both my PC and Playstation many times but it made my difference. I also checked to make sure the red light was visible on the end of the optical cable when plugged in etc.

    To cut to the chase, can you guys recommend a soundcard that gives equal or better audio quality to the X-Fi XtremeMusic? I listen mostly to music, never use headphones, I need 5.1 surround sound for gaming and in an ideal world an Optical In port would be useful but isn't crucial.

    I don't mind spending more, I just want the sound to be an improvement or considered an upgrade over the X-Fi XtremeMusic otherwise there's no point.

    Is there an X-Fi card out there that uses the x1 PCI-E port that somehow sounds better than the X-Fi XtremeMusic or do all X-Fi's cards generally sound the same????

    I'm really hoping that some of you that are reading this have once owned an X-Fi card and have found something you consider to be better and use it to playback mostly music rather than for movies or in-game surround sound effects etc.

    Big thanks to anyone that can offer some advice and thanks for reading through my lengthy post, your views are important and I look forward to hearing form you guys
    Hi POOTERMAN,

    I have sent you two private messages.
    Last edited by HT-CL; 11-16-2017 at 01:58 PM.
    Om Vajrapani Hum,
    HT-CL

    http://www1.wfp.org/

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