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Creative Sound Blaster Zx PCIe Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop Audio Control... by Review Summary ,  Aug 21, 2015

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Creative Sound Blaster Zx PCIe Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop Audio Control...
Report Date: 01/03/2016
Based on 740 customer reviews
Overall satisfaction: 4.3
Returned or considering to return: 2.7%

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Frequently Mentioned by Customers:


Individual Feature Rating
Performance5.0   above average
Cable4.7   exceptional
Music4.6   above average
Setup4.6   average
Plug4.4   above average
Price4.4   average
Quality4.4   average
Video4.4   average
Control4.3   above average
Design4.3   average
Gaming4.3   average
Headphone4.3   average
Sound4.3   average
Speaker4.1   average
Audio4.0   average
Listening3.9   below average
Headset3.8   average
Microphone3.8   average
Motherboard3.8   above average
Windows3.8   above average
Noise3.6   below average
Setting3.6   below average
Connector3.5   average
Loud3.5   below average
Light3.1   mediocre


Quotes from the Reviews - What People Say about:

Audio

Audio:
"At a bare minimum, it is noticeably better than the terrible onboard audio I have, both through regular speakers (old creative 5.1s) and my headphones (HD 280s)."
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"if you're using optical to a receiver like i am and disappointed with the onboard audio this card will give you a slight improvement in SQ, add a lot of flexibility and generally improve your audio experience."
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"However the card just stops outputting sound within an hour of listening to music or watching a video and if I do have sound there's a lot of clipping and hiccups in the audio (the manual has a solution but it's useless for anything newer than Windows XP)."
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"I was even more disappointed that they don't even make a card with the Audio Drive anymore."
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"I thought my headphones were broken until I switched to onboard audio and everything sounded fine."
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"I didn't get to enjoy any of the positional audio stuff which is kind of the point in buying a card like this though."
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"It's louder, sounds are clearer and crisper (on-board audio sounds muddy after moving to the Z), and frankly just a nice upgrade for those who appreciate high quality sound in games as well as music."
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"With a good pair of headphones, there is a world of difference between a good dedicated card and even the best integrated motherboard audio."
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"Additionally, the audio output from the card never sounded better or even as good as the onboard mobo audio."
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"I haven't noticed any degraded audio or flimsy knob construction."
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"I was running on board audio (creative powered) on my MSI mobo and this card makes a night and day difference!"
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Cable

Cable:
"The only negative I have about this card is the cable for the ACM (Audio Control Module) isn't as long as I would have liked."
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"I immediately hooked this into my home audio receiver via an optical cable and was amazed at the difference in sound that this card offered my compared to the motherboard."
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"i had problems with ground loop buzz hum with another regular amp and bought this card and that reciever and run an optical cable between them and the sound quality is crystal clear and no more buzz hum."
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"which was very short for my setup and I ended up having to use extension cables (if you need extensions as well, I would suggest the extensions have gold caps on the 3.5mm ends)."
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"You can in most cases buy a Digitial-to-Analog Converter (DAC) and use an optical cable to get great sound."
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"Bright red and my system is blue : now i got dat spiderman feel goin on :P awesome card and the mic was very impressive only flaw is i wish the mic had a more sturdy cord."
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Connection

Connection:
"I like the soundcard, but as some have mentioned the additional connections to the separate control module degrade the signal to some degree."
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"The only major drawback I encountered is the insanely slow download speed of the latest drivers, it took almost 4 hours (I have a 100 Mbps connection) But that is a common problem with Creative."
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"People on the receiving end of my connection were always getting a real annoying echo and it seemed the What U Hear option was always active even though I deactivated it as whatever I transmitted through the mic could be heard on my speakers."
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"The SW is very confusing, and they can't even bother to label the ports correctly in the installation guide, resulting in several people connecting their cards incorrectly."
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"Once I put this card in, first thing I noticed+ absolutely no noise regardless how loud I turn up the volume, before the hissing noise is very noticable+ sound quality is so much better, I can definitely hear the improvement, it is not placebo+ Head phone jack with amplifier sounded very good through by BOSE quiet comfort 25, even with noise cancelling off, I would imagine it be even better with studio headphones+red LED is pretty cool as the case had side vent holes and I don't have any color led fans, this glow is perfect.+software is easy to install, no issues+front panel connection worked well, I just unpluged HD audio plug from mother board and connected to sound card."
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"I've also read some reviews of how the volume unit diminishes the quality of the sound as well, as is likely to happen anytime you have to go through more connections, so unless you truly need it ... don't bother."
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"I have a Korg M3 Keyboard connected to it, just as I did my X-Fi, which seemed to work great."
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"Connections are solid, sound quality is very clear."
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"Works good, the interface sucks, especially when connecting another computer via optical, you can not control the volume independently like I could with my Emu 0404, if I could find a sound card that allowed me to control each connection independently I would buy, this was as close as I could get but it falls short."
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Connector

Connector:
"phone jack got problem"
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"The images are hard to make out and there's only numbers making it hard to tell which channels are plugged into which jack."
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"First one shipped DOA seems to have some firmware errors would not recommend for gaming headsets 3.5m jacks always go on the fritz."
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"One nice feature is that you can leave the headphones plugged in and switch between them and speaker through the SW so you aren't having to plug unplug cords which could degrade the connector over time."
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"Once I put this card in, first thing I noticed+ absolutely no noise regardless how loud I turn up the volume, before the hissing noise is very noticable+ sound quality is so much better, I can definitely hear the improvement, it is not placebo+ Head phone jack with amplifier sounded very good through by BOSE quiet comfort 25, even with noise cancelling off, I would imagine it be even better with studio headphones+red LED is pretty cool as the case had side vent holes and I don't have any color led fans, this glow is perfect.+software is easy to install, no issues+front panel connection worked well, I just unpluged HD audio plug from mother board and connected to sound card."
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"But one of the many things this baby has that i love is the dedicated 600 Ohm headphone jack amp."
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"The desk mic volume knob headphone jack is a great addition."
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"However, I've recently stopped using the ACM and have put my headphones straight into the audio jack in the card and the sound is terrific."
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"It has a great microphone built in and you can use a 3.5mm headphone jack and the 1 4 headphone jack."
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Control

Control:
"I like the soundcard, but as some have mentioned the additional connections to the separate control module degrade the signal to some degree."
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"Good sound card my only complain is that the control module is bugged some how."
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"Overall sound quality is disappointing, particularly from the desktop Audio Control Module, and not worth the price."
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"Some have complained about the sound quality coming out of the control puck, but that seems very nitpicky."
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"And I wish I could rank it with 5 stars if it has a remote control , I missed it since USB SB Audigy 2 NX gone to history"
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"The only negative I have about this card is the cable for the ACM (Audio Control Module) isn't as long as I would have liked."
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"the module is great, beamforming microphone and volume control."
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"I loved the look of this card, the glowing red light which lit of my case, and the loved the control module for easy access to my headphones."
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"I had to disable some of the features in the control center to get it to play well, even though the sound quality drops when this is done."
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"SOFTWARE: The sofware control is very easy and intuitive to use, which is good as the default setting is rather harsh for music, you can adjust sound levels and it also comes with presettings that are actually fairly useful, you can of course make and save your own settings."
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"Absolutely love the SoundBlaster Control Panel, lots of functions to change around for various genres of music and movies."
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Design

Design:
"Unlike the Creative sound cards that came before it, the Z was designed to over come the aforementioned challenges."
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"To be fair I didn't contact Creative to see if there was a fix or I did something wrong, They have a card designed for music creation, but I found another brand that that's more compatible with Sonar (M-Audio Audiophile e192), Even though it has some shortcomings, I wanted to try a different brand - and save some money."
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"Windows has been around long enough that by now you should be able to design a sound card that works!"
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"Decent soundcard with some baffling design choices."
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"Hardware:The soundcard itself has a very sleek design, and definitely helps accent in any red colored computer build; when powered on, it emits a red light that is bright enough to be noticeable, but isn't too intrusive."
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"I'll discuss the good stuff first:The software design isn't really hard to navigate; everything is sectioned off properly, and there are definitely quite a few features involved."
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"It has good sound but it has some really stupid design limitations."
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Gaming

Gaming:
"When online gaming with others- my team members would complain about the odd noises my mic made in TeamSpeak."
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"Mainly because the drivers and software of the former were not gaming friendly."
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"Whenever my GPU is under heavy load my microphone and speakers pick up a very high level of interference, to the point where I am unable to use the microphone while gaming and can clearly hear the noise in my speakers."
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"First one shipped DOA seems to have some firmware errors would not recommend for gaming headsets 3.5m jacks always go on the fritz."
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"However, the problem was gaming."
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"I am tweaking it day by day trying to improve the sound for overall movies, gaming & music but I probably won't go back to creative in the future."
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"It's a good card for stereo headset 5.1 Gaming but if your looking for 7.1 this is not the card you want"
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"Strongly recommend for gaming and also movie and music ! "
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"I have one of these cards in my other computer I use for gaming love the sound and software"
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"I will most definitely recommend this card for just about any gaming rig."
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"While gaming, especially in FPSs, it's much easier to pinpoint sounds."
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Headphone

Headphone:
"i even checked on another computer to see if it was my headphones and it wasnt the problem."
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"It was so sudden, I threw my headphones off and quickly unplugged them before any damage was done to my headphone speaker drivers."
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"Other reviews had complained about this, but I only saw that issue AFTER the install...my poor headphones...my poor ears...The Good:Anyway, I fiddled with the options (SBX, EQ, etc)."
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"I have to agree with Povell42's assertion that the module degrades the quality of the output in headphones."
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"I thought my headphones were broken until I switched to onboard audio and everything sounded fine."
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"With a good pair of headphones, there is a world of difference between a good dedicated card and even the best integrated motherboard audio."
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"As others have noted, this is a great card for those with headphones as well as home theater setups since a 600 headphone amp port is built-in, and can be plugged in separately from your full speaker equipment."
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"always content thinking getting good headphones does the trick."
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"At a bare minimum, it is noticeably better than the terrible onboard audio I have, both through regular speakers (old creative 5.1s) and my headphones (HD 280s)."
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Headset

Headset:
"The quality of the Prismatic is great and the features are cool but I still felt like there was something missing and I was actually about to return the headset."
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"The microphone isn't good at all and when using a decent headset expect to have to use some form of mic boost and noise reduction."
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"I used to amp my headset through my receiver, but that meant that when listening to speakers, I would hear the annoying buzz of my headset nearby unless I unplugged it.3) Amplified headphone output."
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"First one shipped DOA seems to have some firmware errors would not recommend for gaming headsets 3.5m jacks always go on the fritz."
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"I just found it made installing my surround headset a little annoying."
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"Sounds great, I just can't find a nice gaming 5.1 headset to pair it with."
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"The sound of my music, and movies is spectacular over both my 2.1 speaker setup and the Prismatic headset."
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"Then I purchased an Afterglow Prismatic headset from my local Best Buy since my 16 month old son destroyed my Sentey Bluetooth headphones I had recently purchased here on Amazon."
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"It's a good card for stereo headset 5.1 Gaming but if your looking for 7.1 this is not the card you want"
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"When I connect my headset to them it strips the bass from them but other then that there good"
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"The headset was a pretty good improvement even with the X-Fi."
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Level

Level:
"The card comes with the Bass settings cranked up to absurd levels - it's so bad that at first I thought the card was defective."
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"Some of the surround is a bit more crisp, and the headphone amp is powerful and blows my headphones into a new level of loud, but if you have a Recon 3D, I wouldn't recommend upgrading if you are a gamer."
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"Whenever my GPU is under heavy load my microphone and speakers pick up a very high level of interference, to the point where I am unable to use the microphone while gaming and can clearly hear the noise in my speakers."
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"Smart Volume Management (which has always been one of my fav features of recent soundblaster cards) is not only present, but well upgraded, allowing you to set the levels with a slider."
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"But this is my summary of this card: for the price its missing key features and driver level options that should be in it."
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"Good controls on speaker levels and software switching between headphones and 6 channel output."
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"The highs sound great while the lows are being produced at level I have never heard with my old Audigy 2."
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"I've been sitting here listening to music for hours and I simply cannot get the same level of enjoyment out of this card compared to the DX."
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"I downloaded the control panel for this card and the GUI helps you adjust the sound levels pretty well."
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"Speaking of this panel, make sure that you do a sound level test of your PC speakers, I have it on 30% and it's pretty loud and free of distortions."
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Light

Light:
"The only downside for me, red lights is a little bit too shining."
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"The bright red LED light on this thing might be a problem for anyone with case windows and lighting."
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"On top of functioning poorly, the card itself has a red light built in which is bright enough to be annoying through the vents on my PC when I'm watching video in a dark room."
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"The light seems inappropriate and started to annoy me after a few times staring at the red light illuminating my case clashing with my Corsair white case fan lights."
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"I want to turn the red light off its pretty annoying."
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"One negative thing about it is the glowing red LED light, my custom PC simply doesn't go with red color anything, hopefully it would be great if a firmware is released where I could turn it off through the interface or something."
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"the card was easy to install, yes the red light is really bright but i turned off all my blue led's and i like my case with red so i changed all my led's to red haha."
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"Very nice, sounds great, and I like the red lights :)"
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"really sounds good It lights up red so if your into lighting your case it might not match your other lights"
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"it also has a very bright RED LED light on it that comes on with your system that looks nice with my blue and red LED fans."
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"I want to turn the red light off its pretty annoying."
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Listening

Listening:
"Not an audiophile, but enjoy listening to my CDs while working on the computer."
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"I used to amp my headset through my receiver, but that meant that when listening to speakers, I would hear the annoying buzz of my headset nearby unless I unplugged it.3) Amplified headphone output."
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"There was nothing on the market equivalent to this program and when the drivers weren't compatible with Windows 7, it was miserable listening to Windows Player without it."
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"Since I have bought the card, I've had regrets due to the irregular listening experiences through it."
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"You ' ll enjoy so much when the listening music , watching film , playing games."
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"On the other hand, if you're an audiophile who enjoys sitting around listening to music with high-end headphones, then the Xonar Essence ST or STX may be a better (albeit more pricey) option."
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"At first when I was listening to some music I was amazed at how much fuller my speakers sounded (logitech z5500 with Bose satellites) and how much tighter the bass was."
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"This is a great sound card after adjusting to listening preference."
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"UPDATED 12 28 2013:There is one flaw, after a bit of an extended listening session - Like all previous Creative products I've used over the past 25 or so years, this too suffers from noticeable breathing."
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Loud

Loud:
"It's loud enough that I'm afraid it will damage the speakers."
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"No problems here, as you can hear everything loud and clear, but you won't be able to use one of the microphone ports as well."
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"Some of the surround is a bit more crisp, and the headphone amp is powerful and blows my headphones into a new level of loud, but if you have a Recon 3D, I wouldn't recommend upgrading if you are a gamer."
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"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."
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"Any setting louder than that, was painfully loud.4) Using headphone output to power separate set of amp and speakers also did not work, because i had to totally change equalizer setting each time i would switch between those two outputs, and that is more hassle than its worth.5) all the sound issues I described so far are well before you start playing with digital sound enhancement that is built in."
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"It gets really loud around 50%, and comfortable around 35."
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"New dell had respectable award winning high def Realtek audio, but it didn't sound anywhere near as good or loud as my old computer playing through the same speakers."
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"Put the Z in, cranked it up and things were literally falling off the shelves, audio is clear and loud, far clearer and louder than realtek.$$ well spent, not often I get that feeling from a computer upgrade."
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"The sound is loud and crystal clear, this is a great quality product i must say, also the mic works as advertised it worked like a charm since the moment i connected to my pc, and now my games and music sound like a theater (i only have a creative 7.1 speaker system but it sounds much better now)."
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"Also to note the headphone jack is powered by a 600 ohm amp, which if using high ohm headphones is great, the downside of using most other headphones that are below 100 ohm is that you only need to turn the PC volume up to 30 100 and it will be reasonable loud making it slightly more difficult to tweek the volume."
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Microphone

Microphone:
"The software is lacking in many areas and the built-in microphone is disappointing."
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"The mic isn't great, but it does the job well."
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"Tip: Don't turn on noise reduction in the SBZ control panel if you're going to use the mic with voice recognition software, it won't be able to comprehend your voice."
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"No problems here, as you can hear everything loud and clear, but you won't be able to use one of the microphone ports as well."
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"The microphone isn't good at all and when using a decent headset expect to have to use some form of mic boost and noise reduction."
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"When online gaming with others- my team members would complain about the odd noises my mic made in TeamSpeak."
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"Very nice sound card has a amazing mic."
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"the module is great, beamforming microphone and volume control."
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"No faulty product, amazing quality, including the beam-forming mic inside the module."
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"Beamforming mic also works very well."
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"The software is intuitive and the desk mic has really great speech capture."
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Motherboard

Motherboard:
"for the price definately worth it.. i thought most higher end motherboard onboard soundcard would be good enough but i was wrong."
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"I purchased this because of problems with my motherboard's on-board audio."
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"Ever since I plugged this into my motherboard, I have had nothing but problems."
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"Sound is much better than what I was getting with my motherboard's integrated sound (Asus P8Z77-M).Unfortunately, I also have Linux on this machine and so far I haven't found working 64-bit Linux drivers for this sound card."
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"The specs make this card seem spectacular but in reality it was hardly a noticeable upgrade from my cheap nasty motherboard sound even with my sony studio recording headphones."
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"It is crazy how much more detail can be heard now and better the experience is (using the Corsair SP2500 2.1).If you are using on-board audio from your motherboard you are definitely missing out."
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"With a good pair of headphones, there is a world of difference between a good dedicated card and even the best integrated motherboard audio."
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"I have an Asus Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard with decent onboard ROG sound."
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"I was told that motherboard onboard audio is as good as a soundcard audio..... Oh boy were they misleading."
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"But at this point I don't know if it's a Microsoft issue, a Windows 10 issue, a Motherboard issue, a Logitech issue, or Creative's drivers or card are failing."
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"I had gotten used to onboard audio, as my old audio card died some time back and it was easier just to connect the motherboard audio rather than get a new card."
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Music

Music:
"Not only is it spectacular with games, but you can hear a clear difference with music too! "
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"In my opinion, the ZxR is absolute garbage - it tries too hard to imitate the Asus Xonar Essence ST (which I also own) and falls flat - not as good for music as the ST, and not that great in 3-D games either."
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"Switching the Bass Boost off fixes that problem and makes music and sound much more natural and clear."
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"I am tweaking it day by day trying to improve the sound for overall movies, gaming & music but I probably won't go back to creative in the future."
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"If you sick crappy sound, you have to have this to hear what music sounds like."
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"I'm coming from an HT Omega Claro Halo soundcard, and while this card may not be quite as good for accuracy and music, it does really well for gaming."
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"It's louder, sounds are clearer and crisper (on-board audio sounds muddy after moving to the Z), and frankly just a nice upgrade for those who appreciate high quality sound in games as well as music."
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"The sound of my music, and movies is spectacular over both my 2.1 speaker setup and the Prismatic headset."
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"Strongly recommend for gaming and also movie and music ! "
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"Makes footsteps easier to hear and my music sounds amazing."
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"Primarily wanted this for Counter Strike and Music and it works well for both."
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Noise

Noise:
"The card worked, but it had an annoying repetitive clicking noise while Windows was loading, and it was stuck in Gamer mode - every time I would change modes, the sound drivers would crash any time it tried to play digital audio, and then I'd get no sound until I reinstalled the drivers."
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"When online gaming with others- my team members would complain about the odd noises my mic made in TeamSpeak."
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"The noise cancellation is not as great as my old pair of Razer Kraken 7.1 which did an amazing job at noise cancellation."
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"so if you have the cracking noise problem, install the old drivers and it will solve the problem..this a rare issue but it is known to happen across forums."
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"Even then, the volume fluctuates, and or I get wierd, erratic noises."
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"I had to make so many changes to avoid the cracking noise, but when it's not there the sound it's amazing."
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"Once I put this card in, first thing I noticed+ absolutely no noise regardless how loud I turn up the volume, before the hissing noise is very noticable+ sound quality is so much better, I can definitely hear the improvement, it is not placebo+ Head phone jack with amplifier sounded very good through by BOSE quiet comfort 25, even with noise cancelling off, I would imagine it be even better with studio headphones+red LED is pretty cool as the case had side vent holes and I don't have any color led fans, this glow is perfect.+software is easy to install, no issues+front panel connection worked well, I just unpluged HD audio plug from mother board and connected to sound card."
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"Beautiful, beautiful noises now come out of my desktop."
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"I used to have an issue where voice communications would be problematic because of all the fans and noise in my room however this soundcard and it's accompany software has a way to reduce noise in the room which makes it significantly easier for me to use mumble."
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"The music sound quality, watching movies and gaming sound were all good, but the dying cat noise as several team mates described it was a deal-breaker."
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"This sound card eliminates that white noise completely and allows you to get crystal clear audio from both headphones and speakers (while allowing both to be plugged in at the same time).My only real gripe with it is the software is a bit confusing and could definitely be more streamlined, but other than that I highly recommend this sound card."
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Performance

Performance:
"I have been satisfied with the performance of this sound card."
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"Performance wise though this card is absolutely amazing would but it again in a heartbeat."
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"My gripes with the card aren't really hardware or performance related, so I'll only knock off a star for all of the following:- Creative must host its driver downloads on a dial-up connection."
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"Best price per performance out there and the the desktop volume dial is fantastic."
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"Over all I'm happy with the performance."
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Plug

Plug:
"To get around the amp problem you could plug into the Line out but you will not get the headphone surround effect."
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"One nice feature is that you can leave the headphones plugged in and switch between them and speaker through the SW so you aren't having to plug unplug cords which could degrade the connector over time."
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"Once I put this card in, first thing I noticed+ absolutely no noise regardless how loud I turn up the volume, before the hissing noise is very noticable+ sound quality is so much better, I can definitely hear the improvement, it is not placebo+ Head phone jack with amplifier sounded very good through by BOSE quiet comfort 25, even with noise cancelling off, I would imagine it be even better with studio headphones+red LED is pretty cool as the case had side vent holes and I don't have any color led fans, this glow is perfect.+software is easy to install, no issues+front panel connection worked well, I just unpluged HD audio plug from mother board and connected to sound card."
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"Plug and play.. Works great.. No problems."
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"Great sound in Windows 10, head phone amp is nice you just have to plug directly into the sound card to benefit from it."
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"My headphones sound good when I plug them directly into the back port, but it's absolute garbage when plugged into the external unit (which is now a paper weight)."
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"Edit:It sounds great and works just fine if I only plug in two monitors."
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Price

Price:
"This is worth it at the price when so much junk is coming out of China these days; my apologies, you can't go wrong with this one."
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"The microphone is a nice addition, but even without this is great sound card for the price."
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"Plug and play, sounds are amazing utilizing 5.1 speaker setupGreat price and can't go wrong with Creative"
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"One minor gripe is that you can't switch between headphone and speaker mode while running a game, but other than that i can't find much to complain about for how inexpensive this card was."
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"The specs make this card seem spectacular but in reality it was hardly a noticeable upgrade from my cheap nasty motherboard sound even with my sony studio recording headphones."
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"But this is my summary of this card: for the price its missing key features and driver level options that should be in it."
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"Price Good"
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"It's well worth the money."
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"This card produces excellent sound quality for the price, with crisp highs and deep lows."
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"For the price, a good graphics card."
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"Great price during Amazon's Prime day."
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Quality

Quality:
"i tested youtube and was like yeah i can tell a difference in quality thats not amazing but good (plus you are restricted on the quality of the website video)."
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"I had no idea how much sound quality I was missing out on until I purchased this card."
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"My advice go buy a quality amp or dac and save yourself from the hassle of dealing with driver problems."
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"Good sound card for replace the motherboard sound card, it doesn't matter if you are audiophile or not you can really appreciate the sound quality also it's cheaper but the only thing you have to consider is this card isn't supported anymore"
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"I have to agree with Povell42's assertion that the module degrades the quality of the output in headphones."
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"It's louder, sounds are clearer and crisper (on-board audio sounds muddy after moving to the Z), and frankly just a nice upgrade for those who appreciate high quality sound in games as well as music."
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"The quality of the Prismatic is great and the features are cool but I still felt like there was something missing and I was actually about to return the headset."
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"Easy to install, Easy to load and upgrade software and unbelievable sound quality."
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"Some kind of external setup would probably give better quality, but I just needed 'good enough' and would rather not add even more cables and boxes to the mess behind my desk."
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"Great quality sound card."
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Setting

Setting:
"- Also when you use the cinematic modes, it dedicates the optical output to processing these modes...which means that you have to make the rather counter-intuitive step of setting your default sound device to Speakers under the Sound settings in Windows."
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"The card comes with the Bass settings cranked up to absurd levels - it's so bad that at first I thought the card was defective."
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"Ok, there's one downside... the Sound Blaster Z's default volume settings are loud... as in LOUD!"
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"However, setting it up was a little confusing and they don't tell you everything in the paperwork."
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"Default settings are not good as too much base but simple to change."
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"Once you disable all of the horrible default settings the sound was only slightly more vibrant then my onboard motherboard sound."
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"Had no issues with drivers on windows 10, played around with the settings everything is easy to use had no complains there."
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"Needed a better system than the stock board one..this is FAR more adjustable and custom settings are BONUS , easy to install, just plug it into the board, fasten screws, dl drivers from Creative and away we go...make sure your speakers are rated 5.1 or better as ..you are wasting $$ buying this if you don't have the speakers or cans to benefit from it."
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"SOFTWARE: The sofware control is very easy and intuitive to use, which is good as the default setting is rather harsh for music, you can adjust sound levels and it also comes with presettings that are actually fairly useful, you can of course make and save your own settings."
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"Anyone who is familiar with the older Sound Blaster cards' software (particularly, the audio creation mode sub-set of settings) will find that they are much beyond what Creative has here with CrystalVoice."
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"Cinematic settings are available for those who to make use of Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect, and there are straightforward settings for the Mixer for all of your inputs and outputs, as well as a standard-use Equalizer."
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Setup

Setup:
"This is incovienient for me, where I might be playing on the Xbox, but also want to talk to friends on the computer via VoIP (such as Teamspeak or Mumble); I simply wouldn't be able to do this with this particular setup."
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"The sound quality and clarity is ridiculous especially when going back to the old setup for fun and seeing how big of a difference there is."
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"As others have noted, this is a great card for those with headphones as well as home theater setups since a 600 headphone amp port is built-in, and can be plugged in separately from your full speaker equipment."
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"The sound of my music, and movies is spectacular over both my 2.1 speaker setup and the Prismatic headset."
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"The card sports enough back ports for a 5.1 surround setup, as well as a microphone port and an amplified headphone port (all are standard 3.5mm ports as most would expect), along with digital-in and digital-out ports."
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"That coupled with the full control of my audio system (Logitech Z906) which has NO control options whatsoever, I was able to produce some really amazing audio through this setup."
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"This card is great for gaming, playing music or as part of a home theater setup and is well made and is very reliable."
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Sound

Sound:
"Creative, the manufacturer of the Sound Blaster Z, is known for their terrible drives, and they have not disappointed!"
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"This sound card made a world of difference,I have a dell vostro i7 from 2011, I always can hear noise from audio system when plugged into the motherboard, and I always thought it is the speakers, and sound is always mediocre, with really washed out highs and not very good sounding lows from logitech z2300, speakers replaced with Pioneer Andrew Jones book shelf."
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"The card is able to tune up my mp3s to a 5.1 surround signal, without making the surround sound forced or awkward (my MB wasn't quite good at this part)."
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"The onboard sound card was hard to hear at 100%."
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"Amazing soundcard.... Dont listen to people who say onboard sound sounds as good as a separate soundcard because they are DEAD WRONG! "
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"It's louder, sounds are clearer and crisper (on-board audio sounds muddy after moving to the Z), and frankly just a nice upgrade for those who appreciate high quality sound in games as well as music."
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"So far so good with this sound card."
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"This is a very nice sound card and I suggest picking one up."
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"Very nice sound card has a amazing mic."
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Speaker

Speaker:
"It's loud enough that I'm afraid it will damage the speakers."
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"At a bare minimum, it is noticeably better than the terrible onboard audio I have, both through regular speakers (old creative 5.1s) and my headphones (HD 280s)."
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"This sound card made a world of difference,I have a dell vostro i7 from 2011, I always can hear noise from audio system when plugged into the motherboard, and I always thought it is the speakers, and sound is always mediocre, with really washed out highs and not very good sounding lows from logitech z2300, speakers replaced with Pioneer Andrew Jones book shelf."
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"It was so sudden, I threw my headphones off and quickly unplugged them before any damage was done to my headphone speaker drivers."
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"Not sure why Creative does not include a 2.1 speaker configuration in the software when they produce 2.1 speakers."
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"Since the PC setup that this card is installed in does not have 7.1 speakers, this is not a problem for me."
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"The sound of my music, and movies is spectacular over both my 2.1 speaker setup and the Prismatic headset."
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"At a bare minimum, it is noticeably better than the terrible onboard audio I have, both through regular speakers (old creative 5.1s) and my headphones (HD 280s)."
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"first the output signal is FAR stronger, the receiver has much easier time driving the speakers."
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"Highly recommend you get this if you've invested in a high end speaker set for you PC."
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Support

Support:
"Obviously susceptible to RF interference, and there are numerous support articles out there mentioning the same problem for others."
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"I have not contacted Creative support about this, but their forum members only told me to update the drivers which was a lame and ineffective response."
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"I bought an ASUS Phoebus $260+ card and it had incredible sound, but compared to this card, the Phoebus had weak software support."
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"Awesome, sound card, the problem is the creative support."
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"Creative labs support used to be great now it's in Hong King or someplace where they have no clue how to diagnose or support a problem."
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"However, Creative supports these cards with the worst drivers for any hardware I've yet to experience to date."
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"And to add insult to injury, Creative Customer Support simply simply ignores my request for help."
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"This sound card is going straight back, and because of the nonexistent customer support, I am unlikely to buy another Creative product again."
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"However creative's product support is a joke as stated by others."
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"Been in communication with Creative support and no fix yet."
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"This card fills the role of the ASUS well and I shouldn't have to worry about driver support."
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Surround

Surround:
"Upon setting this card up I was expecting to be blown away by the difference, but in reality it's just a horrible virtual 5.1 surround solution."
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"It is superior to Dolby Headphone and (of course) the Razer simulated surround sound (the worst of all of the DSP's)."
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"Want 5.1 surround sound and at first could only get 2.1 which is unacceptable."
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"I bought this for 2 reasons:1) For surround sound this card is hard to beat."
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"the only downside to this which is a HUGE problem is there are no 5.1 surround sound systems that use the orange black and green hookups (2 speakers per channel) aside from A: creatives systems which leaves more to be desired."
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"Other info: To get surround sound via optical it was a bit confusing."
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"If you want the best surround sound and amp combo for a sound card."
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"I just turned off simulated surround and it was all good."
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"I have it hooked up to a 7.1 surround system and it does sound very nice, but again, I'm not trained enough to say whether or not it is substantial."
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"The sound effects alone can breathe new life into what I'd consider cheap and lifeless headphones (the surround effect is great at making music feel more alive)."
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"The card sports enough back ports for a 5.1 surround setup, as well as a microphone port and an amplified headphone port (all are standard 3.5mm ports as most would expect), along with digital-in and digital-out ports."
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Video

Video:
"i tested youtube and was like yeah i can tell a difference in quality thats not amazing but good (plus you are restricted on the quality of the website video)."
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"However the card just stops outputting sound within an hour of listening to music or watching a video and if I do have sound there's a lot of clipping and hiccups in the audio (the manual has a solution but it's useless for anything newer than Windows XP)."
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"On top of functioning poorly, the card itself has a red light built in which is bright enough to be annoying through the vents on my PC when I'm watching video in a dark room."
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"With my older PCI sound card, most of the games got lagging and i always thought that was my video card fault."
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"The sound of my music, and movies is spectacular over both my 2.1 speaker setup and the Prismatic headset."
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"Strongly recommend for gaming and also movie and music ! "
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"It brings my 5.1 home theater to life movies sounds amazing"
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"Basically this chip is good for games, movies and some music consumption."
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"I'd recommend to anyone looking for a nice video card."
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Volume

Volume:
"Ok, there's one downside... the Sound Blaster Z's default volume settings are loud... as in LOUD!"
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"Even then, the volume fluctuates, and or I get wierd, erratic noises."
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"Longer Version:After installing my card, I had some pretty strange sound issues [volume changes, wrong sound orientation, pops and crackles]."
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"Problem was I just couldn't turn up the volume past 29% without blowing my ear drums!"
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"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."
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"the module is great, beamforming microphone and volume control."
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"I've also read some reviews of how the volume unit diminishes the quality of the sound as well, as is likely to happen anytime you have to go through more connections, so unless you truly need it ... don't bother."
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"Surround sound audio works very well, crystalizer allows for clear audio (I turned this feature down a bit, not because it sounds bad, but can make certain sound effects sound a bit strange in certain instances), and the bass, smart volume, and dialog adjustments work well for situations where you might need them."
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"At first I was not sure if I would like the ACM Module but it is put together very well and has a great volume knob."
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"Best price per performance out there and the the desktop volume dial is fantastic."
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Windows

Windows:
"The bright red LED light on this thing might be a problem for anyone with case windows and lighting."
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"The card worked, but it had an annoying repetitive clicking noise while Windows was loading, and it was stuck in Gamer mode - every time I would change modes, the sound drivers would crash any time it tried to play digital audio, and then I'd get no sound until I reinstalled the drivers."
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"now I had no problems with installing them, but the problem is that they aren't really compatible with windows 8.1, and there are no drivers for the OS either."
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"Unfortunately with my windows 7 system after I put it in I got Blue screens and after 3 days of trying to fix it I couldn't.."
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"I am using the driver provided for Windows 8.1 and so many things have gone wrong."
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"There was nothing on the market equivalent to this program and when the drivers weren't compatible with Windows 7, it was miserable listening to Windows Player without it."
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"this card seems to work well in windows 10, however I discovered that when you go out of sleep mode that the sound disappears.."
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"Easy, Painless install on Windows 10."
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"Had no issues with drivers on windows 10, played around with the settings everything is easy to use had no complains there."
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"(A good number of folks had issues where Windows would misidentify the card and download drivers for another board, and not be able to roll back."
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"Windows has been around long enough that by now you should be able to design a sound card that works!"
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