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Test: Creative Soundblaster Z and ZxR

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Kevin Holtmeier

Page 1: Test: Creative Soundblaster Z and ZxR

sb ZxR teaser kleinNew sound cards by Creative! The current Z-series features a specially tailored functionality to get back into the gaming sector with a bang. In this review, we will be closely examining both the inexpensive SoundBlaster Z and the high-class top model ZxR. It's been almost a year since the Recon 3D, which had to endure harsh criticism at launch. Now, the new Z-cards are available, which are meant to make everything much better than the predecessor. Are they even able to sideline competitors ASUS? Read on to find out.

The offspring of this new sound card family bear the designations Z, Zx and ZxR. Prices range from below 90 euros for the Z-model, to nearly 130 euros for the Zx and up to a whopping 250 euros for the ZxR. Purely from a sound perspective, the Z and Zx do not differ much. The Zx features only an additional table control unit with connections for headset and a volume control, and an integrated microphone. The top model has all of this, but also feature changes on the PCB, namely significantly higher quality converters and preamps which should improve the sound quality significantly. In addition, the ZxR comes with a companion board that provides additional connections.

Despite the improvements announced, the Soundblaster sound cards of the Z-series still use the 3D Soundcore chip, which has been known for its modest quality in the past. Instead, Creative improved other areas by installing different analog/digital converters as compared to the 3D Recon series; we will see whether this will make a sufficiently big difference. Let's take a quick look at the specifications.

 

Technical Data Sheet Creative Soundblaster Z

Feature

Value
Price approx. 90 euros
Signal-to-noise ratio 116 dB
Analog-to-digital conversion 24 bit / 96 kHz
Digital-to-analog conversion 24 bit / 192 kHz
Outputs headphones, line-out, 3 x 3,5 mm jack, Toslink
Inputs microphone, Toslink
Bus Connection PCI Express 1x
Tachnical Data SheetCreative Soundblaster ZxR

Feature

Value
Price approx. 260 euros
Signal-to-noise ratio 124 dB
Analog-to-digital conversion 24 bit / 96 kHz
Digital-to-analog conversion 24 bit / 192 kHz
Outputs headphones 6,3 mm jack, 2 x Cinch, 2 x 3,5 mm jack, Toslink (DBpro card)
Inputs Mikrofon 6,3 mm Klinke, 2 x Cinch (DBpro card), Toslink (DBpro card)
Bus Connection PCI Express 1x (with 2-slot DBpro card )