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on 19 May 2017
There is much debate as to whether a stand alone sound card is an improvement over the built in chipset on the motherboard, to me it sounds much better and Creative have to be one of the best available. Even without the sound quality, the card has it's own dedicated engine and memory, freeing up the resources of your CPU and memory of the PC. The volume control for headphones is excellent, easy to use and the built in mic seems to be of excellent quality so you can Skype etc without need for a separate microphone. I have this card hooked up to an older set of Creative speakers, the T7900's which are 7.1 , which is the only thing I do not fully understand as creative seem to have dropped 7.1 as I tried finding a set of new speakers, but were all 5.1 ( the T7900 has an up mix to 7.1 built into the sub thankfully) I won't bore you with the technical spec as when it comes down to it, the music is in the ear of the beholder :p
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on 11 September 2017
So i bought this to replace my recon 3d in my gaming pc and simply could not get either the latest or older driver to give me any sound what so ever . I have uninstalled the previous drivers cleaned the registry to no avail. windows finds it and installed it find and i had sound until i installed creatives own.
So i formatted and started again twice! both times using different versions of creatives drivers.

I don't doubt that this was a great card prior to windows 10 but i think driver support is lacking or none existent since the release of creatives new sound card (which from the reviews is also plagued with driver issues) .
I have sent mine back for a refund today, time to look for another.
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on 22 April 2017
I stopped using Creative sound cards a few years ago when their software and drivers became rather bloated. Initially I installed everything while reintroducing myself to Creative, but soon got rid of most of that and settled for the speaker set up wizard and the drivers. Great sound quality and support for Windows 10. Take note Asus who seem to forget about driver support for their sound cards after a couple of years. Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe Audiophile Grade Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop Audio Control Module
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on 5 April 2015
Absolutely incredibly! I purchased this card mainly for my music production at home and oh my god the quality and depth absolutely blew me away! This card is a MUST HAVE for any home producer! I also use this card to record mixes at home and stream through my decks on social media networks like twitch. Anything I chuck at this card it does more than just do the job! This definitely is an Audiophile card and once again I'll stress a MUST HAVE for any producer/gamer/dj!
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on 30 June 2017
Makes a horrible loud crackling sound on all inputs, built into brand new I7-7700K system, also tested on my other rig and it still makes crackling sounds on boot.
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on 17 March 2014
Ok, so, perhaps you belong to one of those people who have been buying sound cards (especially from creative, even) for 15 years or more?

Perhaps you don't really care about the quality of sound from your pc and did without? Or maybe since motherboards more recently offer half-way decent sound chips, opted for that instead?

One thing is clear, if you are reading this then you are considering to go up a couple of notch's with your sound (just want more out of life perhaps?). And the good thing is, you are at the right place.

This card is amazing; whilst I have to say that I have been disappointed in Creative for the last 6 years (likely more). Especially when it comes to their sound drivers. Because they always seem to pull of at least acceptable hardware...

This card is different in many ways. Whilst the drivers could still have been better yet (in my world there's almost always room for improvement), the card delivers on all fronts. Here's what you really care about and what should swing you to buy this card:

- premium components inside and out, Creative did not use inferior parts. Everything is on point - there is a lot of gold plating used. A lot of high capacity employed. A lot of the good stuff you'd expect if you really go the extra mile for clear, crisp, 3d sound
- there is no static. 0%
- peripherals are exactly what I was always missing, an external headphone control unit with premium feel. Two cards inside, one for inputs and one for outputs but you only occupy one slot; typically Creative. The outputs are separated into Mic and Surround Sound output jacks; the ins include optical, which is nice
- The drivers work, they just do. Once installed you can tweak the sound to what you like. Enough bass. Enough highs. Tender mediums
- A gaming monster. Period!
- Exceptional surround sound for high definition movies, et al...

I have a range of headphones as well as a Yamaha sound set up: AX 1080 + Tune and CD/DVD with very decent speakers. I have the Logitech Z top of the range surround sound 5.1 set up for gaming. The sound is jaw-dropping on all:

- regardless of headphone type: razer blackshark and a couple of other razer ones; Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, Audio Technica and AKG, the sound fills and impresses
- amps are sufficiently/efficiently powered, bass is deep with heavy pressure
- mediums are clear. classic music sounds completely clean and full; I can hear all the instruments individually and can locate the source direction precisely
- tweets are round and present, never overpowering the delivery but present

I cant fault this card as yet. I do not understand how they could pull it off at Amazon to sell this at the price. Else where you easily see it for > GBP 200 - 350

If you can, buy this card. If not get the little brother but get away from on-board mediocre-ness. If you have an Asus, stay put. You would not justify the move to this unless you produced music.

Would I buy it again, in retrospect? Regardless of from no-sound, on-board sound or from another board? Yes. Please :)
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
My gaming PC had an old Creative Xtreme Gamer XFi soundcard from a previous motherboard that starting crackling on both channels. So I decided to get this Soundblaster ZxR to replace it, as I love gaming and also have a massive iTunes collection ripped from CD to Apple ALAC lossless, plus my son and I are getting into video and sound editing. There are two cards in the box, but only one requires physical connection to a PCIe slot (x1 or higher), with the other secondary 'card' simply needing a free backplane over any slot. The two cards are linked via the supplied proprietry black flat ribbon cable.

One thing saddened me, this 'ultimate' ZxR soundcard looks very classy from the side, but once fitted into the slots all that's visible is the smooth black metal top that is as dull as dishwater viewed from outside via my Perspex PC case window (the cheaper Zx/Z soundcards actually look far better in their bright red anodised finish). However I'm grateful there's no row of bright red LEDs on this card, as being located in the PCIe slot above the graphics card they would have blinded me. I fitted the card in minutes and installed the drivers from the CD, as it's far easier to automatically upgrade an installed set of Creative software than try and find the correct drivers/software on Creative's website. Other than fitting the main card into the PCIe slot, nothing else is required as the card gets all its power from the PCIe slot. The card works with Windows 7, 8 & 10 (I use Windows 7 64-bit). I have a 5.1 speaker system which is all this ZxR card will support, so it's fine for me. However my teenage son's new Sabretooth X79 gaming PC has the cheaper SoundBlaster Zx card+pod and a great 7.1 speaker setup, and neither the Zx or this ZxR soundcard can drive them beyond 5.1 which is a real pain (his old XFi Xtreme Gamer soundcard supported the full 7.1 audio, but with the new Zx/ZxR two of his speakers are annoyingly left dead).

I couldn't use the header for my cases headphone/microphone socket, as there aren't any riser connections on the soundcard - the card provides external headphone and microphone sockets, in both 3.5mm and HiFi 6.5mm size, plus inbuilt quality stereo microphones, via the cabled volume control `pod' that plugs into the rear of the second ZxR `card'. This pods great, although it doesn't fully control PC volume - you turn up the PC sound and the pod volume controls to that level. Oddly the pod volume control only works with its headphone sockets and doesn't adjust the volume on my PCs 5.1 Logitech speakers, but as I only use headphones anyway that's perfect for me (besides my speakers have a decent volume control). Also supplied with the card(s) are a good quality twin phono to 3.5mm plug cable, an optical cable, and a short phono to 3.5mm converter to use with the central/front speaker stereo phono sockets out on the main ZxR card. Annoyingly the speaker/mic socket outs on the main ZXR card aren't colour coded, but it's `green' to the front (twin phono), `black `to the rear (3.5mm), and `orange' to the centre (3.5mm), with pink to microphone (3.5mm). I'm used to Creative's Control Panels and soon had my PC's 5.1 speakers running correctly and the headphones set up. Switching between headphones and speakers is very clunky via the PC software Control Panel, as there's no physical switch and removing the headphones doesn't autoswitch - which again is a another real pain for those regularly switching speakers/headphones. My son uses the freebie fan-mod 'SBZ Switcher' tool to speed up this headphone/speaker swap, but really Creative should have sorted this problem out themselves. Plus the SB software switch (and 'SBZ Switcher') aren't happy changing headphones/speakers during gaming. I always use Creatives `Crystalizer' sound enhancements that add clarity and dynamic range, and they work well with this card. There's also Creatives new CrystalVoice microphone enhancements:

1. CrystalVoice NoiseReduction that eliminates background noise
2. CrystalVoice Smartvolume that ensures even a whisper is heard on-line
3. CrystalVoice Echo-cancellation to remove feedback from speakers
4. CrystalVoice Focus creates a sound beam so that you are the only one heard
5. CrystalVoice effects to morph your voice into munchkins, elfs or orcs etc.

You can walk around the room and the ZxR's pod microphones should pick you up anyhwere (provided Focus is switched off). My son uses the microphone on his old Tritton AX720 gaming headset rather than the twin mike's on his Zx Pod, and he felt voice quality via the Trittons was better with CrystalVoice enhancements turned off, although he was amused by the CrystalVoice voice morphing effects and said his female voice morph was very convincing. In addition to CrystalVoice, there's loads of audio enhancements:

1. Studio DialoguePlus enhances voice clarity for movies/videos
2. SmartVolume controls audio so that tracks are all similar loudness or to reduce fatigue when gaming for hours,
3. StudioBass increases bass without recessing voices/treble
4. Studio Crystalizer brings out details without affecting vocals, good for games and video
5. 3D Studio surround creates a 3D surround effect for stereo headphones and speakers, good for gaming/videos
6. A gaming `Scout' mode to help you hear enemies creep up on you

Via speakers the sound quality is far better than my old PCI Xtreme gamer, and via headphones the sound is in another league quality wise - particularly as all the noise and crackles I got with the old card are now gone. That's the Soundblaster ZXR main big sell over the cheaper Soundblaster Zx, a 124db signal to noise compared to the Zx's 116dB, all brought about by more expensive electronics and shielding. The sound quality from the ZxR really is miles better than my old XtremeGamer for both sound and features, and it was well worth the upgrade. The ZxR also offers an extra twin phono line in over the Zx, with both the ZxR and Zx having optical in/out sockets. The ZxR also sounds very good with my 5.1 PC speaker system (it is a 5.1 soundcard). However I was surprised the ZxR doesn't match the superb sound quality from my £150 ARCAM rPAC USB2 headphone amplifier with my HiFi Grado SR125i's, and ZxR tonal/crystalizer adjustments didn't close the gap, so I stick with the rPAC/Grados for iTunes music (but I always use the Soundblaster ZxR with separate lightweight headphones for gaming, movies, PC bangs and whistles or with the PC speakers). Another annoying thing is that Creative's useful Media Tool Box 6 that brings in things like noise and crackle clean-up on analogue music, various recording/editing options, and auto segmentation of recorded vinyl records into tracks, costs another US $40. I have a Sony HiFi CD recorder deck for recording vinyl records which offers some of this via hardware, but for the extra £90 over the Zx card I would have thought Creative Toolbox 6 software could have been bundled in for free, as it's so useful for the ZxR card (Toolbox 6 has since been discontinued by Creative).

Still overall this is a great soundcard and worth the money for those wanting top rate gaming and video sound, so 5* for features and 4* for value. However much of what the £200 ZxR offers, including the neat volume/headphone/microphone pod, can be found with the far cheaper £110 SoundBlaster Zx Soundcard, so that card is better value (the even cheaper £90 SoundBlaster Z lacks the neat headphone volume pod though so I would avoid that card as I live on headphones). The Zx has the same negatives though, 5.1 speakers max supported and no auto-switching to speakers when you unplug the headphones from the pod, plus it isn't as 'low background noise' as the ZxR. However with the cheaper SoundBlaster Zx, you could use the money saved to get an Arcam rPAC headphone amp as well if you like listening to iTunes music on your desktop Windows PC and have a pair of top notch HiFi headphones - this Soundblaster ZxR PCIe card scores more heavily when gaming, recording, watching video or using the PC speakers. As these Creative Soundblaster sound cards last forever in PC terms there is a healthy second hand market should you wish to purchase cheaply or sell it later when upgrading (just be carefull handling the link ribbon cable as it is by far the most delicate part). In fact I did buy another Soundblaster ZxR cards+pod+extras second-hand & complete for £98, and that is also working perfectly two years on.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 22 April 2013
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have previously used the recon 3d from Creative and more recently the Creative Z which is a fantastic card that I have previously reviewed. Of the range there is the Z/ZX and this the ZXR.

The primary difference between the Z and ZX is the inclusion of the accessible control module (ACM). A handy desktop volume control and headphones adaptor with built in mic. The benefit of the ACM is clear, it is a direct pass through meaning the sound it pipes through should be as if you are connected direct to the soundcard, thus reducing the chances of any degradation that you might experience using the front ports on your case.

The ZXR however is the top end model aimed at enthusiast/audiophiles and professionals. It features a higher SNR of 124 compared to 116 on the Z/ZX with a much better DAC and a daughter board for optical out for pro analogue to digital conversion as well as optical in for digital recording. The main card even features four changeable op amps for those who want or need to customise.
Installation is straightforward using a free PCIE slot and the software is a breeze to install and get setup. The control panel is very easy to use and laid out in logical, clear sections. You can save profiles too for easy switching depending on what it is you are doing.

Sound quality is fantastic. I was unsure if I would notice much of a difference going form the Z to the ZXR but coupled with my Sennheiser 363's the difference is there and it provides more scope to tailor your listening experience. One thing I particularly like about the ZXR is that you can change the gain for your headphones, and it is the only one of the three cards that will allow it.

This card is simply fantastic. It is very well built and the software is fluid and easy to use. The proof is in the pudding though and the sound it produces is like nothing I have experienced so far. I have mid to high end headphones though which helps me get the best out of it. Unless you have high quality audio kit then I would tend to lean towards the Z or ZX being the fantastic balance between price and performance.

However for an enthusiast or professional I would heartily recommend the ZXR. It is perfectly at home with music, games and recording and chances are that if you are looking at a card of this class you already own, or intend to purchase some high quality kit to go with it (like the Audioengine 5+ speakers).
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on 15 February 2016
This was bought when my internal card failed. I chose this more expensive product for the superior sound and the fact that it is shielded from other circuitry. I also wanted the I/O extension (with volume control) to replace the front sockets on my tower. This has mini and standard jack sockets and so there is no further need for headphone adapters etc. I also wanted the optical I/O to connect to my digital recording devices. I was not disappointed and glad that I paid the extra for this card. The only issue that I had was in failing to notice the new icon that appeared in the hidden part of the system tray. You need this to switch between speakers and headphones and also to control the sound. You need this for the soundcard to work. I placed this in the visible section of the system tray and then ignored the original icon from the internal card.
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on 13 January 2014
I purchased this card, having researched the card on Creative's own site. I needed a card suitable for audio creation. According to the Soundblaster site this card is ideal. They say the card offers "Studio-grade content creation - Add studio quality audio sound tracks or voice tracks to your video clips or home videos created with hardware that uses only audiophile-grade components such as 123dB analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) with RCA Aux-in and optical inputs for outstanding recording quality. With the 600 ohm headphone ampflier, you can do studio-grade monitoring as well."

Having had a problem with the card, I contacted Soundblaster Customer Services and got the following response!!

"Soundblaster Z (Z, Zx, and ZxR) series soundcards are gaming soundcards and is not meant for audio creation."

So far as I can see this card is seriously being mis-sold.

I am absolutely furious that I have spent a lot of money on a card which apparently is not suitable for purpose!
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