19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Very good sound card.
, 20 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Creative Sound Blaster Z PCIe Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amplifier and Beamforming Microphone (Personal Computers)
This was an impulse buy when I found out that Creative have released a new generation of Fatal1ty sound blaster cards (ZXR, ZX and Z). At the time of writing, the ZXR and ZX are not yet available. I really did not need a new sound card as I already have the Creative Recon3D. However, I am the sort who is always tinkering around and upgrading pc components. Item arrived on Monday 19/11/12. It came in a snazzy box. The card itself has a red EMI backing plate to reduce electrical interference from other components. The Z is the same size as the Recon3D. Physical installation was a breeze (as was software installation, no 'bloatware' whatsoever). This is a big step up from the original Creative Sound blaster Fatal1ty sound card, where the sofware installation was very problematic and came with too much 'bloatware' (in the end, the trick was to install only the drivers and control panel and to do it one at a time). The Recon3D had some minor bloatware but to a much lesser degree than the original Fatal1ty.
Once the card and software was installed, it only took 5 minutes to tweak settings in control panel to my liking (I am accustomed to the format). I am impressed with the sound quality. I am using it with the Logitech X540 speaker set (as with the Recon3D). I can confirm that at 50% speaker volume, this card is circa 20% louder than the Recon3D. Sound is also a touch clearer and more crisp. It also has the added benefit of the addition of the latest 'SBX pro technology', which is an improved version of the 'THX professional sound studio' as used with the Recon3D. The control panel with both cards are virtually identical. However, the Z series also has the additional feature of the 'Dolby DTS' software. At time of writing, the Dolby DTS software is not yet available for release, but as soon as it is, it can be downloaded from the Creative website.
I was told by overclockers tech support that there would be no noticeable improvement of the Z over the Recon3D. However, I disagree. The improvements are noticeable by a modest yet realistic margin. Upon comparing the technical specifications of the entry level Z to the ZX and ZXR, there is improved frequency response rates in the higher (ZX) model and the highest (ZXR) model.
I have no regrets purchasing this card. As soon as the ZX or better still, the ZXR become available, I will purchase either of those sound cards (ideally the ZXR but my choice will be influenced by pricing). I was originally thinking of purchasing the Asus Phoebus. However, I am glad I did not (even though the hardware of the Phoebus is of the highest calibre, sadly the software leaves much to be desired and there are many issues with regards to games not working properly and/or crashing with the Phoebus. Asus is aware of these software issues but still has not released a patch).
How times have changed!. Creative used to be associated with poor software and software compatibility issues as well as the hardware not being as good as it should have been, whilst Asus used to be the clear leader in pc audio technology (hardware and software). It seems Creative have now cleaned up their act, with substantial improvements to their hardware and software.
Well done Creative. You deserve a pat on the back.
Update 1- 06/12/12, 8.50pm. Creative have finally released the 'DTS connect and DTS neo' software upgrade. I have installed this and I can say that the sound quality is tremendously good. Better than before. More crisp and clear. During gaming, I can hear even water droplets dripping onto the ground. Sweet.
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