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Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe Audiophile Grade Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop... by Review Summary ,  Aug 16, 2015

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Creative Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe Audiophile Grade Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop...
Report Date: 08/16/2015
Based on 122 customer reviews
Overall satisfaction: 4.0
Returned or considering to return: 9.8%

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Frequently Mentioned by Customers:


Individual Feature Rating
Quality4.3   average
Headphone4.1   average
Sound4.0   average
Speaker4.0   below average
Audio3.8   below average
Music3.7   below average
Support3.1   average
Control2.9   below average


Quotes from the Reviews - What People Say about:

Audio

Audio:
"It's software does not work and there is no further support from creative when this product is connected directly to an audio receiver.......disappointing...."
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"I had read other users complaining of sound degredation when using the ACM (Audio Control Module) to connect their devices to and that they recommended connecting directly to the sound card."
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"I had no issues with Creative itself, but when Microsoft completely rewrote the audio stack with the debut of Windows Vista (whose audio architecture lives on in Windows 7 & 8), a big reason for having a separate audio card seemed lost, i. e. hardware accelerated audio in games."
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"Another annoying thing is the Windows audio output level controls don't work if you're doing digital Dolby Live audio out."
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"i was waiting for a kicker card i was wrong i been own all audio cards from creative this is the worst card i ever had from them, drivers have several crashes switching from DB Live to stereo direct, card just stop working, sound is not better than the SB1354 the extra DTS is terrible the sound its just wrong it switch all the speakers if you dont believe just buy the card you will return it"
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"The SBX Pro Studio Surround is not nearly as effective for positional audio."
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"They were v. expensive and as you'd expect are very good irrespective of audio card but now they are insanely excellent!"
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"Running Optical from onboard audio to this then out to a nice set of AKG K7XX and to my Klipsch 2.1."
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"HD 650'sBig Sennheiser fan and this audio card(s) is really quite good."
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"Blows away my usb sound blaster hd and sounds great with my Audio Technica M50 headphones."
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"Great to see Creative catering more to the high end audio crowd."
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Control

Control:
"creative support confirms that the optical port has no other setting then full blast yet using generic drivers and no creative software volume controls workanother piece of great hardware ruined by half assed idiot softwarewill be returning it and stick with onboardEDIT:just received a reply from creativeHiWe understand."
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"the card sounds greatthe only problem this card has is crappy softwarethere is no volume controls for the optical out (works with generic windows driverssoftware looks like it is made by a 12 year oldsoftware is buggy convoluted and badly programmedhave i mentioned there is no volume control on optical out ?"
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"The second thing I dislike is the headphone control."
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"The big thing I want to point out is that the ACM(the little volume control box) is worthless, it actually degrades the sound quality of your music over using the back outputs on the cards."
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"Unless I'm wrong about something, you have to open the sound blaster control panel from the systray (or other means), click speaker headphones and select the output from there."
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"The ACM Module is nice as well, I like the volume control while using headphones and it has both 3.5mm jacks and 1'4 jacks."
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"The software and control panel seems easy to navigate."
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"I had read other users complaining of sound degredation when using the ACM (Audio Control Module) to connect their devices to and that they recommended connecting directly to the sound card."
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"I would have given it 5-stars if not for this unexpected hassle and the fact that the SB control panel gives you fairly limited features when using a headphone connection in terms of DTS and DD."
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"They wrote it in such a way that the problem of the headphones NOT cutting the speakers, presented itself as if to say: istead of fixing it and have it work like devices have for more than 15 years...they did the software solution where you have to go to the ugliest software control panel and pick Speakers or headphones, if you pick speakers, then you have to use the old, reliable volume control on the lower right systray to do your volume OR open the clunky software control panel."
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Headphone

Headphone:
"I guess I'll try the TiHD as an upgrade from the xtremegamer, and I'll have to constantly plug and unplug my speakers till a new sound card comes out in a few years...EDIT: My extremegamer is now acting up (sound died and computer froze when launching CS 1.6, restarted and the audio device wasn't functioning, then wouldn't boot into windows till I unplugged my headphones from the card) so it could be some problem with my motherboard or case or something."
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"Listening to the speakers, I am now seeing that I'm missing the same in my headphones too."
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"They wrote it in such a way that the problem of the headphones NOT cutting the speakers, presented itself as if to say: istead of fixing it and have it work like devices have for more than 15 years...they did the software solution where you have to go to the ugliest software control panel and pick Speakers or headphones, if you pick speakers, then you have to use the old, reliable volume control on the lower right systray to do your volume OR open the clunky software control panel."
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"You'll be left disappointed because it only outputs for speaker, speaker direct, headphones, and 5.1.Toy with the settings all you want, but you won't be able to fully utilize your 2.1 system with this card."
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"The second thing I dislike is the headphone control."
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"My only real complaint, more of a gripe, is that the feature of Never unplug your headphones again is definitely there and works but why not make it more accessible?"
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"Drives 250 ohm headphones easily, without even having to use the built-in amp boost."
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"Sound quality for the speaker and headphone outs: great."
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"Other than that this a great buy if you have 600 ohm headphones, a sweet mic, and patience."
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"After installing and hooking up to my speakers and headphones I was amazed at the sound difference between the lower model Zx and the ZxR."
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"Being able to connect to both my speakers and headphones through the ACM is awesome to."
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Microphone

Microphone:
"And after a year and half of owning this card, I can say that the beam-forming Mic is just not good."
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"I haven't tried out the mic jack since I do not play to many multiplayer games, but now it's good to know I have a well built mic instead of having to use my crappy Xbox 360 headset mic."
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"Other than that this a great buy if you have 600 ohm headphones, a sweet mic, and patience."
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"Mic is very robust."
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"I wish I had the choice to pick the Z's mic, as the placement of it on top of the monitor is superior."
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"FIXED the problem, re-installed the card and what I was expecting to be an amazing AMC (their desktop adapter that conatains a mic (which i have no use for) and a headphone jack AND a nice BIG volume knob."
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"I haven't tried out the mic jack since I do not play to many multiplayer games, but now it's good to know I have a well built mic instead of having to use my crappy Xbox 360 headset mic."
_

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Music

Music:
"The sound is fantastic, but I get a weird click sound randomly when I'm playing music."
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"Unfortunately once I played some music to test my new setup, what I heard shocked me."
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"On older Creative cards this feature seems to only affect sharp percussive sounds, unfortunately making some music sound harsh, worse on a good pair of headphones."
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"The big thing I want to point out is that the ACM(the little volume control box) is worthless, it actually degrades the sound quality of your music over using the back outputs on the cards."
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"Basically, pair this thing with some good speakers (I went for Audioengine, pricey, but if you love music, worth every penny) and you will hear things in your music that you've never heard before."
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"I work a lot at home and wanted the best music quality possible, and this thing delivers."
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"Actually using the Optical port does not allow the use of the EQ to work anyways, no biggie since it sounds so perfect already for all types of music."
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"Good quality sound for music and movies."
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"After a night of listening to music and calling friends on Skype I have no regrets on buying this card other than cost and concern related to the reliability of the hard ware over the long haul after noting several other reviews on reliability."
_

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Quality

Quality:
"It can be set to not pickup loud noise (in mumble with voice activity - amplitude) from a keyboard (cherry brown) that is right next to it, but everyone tells me the quality is horrible."
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"No more BSOD.- Surround sound feature in Speakers Headphone mode sounds surprisingly better than CMSS-3D with less of a negative impact on sound quality."
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"The big thing I want to point out is that the ACM(the little volume control box) is worthless, it actually degrades the sound quality of your music over using the back outputs on the cards."
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"Sound quality for the speaker and headphone outs: great."
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"I work a lot at home and wanted the best music quality possible, and this thing delivers."
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"So basically if want really want to hear a difference in sound quality, this is your best choice....it is well worth spending the extra money over the Soundblaster Zx and the latest Asus Xonar Essence card."
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"The sound quality is definitely audiophile quality and the inputs and outputs are great for almost any setup you choose."
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"MAKE SURE YOU USE HIGH QUALITY CABLES TO CONNECT YOUR SPEAKERS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SUPERIOR SOUND."
_

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Sound

Sound:
"The sound is fantastic, but I get a weird click sound randomly when I'm playing music."
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"No distortions, very clear sound and deep bass."
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"The sound card currently using windows 7 x64 doesn't have issues, although I heard the problem are with windows 8-8.1 UEFI that the sound does not detected sometimes after reboot."
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"The problem is, I can't move the sound card to any other spot and the metal shield has large openings so there is still plenty of room for EMI to seep through and cause that noise."
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"You can read my other review on the Sound Blaster Z and see that I was pretty disappointed with it."
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"Speakers are there on my desk and I think the sound is coming from them but if you couldn't see them you'd swear its the best stereo you've heard from such a small system."
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"Don't really notice an FPS difference in games, except for Blizzard games - I'm now able to max sound channels without encountering micro-stuttering in WoW and soft-hangs in Diablo 3."
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"Sound quality for the speaker and headphone outs: great."
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"Sounds great matched with Logitech Z906 speakers."
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"I heard great things about this sound card, and it really was great!"
_

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Speaker

Speaker:
"Listening to the speakers, I am now seeing that I'm missing the same in my headphones too."
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"As it is, it's very easy to mistake the line out for the speaker out."
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"They wrote it in such a way that the problem of the headphones NOT cutting the speakers, presented itself as if to say: istead of fixing it and have it work like devices have for more than 15 years...they did the software solution where you have to go to the ugliest software control panel and pick Speakers or headphones, if you pick speakers, then you have to use the old, reliable volume control on the lower right systray to do your volume OR open the clunky software control panel."
_
"You'll be left disappointed because it only outputs for speaker, speaker direct, headphones, and 5.1.Toy with the settings all you want, but you won't be able to fully utilize your 2.1 system with this card."
_
"i was waiting for a kicker card i was wrong i been own all audio cards from creative this is the worst card i ever had from them, drivers have several crashes switching from DB Live to stereo direct, card just stop working, sound is not better than the SB1354 the extra DTS is terrible the sound its just wrong it switch all the speakers if you dont believe just buy the card you will return it"
_
"Sound quality for the speaker and headphone outs: great."
_
"Sounds great matched with Logitech Z906 speakers."
_
"Basically, pair this thing with some good speakers (I went for Audioengine, pricey, but if you love music, worth every penny) and you will hear things in your music that you've never heard before."
_
"After installing and hooking up to my speakers and headphones I was amazed at the sound difference between the lower model Zx and the ZxR."
_
"I found it best for my speakers to run without using the equalizer - much cleaner and no distortion to the sound at all."
_

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Support

Support:
"Creative support's reply was:It is possible for the sound card to go dead if there is a driver conflict between the game and the sound card."
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"It's software does not work and there is no further support from creative when this product is connected directly to an audio receiver.......disappointing...."
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"I would have given 5 stars if not for the creative software unable to support when i connect it via optical to my onkyo receiver."
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"But the lack of support and others have the exact same issue is a major negative for a $250.00 card targeted at games, who will have higher end mobo's possibly without x1 PCIe slots."
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"Maybe my opinion of the card will change if when I can get support and the problem resolved, but as of right now it's one step above a paperweight."
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":)It was explained to me via creative customer support, that in Stereo Direct mode, there is 0 processing being done by the sound card itself, therefore, any issue of distortion or static is coming from elsewhere."
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"No support or warranty available from Creative."
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"Creative support's reply was:It is possible for the sound card to go dead if there is a driver conflict between the game and the sound card."
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"I've tried the message boards and others are having the same issue ([...] I've tried submitting a support request but the page on Creative's site gives a 500 error."
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"The Xonar has very little support from Asus these days, especially when it comes to Windows 8 where they don't even support protected mode audio (meaning anything DRM from the Netflix Windows 8 app to Xbox Music will not play); Sound Blaster supports protected mode perfectly which is a welcome relief to me!"
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Volume

Volume:
"Although I'm glad you can always get sufficient volume, it's still too loud at 1 sometimes so it's not well matched balanced in that regard and thus yet another annoyance."
_
"creative support confirms that the optical port has no other setting then full blast yet using generic drivers and no creative software volume controls workanother piece of great hardware ruined by half assed idiot softwarewill be returning it and stick with onboardEDIT:just received a reply from creativeHiWe understand."
_
"the card sounds greatthe only problem this card has is crappy softwarethere is no volume controls for the optical out (works with generic windows driverssoftware looks like it is made by a 12 year oldsoftware is buggy convoluted and badly programmedhave i mentioned there is no volume control on optical out ?"
_
"- ASIO still supportedCons:- Speakers Headphone mode not saved in profiles- Volume Knob is less useful at lower volume levels* I notice a bit of sound compression at volume levels higher than 70%, dropping it down to 50% solved the problem."
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"The big thing I want to point out is that the ACM(the little volume control box) is worthless, it actually degrades the sound quality of your music over using the back outputs on the cards."
_
"The ACM Module is nice as well, I like the volume control while using headphones and it has both 3.5mm jacks and 1'4 jacks."
_
"Here's what I came up with to suit my listening preferences (Sennheiser HD 598s):Keep SBX Pro Studio OnUncheck the Surround modification (discovered source of my fatigue)Leave the Crystalizer on (apparently it's good for compressed audio--mp3, ogg, aac, many games--which I use most often)Uncheck the Bass enhancement (I preferred it off, and the low-end no longer distorts)Turn on the Smart Volume function (I have mine set to Night for the best clarity at the low volumes I listen at)Leave Dialog Plus off (with my headphones, dialog belongs where it was mixed!"
_
"FIXED the problem, re-installed the card and what I was expecting to be an amazing AMC (their desktop adapter that conatains a mic (which i have no use for) and a headphone jack AND a nice BIG volume knob."
_
"They wrote it in such a way that the problem of the headphones NOT cutting the speakers, presented itself as if to say: istead of fixing it and have it work like devices have for more than 15 years...they did the software solution where you have to go to the ugliest software control panel and pick Speakers or headphones, if you pick speakers, then you have to use the old, reliable volume control on the lower right systray to do your volume OR open the clunky software control panel."
_

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Windows

Windows:
"Unlike my previous Creative Labs experience (SB16, SB64, Audigy, Audigy 2), I had no driver issues with this card in Windows 7 or 10.Breakout module: pretty crappy."
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"The sound card currently using windows 7 x64 doesn't have issues, although I heard the problem are with windows 8-8.1 UEFI that the sound does not detected sometimes after reboot."
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"I guess I'll try the TiHD as an upgrade from the xtremegamer, and I'll have to constantly plug and unplug my speakers till a new sound card comes out in a few years...EDIT: My extremegamer is now acting up (sound died and computer froze when launching CS 1.6, restarted and the audio device wasn't functioning, then wouldn't boot into windows till I unplugged my headphones from the card) so it could be some problem with my motherboard or case or something."
_
"Another annoying thing is the Windows audio output level controls don't work if you're doing digital Dolby Live audio out."
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"Unlike my previous Creative Labs experience (SB16, SB64, Audigy, Audigy 2), I had no driver issues with this card in Windows 7 or 10.Breakout module: pretty crappy."
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"I had no problems installing it on my windows 8.1 PC running an I7 4790."
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"Better sound quality,much improved drivers and software suite Creative got this one right,but, its still creative labs, and they are still slow on the driver side, at least the drivers are windows 8.1 certified,arent many major issues, and creative is about ready to release a whoke new driver and software suite."
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"Installed perfectly on Windows 7."
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"Pros: (comparing to Titanium HD)- Analog 5.1 Speakers connection- Very robust drivers software, better layout, opens up instantly, never crashed (in Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit).- Able to switch between speakers and headphones through software- You can make custom profiles for several speakers headphones."
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