Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe Sound Card Review

Posted April 8, 2013 by Sam Chen in Reviews

Creative’s Z-Series Flagship

creative-sound-blaster-zxr-pcie-sound-card-custom-pc-review-22Back in 2011, Creative unveiled the Recon 3D series of soundcards based off their (at the time) new Sound Core 3D chipset, which were decent soundcards for gaming and general audio, but didn’t include any real audio processing hardware (DACs, ADCs, etc.) other than the Sound Core 3D chipset itself. While the Sound Core 3D chipset is definitely impressive especially with its audio processing ability and lower power consumption, the problem with this is that with proper headphones and speakers, the sound quality on the Recon 3D series soundcards couldn’t match older Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcards such as the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium, X-Fi Titanium HD, and even the older Audigy 2 cards, which sported superior audio hardware when compared to the Recon 3D series. This unfortunately led many audio enthusiasts and audiophiles to dismiss the Recon 3D series, which allowed other vendors such as ASUS for example to capture a large portion of the dedicated soundcard market previously dominated by Creative.

Late last year, only a year after the introduction of the Recon 3D series of soundcards, Creative unveiled the new Sound Blaster Z series of soundcards. Unlike the Sound Blaster Recon 3D series of soundcards, the Sound Blaster Z series soundcards carried real audio hardware such as dedicated Op-Amps, ADCs, and DACs, which greatly improved sound quality in addition to the Sound Core 3D audio processing chip – something that that Sound Blaster Recon 3D failed to do.

That being said, today we’ll be reviewing the Creative Sound Blaster ZxR, which is the flagship soundcard in the Sound Blaster Z series of soundcards. Now a couple months ago, we reviewed the Sound Blaster Z, which is a fantastic soundcard that offered a good balance between sound quality and price, but it’s merely the entry level soundcard in the Sound Blaster Z. With the Sound Blaster ZxR, Creative has made a number of changes and additions to cater more specifically to the audio enthusiast/audiophile crowd, so let’s dive in!

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR Specifications

Feature Description
Digital-to-Analog Convertor
(DAC) – Main board
  • TI Burr-Brown PCM1794 (127dB DAC, 24bit / 192kHz) for Front L / R
  • TI Burr-Brown PCM1798 (123dB DAC, 24bit / 192kHz) for Rear / C / Sub
Analog-to-Digital Convertor
(ADC) – DBPro board
  • TI Burr-Brown PCM4220 (Dynamic Range 123dB)
Headphone Amplifier Chipset
  • Texas Instrument 6120A2 (120dB DAC, 80mW into 600 ohm)
Maximum DAC Resolution
  • Front Channel Out : 24-bit, 192kHz
  • Headphone (33 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz
  • Headphone (300 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz
  • Headphone (600 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz
SNR (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Wgt), @ 24-bit, 96kHz
  • Front Channel Out : ~ 124dB
  • Headphone (33 ohms): ~ 119dB
  • Headphone (300 ohms): ~ 119dB
  • Headphone (600 ohms): ~ 119dB
Frequency Response @ 96kHz
  • Front Channel Out : 10Hz to 45kHz
  • Rear Channel Out : 10Hz to 45kHz
  • Center Out : 10Hz to 45kHz
  • Headphone (33/300/600 ohms): 10Hz to 45kHz
Frequency Response @ 192kHz(Stereo only)
  • Front Channel Out : 10Hz to 88kHz
Speaker Support Description
Supported Output Stereo/2.1 Speakers
5.1 Speakers
Connectivity Description
Main Card
Headphone Out 1 x Amplified 1/4″ Stereo Jack
Speaker Out 2x RCA Out (L / R)
2x 3.5mm Out ( Rear, C/Sub)
Microphone In 1/4″ Stereo Jack
DBPro Card
Optical Out TOSLINK
Optical In TOSLINK
Line In 2x RCA In
Audio Control Module
Microphone In Built-In Beamforming Microphone
1x 3.5mm In
1x 1/4″ In
Headphone Out 1x 3.5mm Out
1x 1/4″ Out

About the Author

Sam Chen


  • Eroticus

    Worth to upgrade from Xonar D2X ?

    • Haven’t used the D2X in depth, so I can’t say for sure. Probably won’t be enough of a difference to justify the cost of a ZxR. The ASUS D2X is pretty good and it has a dedicated Burr Brown DAC already. If you want the audio processing available from Sound Core, then it could be worth the upgrade, but for pure music listening, I don’t think it’ll be worth the cost.

  • Do a review of Asus Xonar U7,if you have time