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Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card SB0570L4 - Creative
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Five Star Reviews:
Both the price and sound quality is amazing! Now
September 14, 2017
Just recently built my first PC and have MSI motherboard sound. Is it ok? Yeah, it did what it was suppose to do but you would have to turn the volume all the way up to make it clear enough to hear. Especially being a gamer, sound clarity and direction is a must! After about 3 months, I finally got the money to upgrade to a sound card instead of the stand alone motherboard sound. After researching for several days, I finally come across the Sound Blaster Z. Both the price and sound quality is amazing! Now, I have only had it for 3 months and if it lasts, I will be tickled! I cannot review on the beam forming mic because I have not used it but everything else works great from the Optic port and the mic ports. I recommend this sound card to anyone from beginners to hard core gamers!
It seemed like a nice compromise between the razer sharp precision of ...
May 2, 2017
The Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z Review
I bought this card for the sole purpose of taking advantage of SBX Pro Studio for Headphone. After listening to stereo mix versions of multiple HRTF formulas (CMSS3d, Dolby, Razer, Crap) I settled on going for this specific solution. It seemed like a nice compromise between the razer sharp precision of CMSS3d and cinematic fullness of Dolby Headphone.
Upon testing SBX Pro Studio through multiple headphones the surround sound was impeccable. It is very accurate, without having harsh tones and dead spots that you get with even CMSS3d in certain situations. The game audio is not particularly impacted in a negative way, playing Nier which part of the experience is auditory and musical it still sounded quite great. There was a fullness in the sound stage, without having any negative effect on its deadly accurate positional cues. In a game like Counter-Strike Go I found myself catching people to my back and sides at the exact angle they shot at me from. Rather then having a rough idea, I felt as if I was enveloped by a believable 3d space.
I had the Sound Blaster Z output a stereo mix through Optical output to my USB dac, and it imparted no noise or nasty oddities.
In short, if you're a gamer looking for great surround sound capabilities through headphones this is probably the best card for you. If you are an audiophile, or music affectionado then you probably own a USB dac already with optical spdif input. This card benefits you by providing you with the surround sound processing for games as well as the high Digital to Analog fidelity of your current headphone audio system. So it most definitely is not a waste if you buy this card solely for gaming as either group, unless you don't enjoy SBX Studio.
As a gaming card it does its job. Seriously gets a 10/10 if all you care about is this functionality.
The digital input while only 2.0 is also good, clean and low latency. I tested this out with my Playstation 4 connected to my sound blaster Z. While it would be great if you could get use SBX Studio Pro, it basically acts similar to a switch. Except if you wanted to play with your PS4 while using PC Discord on the same pair of headphones it is /very/ possible and perhaps one of the best reason to use it.
---That ends the good things about this card. ---
The microphone input is one of the worst i've had the displeasure of plugging my microphone into. It was more of a curiosity thing since I own a cheap USB dongle for my headset mic. There is a considerable amount of static on the input, with or without microphone boost. None of the settings seem to really make things better, for instance noise cancellation severely degrades the audio quality while eliminating most of the noise from interference.
The only redeeming factor of the microphone input is Crystal Voice, so everyone can bring out the inner Alien in themselves. That said if you're going to get this card, investing in a $10 USB soundcard dongle w/ mic input is highly recommended.
Since I started writign this review and holding it here for a later date I had an opportunity to try the Dac/Amp from the headphone output over a fairly extended period of time. (problems with my USB device)
The amp on the headphone output is fairly weak, and while in most cases you can get more then enough volume out of a song, and video. There are some where not even 100% windows volume can you elevate the volume to get a desired level. In games it hasn't been a problem because they generally run much louder then anything else.
The output is not destroyed by interference of any kind (I guess these components have better shielding or are higher quality then the mic section). With no audio, or slow audio there is no discernable noise being generated by the card through my headphones. The result is clean sounding audio. Despite the circuitry being well designed in my case, the DAC itself has poor to average audio quality.
Slower, or even sounding music sounds about decent enough. There is a warm veil that you tend to get from cheap dacs but its not an overbearing loss of resolution if you're going from a $70-$150 USB dac. Where the problems start is when the energy of a song starts to r ise, especially those with fairly heavy bass. The sound card looses all of its coherence, as if it is struggling to keep up with the song. Voices become a bit wobbly in some songs, and you can tell there is a fairly poor cut off in frequencies the lower and higher you get. This card does not do Music good at all over its analog headphone output. If you get this card merely to listen to music you will be gravely disappointed. That said ignorance is bliss, but even so the problems it has are immediately obvious.
I never tried the included Microphone as I have a far better mic attached to my headphones, and no 5.1 speaker system.
All in all its one of the most amazing sound cards for gaming if SBX Studio tickles your fancy (check youtube). But for everything else it is terrible and your dollar can go further.
I gave this card a perfect rating because of how it handles its main job of providing believable HRTF through SBX Studio. Especially when you pair it with a better outboard dac then the one inside of the card. For those that have more expensive, higher end equipment you will reap its benefits.
If you want a general purpose sound card plus amplified headphone output then this card is an absolute miss and you should ignore the rating. It is terrible for general usage. If you want a good microphone input, look to be paying an extra $10 for a USB Dongle.
Quick edit, even for the discerning audiophile the crystallizer and bassboost on SBX studio is incredibly fun to use. Even while using the sound cards dac. The dac is pretty bad still but the sound is 'fun' with all the processing. The bassboost is not as detrimental as other software solutions.
A must have - WAY better than USB headset or on-board sound
December 27, 2016
This card is a BIG upgrade from my on-board sound hardware, and from my USB Logitech G930 headset. After spending some time tweaking with the settings, I have profiles that work perfectly with a set of Logitech 5.1 speakers, with Bose earbuds connected to the headphone output, and now with the Creative Labs BlasterX Tournament Edition headset (which I also intend to review - it is EXCELLENT).
Music has never sounded better. The sound enhancements quite literally take recorded music from sounding dull and compressed to sounding like you are THERE. I sometimes toggle the enhancements off and I am amazed that what I hear (the recording I have always listened to) sounds so ... flat. Having true hardware-based analog sound processing makes a huge difference. Apparently, the Crystalizer enhancement takes compressed recorded audio and essentially reverts it back to it's original uncompressed form before it hits the outputs. I believe this claim. So do several siblings and friends, who literally have had dropped jaws and about all they can say is "wow... wtf.. I am getting one of these!". And,. they did. lol
Games also have never sounded better. Positional sound through a stereo headset or earphones is every bit as good as it was through my old Logitech G930 with it's simulated 5.1 surround. Actually, it's better. And as with music, using the same enhancement settings, games sound equally better. I notice details that went unheard before. Everything is richer, more dynamic. For an example of "more dynamic", I'll use Battlefield 1. With compressed audio, all sound that is mixed together basically gets their levels (volume relative to one another) balanced out so all are pretty well even, The result is a relatively flat sounding mix. There are no significant volume differences. Through the Sound Blaster Z, with the Crystalizer in use, the game sounds ALIVE. With the ambient sound at a comfortable level, nearby gunfire and explosions have a power to them that literally has made me jump on multiple occasions. I can FEEL my own shots. It makes a BIG difference.
The Crystal Voice enhancements are also great. They allowed me to dial in my mic setup to be perfect with voice activation. No activating from my breathing or keyboard taps, no background noise or hum, and my voice is crystal clear (according to others).
January 12, 2016
I usually do not leave written reviews, but I felt it was necessary. First off, let me say that I have used alot of USB headsets in the past, and also non USB. Steelseries, Plantronics, Razer, etc.. I also seen alot of people complaining about the ACM on here. Which made me very weary if I wanted to get the Zx or the Z. So I went with the Zx and figured, oh well, if it is as bad as some people were saying, I am out $30. Big whoop. Installed it in my computer, downloaded the newest drivers for 64 bit W10. And all I can say is, unreal. I just popped my iPhone earbuds in for s***s and giggles, due to my headset being a USB one (Plantronics GameCom 788). And the difference in quality was just unreal. I have NOT used the back jacks yet, but I honestly feel no need to at all. The ACM module works so wonderful. Not quiet and soft as people were saying. I NEED my games as loud as they can get. My dial on the ACM was at around 75-80%. Still super loud and great quality. May the back jack be better without the ACM? There is a possibility, sure. Using the ACM is already better than my current headset I was using. So I do not feel the need to plug into the sound card itself. Do not listen to people complaining about the ACM. I feel like there was some sort of hardware interference that had to be messing with it for some people. It works absolutely great for me. Could not be happier with what I got for the price!
Didn't think I needed it
March 23, 2013
I thought I didn't need a sound card because my motherboard, Rampage 4 Formula, came with really good onboard sound. I bought it anyway and I'm really glad I did. There is a distinct difference between this and the onboard sound, it's clearer and amplified and has an equalizer that I love. The lights on this card are really bright and will most likely overpower what ever lights you have in you rig so if your theme is red great but if not beware. If you thought your onboard sound was great believe me this is better and I play BF3 with no problems, buy this.
Worked without any issues with Windows 7 64bit
January 27, 2015
Looking for a cheap audio card to replace my on board audio and boy was I happy with this.
Worked with windows 7 64 bit
much better sound quality (really drives the speakers - I have Logitech 5.1 surround sound)
Doesn't come with all the software as the higher end Sound Blaster cards do.
Had to install a download manager to actively look for updates (this is becoming more and more common with devices these days)
I downloaded the drivers instead of using the CD included (this is what I typically do anytime I add a device and I have internet access - skip to the latest driver). They installed and worked perfectly fine on my Windows 7 64 bit machine. In a previous build, I had an older but higher end SB card that came with what you hear is what you get. I enjoyed this program as it allowed me to record anything that was playing on my speakers. I don't see it with this one, so maybe I just need to look a little more.
Good Low Latency Card
December 19, 2011
I'm not typically one to write reviews, especially based on first impressions (I've only had this card for a few hours), but I was on the verge of sending this card back, so hopefully this will help someone else out.
I was completely satisfied with my onboard soundcard( a Realtek ALC 892), but get somewhat frequent screen freezes with audio in a short (several millisecond) loop of whatever was playing when the freeze occurs. Also I use Traktor Pro 2, with ASIO drivers which takes over the sound card when the program is running, meaning I'm constantly having to close and open Traktor or any DAW I have running. My freezes only happen when audio is playing so hopefully this takes care of that problem, but if not, I have other uses for an extra sound device (the ASIO issue above, and also I can cue tracks in Traktor on headphones to one card and route another to the speakers. Long story short, I was willing to gamble $25.
I couldn't find any information on the latency of this card with ASIO drivers, but when I started Traktor I was not impressed, I had to make the buffer pretty big, and was running at over 10ms, and still flakey, whereas my onboard was doing a very stable 6.3ms before this "upgrade". This card was most definitely going back.
I should mention, unlike most other reviewers, Windows 7 (64bit) did not detect my card automatically, and I downloaded the drivers and control software from Creative's website. In any event, after being frustrated and playing with setting for a bit, I found Creative's "Audio Control Panel" software. Under the performance tab the Sampling Rate was set to 48 KHz by default; I tried lowering it to 44.1, to improve the latency, but things got markedly _worse_. Of course I took it up to 96KHz (at 24 bit depth)... everything began working perfectly. I found this a bit counter intuitive but it worked for me.
On a side note, I disabled my onboard audio in bios (to see if the freezing issue subsides), and this card is able to run Traktor Pro (w/ the ASIO drivers at 2ms latency, with lots of effect going) and other audio programs simultaneously with no problems! I didn't expect this, I doubt the card gets credit for this, someone probably just wrote better ASIO drivers, but still I like. (*note: this only works when Traktor aka the ASIO drivers are loaded _first_, before the other programs).
With the above said, the volume is not quite as loud as my onboard, and I've yet to try out any jack except analog out, so take all this with a grain of salt if I didn't mention a feature that you need. But, all in all, I'm very satisfied with what I got for what I paid.
Best Entry-level Sound Card at 30 bucks
March 10, 2011
The sound card runs perfectly on Windows 7 64bit system. It has much better sound quality than onboard chips such as Realtek ALC 66x and 88x series. If you have a micro motherboard and a thick graphic card (GTX 460 or above), this PCI sound card will be a good choice since there may not be an extra PCIE 1x slot on micro motherboard or it is very likely covered by the graphic card. So if you have an available PCIE slot and want the greatest sound, choose those PCIE slot creative cards. If you only have PCI slots available or want a cost-efficient product, this sound card wont disappoint you.
1. Greatest sound quality at 30 bucks. Supports raw DTS/DD output to a decoder through SPDIF. I tried this function on Logitech Z5500 with PowerDVD 10 and KM player, and it worked very well. (Need to buy a Mono to RCA adapter and a coaxial cable)
2. Fully compatible with Windows 7 64bit.
3. Very compact. It does not affect your graphic card's fans.
The included CD does not provide drivers for Windows 7.
1. For official driver, you can download its Windows 7 driver through Creative official website. It works perfectly. Make sure you do not use the included CD if you use Windows 7.
2. For unofficial driver, I recommend Daniel K P17x support pack 2.7. It is actually better than the official driver and gives you full functions including crystalizer.
A solid sound card for Windows 7 64-bit
February 24, 2011
I made the mistake of buying a replacement motherboard that didn't have all of the output ports needed for 7.1 speakers, and the only way to get the extra ports is if the case had them with a cable that was compatible with the motherboard. Mine didn't. Plus, the 2 speakers that did work popped when the system went to play a sound, which is much more annoying than you would think. My biggest challenge was finding a sound card that worked well with Windows 7 64-bit, and this one fits the bill.
Having used the SoundBlaster Live before, I knew Creative Labs products were good. Surprisingly, this card wasn't expensive so it became my low-cost solution to getting my extra speakers online again. Installation was very easy, and I downloaded the latest drivers straight from Creative's web site before the card was delivered. Everything installed without fuss.
I reviewed all of the default settings which seem more geared toward a low-end system. I bumped it up to 24-bit and everything works great. The sound is better than my previous on-board chipset. I'm a bit particular about audio, so I do notice subtle differences between cards. This has some extra options that I consider "toys" such as EAX sound effects like you're in an auditorium, hallway, stone cavern, toilet, etc. But at least it does have them if that's your thing.
My system is a quad-core AMD Athlon II chip, 8GB of DDR3 RAM on a Gigabyte motherboard. Use of the sound card doesn't affect CPU usage hardly at all, which is good.
If you're looking for a good, budget sound card that is compatible with Windows 7 64-bit, you will very likely be happy with this.
Works fine in Win 7 -- but don't use install disk
January 26, 2010
I bought this specifically for a Windows 7 system. Win 7 automatically recognizes the card and installs associated drivers. I made the mistake of attempting to install the disk that came with it and it caused a reboot and required a repair to windows startup followed by manual uninstall of the portion of the software which installed; don't do that. The card works just fine when you let windows detect it and install its own drivers, just don't bother with the software disk.
Four Star Reviews:
I went from a crappy sound board on the MOBO to this
March 31, 2017
I guess it's working? I went from a crappy sound board on the MOBO to this. And at the same time I went from Razer Krakens to ATM50x so that there is an improvement in itself.
THE ONLY issue i have with this is the software and its lack of abilities. I'll continue below
I use voicemeeter banana for many reasons, apart from streaming. And it's caused major issues with this device. I can't use headphones and speakers at the same time anymore like how I had it set up on my other program. I have to chose one or the other. Thats stupid! I needed the flexibility VM banaba has but this device just screws all that up.
Then again maybe I am not doing it right lol.
All in all there is a definite improvement. I can hear things that I have never heard before in games and movies, heck, even music i'm hearing new things. I do noticed I am always getting the upperhand when I can hear someone before they can hear me in certain games. And no i don't use the Gaming setting or whatever its called. Just leave it as it is.
Blows away onbaord PC audio but that ugly red, useless LED!
March 7, 2017
I mostly listen with headphones and this just totally blows away the PC onboard audio. I don't know how to explain it except that if you've ever done a serious upgrade to your car stock audio syste, the difference in sound is similar.to this sound card compared to onboard audio. I love the rotary pod and the fact it can take the 1/8" jack of my Sennheisers without an adapter. Plenty, plenty of headphon volume room. But...oh that awful red LED! Santa wouldn't need Rudolph on Christmas Eve, he'd just have to power up this card! So as I think I'm going to keep it, I'm going to take the cover off the card and remove the LED. I'm assuming this can't be turned off in software?
Might be a placebo effect, but it works for me!
November 9, 2016
Although the audio fidelity is indiscernible from my motherboard sound chip, I use it for all my audio input and outputs and it sounds great no matter what I throw at it.
Only thing I can really say for sure is the card adds more timbre to each sound that comes from it. Highs are more crisp; bass is more resonant; mids are warmer.
and a built in headphone amp is great. The ACM (the audio control module) as has ...
August 22, 2016
This sound card is great- lots of options, and a built in headphone amp is great.
The ACM (the audio control module) as has been mentioned in the past, is a bad device. If you have high impedance headphones, you'll notice this if the ACM is set to anything but max volume- which means the ACM is virtually useless, aside from giving you a shorter access to the headphone and mic recording jack.
The impact that the ACM has that I noticed was that when the overall total volume was the same and the ACM was low (ie Computer volume at 75%, ACM at 25% vs Computer volume at 25%, ACM at 100%) it sounded like the headphones couldn't produce the bass tones- it sounded like it was struggling to play sounds.
I don't consider myself an audiophile in the least- I have high impedance headphones I bought specifically for use with this card, given its amplifier, so I'm a bit disappointed in the ACM.
The card overall is great, the ACM is just a waste of desk space.
Still pretty "sound," it seems.
March 31, 2016
I really only bought this thing out of a bit of nostalgia-- Sound Blaster cards were all the rage back when I was getting into computing, but I never had one --but it seems to have a decent bit of value all its own.
Before going further, I'll just put it out there that the gap between onboard audio & dedicated sound cards has narrowed tremendously in the past few years, due to a combination of improved technology (the Realtek chips manufacturers love to use getting better) and motherboard manufacturers actually bothering to implement various supports for their onboard audio codecs. Gone are the days where onboard audio was an inherently screechy, crackly mess.
That being said, even coming from a rather good onboard audio solution (ASRock Purity Sound 3), I noticed some improvements with the SBZ.
First, and simplest, is the ability to get amplified headphone while bypassing the front panel IO on my case-- as you probably know, having headphones & a USB device plugged in to your front I/O at the same time can be a recipe for loads upon loads of noise. Some motherboards bypass this by amplifying the rear headphone instead (or both), but others (like mine) leave it as a basic line out for plugging up speakers. It's nice to be able to listen to music while having a thumb drive or wireless adapter plugged into the front.
Alone, that'd hardly be enough to justify a sound card . . . fortunately, there also seems to be a degree of audible improvement with the SBZ over my motherboard's audio. High tones are less prone to "ring" or seem shrilly distorted, and lows feel both a bit punchier & more tightly contained.
(Side note: I've disabled all of the "enhancements" for the time being, and unless you REALLY want slightly better positional audio in games, you probably should too.)
The included amp does a VERY good job of driving my 64-ohm NVX XPT 100 headphones . . . maybe a bit too good of a job, actually, as there's really no reason for me to raise the Windows system volume above 20%. I suppose this is to be expected given the 600 ohm rating, but my motherboard's onboard audio was substantially quieter (not that it mattered) despite the same ohm-rating. Room to experiment with higher-impedance headphones, I suppose.
That being said, there's an elephant in this room which I suppose I've failed to address: drivers. If you look around the internet, you'll see numerous people reporting problems ranging from minor to severe with the software set provided with this card. Personally, I've had no issues outside of needing to reboot TWICE after installation rather than the specified once, but my good experience certainly doesn't invalidate anyone else's problems. Do your homework before buying this, or any other moderately expensive piece of tech.
I got mine used for $58. This may or may not have influenced my opinion on the card; that being said, there's a good chance a similar or better discount will be available when you're reading this.
Works great on Linux with a bit of work.
April 8, 2016
Works fine on Linux Mint. You need to adjust the balance to make the audio work correctly in alsamixer though. Also in some cases you may need to mute the SPDIF, I had to when using analog stereo out. Thankfully this card also accepts the front audio port connector my old Dell Dimension case has (I did a rebuild inside of it out of shear nostalgia) so that is a plus, although I have yet to test if that works. All in all, better than running off of the glitchy drivers for Intel H97 and Z97 sound cards on Linux. A cheap and easy fix that also produces great quality audio.
December 9, 2014
I bought this to use in a Windows 7 Professional 64 bit system with an ASUS P8B75-M micro ATC motherboard. This system is used for control and recording with a PreSonus StudioLive 24.4.2AI mixing board and we also play pre-recorded music with it. The music files were sounding rough, music itself wasn't bad but vocals sounded like they were stuck in a tin can. Nothing seemed to fix it. Put this card in the system and disabled the onboard audio. I read some reviews saying this card doesn't work with Windows 7 and not to use the software and driver CD that comes with it. My experience was the system did not recognize the card and load its own drivers. I'm not sure if this is because the computer is not connected to the internet or not. At any rate, I had to use the enclosed CD to load drivers. I did not load any other software from the CD. It did have a Win7 directory for audio drivers. I chose to load the driver from Device Manager, pointed it to the appropriate directory on the CD and it loaded the drivers. After the driver load, the device manager window for the audio component did lock up and it seemed to be trying to check for upgrades. I had to kill all of that from Task Manager but so far have had no other problems. Unfortunately, it has not completely cured our tin can vocal problem but it is a lot better. Seems some more adjustments are needed on the PreSonus board.
All that said, this sound card works quite well as I expect from Creative.
Pretty Good Once it Works
March 31, 2013
I needed analog surround sound output, and my motherboard only had S/PDIF out. So, I picked this card up because is a cheap Creative card.
Overall, it works pretty well. I did have an odd time installing it, and at first I thought it wasn't working as it was only making noise on my speakers. Once I rebooted the PC after the installer rebooted it once, it started working fine. I've used this card on Windows 7 and Windows 8, and I had just about the same experience both times.
I wish it could actually get the all-channel stereo working properly. Its supposed to work, and I can see the settings in the drivers, but those just don't do anything. Supposedly they are working on fixing this issue, but I've been waiting for almost a year now and it still doesn't do that.
Anything already mixed for surround sound works flawlessly though. Not the best sound card in the world, but its got analog surround out and its cheap. Good enough for a gaming PC, but I would probably grab something better for a home theater (assuming you need something other than S/PDIF out)
Sounds Good to Me: A Creative Labs SB0570L4 Sound Blaster Audigy SE Sound Card Review
January 5, 2010
I recently upgraded from Windows XP originally installed on my PC to Windows 7. Since Sony decided to use a motherboard with integrated sound card, the original sound card was incompatible. Not only did Sony not provide updated drivers, this configuration can slow the PC down too. I chose to install the Creative Labs SB0570L4 sound blaster Audigy SE sound card.
Install was simple. Since I couldn't uninstall the original sound card I disabled it then powered down the computer. Disabling is an important step when the original soundcard cannot be removed as conflicts can occur. I installed the Audigy SE sound card, and then brought the PC back up. Windows 7 instantly identified the new sound card and installed the proper drivers.
This card works just as well, if not better than my original sound card without having to pay a small fortune to upgrade. If you are in a similar situation, this sound card is worth consideration.
Upgrading onboard sound..yes, but...
September 17, 2009
The only problem I had with onboard sound was that using the recording program 'Audacity' I was given no input options, the recordings were poor, and input vol. was difficult to control. This wasn't the case with my previous system which I attributed to the SB Live Value card in that rig. Game sound with onboard was quite good and I could have my old 2.1 desktop speakers/subwoofer connected, as well as my headphones for those nighttime 'do not disturb' sessions. With the SB Audigy (as with the SB Live Value), the connection options are limited (I had to use a splitter), but the sound quality of music and games (and Audacity options) were superior. So yes it was worth it, but come on guys, how about some ports for headphones?
Three Star Reviews:
3/5 based on it working properly
May 13, 2015
Let me start off by saying I am not an unfair reviewer who takes off stars for "the package came in late" or the product was "DOA". This review will pertain only to the product's quality. Let me also say that I returned this, and this is a rather 'generous' review in terms of the number of stars I am giving it.
I first unwrapped the package - excited and eager to install the card. This card should be should installed in a PCI-E x1 slot. However, on my current configuration, this slot was not an option. So I installed it on a PCI-E 3.0 slot. Sure, that sounds like a mistake on my part, but after some research, I found that it was okay to install the card on that slot as long as the lane was turned down to x1 speeds. My motherboard does this automatically. The card was installed, the drivers installed, and I was ready for some great sound.
When windows first booted after the initial drivers install, my AKG K712's blasted with sound (unexpectedly) with windows start up music. I mean, it was by default at 100% volume! Ouch! Other reviews had complained about this, but I only saw that issue AFTER the install...my poor headphones...my poor ears...
Anyway, I fiddled with the options (SBX, EQ, etc). Music quality was excellent! Games sounded incredible with SBX Pro on (fantastic positional ques). Obviously, SBX Pro does 'taint' the sound a bit. You aren't getting 100% reproduction of all the original sounds due to the surround processing algorithms. But that's fine, you should expect this with any DSP. Also, the headphone amp was enough to power my headphones with no white noise (at least not at the volume I had it at).
When I have a new product and I expect it to do something, I test the *bleep* out of it. I wanted to make sure I got what I paid for. Unfortunately, I don't think I did...After playing for 30 minutes or so, I started noticing sounds on my right surround were lower than sound coming from my left surround. (R/L surround - referring to the surround speakers on the 5.1 channel setup) And yes, I am still referring to my headphones. At this point, SBX was enabled to properly downmix 5.1 to binaural stereo.
I tried with Dragon Age Inquisition, Warframe, Far Cry 4. Each time I tested this I came up with the same results. I put my character next to a fixed sound source and spun around. It kept happening! I thought I was going crazy...or deaf in one ear! So I swapped headphones, I even wore my headphones backwards. Nope, it wasn't my ears or the headphones. It was the card...
Aside from this, the drivers and software aren't great either. I tried multiple versions (factory version of drivers and latest drivers) and still had the same issue. You know the drivers are terrible when you find multiple forum posts about "how to uninstall sound blaster drivers". It is literally an art form! Ok, maybe not literally...
Also, switching from headphones to speakers in the software would crash apps that were currently playing sound. For instance, I would have to reload a youtube video I was currently watching in my browser if I switched mid-video. I've never had to deal with this inconvenience before.
So for the terrible drivers and software, I knock off 2 stars.
I didn't knock off stars for the following complaints because I believe these issues were caused by the PCI slot I used (despite other sources saying it "should" be fine). Maybe using a PCIe x1 slot would have eliminated or at least mitigated these issues.
I was just playing a game, minding my own business, when suddenly WHAM! The sound card went into "screech mode". Yes, this is actually a problem with these cards. Because many people had this issue, it may not even be due to the PCI slot I installed it on. But I'll give Creative the benefit of the doubt. Screech mode is when all sound coming from the sound card is at 100% volume and is highly distorted. It sounded like I was listening to an Atari game console have a stroke. It was so sudden, I threw my headphones off and quickly unplugged them before any damage was done to my headphone speaker drivers.
As if that wasn't bad enough...It happened TWICE! Arg!
The icing on the cake was when I got a BSOD from this card. Yep, I powered down the comp and yanked the card out. That was crossing the line. My computer has all the latest tech, runs windows 7 with rock-solid stability. This card thinks its going to just walk into my computer and cause BSOD's? Not on my watch.
Unfortunately, Creative has a bit of a hold on me due to their SBX technology. It is superior to Dolby Headphone and (of course) the Razer simulated surround sound (the worst of all of the DSP's). So I returned the card and went with a USB sound blaster unit. I will be using optical out to feed the signal to a schiit modi 2 and schiit magni 2 (DAC/Amp). I had this plan in mind with the Z, but I wanted to hold off a bit (a bit of a costly combo).
I'll be honest, if anyone else produced a card with DSP as good as the SBX Pro, I would gladly jump ship and figuratively watch the Creative boat sink. I would have a smile on my face, a fancy drink in my left hand and use my right hand to pump a clenched fist into the air in celebration for Creative's demise.
Someone needs to challenge Creative (besides Asus) by coming up with a competitive sound card that caters to gamers. And I don't mean casual gamers, I mean for the kind of gamers that want high end sound. Gamers that want the best competitive edge in FPS games. If creative was truly challenged, maybe they would wake up and push a better product.
If you have a free PCIe slot open, you can give the card a shot. You may still encounter the same problems I did. If you don't have a PCIe slot available, start looking else where. This thing will quickly become the bane of your existence if you don't heed my warning.
It's annoying that I have this module just sitting on my ...
March 22, 2015
I have to agree with Povell42's assertion that the module degrades the quality of the output in headphones. I'm using an Audio Technica M50x, and while the difference isn't immense, it is noticeable, especially in the mid-high range. It isn't worth buying the Zx for the module. Also worth mentioning: it has to be plugged in the headphone output for the volume control to function, so you can't use the volume control without sacrificing headphone quality.
Also, I had to send back my first card because the back mounting plate was bent. The new one Amazon sent (hassle-free, yay) also has a bent edge on the back plate, but I got it to fit. I'm still considering sending this one back just because of the module though. It's annoying that I have this module just sitting on my desk just taking up space. It'll be better off back in the box.
I forgot to add that the audio output definitely sounds way better than the on-board audio even when plugged in to the module (better without the module still). The board is worth it. The module isn't.
Fortunately the card is working without the updates in my ...
December 19, 2014
This is a difficult review to write: I just installed the card, software, and hooked everything up. Installing the software took a bit longer than I would have expected. At the end I was asked if I wanted to check for updates - and I did. The two "CRITICAL" updates I was told to install add up to 184MB. My network download speed (just tested) is 58.8 Mbps. But I am into my THIRD HOUR waiting for the download of the updates.
Fortunately the card is working without the updates in my win7 64-bit system. But three hours for an update doesn't cut it.
So far I'd give the card a 4 or 5 star rating and the service a one. I compromised at 3. If tonight proves to be an aberration, I'll revise the review.
Update: the downloads completed overnight (approx four hours) and are now installed. I am still pleased with the function of the card; I have not tried another download to see if performance is any better. However I see this morning that the download URL that one gets from downloading off the Creative site is located in Singapore....
Decent Card with pretty good sound quality. Doesnt play nice with Denon receiver...
January 4, 2014
I recently installed this card and am happy with the quality of the sound it outputs and the great build quality. I can see how a lot of people don't like the red led but my case sits to the left of me so the light isn't a problem for me. It is very bright however and there isn't a cover on the "back" of the card to block the led's from shining in your eyes. My issue is that when hooked up to my Denon 1705 receiver the card will either play using the Spdif or Speakers setting in windows 8. When using the Spdif the rear channels are pretty quiet compared to the front. When using the Speakers setting there is no sound at all from the rear channels. I have contacted Creative about this earlier this morning so I am waiting for them to reply. I have also asked the experts on Overclock.net and will post on Head-fi.org in a little while. Is anyone else having this issue? I like the card but don't like these problems I am having. If you are using headphones or PC speakers you should have no problems at all and it really is a good card. I will give it 3 stars now and if I can get my problems fixed I will give it 4 stars. People throw out 5 star reviews because they are merely happy with their purchases but for me to give a product 5 stars it has to completely blow me away. Don't think that 4 stars is bad, it is actually very good.
VERY IMPORTANT if you are looking into buying this...Please Read
March 30, 2013
There is a major flaw with the more expensive ZX model of this product. The Audio Control Module (ACM) that you are paying about $50 more, LOWERS the QUALITY of the audio signal versus plugging your headphones directly into the back of the sound card.
Seriously, how has no one else caught this? I checked online and found no one complaining about this. So, I thought my ACM was defective. Amazon kindly sent me a replacement. I got the replacement and plugged the new ACM into the back of the sound card and then plugged my headphones in the ACM. SAME ISSUE. (I tried both the 3.5mm and 1/4in plugs) I then changed out the sound card with the new replacement card and reinstalled the software and drivers just to be sure.....SAME ISSUE.
If you already own this.....and you love the ACM....you most likely did not compare it to the sound when your headphones are plugged directly into the back of the sound card.
I noticed this dramatically because I did not use the ACM for the first week or so. I did all my initial testing in music and gaming without it. As soon as I plugged it in I thought something was wrong with my headphones or the sound card went bad on me. I quickly discovered that it was solely the AMC.
PLUGGED INTO THE ACM
- The sound is significantly softer making me believe that the built in AMP is being weakened by the ACM. This is a bigger issue for those that have high impedance headphones
- Second it affects the balance and quality of sound. For example: While playing COD Black Ops 2 - I immediately noticed that the sound of my gun was muffled and recessed even at the same volume level. I then plugged my headphones directly into the back of the sound card...and it is so much better! Everything is louder, clearer, and precise. Don't believe me, try it out for yourself. I also immediately noticed that my music sounded worse playing through the ACM. The surround sound effect through the ACM sounds more tinny and echoy.
So bottom line....the ACM degrades the sound quality significantly (I tested this with two ACMs). It baffles me that both Sound Blaster and Consumers have not noticed this issue with the ACM. I did find a forum of audiophiles debating if the ACM would degrade the sound quality and amp....but there was no definite answer and the topic ended with the assumption that it did not since Sound Blaster said it is the superior model.
Please mark this review as helpful so others can see it before spending the extra money on this model...and if they do, hopefully they will do the sound test themselves and compare the sound difference. How knows, maybe I got two bad AMC in a row? I highly doubt it though.
The Sound Card itself is very good and I highly recommend the Sound Blaster Z (not ZX)purchase to anyone. Great PC sound and software for customizing your preference of sound. You can plug in your gaming console via Toslink/spdif cable and and use the software for superior virtual surround effect (compared to Astro Mixamp or DSS/2)and customize your console gaming sound as well. The only down side to that, is that you need your PC to be on while you play a console game. Again, I highly recommend the Sound Card. Save yourself $50 and get the Z model.
UPDATE - 4/20/13
So, I have brought this issue up with others on Head-Fi (audiophile website forums). Many others have tested this out for themselves and have reported back with the same problem. There have been many differnt headphones used and the problem exists with all of them (Superlux HS668b, Ultrasone Pro900, Sony V-6, Sennheiser 558...ect).
It is worth noting that while the ACM degrades audio quality, the built in microphone on the ACM is better than the microphone on the Z model. I have tested out both mics and compared them with my Zalman Zm-Mic1 ($8) and the Zx mic is on par with the Zalman - while the Z model mic is not as good.
Also, it seems the people with the ZxR model ($250) are not noticing a big difference in audio quality with the ACM. That does not mean it does not degrade the audio - but those I have conversed with on Head-fi stated that the audio was not significantly affected. So, MAYBE the ZxR model has a better ACM.
Here is a link to the Head-fi forum where I first started this conversation. The conversation goes on for several pages of the forum. My username on Head-fi is Povell42
Here is a link to the same forum (pg 31) where others agree with me and the user phrozenspite confirms that the same issue happens with his ZXR Model.
Great Sound Card from a Disgrace of a Company
July 11, 2016
The sound card itself is absolutely great. I'd give it 5 stars if it wasn't a Creative product. Creative is notorious for their abysmal driver support.
I was actually completely unable to use the drivers on the creative website, as they were a buggy train wreck that caused nothing but problems & sounded worse than not even using a sound card. Luckily there are people out there that actually make better drivers for Creative products than Creative does(sad & disgraceful that aftermarket drivers are less buggy & more stable than official ones).
If you do decide to pick up this card, make sure you grab Daniel K drivers for it. This card works amazing well & sounds absolutely perfect with them!
Nice card that could use a jack for front panel microphone and earphone connection.
December 30, 2015
Not quite what I wanted, but fills in for my broken motherboard sound system. Does not have any way to connect the front microphone and earphone jacks to it. That means plugging in earphones to speakers to use them and running microphone from back of machine instead of the front.
October 29, 2015
it worked as it should fair price
The sound quality is meh but better than onboard sound for my old P4 system that ...
April 29, 2015
The sound quality is meh but better than onboard sound for my old P4 system that I put this card into. I wouldn't recommend this card to someone with a newer motherboard because onboard sound has greatly improved since 2002. The software that this card comes with also sucks and has a late 90's feel to it. But this card does what I need it to do so I'll just deal with it.
Not Like The SB Of Old
July 22, 2013
Having used SB for many years I am somewhat disappointed with this card.....although better than on board sound the software is really lacking. The old SB on my XP puter is by far and away a better sound card....but alas it don't work on Windows 7 or 8.....Had to track down old drivers on the net to get this card to do what I wanted....simple things like recording 'what you hear' are difficult to set up and need older drivers as do a few other functions.
Two Star Reviews:
Great sound, not as great construction
July 28, 2017
Exactly 30 days after my warranty expired both the center/subwoofer and rear speaker out died on me. Apparently this is not uncommon, and after reading reviews on this product now it seems I was lucky to have it last this long. I have a great 5.1 setup that is now unusable until I can find a replacement for this card. Will not be a creative product, even though I have been a customer for a LONG time
July 27, 2017
After 9 months of use the rear ports died. I tested all the ports for a signal and detected nothing, unbelievably the mic port still works. I currently am using a work around to get stereo output but this is remarkably disappointing. The mic was sub-par with a very tinny sound and the software that came with it had poor noise suppression that just needs to remain off and serves no use. For the price you pay on this thing you would expect it to last longer than 9 months and offer better recording options.
Very frustrating and no drivers available for download!
January 17, 2017
I can't recommend Creative Labs or this product. I've been using it for awhile and it does produce sound, but the software it comes with isn't easy to use or useful. I've had a better experience with most sound devices built into motherboards. Plus I just upgraded to Windows 10 and I can't find ANY reference to drivers or downloads ANYWHERE on their web site. Extremely frustrating, this will be the last Creative Labs product I purchase.
November 19, 2015
Easy to install, nice looking.
Super bright RED LEDs junking up system's case visuals.
Stopped working after 30 days, can not get to work again.
Good Sound - Bad Light
June 18, 2014
Sound quality is good, but this card is a joke in design. Creative made a horrible choice putting two red leds in this card. The leds are blinding bright and light up the whole bottom and front of my case. Plus my case is windowed so it lights up a big portion of my desk. Luckily for me I have a monitor to block direct sight of the leds. If you have a visible window I would advice going with another sound card. Asus has cards with similar dacs & capacitors. Minus the ACM and a little less fancy driver layout, but very similar in sound.
Used merchandise! Advertised as New!
February 22, 2015
When the package comes with packing tape holding it together and an unsealed open bag containing a burnt smelling soundcard as well as fingerprints on the install disc, I would guess this was a returned item. It does work however so I gave two stars vs. One
Be honest in the future please.....
AVOID IF YOUR NOT USING WINDOWS XP
December 3, 2014
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT INSTALL THIS IN A WINDOWS 7 COMPUTER. YOU WILL REGRET IT!!!
I installed this and used it for a week before experincing problems. After a week my computer began booting in Safe mode. After an investigation, the problem pointed to the driver. I had to remove the card and drivers to resolve the problem. The software control panel will switch from headphones to speakers on every computer restart. I will have to continue using my intergrated audio until I find a working low profile sound card.
Maybe I just wound up with a bad card....
December 9, 2012
I ordered this particular card from a dealer in used condition. It lasted about two months and then it died. I only spent $8.00 USD for it, so I'm not complaining but it was an inconvenience.
If it worked fine when I installed it, then it should have continued to do so. there was nothing wrong with my computer and the seller told me it worked fine and so it did.
Sometimes a bad one rolls off the assembly line too and dies later on.....
May 13, 2012
This card is good for windows 7, 8 channels, good sample rate, drivers are awesome. But....
Card does NOT have front panel connector, it's my fault because I didn't get the info first but I thought all cards had it (I was young and foolish back then)... I use my front jacks heavily so it was a turn down.
I Couldn't get it to work fully in Debian Linux, after a month of researching (and reinstalling) I got bored and stop trying. ALSA will give you 2 channel output no matter what you do, some hacks can route the sound to all your speakers, but will only work with *some* applications, other applications like totem and flash player would hang. And don't even think of watching a movie in 5.1, because it will NOT work.
Pulseaudio would hang randomly with this card. It seems chipset CA106 is not very well supported under Linux.
So I end up buying a HT | Omega striker 7.1 after a month of having this card, to which I also wrote a review (It's good but not perfect).
Soundblaster audigy review
January 17, 2010
Installed easily and sounded great. A few days afterwards, the sound began to deteriorate, and the LINE IN feature, which I use a lot, began to work intermittently.
Then it went out completely. So, I returned it for a replacement Soundblaster Audigy, which came promptly and it too, installed easily and sounded great. But , the LINE IN feature did not work at all!
That was it. I had had it. If you have no need to rip any music files into your registry, I guess its ok.
But for me. I bought an Xtreme Sound 7.1 sound card, for the same amount of money, and it works just fine. I would definetly 4 star that one.
One Star Reviews:
I have Windows 10 PC and the sound is horrible. I am going to remove it and go ...
June 7, 2017
I have Windows 10 PC and the sound is horrible. I am going to remove it and go back to using the sound built into the motherboard. Creative does not seem to be the least concerned about creating a driver that actually works with W10. I have scoured the forums and tinkered with a lot of settings and nothing is helping.
May 5, 2017
I bought this sound card for my husband for Christmas. ever since he installed it, the sound on his computer has made really strange and annoying popping noises. He has tried multiple times to fix the problem and today he finally decided to remove it completely and guess what, the popping stopped.
October 19, 2016
this is the most frustrating Sound card i ever had ! the software from creative is from the stone age and is soo buggy, the headsets decide to suddenly ... disappear.
i do not usually write reviews and specially not negative ones.
but this is the worst purchase i ever made and a waste of money.
The Mobo Sound card is a lot more reliable.
P.S. the sound card is good when it actually works.
As much as I wanted to love this thing
April 5, 2016
As much as I wanted to love this thing, after spending 6 hours trying everything possible to get it to work right I gave up and sent the item back. The product is run by Drivers and the drivers are complete trash with Windows 10. I could get the speakers working, but not the headset plug in. Then I'd install the drivers to get the headset extension to work and the speakers to work and all i'd get is an extremely obnoxious screeching and static noise from either device. I did a ton of research after I purchased this item and it seemed like the majority of people had the same issues. It's really too bad because the idea of the item was great for my gaming, but having a product run on drivers rather then the product having all the functions built in is a terrible idea. Asus Xonar products on the other hand are the opposite, they use drivers for little updates, not to run their entire product. Just look at the difference in the two products.
I should have known better than to buy another Creative sound card
September 28, 2015
I should have known better than to buy another Creative sound card. I thought things would have gotten better in the 6 years since I last had one but I was wrong. This card is a nightmare. I could not get 5.1 working over optical for the life of me. I spent 3 hours messing with drivers and every permutation of the settings you could imagine and another 2 hours with tech support and still couldn't get 5.1 audio over optical. I guess I'll be spending twice as much and getting the HT Omega Claro Halo instead. It really is amazing how bad the software and drivers for this is.
Unable to save speaker configuration.
April 14, 2017
I bought one of these when my motherboard's onboard sound died. It works fine...except it is completely unable to save the speaker configuration, and always resets it to 7.1 mode. It also resets to 7.1 mode whenever I lock my PC. 7.1 mode sounds quite bad when you don't have a 7.1 speaker configuration. So to use this, I have to repeatedly change the speaker configuration every time I run anything that plays sound. A quick google search reveals that this has been an issue for at least 5 years. As a result, unless you have a 7.1 speaker setup, I strongly advise you look elsewhere. I ended up using a really cheap USB dongle instead.
January 27, 2016
Would not install on Windows XP... nothing wrong with the PC as I did a complete restore and re-installed the OS back to factory new.. I tried multiple times un-istalling/installing the card but the OS would not recognize it... Customer support sucks as you cannot get phone tech support and e-mailing them is useless.. went back to my old card and it installed without a problem without the software.
This one was a great disappointment. Doesn't have a graphic equalizer
January 7, 2015
Been using Sound Blaster cards for 20 years now. This one was a great disappointment. Doesn't have a graphic equalizer. Not as good as the embedded chip it was intended to replace. Low price yes, but it's not worth that as comparable cards cost 5 dollars or less. Don't be fooled by the "Audigy" brand, I've owned the past iterations of this card and this one is a rip-off. Update Jan 2015: Now I can't even get the microphone to work on this card. Retiring it to the dust bin and going back to the embedded Realtek chip. What a waste of time and money on this SB failure.
Greedy business, Creative Labs
March 3, 2012
This product is still being sold by Creative Labs through Amazon, and this card or any other Audigy card has no service or tech support from CreativeLabs - it is stated "End of Life" in relation to service. Stay away from this company, they are just greedy - primitive business, isn't it? China is getting expensive... It is a shame - CreativeLabs. Finally, the card does not recognize 2.1 speaker system with subwoofer from Altec on advanced Dell PC where the ECC memory is supported. Certainly, ECC memory has nothing to do with the card compatibility. It is a 2006 product and still being sold by these crooks. If someone wants to join me in filing a lawsuit, please contact me through Amazon.
Broke after a few months of use
April 14, 2011
I was very happy with this basic sound card until the color-coded plastic insulation for the sound-out jack broke into pieces and fell away. Not sure exactly how it happened. I do plug and unplug connectors into the jacks a lot so I guess the plastic insulation wasn't strong enough for that. On closer inspection, the plastic does seem to be the hard, brittle kind. I think a softer plastic is needed here. Anyway, the card is now unusable. I can make a connection, but I get a lot of noise and feedback without insulation around the plug. All of this happened after only 4.5 months of use. No idea if the manufacturer will replace it. Aside from this one problem, it was a perfectly acceptable sound card.
Vote for Me
Vote for Me
$94.94updated: May 21, 2018
from 47 sellers
$53.00updated: May 22, 2018
from 3 sellers
Must be at least 18 & over to purchase
Opened box Never installed Comes with cd And paperwork
Number of Items
Number of Items
Number of Parts
Number of Parts
Comes with Manufacturer Warranty.
Includes an external high quality dual-microphone array standard with card
Features Sound Core3D Audio Processor for accelerating advanced audio and voice technologies
SBX Pro Studio sound technologies create unprecedented levels of audio realism including stunning 3D surround effects for your speakers and headsets
Delivers 116dB SNR, plus audiophile-grade capacitors and gold-plated I/O connectivity
Use the Sound Blaster Control Panel just toggle between you headphone and speakers system with a flip of a switch
7.1 surround output
24-bit/96kHz audio resolution
100dB signal to noise ratio
EAX ADVANCED HD 3.0 support for gaming
CMSS up-mixes stereo content to 7.1 surround