Soundblaster zxr review: Creative Labs Sound Blaster ZxR Sound Card Review – The best and most expensive sound card on the market!

Creative Labs Sound Blaster ZxR Sound Card Review – The best and most expensive sound card on the market!

Pros: Overall sound quality, recording options, inputs/outputs, design and look, software
Cons: Price, full compatibility with certain games, no included tools to swap op-amps

Accessories: 9.5/10
Design & Looks: 10/10
Sound Quality: 10/10
Recording Quality: 8/10
Software: 9/10
Value: 7/10
My final Rating: 9/10

Purchase Date: March 2015
Purchase Price: £185

First of all I would like to thank Creative for sending me out the Sound Blaster ZxR Sound Card for review. It is yet again a great honour to have received the product to review.
The sound card can be bought from:
–AmazonUK for around £185
–AmazonUSA for around $235

Full specifications of the ZxR can be found on Creative’s website.

Here’s my video review on YouTube to complement the written review:

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR Specifications

Feature Description
Digital-to-Analog Convertor
(DAC) – Main board
  • TI Burr-Brown PCM1794 (127dB DAC, 24bit / 192kHz) for Front L / R
  • TI Burr-Brown PCM1798 (123dB DAC, 24bit / 192kHz) for Rear / C / Sub
Analog-to-Digital Convertor
(ADC) – DBPro board
  • TI Burr-Brown PCM4220 (Dynamic Range 123dB)
Headphone Amplifier Chipset
  • Texas Instrument 6120A2 (120dB DAC, 80mW into 600 ohm)
Maximum DAC Resolution
  • Front Channel Out : 24-bit, 192kHz
  • Headphone (33 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz
  • Headphone (300 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz
  • Headphone (600 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz
SNR (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Wgt), @ 24-bit, 96kHz
  • Front Channel Out : ~ 124dB
  • Headphone (33 ohms): ~ 119dB
  • Headphone (300 ohms): ~ 119dB
  • Headphone (600 ohms): ~ 119dB
Frequency Response @ 96kHz
  • Front Channel Out : 10Hz to 45kHz
  • Rear Channel Out : 10Hz to 45kHz
  • Center Out : 10Hz to 45kHz
  • Headphone (33/300/600 ohms): 10Hz to 45kHz
Frequency Response @ 192kHz(Stereo only)
  • Front Channel Out : 10Hz to 88kHz
Speaker Support Description
Supported Output Stereo/2. 1 Speakers
5.1 Speakers
Connectivity Description
Main Card
Headphone Out 1 x Amplified 1/4″ Stereo Jack
Speaker Out 2x RCA Out (L / R)
2x 3.5mm Out ( Rear, C/Sub)
Microphone In 1/4″ Stereo Jack
DBPro Card
Optical Out TOSLINK
Optical In TOSLINK
Line In 2x RCA In
Audio Control Module
Microphone In Built-In Beamforming Microphone
1x 3.5mm In
1x 1/4″ In
Headphone Out 1x 3.5mm Out
1x 1/4″ Out


[section label=”A Closer Look”]

A Closer Look at the Creative Sound Blaster ZxR

Here’s a look at the packaging for the Sound Blaster ZxR. The front of the box is plastered with numerous features along with windows displaying the soundcard and the ACM module. Along with software such as SBX Pro Studio, Crystal Voice, etc. Creative is particularly proud about being able to reach a 124dB SNR with the Sound Blaster ZxR. Very few soundcards on the market are capable of reaching such a high SNR, including Creative’s previous audiophile grade soundcard, the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD.

Digging into the packaging, let’s take a look at the accessories. Included we get some documentation, a driver disk, an optical cable, a 3.5mm (male) to RCA (male) cable, a 3.5mm (female) to RCA (male) adapter, and a proprietary connector that interfaces the soundcard with the daughterboard. We’ll discuss that in a little bit.

We also get the Audio Control Module (ACM). The ACM is an external audio control module that includes a built in microphone array, a large volume control knob, 3.5mm headphone/microphone outputs and 1/4″ headphone/microphone outputs. The ACM interfaces with the Sound Blaster ZxR via 3.5mm headphone/microphone connectors, but Creative has also included 3.5mm to 1/4″ adapters as well for interfacing with the sound card.

Now something a lot of people may not realize is that while there are a lot of methods for passing 3.5mm audio outputs such as front panel audio on cases or audio passthroughs on gaming keyboards, these passthroughs may not always be of high quality. Most of the time, directly connecting a pair of headphones to a higher end soundcard will tend to sound better than when it’s connected via say the case’s front panel audio.  The ACM on the other hand, is a high quality audio passthrough, which means audio piped through the ACM will sound identical to audio coming directly from the soundcard.

Finally, let’s also take a look at the Sound Blaster ZxR itself along with the DBPro daughter board. While overall design of the card is similar to what we saw from the Sound Blaster Z, the ZxR is a slightly longer card and has a more blacked out color scheme on its EMI shield than what we saw on the Sound Blaster Z. As usual, it uses a PCIe 1x interface, so the card may be installed in PCIe 1x, 4x, 8x, and 16x slots on your motherboard.

Since the DBPro daughter card doesn’t have a PCIe or USB interface, it connects via a proprietary connector that runs between the primary Sound Blaster ZxR PCB and the DBPro daughter board. The DBPro daughter board does not need to be installed for the main board to work; however, you’ll be losing the optical interface along with the line in as well.

With the Sound Blaster ZxR, we’re definitely not short on connectivity options. The primary Sound Blaster ZxR card includes 1x 1/4″ headphone jack, 1x 1/4″ microphone jack, 2x RCA out (L/R speaker), and 2x 3.5mm jacks (rear, c/sub) as well. The DBPro daughter card includes 2x RCA line in, 1x optical in and 1x optical out.

For those without enthusiast/audiophile grade headphones that use 1/4″ jacks, you must use the ACM to interface your 3.5mm jacks with the soundcard or purchase a 1/4″ to 3. 5mm adapter.

Here’s a look at the rear of the card. There’s not much to see here here, but Creative is using a black PCB.

Since most of the sound card and the daughter board is covered with an EMI shield, let’s pull that off and take a closer look at the type of components used on the card. This will give us a general idea of how well the sound card will perform. From first glance though, it’s quite obvious that the Sound Blaster ZxR has a whole helluva lot more going on than both the Sound Blaster Z. Let’s take a closer look.

First thing you’ll notice is that on both the Sound Blaster ZxR main card and the DBPro daughter card there’s an EMI divider that divides the analog and digital sections of the sound card. This ensures that interference from either the analog or digital portions of the boards don’t cross over. Safe to say, this along with many other factors contribute to why Creative has been able to achieve up to a 124dB SNR.

Like Creative’s entire Sound Blaster Z series of sound cards, the Sound Blaster ZxR utilizes the Creative CA0113-4AG audio processor, which most of you know as the Sound Core 3D audio processor. We’ve talked about this chip more extensively in our review of the Sound Blaster Z, but it’s essentially a 4 core audio processor that handles all the special features in the software such as SBX Pro Studio, Crystal Voice, Dolby Digital Live encoding, etc.

Since the Sound Blaster ZxR is designed for audio enthusiasts and audiophiles, Creative has included four replaceable op amps, which are located on the main board. The stock op amps include two LME 49710NA and two JRC 2114D.

Here’s a look at the main DACs (Digital to Analog Converter) along with the headphone amp as well. The Front L/R DACs consists of Burr-Brown PCM1794 while the Rear/C/Sub DACs consist of Burr-Brown PCM1798.

Additionally, the main board is also scattered with a number of JRC 2114 op amps as well.

Here’s a look at the Cirrus Logic 8416CN 192 kHz digital audio interface receiver. Interestingly, this chip is located on the main board rather than the DBPro daughter board, which actually houses the optical in/optical out connector.

Here’s a look at the DBPro daughter board. For the Sound Blaster ZxR, Creative is using the Burr-Brown PCM4220 ADC (analog to digital converter). Along with the Burr-Brown PCM 4220 ADC, the DBPro board also houses a number of JRC 2114 op-amps as well.

Here’s a look at the capacitors on Sound Blaster ZxR. Creative is using Nichicon Muse series Fine Gold (FG) capacitors. These are Japanese made capacitors specifically designed for audio applications.


[section label=”Software”]

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR Software

Let’s take a look at the software for the Sound Blaster ZxR. I’m not going to go too in depth on the software since it’s been covered in the review of the Sound Blaster Z and it’s pretty much identical. Those interested in learning more about the software itself can take a look at the software portion of the Sound Blaster Z review.

The main update to the software is the inclusion of ASIO support, which is now standard with the latest Creative SBX Pro Studio driver suite available via Creative’s website. ASIO support is now included with the entire Sound Blaster Z lineup of soundcards, not just the Sound Blaster ZxR. The ASIO driver allows for the soundcard to bypass the standard Windows audio stack, which allows for reduced latency and a more “pure” audio experience as it prevents the Windows audio stack from resampling the audio as it passes through. While I personally haven’t found this necessarily to be that important for audio playback, I think ASIO support can be very important for those interested in using the soundcard for recording purposes as small amounts of latency may cause timing issues in the final recorded product.


[section label=”Performance”]

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR Performance

Ivy Bridge Test Bench

CPU Intel Core i5 3570K
Motherboard Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H
Memory Kingston HyperX Genesis 16GB DDR3 2133MHz
Graphics Intel HD4000 Graphics
Storage Patriot Pyro SE 120gb
Power Supply Corsair HX650
Case HSPC High Speed Tech Station
Optical Drive ASUS OEM DVD Drive
Operating System Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

Special thanks to Gigabyte, Kingston, OCZ Technology and HSPC for sponsoring our test bench!

Equipment Setup

Today we’ll be testing the Sound Blaster ZxR with the following setup.

  1. 2.1 speaker configuration via the RCA speaker out – Audioengine 5+ speakers + Audioengine AS8 Subwoofer
  2. 5.1 speaker configuration via optical out – Yamaha RX-V659 Receiver, Polk Audio RM705
  3. Headphone configuration via 1/4″ headphone jack – Beyerdynamic DT990
  4. Headphone configuration via 3.5mm headphone port via ACM – Logitech Ultimate Ears 6000, SteelSeries 7H Fnatic


In gaming, I found that the Sound Blaster ZxR performed very similarly to the Sound Blaster Z. Audio imaging was very good and sound was extremely crisp and clear. The nice thing about the Sound Blaster ZxR is that many of the gaming oriented features from the rest of the Sound Blaster Z series of soundcards are present here as well. Scout mode for example significantly boosts the treble which allows for a slight tactical advantage while gaming as sounds such as footsteps and voices are more clearly heard.

Additionally for voice chat in game and any general VoIP application for that matter, Creative’s Crystal Voice suite is extremely powerful. The suite includes a number of different features such as noise reduction, smart volume, acoustic echo cancellation, etc., which are all done in real time via the Sound Core 3D chipset. Many of these features such as noise reduction for example works far better than noise reduction systems in applications such as Skype for example and the nice thing about these features is that they work on any microphone that interfaces via a 3.5mm jack. One feature I find nearly indispensable now is acoustic noise cancellation as it monitors audio being played back in real time and cancels it out. This is useful feature especially during gameplay as it avoids having teammates hear in game audio coming out of your speakers and helps reduce/eliminate that dreaded sound loop caused by two people simultaneously using their speakers while on VoIP applications.


For movie testing, I watched the stellar Blu-Ray edition of Skyfall, the latest film starring our favorite spy, James Bond. The Skyfall Blu-Ray includes a top notch DTS-HD Master Audio 5. 1 soundtrack, which I feel is one of the most well done 5.1 audio tracks I’ve had the pleasure of hearing for quite a while. Comparing the onboard VIA VT2021 audio solution against the Sound Blaster ZxR, there was a distinct difference in audio clarity and crispness as well as a tighter bassline, which was quite apparent especially with the Audioengine 5+ speakers along with the Audioengine AS8 Subwoofer.


With all of the audio processing features disabled and the Sound Blaster ZxR set to stereo direct mode, I spent quite a considerable amount of time testing the soundcard with a variety of music, and overall I was very pleased with its performance. Like what I experienced in gaming and movies, again the sound was crisp and tight here compared to onboard sound, which again was especially noticeable on the Audioengine 5+/AS8 combination.

Additionally I also spent quite a bit of time testing the Sound Blaster ZxR with high end headphones and I found that the headphone amplifier worked very well driving the 600 ohm Beyerdynamic DT990’s, which I think is one of the bigger selling points of having a dedicated sound card as it eliminates the need for a dedicated headphone amplifier. Unfortunately it’s difficult to compare the performance of high end audio equipment using the Sound Blaster ZxR against onboard sound since onboard sound couldn’t properly drive the DT990’s. That said, using 32 ohm Logitech Ultimate Ears 6000 headphones, I found that in addition to added clarity and crispness, one thing about the Sound Blaster ZxR when compared to the onboard sound solution is that, hissing and white noise was greatly reduced, which generally indicates less interference and superior internal circuitry.


[section label=”Conclusions”]

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR Conclusions

It’s quite difficult to review the Sound Blaster ZxR without the whole thing kinda sounding like a review of the Sound Blaster Z or the Sound Blaster ZX, but I think the best way to think about the Sound Blaster ZxR is to think of it as a very highly upgraded Sound Blaster Z/ZX. Whereas performance between onboard sound and the Sound Blaster Z/ZX is very noticeable, I think the sound quality between the Sound Blaster Z/ZX and the Sound Blaster ZxR is a lot more difficult to discern, especially if you’re lacking enthusiast or audiophile grade listening equipment. Sadly like with anything, the law of diminishing returns applies to audio as well.

Now, before I venture into my conclusions on the Sound Blaster ZxR, let’s spend a little bit of time talking about the Sound Blaster ZX first. Since my review of the Sound Blaster Z back in December of last year, I also had the opportunity to test the Sound Blaster ZX shortly after, and for those of you who caught my video unboxing of the ZX, you’ll notice that for the most part, the real draw of the ZX is the ACM module. For those wondering where the review for the Sound Blaster ZX was, I didn’t feel a whole new review for the ZX made any sense since most of the onboard hardware on the ZX is completely identical to the Z (with the exception of the capacitors) and to be honest, I didn’t notice much of a difference in sound quality either. That said, the Sound Blaster ZX gets the ACM module and I think that’s the main value add for the ZX as it allows easy access to a high quality audio passthrough along with 1/4″ jacks for high end headphones/speakers.

Alright, so moving back to the Sound Blaster ZxR, I can say that in terms of performance it’s easily among the best sounding and most versatile internal soundcards on the market. The versatility because the Sound Blaster ZxR, is technically an audiophile, gaming, and recording soundcard packaged into one and while it may not be the best at all three, it’s still very good at all three.

Of course with quality and versatility comes price and the Creative Sound Blaster ZxR will cost a pretty penny coming in at $249.99, making it one of the most expensive internal sound cards on the market. However like I said earlier, this soundcard isn’t meant for the average consumer – the Sound Blaster Z or the Sound Blaster ZX is. The Sound Blaster ZxR on the other hand is a product meant only for serious enthusiasts who already have high quality listening equipment and are trying to squeeze every ounce of performance out of them, or those who are looking for a soundcard for basic recording purposes such as single instrument or vocal recording.

If that’s you, then I think you’ll find that the ZxR is worth every penny. If not, then your money may be best spent elsewhere such as getting that new pair of high quality speakers first.

Sample provided by: Creative

Available at: Amazon

Sound Blaster ZxR Studio-Grade Sound Card, Hear The Blaster Roar!

Mark Taliaferro

July 5, 2016
Desktop PCs, Hardware, Reviews & Articles, Sound and speakers, Sound Cards

1 Comment

Sound Blaster ZxR Sound Card

Sound Blaster has been around since the inception of sound card technology. Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, there was “The Adlib Multimedia PC Upgrade Kit” and the “Sound Blaster Multimedia Upgrade Kit”. It consisted of a sound card, a CD-ROM drive and a small set of speakers for a mere $369.00, and the CD-ROM drive was 1x speed. Fast forward to today and the Sound Blaster ZxR is light years ahead of its ancient cousin, and by yesteryear standards, barely recognizable as a sound card.

In reality, one would have to specify that this is actually a sound card system, as the Sound Blaster ZxR consists of a mother card, a daughter card and a front dock that lets you plug in speakers and headsets and switch between them without having to plug and unplug devices.

The Sound Blaster ZxR is the flagship offering from Creative Labs and was released among murmurs of driver instability, none of which we encountered. As mentioned earlier, it consists of two cards and is destined to be hooked to speakers, earphones, microphones and receivers and is considered to be audiophile quality. The 600 ohm amplifier and 124 dB signal-to-noise ratio should yield a cleaner sound output than most of the sound cards around. Of course along with the cleaner sound and audiophile quality components comes an audiophile price tag, and the Sound Blaster ZxR can be found at .

Package Contents

  • Sound Blaster ZxR sound card
  • Sound Blaster DBpro card
  • Sound Blaster Audio Control Module
  • 1x Optical Cable
  • 1x Stereo(3. 5mm)-to-RCA cable
  • 1x DBpro cable
  • Quick Start Leaflet
  • Installation CD containing: Drivers for Windows 7 and Windows 8, Creative Software Suite, User’s Guide

Sound Blaster left nothing to chance and you get all the cables to make the connections for most setups.

Sound Blaster ZxR Features:

  • 124dB Signal-To-Noise Ratio
  • Pristine audio recordings with ultra low latency
  • 24-bit / 192kHz audio output
  • Studio-grade content creation
  • DBPro daughter board
  • Accessible Audio Control Module (ACM)
  • Crystal clear communication
  • SBX Pro Studio technologies

“CrystalVoice Voice Enhancement and Clarity Technology, express yourself and be heard crystal clear in video conferencing, multiplayer games and online chats

CrystalVoice FX, forge your own unique team identity in crystal clear audio; match your voice to your game avatar
High Quality Headphone Amp, supports studio quality headphones with up to 600 ohm impedance

Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect, connect to your decoder or home theater system through a single digital cable for intense 5. 1 surround sound from any source

Headphone/Speaker Switching means you never have to unplug your headphones again, just toggle between your headphone and speakers system with a flip of a switch

High-Quality Audio Cables, enjoy high quality audio listening and recording with easy connection to your entertainment system, amplifier or active speaker via our premium analog and optical cables

Scout Mode, hear them before they hear you, proprietary technology allows you to hear your enemies from further away, giving you a distinct tactical advantage in combat

A signal to noise ratio or SNR of 124dB means your audio will be > 99.99% pure audio which is 34.4 times better than the average sound cards”

Sound Blaster ZxR Specifications:

  • Audio Processor: Sound Core3D
  • Audio Resolution: 24-Bit
  • Digital Audio Convertor (DAC): Burr-Brown
  • Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Wgt): 124dB
  • Maximum Playback Quality:
    • 5. 1 : Up to 96kHz
    • Stereo Direct: Up to 192kHz
  • Frequency Response @96kHz:
    • Front Channel Out : 10Hz to 45kHz
    • Rear Channel Out: 15Hz to 45kHz
    • Center Out: 10Hz to 45kHz
    • Headphone (33 ohms): 10Hz to 45kHz
  • Frequency Response @192kHz (Stereo Direct Only): Front Channel Out : 10Hz to 88kHz
  • 16-bit to 24-bit Recording Sample Rates: 8,11.025,16, 22.05, 24, 32, 44.1, 48, 96 (kHz)
  • 16-bit to 24-bit Playback Sample Rates: 8,11.025,16, 22.05, 24, 32, 44.1, 48, 96, 192 (kHz)
  • Maximum Recording Quality: Up to 24-bit/96kHz
  • I/O Ports (Main Card):
    • Headphone: 1 x Amplified 1/4″ jack
    • Speaker Out: 2x RCA (L / R) 2x 3.5mm jacks (Rear, C/Sub)
    • Microphone In: 1x 1/4″ jack
  • I/O Ports (Daughter Card):
    • Line In: 2x RCA (L / R)
    • Optical Out: 1x TOSLINK
    • Optical In: 1x TOSLINK
  • Audio Control Module / Front Panel Connectivity:
    • Volume Control Knob Built-in Beam-Forming Microphone
    • Headphone-Out: 1x 3. 5mm jack, 1x 1/4″ jack
    • Microphone-In: 1x 3.5mm jack, 1x 1/4″ jack
  • 600 Ohm Amplified Headphone Output: 80mw TI TPA6120
  • Swappable OP-AMPs: Yes
  • Included Accessories: Audio Control Module (with Beamforming Microphone Built-in)
  • Technology
    • Audio Enhancement:
      • SBX Pro Studio
      • Surround
      • Crystalizer
      • Bass
      • Smart Volume
      • Dialog Plus
      • CrystalVoice
      • Noise Reduction
      • Smart Volume
      • Acoustic Echo Cancellation
      • FX
      • Focus
    • Speaker/Headphone Switch: Software Controlled
    • Dolby Digital Live: Encoding
    • DTS Connect: Encoding
    • Upmixing of Stereo to Multi-Channels: SBX Surround
    • DTS & Dolby Digital Decoding via Cyberlink PowerDVD Download: via 3rd party software download
    • Scout Mode: Yes
    • EAX: EAX 5.0 HD
    • Max.No. of 3D Voices: 128
    • ASIO: ASIO 2.0 support at
      • 16-bit/44. 1kHz
      • 16-bit/48kHz
      • 24-bit/44.1kHz
      • 24-bit/48kHz
      • 24-bit/96kHz with direct monitoring
  • Compatible With: PC – PCIe x1 Connection
  • Operating System: Windows 7/8
  • Warranty: 2-year in EU, 1-year worldwide

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Tags Creative Labs PCI-e Sound Card SOUND BLASTER Sound Blaster ZXR. sound card

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Valve is an interesting company that seems to try to be a lot of things at the same time. Games company, software hub/store and hardware company. Valve is all of these.

When it comes to hardware the company has had mixed success. I think many of us remember the Steam Machines. These compact computers running SteamOS, a Linux based OS, were supposed to make Windows PC’s obsolete for gaming. They didn’t succeed. Valve also released a specific controller, the Steam Controller, which also did not exactly set the world on fire.

In hindsight though both these products have paved the way for the product I am testing today, the Steam Deck, Valves attempt to compete with the Nintendo Switch in the handheld market.

Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZxR review

TechRadar Verdict

This is a great headset that does a good job with music, movies and games — it’s not for audiophiles but the features on offer make it a superb all-rounder.


  • +

    High tech

  • +

    TT pass-through

  • +

    Noise cancelling

  • +

    NFC works

  • +

    Decent sound

  • No 2.4GHz

  • The price!

Creative is better known these days for its gaming headsets but the EVO ZXR is designed first and foremost for music. Featuring NFC tech for pairing via Bluetooth, you can listen wirelessly while also plugging into any 3.5mm source or to any computer using a super-long microUSB cable.

Compared to the Creative Sound Blaster EVO Zx headset which we gave 4 stars, the ZXR comes with a number of improvements.

Firstly you’ve got the significantly larger 50mm drivers which do a good job of widening the sound field and delivering a more full-bodied sound. That sounds like a load of gobbledygook I tested both side-by-side and the ZxR does sound significantly better.

Then there’s the addition of active noise cancelling to filter out white noise on planes, trains and automobiles and there’s also a super funky talk-through ‘TT’ button which silences your music and passes through sounds from the outside world so you don’t need to take the ZXR’s off your bonce in order to talk to someone.

That’s a very cool feature that we first saw on Shure earphones many years ago and should have been implemented into more products by now. We like a lot.

Noise cancelling works about as well as any other battery-powered headset which means it’s imperfect. General hums are nixed while more variable noises, especially at noises above ambient, will still get through. This is par for the course with noise cancelling — I’m surprised the tech hasn’t advanced more in the last five years.

Surround sound

Creative claims that the ZXR can deliver virtual 7.1 surround sound but I’m always skeptical about claims like this. Yes you can use some algorithmic trickery to time delay certain sounds so that they get to your ears at slightly different times. This creates the illusion of a 3D soundscape but in truth it’s always a bit hit and miss.

It’s certainly no worse in this product than any other but it’s not the silver bullet for 3D audio either. In our opinion it’s unnecessary but if you like that sort of thing, these cans won’t let you down.


Instead of a detachable or retractable microphone, Creative has built in stereo microphones to both the earcups. This means the mic won’t break 10 seconds after taking it out of the box and you won’t lose it down the back of your desk, either. It works great for using Skype or Steam for voice chats and you can use it to make calls on your mobile device as well.

NFC and Bluetooth

Near-field Communication tech is built into the right earcup which means if you have an NFC-equipped phone you can hook up a Bluetooth connection simply by tapping the two devices together. I found this process to work perfectly well and it only took a few seconds to pair up and get music streaming into my dual-earhole array.

You can pair the headset with two devices at a time, too, if you so wish so you can be watching Netflix on your tablet and then make or take a call on your mobile at the same time.

The headset is rechargeable so it draws its juice from the microUSB port – no replaceable batteries here. Battery life was excellent – I listened for most of a working day over Bluetooth and didn’t run out of power. The stated battery life is 8 hours but I managed a bit more than that.

PC and Mac

Curiously, while the ZXR is most at home as a PC or Mac headset and has the capacity to perform the job of a decent soundcard, unless your device is Bluetooth enabled you’re going to need to stay plugged in using the super-long USB cable. It’s not too much hassle but it is a bit of a pain in truth — Creative’s gaming headsets use 2.4GHz wireless but I’m guessing this would have pushed the price up a bit too far and added bulk to an already formidable headset.

The headset works as a competent PS4 headset which means it’s up with the times. It comes with a 4-pole audio cable which you plug into your DualShock 4 controller. From there you simply change your PS4’s sound settings to ‘Output to Headphones’ and you’re away. It’s super easy and it works flawlessly.

Sound quality

It sounds great, actually. Better than I anticipated, but the sound won’t be for some. If you’re a B&W P7 sort of person, the Creative ZXR will not appeal purely on sound quality. It’s a headset that’s tuned to sound great with popular music, which means bass and treble fizz and pop with aplomb.

Creative’s familiar Crystaliser tech is deployed here, now under the guise of ‘SBX’ – it’s designed to analyse your music and replace the highs and lows that get stripped off during file compression. You can toggle this on and off using a button on the headset and you’ll notice the difference; more punch and energy to the sound. It works, but that’s no surprise as Creative has been using this magic for years.

If you prefer a more flat output, you can achieve this using the EQ. There is an app you can install on your mobile and tablet and from there you can change your sound settings and tune them to your own liking.

However you like sound though, this headset sits above any pure gaming headset and most other ‘PC’ headsets. Frankly at this price, you’d expect them to be pretty good, wouldn’t you?

The TT button – which mutes your music and passes through outside sounds – is brilliant and as mentioned above, we wish more products did this. It’s so simple and it works so well — such a small feature but a very welcome one.

In the box

In the box you get a basic carry case, a long USB cable for using your headset as a PC or Mac soundcard, a 3.5 cable and a 3.5mm extension for splitting sound and microphone input/output if you just want to plug into your PC’s existing soundcard.


I like the Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZXR headset more than I was expecting to. They sound great, and the multitude of ways you can use them and devices they’ll hook up to is fantastic.

The TT mode is a brilliant inclusion and they look OK as well if you like the ‘funky gamer’ look. Build quality is a bit lacking if we’re honest, there’s a lot of plastic on show, but it’s solid enough and forgivable because of all of the other features on offer.

The main drawback is, of course, the price. It’s not bad value as such, as you get so many clever techy features in this headset. But if you only want to listen to music on your iPod, there are cheaper options out there.


James was part of the TechRadar editorial team for eight years up until 2015 and now works in a senior position for TR’s parent company Future. An experienced Content Director with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), E-commerce Optimization, Journalism, Digital Marketing, and Social Media. James can do it all.

Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZxR Wireless Review

  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Our Verdict
  4. Test Results
  5. Deals
  6. Discussions

Tested using
Methodology v1.3.1

Apr 05, 2016 at 05:37 pm

By Sam Vafaei, Marc Henney


Mixed Usage

6. 2

Neutral Sound








Wireless Gaming


Wired Gaming


Phone Call

test results







Noise Cancelling






The Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZxR Wireless are stylish and sturdy gaming headset. Unfortunately, they sound too bass heavy with music, lacking detail in instruments and vocals. Noise isolation is weak and they also leak quite a bit of sound, which makes for a poorly isolated listening experience.

Our Verdict


Mixed Usage

The Sound Blaster EVO ZxR are not good everyday headphones. They have a lot of features that make them good for gaming, but they’re too cumbersome, heavy and leaky for casual use. They also don’t isolate well.


Neutral Sound

Mediocre for neutral listening. They have a bass heavy sound quality and their closed back design limits their soundstage. They’re also uncomfortably tight.

See our Neutral Sound Recommendations



Average for commuting. They’re wireless and have a competent if a little confusing control scheme. However, their noise-cancelling is not efficient enough for loud environments and noisy commutes.

See our Commute/Travel Recommendations



Not designed for sports. They’re wireless and have a decent control scheme, but they’re bulky and unstable.

See our Sports/Fitness Recommendations



Average for office use. They leak a lot and have poor isolation. They won’t block the chatter of a busy office efficiently.

See our Office Recommendations


Wireless Gaming

See our Wireless Gaming Recommendations


Wired Gaming


Phone Call

  • 6.3

    Mixed Usage

  • 6. 2

    Neutral Sound

  • 6.3


  • 6.6


  • 6.4


  • 5. 4

    Wireless Gaming

  • 6.8

    Wired Gaming

  • 7.2

    Phone Call

+ Create your own

  1. Updated Nov 21, 2019:
    Converted to Test Bench 1.3.1.
  2. Updated Nov 21, 2019:
    Converted to Test Bench 1.3.
  3. Updated Feb 16, 2018:
    Converted to Test Bench 1. 2.
  4. Updated Sep 28, 2017:
    The microphone has been tested with our new methodology, as explained here
  5. Updated Aug 10, 2017:
    Converted to Test Bench 1.1.
  6. Updated Mar 01, 2017:
    Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  7. Updated Apr 05, 2016:
    Review published.

Check Price

Sound Blaster EVO ZxR



Test Results

Sort Category───────────RATINGSMixed UsageNeutral SoundCommute/TravelSports/FitnessOfficeWireless GamingWired GamingPhone Call

Category AllDesignSoundIsolationMicrophoneActive FeaturesConnectivity


The Sound Blaster EVO ZxR look stylish, if a bit bulky. The two-tone color scheme is visually appealing and the futuristic design looks good for gaming. They may not be the most sleek headphones to wear in public but their style and color scheme is above what most gaming headsets have to offer.


0.72 lbs

Clamping Force

1.13 lbs

The large ear cups of the Sound Blaster EVO ZxR fully encompass most ears and the headband is decently padded. The padding on the ear cups, however, is not very pliable and does not mold well around the ear. This slight stiffness also adds a little tension around the ear and can get uncomfortable over time.

OS Compatibility

Not OS specific

Ease Of Use




Call/Music Control


Volume Control


Microphone Control


Channel Mixing


Noise Cancelling Control




Additional Buttons


The Sound Blaster EVO ZxR delivers a lot of functionality: Call/music, track skipping, volume, noise cancelling and talk-through controls. Unfortunately, the awkward placement of the buttons can take some time to get used to and is not the most intuitive.


4.8 °C








115.94 in³

Transmitter Required


The Sound Blaster EVO ZxR are below-average portable headphones. They have large ear cups, and they do not fold into a more compact format. The earcups lay flat to take a little less space, and they will fit in relatively small bags or handbags. However, they are too cumbersome to carry around on your person and will not fit into any pockets, even larger jacket pockets.











Comes with a fabric pouch that will protect the headphones from scratches and doesn’t add much bulk. unfortunately the fabric will not shield your headphones from water damage or hard falls.

Build quality is above average. These headphones feel solid thanks to the metal frame and dense plastic used for the headband. The ear cups also feel dense and able to withstand a fair bit of physical stress. However, the transparent plastic covers on the ear cups look susceptible to cracking if the headphones are dropped a few times.

These headphones are not designed for sports. They are bulky and heavy, and the large ear cups sway as you tilt your head. They’re able to maintain a decently stable fit during casual use but will quickly fall off your head while running or jumping. On the upside, they have a wireless design that doesn’t require a cable, which can get hooked on something and pull the headphones off your head.

  • Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZxR Headphones
  • Audio cable
  • Carrying pouch
  • USB cable
  • (US) power adapter
  • Airline adapter
  • Mic/Audio computer adapter
  • Manual


Bass Amount

0. 57 dB

Treble Amount

-4.5 dB

Avg. Std. Deviation

0.56 dB

Std. Err.

5.14 dB

Low-Frequency Extension

26.31 Hz


-0.93 dB


4.84 dB


7.91 dB

Std. Err.

5.56 dB


7.26 dB


-0.84 dB


-4.99 dB

Std. Err.

4.88 dB


-5.52 dB


-0.15 dB


-5. 53 dB


2.57 dB


1.68 dB

Weighted Group Delay


Weighted Amplitude Mismatch


Weighted Frequency Mismatch


Weighted Phase Mismatch


PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)

3.49 dB

PRTF Size (Avg. )

3.11 dB

PRTF Distance

5.3 dB


Acoustic Space Excitation

WHD @ 90


WHD @ 100



Isolation Audio

Overall Attenuation

-13.29 dB


-2.33 dB


-7. 01 dB


-30.7 dB

Poor overall isolation. The passive isolation provided by the ear cups is good. It is mostly effective in the treble range, reaching a maximum of -36dB of attenuation at 3KHz. The active noise cancellation, however, is quite poor, maxing at -8dB of attenuation at 100Hz.

Leakage Audio

Overall Leakage @ 1ft

42.92 dB

Average leakage. There is not a lot of high-frequency leakage here, as the majority of sound being leaked is in the mid-range, starting at around 400Hz and extending up to 3KHz.








Detachable Boom


Recorded Speech


77. 72 Hz

FR Std. Dev.

1.93 dB


3,466.89 Hz

Weighted THD



43.79 dB

Speech + Pink Noise

Speech + Subway Noise


30.03 dB

Active Features

Battery Type


Continuous Battery Life

4. 7 hrs

Additional Charges


Total Battery Life

4.7 hrs

Charge Time

2.3 hrs

Power Saving Feature


Audio While Charging


Passive Playback


Charging Port


The Soundblaster have a worst battery life than some wireless in-ears. For full sized over-ear headphones the drain time is way below-average and won’t last you throughout the day or even a prolonged gaming session. On the upside, they have an auto off timer within the provided app and can also be used while connected to a power source so if you’re at home or the office this could be a way to extend the poor battery life.

App Name

Sound Blaster Central










Graphic + Presets

ANC Control


Mic Control


Room effects


Playback Control


Button Mapping


Surround Sound


The Sound Blaster Central app is not the sleekest and most modern app, but it offers a great suite of features and an amazing level of control. You get a full graphic
equalizer with preset options, surround sound and microphone tweaks, an in-app player, a battery status display and even an alarm. Unfortunately, there’s no auto-off timer, but the sheer number of options make the sound blaster central a phenomenal app.

Sound Blaster Evo Zxr Effects

Sound Blaster Evo Zxr in-app player (IOS)

Sound Blaster Evo Zxr Equalizer (Android)

Sound Blaster Evo Zxr Equalizer (IOS)


Bluetooth Version


Multi-Device Pairing

2 Devices

NFC Pairing


Line of Sight Range

159 ft

Default Latency

154 ms

aptX Latency

129 ms

aptX(LL) Latency


Non-BT Line of Sight Range


Non-BT Latency


Analog Audio


USB Audio





0 ft


1/8″ TRRS

Wired Latency

50 ms

PC / PS4 Analog

Audio + Microphone

PC / PS4 Wired USB


PC / PS4 Non-BT Wireless


Xbox One Analog

Audio + Microphone

Xbox One Wired USB


Xbox One Wireless




USB Input


Line In


Line Out


Optical Input


RCA Input


Dock Charging


Power Supply



Sound Blaster ZxR Overview — gadgetshelp.

com However, in 2019, the ZxR began to fall behind the competition. It delivers fairly clear audio, but requires two PCIe slots and costs $250 MSRP. Compare this to products from other sound card manufacturers such as ASUS and EVGA, which have been able to deliver better sound quality for as little as $160. That said, the Sound Blaster ZxR is not without flaws: it has plenty of inputs and outputs, extensive EQ software, and still produces quality sound. It also has features that gamers need, such as treble boost and voice isolation, as well as 6.3mm auxiliary input and output.

Design: sleek and comfortable

The Sound Blaster ZxR features a black and red chassis on its main and daughter boards, with bright gold accents around the transistors and backplate. Together, the cards have enough outputs to natively support a 5.1 surround sound speaker system. They have 2 RCA outputs, 2 3.5mm outputs, two RCA inputs, one TOSLINK optical input, one TOSLINK optical output, one 6. 3mm microphone input, and one 6.3mm headphone output jack. The ZxR also comes with an Audio Control Module (ACM) that Creative Labs takes over from the amplifier and expands the 6.3mm connections. It has 3.5mm and 6.3mm inputs and outputs so you can choose where you want to plug your headphones and microphone. On the face of the ACM lies a large plastic volume knob that controls the headphone volume.

Hardware: Some Weird Solutions

For users who may have higher impedance headphones, the amplifier can comfortably drive headphones up to 600 ohms impedance. Unfortunately, the ACM’s volume control works passively, changing the output impedance, which can distort the sound in high inductance headphones like the Sennheiser HD800 (see «How low should the output impedance be?»). A better and slightly more costly solution for Creative Labs would be to have the ZxR’s built-in volume control handle rather than trying to do it passively. The HD800 sounded fine when connected directly to the sound card and using the system volume control.

Installation Process / Installation: Easy Installation, Annoying Setup

To install the hardware, we opened up our medium-sized computer case and inserted the sound card and daughterboard into the two available PCIe slots. Creative Labs envisioned a main card with PCIe 1x slots, giving the user the flexibility to connect their cards to the motherboard. Once the cards were attached, we connected the headphones and microphone to the appropriate jacks.

It’s hard to recommend the aging ZxR at its inflated $250 MSRP.

Unfortunately, setting up the Creative Labs drivers and software package was a much less intuitive process. The ZxR’s outputs are controlled by the Z-series Sound Blaster software, where users can choose whether they listen to their headphones or speakers, apply EQ effects, and more. By default, the software is set to output to the speakers with several different EQ effects. I had to manually switch it to headphone output and turn off the equalizer; the software does not automatically detect which connectors are being used.

Audio: great sound

Sound Blaster ZxR delivers great sound after the EQ effects are turned off. While it wasn’t as clean or crisp as an audiophile enthusiast amp like the OPPO HA-1, it was solid for a system that costs a quarter of the price of an HA-1. On the HD-800, the bass sounded a bit muddy, but the ZxR delivers high quality for consumer-grade headphones like the Sennheiser GSP300 or the Sony MDR-7506. As our headphone buying guide states, most headphones under $250 are not sensitive enough to distinguish between the ZxR and HA-1.

If you have dynamic headphones, you should find their impedance curve. High impedance dynamic headphones can be distorted by the ACM due to the high impedance of the ACM. How your headphones will be affected depends on their impedance curve: for example, the HD800 has a peak at 100 Hz (this range captures electric basses and the lower octaves of guitars), so the upper bass range increases compared to other frequencies in audio. Increasing the volume on the ACM reduces its output impedance and in turn reduces distortion, but it may be easier to connect the equipment directly to the sound card and use the system volume instead.

Software: Lots of options with mixed utility

Sound Blaster offers lots of sound customization through the Z-Series software package. Here you can set any frequency from 20 to 20000 Hz or activate «Crystallization», «Scout Mode» and «Theater Mode». Crystallization adds punch to the high frequencies of the sound, making voices stand out from the background. Theater Mode is similar to Crystallize, but it only tries to buff by voices, not the entire treble range. We found it great for watching videos. Meanwhile, Scout Mode is directly aimed at gamers. This theoretically makes enemy noises such as footsteps louder.


Sound Blaster offers a variety of sound settings through the Z-Series software package.

When testing Scout Mode in Overwatch we didn’t find this setting useful; Scout Mode made the movements of our enemies and our allies louder, making it difficult to tell where the enemy was coming from. Without sound settings Overwatch already makes enemies move louder than your allies, making Scout Mode not only ineffective but also an active detriment to gameplay. Other games that rely heavily on situational awareness have also probably taken the time to make enemy movements noticeable. All in all, the software modifications the Sound Blaster provides are useful depending on the situation, but they’re not the exhaustive set of options we’d like to see at this price point.

Price: Wasted

The Sound Blaster ZxR sells for about $250, like other high-end consumer audio cards. Its 6.3mm audio and microphone jacks, combined with support for headphone impedance up to 600 ohms, gives the listener the flexibility to customize their sound: no need for 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapters or extension cords. One of the major disappointments in the hardware is the lack of compatibility with 7.1 surround sound, which is a valuable prize for sound card enthusiasts in a high-end sound card. There are also a number of other better sound quality products that are cheaper than the $250 MSRP ZxR.

Competition: Not Lacks less expensive options

As we’ve already stressed, it’s hard to recommend an aging ZxR at an inflated $250 MSRP. You can find significantly fewer sound cards that provide competitive performance, though they generally don’t offer the same robust software package as the ZxR.

For a fraction of the price ($99 MSRP), you can get the Schitt Audio Fulla, an external DAC/AMP kit that covers 16 to 300 ohm headphones with plenty of power and has a clean, unmistakable design. While it doesn’t provide the same level of software support as the ZxR (those looking to delve into live mic audio manipulation may not find what they’re after), for the consumer looking to delve into Hi-Fi audio, this is a great deal.

At $215, still well below the price of the ZxR, the EVGA Nu sound card performs just as well as external DACs/AMPs in the $1000 range. It also has minimalist software that Sound Blaster aficionados may find a bit lightweight. but even with a lack of software options, the EVGA Nu is a clear winner.

EVGA Nu Audio Card Overview

For about $160, the Asus Strix Raid PRO provides better sound quality than the Sound Blaster ZxR and a control module that’s more useful than the ACM. The Strix «control box» has a button to turn EQ presets on and off, switch output between headphones and speakers, and all ACM functions (excluding 6.3mm jacks). The EQ button, which Asus calls the Raid button, is especially useful for gamers to switch between modes in a game.

ASUS Strix Raid PRO review

Final verdict

Nice card showing its age.

The Sound Blaster ZxR is a quality, value sound card with comprehensive software features and hardware to power great consumer headsets and microphones. The ZxR sounds good, and gamers won’t be disappointed by the ZxR’s power, but audio purists and 7. 1 surround sound fans can find cleaner performance with less bells and whistles for the ZxR’s $250 asking price. This is a card that hasn’t aged well since its release in 2013, and at the same time has been largely overshadowed by some of its competitors.

Creative Sound Blaster ZXR — 28 secret facts, review, specifications, reviews.

Maximum DAC frequency (stereo)

The higher the DAC frequency in stereo mode, the better the audio signal at the output of the sound card. Acceptable today is the frequency of 192 kHz.
Show all


max 384

Average: 129.7


Maximum DAC frequency (multi-channel)

The higher the maximum frequency of the digital-to-analogue converter of the sound card, the higher the quality of digital-to-analog audio conversion when output to the speaker system can potentially be. A good indicator for multi-channel mode is 192 kHz.
Show all


max 192

Average: 135


Bit depth DAC


Mean value:

Mean value:

Ability to output multi-channel sound

Multi-channel sound support allows you to build a full-fledged home theater with 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound on its basis. Many modern sound cards, even integrated ones, have such functionality.
Show all


Digital optical output S/PDIF

The presence of an optical S/PDIF output in a sound card gives it additional advantages, since in this case the signal is transmitted through a fiber and is essentially just light with different wavelengths. Such a signal is not subject to even a strong external EM effect. The connector is TosLink.
Show all


S/PDIF digital optical input

The S/PDIF optical input has significant advantages over the conventional input precisely due to the fact that the nature of the signal is EM radiation in the visible spectrum (light), which is not subject to even strong interference and interference. For such a connection, a special TosLink connector is used.
Show all


S/PDIF digital coaxial output

The S/PDIF digital output allows you to connect external audio system components (such as an amplifier) ​​via a simple shielded coaxial cable with an RCA connector (tulip).
Show all


Instrument Input (Hi-Z)

The Hi-Z input is almost exclusively found on external sound cards. It is also called instrumental or guitar, as its high resistance allows the most adequate and consistent work with the pickup of an electric guitar.
Show all


Number of microphone inputs

Simple sound cards, especially integrated ones, contain one microphone input. More advanced models allow you to connect multiple microphones for singing karaoke or duet vocals.
Show all


max 16

Mean: 2.7


Number of 6.3 mm jack inputs

The presence of one or more 6.3 mm jack inputs in the sound card indicates its ability to interact with professional audio equipment.
Show all


max 18

Mean: 4.7


Number of independent headphone outputs

Independent headphone outputs are outputs that each have their own volume control. As a rule, professional external sound cards have such equipment.
Show all


Mean: 1.3


Number of analog output jacks

The analog output jack is a physical pin jack for connecting external speakers or other devices via a compatible plug. There can be more output connectors than analog channels, and then they are labeled the same.
Show all


max 27

Mean: 4.6


Number of analog output channels

An analog channel is used to transmit an audio signal from a sound card to a speaker system. A channel is not the same as a socket, and there can be more output sockets than channels.
Show all


max 24

Mean: 4. 4


PC front panel connector

With the help of a special connector, the sound card contacts can be connected to the front panel of the PC, thereby greatly increasing the usability.
Show all


HDMI output


Connection type

Internal sound cards are connected directly to the motherboard via PCI-Express or PCI interfaces (legacy models). External — mainly via USB, much less often — via the high-speed FireWire bus. In rare cases, the sound card is connected via the laptop’s PC Card interface.
Show all


External clock support

External clock support can significantly reduce the distortion that occurs in the DAC due to sampling instability (jitter). The presence of such support is a sign of the professional level of the sound card.
Show all


AES/EBU support

AES/EBU support is a sign of a professional sound card. This interface is designed to connect high-end professional audio equipment and simultaneously transmit digital audio and service data over two channels.
Show all


Support for ADAT

ADAT (Alesis DAT) is a digital interface designed to connect a digital tape recorder of the same name. Its capabilities — transmitting up to eight channels simultaneously with 48 kHz sampling — allows you to arrange a full-fledged home recording studio. ADAT support is only available on professional sound cards.
Show all


Built-in controller panel

The controller panel in the context of a sound card is a series of fader sliders that are used to adjust the parameters of devices — physical and virtual. A significant advantage when working with audio editors, as it allows you to adjust parameters much more precisely than with a mouse or keyboard in software.
Show all


OpenAL support

OpenAL is an API (application programming interface) that allows you to work with spatial audio using EAX 3D effects.
Show all


Version EAX

EAX (Environmental Audio Extensions) is an Application Interaction Programming Interface (API) designed to create spatial audio effects. Many sound cards have such equipment, but not all.
Show all


Remote control

The remote control allows you to control the operating modes of your sound card from a distance. Mainly applicable for recreational use, but there are exceptions.
Show all


ASIO support

ASIO (Audio Stream Input Output) is a widely used Steinberg development standard aimed at improving the performance of multi-channel audio devices and minimizing latency. In the context of sound cards, it is relevant only for the Windows OS family.
Show all


max 2.3

Mean: 1.9


Phantom Power

Condenser microphones that require 48V phantom power are generally preferred for studio recording.
Show all




The need for additional power

Mostly external sound cards of a higher average level may need additional power. Less often, internal cards may require additional power, then they are powered from the power supply through a special connector.
Show all


User reviews for Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZxR.

User reviews for Creative Sound Blaster EVO ZxR.

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Creative SoundBlaster ZxR — Ferralabs


Rona Ray

December 3, 2015
Sound, Articles

The Creative Sound Blaster ZxR sound card will help you significantly improve the sound from your computer. It is also installed in the PCI-Express slot on the motherboard. And the CA0113 controller is responsible for communication with PCI-Express. But, of course, there are plenty of differences between these cards. Even the appearance of the models is drastically different.

While the Zx EMI shield is bright red, the ZxR is black with red elements. The box is a real surprise! Namely: DBpro add-on board with TOSLINK optical out/in, 2-way RCA line-in (left/right; 124dB signal-to-noise ratio) and full-fledged professional-grade analog-to-digital converters. Also included in the package are a stereo (3.5 mm) RCA adapter cable, an optical cable, a DBpro cable for connecting two boards, an external Sound Blaster Audio Control Module with a microphone, and a CD with drivers and Creative Software Suite software. The hardware comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Specification Creative Sound Blaster ZxR

Sound Processor

Sound Core3D

Signal-to-noise ratio

124 dB (stereo up to 192 kHz)

Headphone Amplifier

up to 600 ohm

Audio processor

Sound Core3D

Max. channel output level


Dimensions, mm

170 x 125

The main board is equipped with a headphone jack (1/4″ amplified), two RCA speaker jacks (left/right), two 3.5 mm jacks (rear speaker, center speaker / subwoofer) and input for microphone (1/4 inch). A separate module has a built-in microphone, as well as two 1/4-inch headphone and microphone jacks. A convenient knob on the module allows you to set the required headphone volume. Of particular note is the presence of a headphone amplifier with a resistance of 600 ohms, which makes it possible to monitor the studio level. The sound card is based on the SoundCore3D sound processor. This quad-core sound processor does an excellent job of processing audio and speech signals. Surround sound is reproduced in 5.1 format. SBX Pro Studio sound processing technologies bring maximum realism, as well as spatial sound effects that are perfectly audible even with headphones. Thanks to the Audio Stream Input/Output (ASIO) drivers, audio is recorded with reduced latency.

The Creative Software Suite gives you the flexibility to customize your audio to suit your needs, whether you’re watching movies, listening to music, or immersed yourself in gaming. The SBX Pro Studio tab allows you to turn on sound enhancement options, and their effect can be checked in real time on a test clip in the window that opens. The Surround option activates surround sound; Crystalizer provides a cleaner sound; Bass emphasizes low frequencies; Smart Volume avoids sudden changes in volume; and Dialog Plus detects voice frequencies, improving their quality and making dialogue more intelligible. This option will be useful when watching not very successful copies of films. But the Crystal Voice tab will help improve the quality of the sound recorded from the microphone using various “improvers”: FX gives the voice various effects; Smart Volume keeps the volume at the selected level; Noise Reduction removes noise in the recording; Acoustic Echo Cancellation eliminates echoes in the recording, and Focus selects the angle of sound capture. Especially for gamers, the Scout Mode function, which more clearly highlights the sounds of the enemy (steps, rustles, the sound of reloading weapons, etc.), thereby providing the player with an additional advantage in an online battle. The Cinematic Effect tab allows you to select an audio encoder: DTS Connect or Dolby Digital. There are also Scout Mode, Speakers/Headphones, Mixer, and Equalizer tabs. They are easy to use, but always effective.


Without a doubt, the Creative SoundBlaster ZxR is the flagship of the latest generation of internal sound cards in the Creative lineup. The model replaced the Titanium HD and is a serious competitor for sound cards such as Asus Essence ST and STX. «Chip» ZxR — a daughter board with its own DAC and inputs / outputs. The main and daughter boards are connected by a cable, which is supplied in the kit. We also note reliable circuitry, 5. 1 multi-channel sound, a diverse set of interfaces, a rich package bundle, a built-in amplifier for connecting high-impedance headphones with an impedance of 600 Ohms, and Creative Software Suite software with numerous sound enhancers. The signal-to-noise ratio is also excellent — 124 dB.


TagsCreative Labs Creative Software Suite Creative SoundBlaster ZxR DAC Sound Core3D Sound Card DAC

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Creative Sound Blaster ZxR, Zx and Z / Audiophile’s Software

Update date: September 22, 2012

Creative again pleases with the release of new sound cards, among which there are both mid-range models designed for gamers, and a new flagship that replaces Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD and is a serious competitor to Asus Xonar STX.

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR

The Creative Sound Blaster ZxR uses a DAC with 127 dB S/N rating and swappable op amps. This is great news, because the previous flagship Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD has been discontinued and the only top-tier consumer card option left is the ASUS Xonar Essence STX/ST.

ZxR contains as expansion cards both a panel for digital inputs and outputs and a separate remote controller ACM (Audio Control Module), to which you can connect a headset and control the volume (which is very convenient and in demand). This is a more modern and convenient solution compared to the Creative X-Fi Elite Pro’s external large block or the lack of such extensions in the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD. But it is precisely this possibility of control that gives an advantage to external sound cards over internal ones. For gamers, the remote module performs the function of an external stereo microphone, and the card’s capabilities in the form of processing algorithms (by means of a powerful Recon3D processor, which would be nice to check) allow you to effectively suppress external noise and ensure maximum clarity.

There is no doubt that the remote ACM controller will allow Creative to seriously oust the ASUS Xonar Essence STX, especially since ZxR took audiophiles who listen to sound through headphones more seriously and the 3.5 mm jack has been replaced by 6.3 mm. For the headphone amplifier, a power of 80 mW is declared for a load of 600 ohms, but as always, they forgot to indicate the full specification for the amplifier and one can only guess how much power the amplifier will develop on other loads. At 80mW into 600 ohms we get 7V rms, which is more than enough voltage to really deliver enough volume with most low sensitivity high impedance headphones. Perhaps more detailed specifications will appear later or it will be possible to take the ZxR for a test.

On board the ZxR is an equally high quality ADC with a claimed signal to noise ratio of 123 dB. The exact brands of the DAC and ADC are not named, and so far there is no point in guessing, especially since when the device is assembled from top-end elements, everything is decided by the implementation. Based on previously released products, you can expect no major bugs and perhaps a truly revolutionary product.

If ASUS Xonar Essence STX and X-Fi Titanium HD were exclusively stereo cards with RCA connectors, then ZxR is a six-channel, where RCA is used for front channels, rear and center with subwoofer are connected via standard 3.5 jacks. This is a serious advantage, because. does not require a compromise between stereo and multi-channel sound, or the purchase of a separate expansion card like the ASUS Xonar Essence ST, which is also only available for the PCI version of ST and not available for PCIx (STX).

Creative Sound Blaster Zx

The average model uses a somewhat modest DAC with a signal to noise ratio of 120 dB and does not include a digital I/O board. Zx is aimed respectively at gamers and those who care about convenience. Zx will seriously compete with the Xonar line in the form of D1, D2 / PM D2x, Dx and Xense, using similar DACs. Zx will fully compete with Asus Xonar Phoebus with a similar external sound control controller and using PCM1796 from Burr-Brown. For gamers, they also did not forget to make a spectacular LED backlight.

Creative Sound Blaster Z

The younger model also contains a DAC with a signal / noise ratio of 120 dB, and instead of an ACM controller, it is equipped with only an external microphone. Sound Blaster Z will in turn compete on equal terms with Xonar D1, D2/PM D2x, Dx and Xense.

For notebook owners, Creative only offers Sound Blaster X-Fi HD so far, but we hope that Creative will keep up with ASUS and release a worthy alternative to Asus Essence One Plus.

In general, there is one more circumstance that I would like to draw your attention to. In 2011, the first cards based on Recon3D were released, based on the X-Fi chip, advertised as 4 in 1, where the DAC and ADC built into Recon3D deserve special attention. The six-channel DAC and four-channel ADC are of course not revolutionary and provide average quality by modern standards, where the DAC provides 102 dB, and the ADC 101 dB. As a result, updating the line in the form of Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Professional, Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion, Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe was a step back in terms of sound quality, because the predecessors had a DAC with a signal / noise ratio of 114 dB. It was a sad moment, because. clearly showed the reduction in production costs of such cards and the possible cessation of products with high sound quality. However, either the focus failed or the company decided to pay more serious attention to the segment with sound cards, we received a new Z line using third-party DACs and ADCs. By themselves, X-Fi processors from the position of audiophiles gave high-quality SRC, which so far cannot bypass solutions on individual chips, as in Dr. Dac Prime or Essence One. At the same time, there is an opinion that the DSP has been redesigned in Recon3D and the power has decreased compared to X-Fi. Based on tests in different versions of EAX, the latest algorithms were previously software-based, and the basic ones were also capable of the previous generation on Audigy.