Audigy 2 ZS Platinum vs X-fi xtreme music

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by fox81, May 26, 2006.

  1. fox81

    fox81 Member

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    As the subject line suggests, what would be your preference?

    I want to use it for gaming as well as music, home theatre not such a big deal. Primarily will be used with headphones, and i do have a headphone amp where required (but use a headset for gaming so wont use the amp then).

    Anyway, the Audigy is platinum, meaning i get the I/O slot, which is pretty cool, but i presume x-fi cards are generally better (since they cost more).

    Prices are fairly even.
     
  2. dogthinker

    dogthinker Member

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    For gaming... It's no contest at all. X-Fi. Definately.

    3D positioning with conventional headphones is even better than previous Creative incarnations. Also takes a little load off your processor, I saw about a 5% improvement in FPS (not much, but hey, it's a bonus.)

    Why would you disconnect your headphone amp when gaming? :confused:
     
  3. Chamelion

    Chamelion Member

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    I upgraded from an Audigy 2 to the X-Fi and the difference whilst gaming is phenomincal. In fact, everything is that much better.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    fox81

    fox81 Member

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    When gaming, I use a headset with mic. I couldn't plug in the mic with the headphone plug in the amp.

    The headphone amp is tube based, so more around warmth of sound. Great for music.
     
  5. dogthinker

    dogthinker Member

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    Ahh, I see. Is it a problem with the length of the cable after the split? If so you could mod it to give yourself a bit more room.

    With your setup, I'm guessing the headset is a long way from being the best headphones in your collection. Maybe you should get a cheap 10$ clip on mic from DSE (plenty good enough for VOIP) so you can use some of your better headphones and your amp.
     
  6. -Rift-

    -Rift- Member

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    X-Fi... you have no reason to use the I/O hub at all, its a bit of a gimic really.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    fox81

    fox81 Member

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    but it looks like a good gimic!

    anyway, x-fi platinum is too much, so sounds like x-fi xtreme music is the way to go
     
  8. irR4tiOn4L

    irR4tiOn4L Member

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    Just out of interest, and as no flame bait, which games and on what output equipment have you seen such a difference? I got an X-Fi just yesterday, expecting a major difference in the sound over my AC97 onboard or Soundblaster Live Value.

    What i want to know is which games does the X-fi sound so brilliant in? I only tried UT2004, Halo, Crashday, Oblivion and Tomb Raider Legends, in these games:

    * The CMSS 3D for headphones did squat except make it sound like everything was reverbed (didnt work properly, probably the games' fault), both in Entertainment and Game modes, set up properly for headphones

    * The sound was obviously several times greater fidelity, but overall not much 'better' than onboard.

    * Some details became evident, where the onboard completely muffled them (positive for once)

    * Other details became recessed, where onboard had made them as obvious as they should be (not good at all)

    * The music and sound were overly 'bright' but not very musical, which made the game sound very active, but ultimately 'flat', and the in game soundtracks were not quite as memorable as on the onboard.


    I use Senn HD 590 headphones, which i really like, and i think its fair to say are studio monitor headphones. They already reveal many more details and nuances than computer speaker sets.

    I think the X-fi is designed to 'overdo' muffled details so that people on more ordinary equipment will hear it, which means over quality equipment you hear this as being overly bright.

    If people with little computer speakers will say the X-Fi 'reveals details theyve never heard before', you can be sure these details will sound way too loud on mine. That kinda gives away my problem with its sound.

    Having said that, i do not use a headphone amp or my normal Technics amp right now, i just plugged those headphones into the output jacks of the oboard and X-Fi. Please tell me if this is a problem.



    While the 'quality' of the output is obviously much louder, crisper and generally several magnitudes 'better' than the onboard or live, i do not like the 'sound' or 'style' of the X-fi. Its entire philosophy to sound involves making everything loud and bright. Like i said, on my headphones that sounds terribly shrill and 'completely wrong', if you will. Not bad sound, just wrong sounding.

    Basically it seems to accentuate all the wrong details - all the background sounds in a song are now loud and obvious, but the foreground sounds now sound recessed - more accurate and crisp, but recessed.

    On top of that, the X-Fi either has the bright sounds of a Sony amplifier/Cd player, or has no musical bias at all. It plays everything as if it one note after another, or individual sound waves - not a progression or series of sound waves. The sound does not blend together - it sounds like an emotionless rendition.

    In games, it also accentuates all the 'wrong' sounds. Every glass shatter and bullet hit sounds pretty audible, but explosions sound pissy in comparison. Everything seems to play at a similar volume level - be it explosion, gun shot, glass break or footstep. No sound is accentuated as it should properly be.

    The crashes and explosions in Crashday sounded much louder than the other sounds with onboard, and with X-fi they are drowned out.



    But the worst problem just ruins this - the bloody game mode is terrible! First of all its considerably quieter. but even without that, the game mode obviously had worse overall fidelity.

    I dont know what advantages this half arsed game mode has, but i noticed that Halo didnt play gunfire sounds properly sometimes in entertainment mode, and i suspect that CMSS3D Headphone for games, EAX, sound acceleration and all those other game specific features simply arent present in Entertainment mode, which ironically i have to use to play games.

    What the hell do Creative think gamers and their games are? People with no ears who dont need high fidelity but just a loud wall of sound?

    This has pretty much shattered my experience with it. Why am i to use an Entertainment mode with little support for sound acceleration or a Game mode with low fidelity sound if i want to do what a sound card should - play games?



    I dont mean to ruin the day of other X-fi owners, but i am really dissapointed and somewhat crushed. This thing has not met a single expectation i had of it.
     
  9. mute

    mute Member

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    Same here

    I bought an X-Fi thinking it was going to be pretty damn good from all the feedback I read, but it was pretty ordinary, even compared to my onboard sound.

    Maybe my expectations were too high, who knows. And I've gotta agree with the "game mode", what a load of crap.

    Anyway I got rid of mine a while back and probably going to get an Audigy2 instead...
     
  10. -Rift-

    -Rift- Member

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    I don't really get this "game" mode or whatever :confused:

    I have a Audigy2ZS and I'm very happy with it - noticable difference over onboard and surround sound gaming is awesome. I don't use any creative effects or features though (except EAX obviously). For pure music though sometime in the future I wouldn;t mind a dedicated CD player but for now the Audigy is fine.

    One thing I have noticed is the quality varies greatly from game to game. I haven't really been keeping up with the latest games until recently and I must admit I'm not that picky with game music - if its loud and over the top, its all good to me I don't expect it to be life like, like music.

    So I played Quake4 the other day and I must say in the sound department I was on one hand very excited and on the other very dissapointed. Surround sound games sound awesome, really add to the effect of the whole thing but the sound itself... sucked. I think it must be Activision compensating for all these Logitech owners but there was NO bass. Everything sounded high and tin canny, clear definatly but serverly lacking bottom end... which wehn you want to go around with the volume up blasting shit adds a lot to the effect. Quake 3 in comparison was the opposite. I found NFSMW sounded slighty muffled too. Glad I got the ZS seems to be a winner :thumbup:
     
  11. irR4tiOn4L

    irR4tiOn4L Member

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    I tried it in Doom 3, and it was a lot better, and much more worthwhile than onboard. The game mode actually sounded good here and was very loud, so its obviously designed only for games that support it - otherwise use entertainment mode.

    Having said that, while its an obvious improvement over AC97, its not the quantum leap it should be. Compared to graphics and physics, the X-Fi just demonstrates that sound sticks out like a sore thumb.

    I also want to make it clear that im not so much dissapointed in the X-Fi, as sound cards in general. I still think its the best sound card for games out there, and dont think the Audigy 2 is better (except to save a 150 bucks).

    What gets to me is that the standard in sound is so low, and the progress so slow to come, that the difference over onboard - while significant - doesnt end up being much. When you compare it to what 200 bucks would get you from a video card, this is very ordinary and underwhelming - not value for money at all.

    Here is what i said in another thread:

    Its not Hi-Fi. I guess you are right, it does have a flat and neutral response. Too flat though - it has no musical inclination or style. As for equalizer - we both know that can only patch up the problem.

    Its clear this really is the best sound card for games out there, and good as sound cards go - but its just turned into utter dissapointment with the sound industry in games - and the clear detrimental impact Creative's hegemony for the last 10 years has had. I hope a better company kills Creative like its done to so many others.

    I tried the X-Fi in Doom 3 with the 1.3 patch, and it was, to its credit, a lot better than AC97. But its just not the quantum leap in sound that i was expecting from 10 years of progress. To its credit, however, it may not be the X-Fi's fault - which bucks the trend actually - but the fault of Creative hegemony and lazy development in games for years.

    Frankly if you want the best sound for games this is it, the first actual improvement in ten years, but considering how little has actually improved in ten years you might just be disgusted that it took them this long.


    A long elaboration:
    First of all, if it hadnt been for creative we would have seen powerful soundcards akin to the X-Fi a long time ago. The features of the X-Fi do not reflect 10 years of progress:

    CMSS 3D actually sounds like the simple positional cues that should have been in games years ago, the 'crystallizer' is just a cute little feature like 'colour correction' on nvidia videocards, and sometimes improves, sometimes worsens the sound, and EAX 5 HD and what the f not is just a bunch of sound addons if you will - kinda like when lens glare appeared. These effects should have been there a long time ago - even unreal did its own doppler shift.


    Developers themselves have also not helped progress

    The actual sound engines, even in doom 3 and its geometry occlusion, have remained very basic. A sound plays, and a few paramaters change its volume and where its coming from. CMSS 3d just changes pitch based on direction. Also, the volume rules are not system wide, but for each sound.

    Worse, developers dont give a damn about creating a 'sound scape'. They tend to just place sounds anywhere, with weird fade distances. Then they add sounds that have no source, like voices, and those that do. Sometimes they set a minimum and maximum volume for these, so that volume fades dont match. It all sounds very off.


    Then comes that sound is low on the list of developer's priorities

    Even in the most expensive productions like Doom3, the sounds themselves are often crappy - explosions are more like implosions, footsteps sound terrible, gunfire sounds nothing like it should, or some guns are loud, like the pistol, others are not, like the minigun.

    Generally, sounds are synthesised, not recorded, and the different sounds all use similar volumes, and dont match up very well. Explosions are no louder than gunfire, which can often be eclipsed by the sound of footsteps or bullets hitting metal.

    Its downright criminal. Terrible work and nothing matches, nothing fits. It sounds like a bunch of sound recordings playing, because it is.


    A good case in point of this is in Doom 3 - go up to that turbo turkey puncher machine and listen the gobble gobble of the turkey. Well, now that we finally have a decent sound card like the X-Fi, its very obvious that its not actually a turkey, but some guy taking a pretty bad shot at 'gobble gobble', and nothing to hide that. It sounds like something rank amateurs would do.

    Then you notice that the sound of the machine doesnt fade very much if you move away from it, before fading completely very suddenly - one moment its loud as hell, the next its inaudible. Completely stupid.


    Just note that in 10 years, accelerated voice support did not go up from the 64 of the AWE 64 untill the X-Fi.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2006
  12. irR4tiOn4L

    irR4tiOn4L Member

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    To those not masochistic enough to read my long posts, my basic message is:
    Computer sound was underwhelming before the X-Fi, and its still ordinary after X-Fi. Makes you wonder whether it was worth it.

    However, the X-Fi is a revolutionary design, so even if i havent seen the results so far, maybe ill see them in the future.
     
  13. annandin

    annandin Member

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    To me, it was the Aureal cards that were really pushing the boundaries, and was their efforts were halted by patent infringement cases from creative and eventually they were bought out by creative.
     
  14. mute

    mute Member

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    Yeah I wasn't saying that the X-fi is useless if upgrading from onboard sound, I was more saying that it's not worth spending the extra over something like an Audigy2..

    I'd personally prefer save $150 and just get an Audigy2 (which is still a very very good performer for the price) :thumbup:
     
  15. irR4tiOn4L

    irR4tiOn4L Member

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    Its a lot better than onboard, but i cant imagine any more quality soundcards squeezing into that difference. Id say the audigy 2 would be very similar to this.

    I agree with the poster about Aureal - They were trying to push the boundaries - but instead we got stuck with creative who killed sound in games. Single handedly.


    As for game mode - Well it turns out that even in Doom3 Game mode IS A PIECE OF CRAP CREATIVE. The fidelity is MUCH worse than entertainment mode, but guess what - all those fancy game effects only work in game mode.

    I can hear a clear difference between the two, after adjusting for volume differences, just in the Id software movie when starting up Doom 3!!!

    What the hell do they think they are pulling? I wouldve thought it obvious that you dont just force people to sacrifice quality for non-existant performance improvements!!

    Man i am pissed.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2006
  16. irR4tiOn4L

    irR4tiOn4L Member

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    The one thing that continues to puzzle me is - why are people still lapping this Sh*t up? Considering that the other X-Fi's dont have a single feature over the Xtreme music except Xram, yet cost triple or more, why do they buy them?

    I can only conclude that either people dont care, havent noticed or dont have equipment good enough to notice that game sound is crap.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    fox81

    fox81 Member

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    so what about the HDA sound cards then?
     
  18. irR4tiOn4L

    irR4tiOn4L Member

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    Well i dont know. I have been blaming the X-Fi, but really i only have one complaint against the X-fi -

    The Game mode has lower fidelity than the entertainment mode, which doesnt have hardware acceleration.

    But its a very high quality, powerful sound card, and i guess it has heaps of potential. I guess i havent put that across enough.


    I dont know too much about HDA. It might be a little more musical and at best about the same quality sound, but without EAX and all that i doubt it will sound better.

    The real problem is that sound in games sucks, has sucked and is barely improving. I really hope this X-Fi leads to a change.


    Until then, its like buying racing tyres for a mini - the tyres are great, but you still cant use them properly.
     
  19. MR CHILLED

    MR CHILLED D'oh!

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    I don't know what games you are playing but with a good setup the X-Fi and indeed even the Audigy series sounds quite good for gaming. Of course it is subjective, but with all the complaints with hardware I hear on the net, sound in gaming isn't a big one.
     
  20. Trog Star

    Trog Star Member

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    in my personal opion the X-fi is a small step for PC sound, unfortunetly pc sound has been in a coma for the last decade and now everyones applauding this mediocre step.

    weather or not the card sounds better than a audigy 2 is debateable at best, however it does sound better than Ac97, but so does a jackhammer.

    my big problem is the compleat lack of support for anything except windows. we are expecting driver support from creative in Q2 2007!

    and people think ATI are bad :confused:
     

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