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While the majority of people nowadays use integrated audio solutions, there are a lot of those, who still prefer specially-designed audio cards for the high-quality audio they produce. At Gamescon trade-show, Creative Technology introduced its new family of Sound Blaster audio cards that are based on quad-core Sound Core3D audio chip that promises both high-quality sound and hardware-based audio processing.

To dynamically power compelling audio playback, the new Sound Blaster Z-series sound cards utilize the Creative Sound Core3D quad-core sound and voice processor the company introduced last year, which is designed to work with such DSP algorithms as Creative’s SBX Pro Studio, THX TruStudio Pro, CrystalVoice and so on. Sound Core3D is Creative’s first sound and voice processor to integrate an array of high-performance digital signal processor (DSP) cores and a high-quality HD audio codec on one chip. Sound Core3D incorporates Creative’s Quartet DSP with four independent processor cores, 6-channel 24-bit 102dB digital-to-analog converters, 4-channel 24-bits 101dB analog-to-digital converters, integrated headphone amplifier-out, digital microphone interface, S/PDIF inputs and outputs and general purpose inputs and outputs (GPIO), etc.

“For audio playback, we use studio-grade components to deliver outstanding fidelity, and then greatly enhance the listening experience by implementing our SBX Pro Studio suite of audio technologies. This enables complete customisation of audio playback, uniquely catered to suit individual tastes. Our mixture of outstanding components and proprietary technologies also enables us to provide the highest quality recording experience for audio creation, which today expands beyond just music recording to include user interaction and creation with YouTube, eSports, and more,” said Low Long Chye, director of product marketing for audio at Creative Technology.

Creative claims that thanks to its proprietary DSP algorithms SBX Pro Studio and CrystalVoice, the new audio cards produce sound that is pristine, surround and enhanced/customized if needed across many types of applications, including movies, music, voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP), games and so on. The SoundBlaster Z-series audio cards will automatically adjust quality depending on the task.

There will be three audio cards in Sound Blaster Z family of products. All the cards will be compatible with PCI Express x1 connector, feature high-quality components, special EMI shielding enclosure, gold-plated I/O connections and generally share similar software feature-set.

  • The flagship Sound Blaster ZxR - designed to be the best audio card for both creation and consumption of contents - utilizes studio-grade components, which include external digital-to-analog converters (DACs) that deliver 127dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), sockets for swappable Op-Amps, a high-end 80mW into 600 ohm headphone amplifier, and 192kHz pass through.

    The Sound Blaster ZxR has multiple connections, including a proprietary connector to the DBpro, a daughter board that offers optical output and professional-grade 123dB analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) with RCA Aux-in and optical input for outstanding recording quality.

    The audio solution comes with an external audio control module (ACM) that provides a built-in dual-microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections.
     
  • The Sound Blaster Zx incorporates all the hardware and software features of the Sound Blaster ZxR except for the DBpro daughter board.

    The Sound Blaster Zx leverages Sound Core3D processing with external DACs that deliver 120dB SNR. Other features include support for 192kHz direct pass-through to analog out, a 600 ohm headphone amplifier, gold-plated I/O connectivity, and SB Speaker-Calibration, which calibrates speakers to take advantage of room acoustics, resulting in an optimised audio performance. The Sound Blaster Zx also includes the convenient external ACM as well as high-quality optical and stereo cables.
     
  • The Sound Blaster Z incorporates all the hardware and software features of the Sound Blaster Zx except for the ACM. Instead, an external dual-microphone array comes standard with this card.

    The Sound Blaster Z comes with 120dB SNR and supports 192kHz direct pass-through to analog out. It also features glowing LED lighting, a 600 ohm headphone amplifier, an EMI-free analog input and output path and gold-plated I/O connections.

The Sound Blaster ZxR and Sound Blaster Zx will be available in December 2012 and the Sound Blaster Z will be available in October 2012. Recommended pricing will be as follows:

  • Sound Blaster ZxR $249.99
  • Sound Blaster Zx $149.99
  • Sound Blaster Z $99.99

Tags: Creative Technology, Creative Labs, SoundBlaster, Sound Core3D, Sound Blaster

Discussion

Comments currently: 12
Discussion started: 08/16/12 02:00:29 AM
Latest comment: 12/24/12 08:16:43 PM
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[1-6]

1. 
Why would anyone with half a brain buy ANYTHING from this POS company ????
2 2 [Posted by: alpha0ne  | Date: 08/16/12 02:00:29 AM]
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2. 
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1 6 [Posted by: tks  | Date: 08/16/12 05:51:39 AM]
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I haven't had a single issue with my X-Fi Platinum PCI card and I went through P965, P35, P55, Z68 motherboards with it and through both Windows XP and Windows 7 64-bit. Sounds spectacular. I can't wait for these cards as I might be tempted to upgrade to a PCIe sound card with Haswell + Z87 next year.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 12/24/12 08:12:17 PM]
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3. 
If you are in need or want for better sound quality compared to the onboard solution then don't bother with Creative. Creative isn't like what it used to be back during it's golden days and there are plenty of economical as well higher end sound cards than what Creative has with much better drivers. Last but not least Creative tends to use cheap capacitors that cause a lot of crackle and pop on certain models.

Turtle Beach for the usb (laptops and portable sound) and HT Omega for high quality.
1 1 [Posted by: nforce4max  | Date: 08/16/12 10:59:48 AM]
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The opposite is true. Creative sound cards sound quality has improved and so did drivers. Starting with X-Fi they've been near the top of their game. People are jumping ship from Asus Xonar/Essence in droves and the Z is sounding much better. The Asus sound cards have worse drivers than even X-Fi cards.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 12/24/12 08:13:59 PM]
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4. 
They are still around? They are one of those companies who used to be great but then they took one wrong turn after the other end then left behind.

I still have my Creative speakers, a great shame creative never made available spare parts so I can change the volume buttons that are almost dead. The whole speaker's system is fine, just the volume buttons I need.
0 0 [Posted by: nitro912gr  | Date: 08/16/12 02:53:35 PM]
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I highly doubt you chewed off most of the volume buttons (all you said was "volume buttons are almost dead" so I'm guessing here LOL) so what you're more probably experiencing is a faulty pre-amp. It could be anything from a cold solder joint (easily solvable), worn out volume capacitors (relatively easy to replace), blown pre-amp capacitors and/or transistors,... or worse case - a whole pre-amp needs replacing. Either case, you should be able to save your speakers without paying much for it at any semi-competent electronics repair workshops. Things wear out (shit happens LOL) even with a lot more expensive equipment t/c
1 0 [Posted by: MyK  | Date: 08/16/12 03:19:53 PM]
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sorry I wasn't specific, the problem seems to be in the volume adjusters, both for the main volume and the sub woofer, they are both on the same chip.

It is hard to describe it, but it is like that: when you set the volume it can be very low or suddenly (with just touching the adjuster) too loud and then you need to "play" a bit with the adjuster to find the sweet spot.
I tried to clean the adjusters with some electronics specific oil spray, it made them less sensitive but didn't solved the problem.

I asked in a local electronics repair shop and told me it doesn't worth the cost to fix that.

Thanks for the response
0 0 [Posted by: nitro912gr  | Date: 08/18/12 12:57:06 PM]
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That sounds like a cold solder joint on the volume capacitor (or it got loose by frequent use and abuse LOL). Quite frequent problem with amps actually, and you should be able to repair that yourself by opening up the affected area (might take some fiddling with screws and clip-ons) and re-soldering those joints that seem loose or cracked at the base. They would be right behind the volume knob on the other side of the PCB. All you'll need is a few soldering tools you can borrow at a friend or a DIY shop.
0 0 [Posted by: MyK  | Date: 08/25/12 05:31:43 AM]
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5. 
show the post
1 9 [Posted by: sanity  | Date: 08/16/12 04:24:45 PM]
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My X-Fi Platinum is 5 years old and I never paid a single dollar for Windows 7 support. I skipped Vista since it was junk to begin with. On Windows 7 64-bit, my PCI X-Fi Platinum sounds great. Every PC gamers I know who still uses onboard sound ends up going out and buying a dedicated sound card after listening to the X-Fi at my place. Not saying it's the best sound card in the world by any means, but it blows away every single onboard sound card from Realtek I've ever heard and I went through a ton of boards including nForce 2, P965, P35, P55, and Z68. I believe most of the problems with creative cards stem back before X-Fi.
0 0 [Posted by: BestJinjo  | Date: 12/24/12 08:16:43 PM]
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6. 
Still no DTS encoding? It's worthless for me.
0 0 [Posted by: r00lz  | Date: 08/17/12 04:08:24 AM]
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