Creative’s Z-Series Flagship
Back 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
(DAC) – Main board
(ADC) – DBPro board
|Headphone Amplifier Chipset||
|Maximum DAC Resolution||
|SNR (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Wgt), @ 24-bit, 96kHz||
|Frequency Response @ 96kHz||
|Frequency Response @ 192kHz(Stereo only)||
|Supported Output||Stereo/2.1 Speakers|
|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|
|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|