Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

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Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:42 am

Hi folks. Things have been pretty quiet for me for the past few days that I've decided to take my almost-3-year old Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium PCIe out for a spin. I've been hooked onto my motherboard's Realtek ALC889 HD Audio shortly after I bought the motherboard in June 2010. This board only comes with one x1 PCIe slot and I had to stop using my X-Fi shortly after buying it because I just upgraded to Windows 7. Thing is, I couldn't get my frickin' Linksys WMP54G WiFi adapter to work with Win7 (and Linksys support is absolutely, unquestionably the WORST in the business!) so I had to go out and grab a new adapter. I got the TP-Link TL-WN781N. It's cheap, has a x1 PCIe interface, and surprisingly good: it worked flawlessly straight away with Win7 without even needing drivers (a godsend compared to my old Linksys adapter!) and tech support was surprisingly fast and very friendly (I just wanted to ask if there were official drivers). I had to give up my X-Fi but I thought, what the heck, I wanted to see how the ALC889 does long term, anyway. I've since swapped my TP-Link with my cousin's D-Link (good ol' PCI interface) because he couldn't get the proper D-Link drivers. I had to ask D-Link directly for the drivers because their website sucks. This act frees up that x1 PCIe slot and now the X-Fi can move back in.

Actually, the reason I took out the X-Fi Titanium is that I've been interested in discrete sound cards again. TR has a link on Creative's new Recon3D PCIe sound card, but it's in Japanese. It's apparently based on Creative's new chip, the Sound Core 3D, which purportedly brings QUAD CORE technology to PC audio. Here's the link to Creative's product page:

http://asia.creative.com/products/produ ... stby=usage

Now, I really don't know what a quad core chip can do for audio. Heck, the X-Fi (EMU20K, I think) already sounds pretty damn good to me, for a guy who grew up listening to cassette tapes and phono discs. Does the Recon3D actually improve over the X-Fi? Looking at the sound card there doesn't seem to be much in the way of components, particularly capacitors. Heck, I don't know why Creative hasn't used solid caps to this day when practically every respectable motherboard and graphics card already uses them. Any thoughts?
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 11:59 am

Creative is struggling ("grasping at straws" is probably more like it) to remain relevant in a market segment that is itself struggling to remain relevant. Given that you've already got a PCIe X-Fi Ti, I cannot think of *any* reason to buy a Recon3D unless you just like to spend money.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:01 pm

Aside: Here's a $40 wireless solution for your desktop that doesn't require the use of any wireless adapter card.

I don't know that the Sound Blaster Recon3D is a whole lot better than your existing Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium. Why don't you use your existing card for a while?

There are drivers available for both on the Creative website. Install the beta drivers and ALchemy.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:04 pm

Exactly. Unless my X-Fi goes up in smoke and I couldn't stand integrated audio anymore, there's no logical reason to get this thing. Looks nice though.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:12 pm

For playing music, I'd look into a proper DAC and amplifier plus headphones or speakers before considering a sound card. For movies and games where you'd want surround sound, I'd save the money and put it forward to a proper surround sound setup. Any game worth their salt is not going to rely on sound cards to handle their surround gaming, with integrated sound cards being to prevalent and all.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:25 pm

http://vr-zone.com/articles/creative-s- ... 14353.html
our gist of the article on Impress PC Watch seems to suggest that anyone that has an X-Fi card should hang on to it, as the Sound Core3D is not a step up. Apparently for voice chat/calls the Sound Core3D is the better choice, but in terms of audio quality and for gaming it can't keep up with the older X-Fi based cards. It's not hard to see why when you take into consideration that we're talking about a far simpler chip here judging it solely on its size and packaging. Considering the pricing – at least in Singapore – is identical between the new Sound Core3D cards and their older X-Fi siblings, we know what we'd get.
Read more: http://vr-zone.com/articles/creative-s- ... z1hkzLL0pq
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:47 pm

ronch wrote:It's apparently based on Creative's new chip, the Sound Core 3D, which purportedly brings QUAD CORE technology to PC audio.


From sound core 3d press release:
"It incorporates Creative's innovative Quartet DSP with four independent processor cores"

From original X-FI review from anandtech in 2005:
"X-Fi Quartet DSP is so named because it supports 4 hardware threads"
"Quartet is made up of 4 independent two-issue SIMD engines...Each thread has access to two SIMD"

"To sum up the capabilities of the Quartet DSP, we have this list of features:
2 SIMD units per each of 4 simultaneous threads
fixed and floating point data supported
235 opcodes
up to 1200 MIPS
can perform up to 4 moves per instruction"

Point is...it's not a new chip. It's respin of same design with DAC integrated in it. Using buzzword "quad core" to describe old feature for marketing purposes.
The fact that it has integrated DAC (with not so great spec.) defeats purpose of buying a sound card.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:59 pm

Coulda wrote:From sound core 3d press release:
"It incorporates Creative's arguably innovative over a half decade ago Quartet DSP with four independent processor cores"

:wink:

Coulda wrote:The fact that it has integrated DAC (with not so great spec.) defeats purpose of buying a sound card.

Integrating the DAC right onto the DSP is gonna hurt the specs pretty much by definition. That's not a friendly environment for analog electronics.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:52 pm

My XtremeGamer card from 2005 is dying. So I'm looking into this card.
My current card has seen three system builds, four OSs and is finally starting to go. :(
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:14 am

As much as I hate to admit it, Creative is trying to survive in a world of integrated audio. Most folks are satisfied with HD Audio, and why not? They really are of high quality. But there will always be folks looking to better audio quality. How many are they? Not too many, I reckon. However, I don't want Creative or other sound card makers to quit as well: it's good to have them around because you may want to buy from them. The higher quality is there and if they quit, we're all stuck with 'good enough' Realtek HD Audio. As they say, not that you would (buy an X-Fi), but you could.

I immediately noticed some differences when I switched back to the X-Fi Titanium PCIe (SB0880). It's been a while and I had to check Creative's site for the latest drivers because I was sure there have been newer versions since I placed the X-Fi back in its box about 1.5 years ago. Music sounded crisper and cleaner, with some sort of "tingling" effect (note that I have EAX off). I also noticed sounds in games I'm currently playing that I didn't really notice before, or maybe those sounds simply weren't there using the ALC889. I did, however, find some EAX effects too exaggerated, such as those in Thief Deadly Shadows (still my all-time favorite). I had Alchemy working with it, and the effects are simply not to my liking. Too much echo. (Maybe that's why I was never really a big fan of EAX.) Or maybe I simply got too used to my ALC889. The ALC889 on my mobo does sound great, but I give it too many points for being free. Few people will pay $80 (current X-Fi Titanium price) to have better audio, but for those who care, it's quite worth it, if only for the cleaner audio (and not EAX).

The Sound Core3D and products based on this new (?) chipset are interesting, but it's hard to justify buying it particularly because I already have an X-Fi, otherwise I'd probably think long and hard between the older X-Fi products and these new Core3D-based cards. What concerns me however, is that underneath that pretty blue heatsink/cap is just a tiny chip. As one of you here said, putting the DACs in their with the DSPs is not gonna bode well for audio quality. I'd like to see an X-Fi vs. Core3D comparison sometime in the near future to help gamers and audiophiles decide between the two chips. Although I'm not betting on the Core3D, it's good that it's there for when I finally put my X-Fi to rest. After all, I'd hate to think that we're all gonna be stuck with the X-Fi brand for the rest of the century and the Core3D does seem like a cool product. And even if it's not as good as the X-Fi but is noticeably better than Realteks, I guess listeners will still grab it. Finally, Creative can keep on tweaking Core3D and make it better, perhaps surpass X-Fi.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:50 am

I'm curious, because I haven't been paying attention: what's the current wisdom regarding audio for HTPC usage? Assuming you're going to be outputting digital to an outboard AV stack (including amp with its own DACs), does your average mobo-integrated Realtek handle enough of the common formats/encodings and do it with adequate quality? There's obviously a compelling argument for going with integrated audio (whatever its limitations) in a low-profile ITX setup, where you may not have an available slot or the case height for a full-height card (though I guess an outboard USB sound "card" is an option in that scenario); but if you're going mATX with one of those largish (full height, anyway) HTPC cases where that isn't a consideration, is there any real benefit in 2012 to a discrete soundcard?
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Wed Dec 28, 2011 7:02 am

Creatives newest chip is an answer to the integrated war. You have the best available card with a X-Fi. Going to the new chip is a downgrade.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Wed Dec 28, 2011 8:14 am

Ubergerbil - Since I only connect my speakers to either integrated audio or X-Fi through an analog 3.5mm jack, I don't think I'm the best person to answer your question, but I'll try. In terms of handling analog signals I would think the X-Fi does a better job. Not only do proper audio cards usually include higher quality DACs and ADCs, but the PCB itself is designed specifically and especially for the sole purpose of handling audio. Motherboards dedicate only a small portion of PCB real estate to sound, and as such, are in a bit of a disadvantage in terms of including circuit elements intended to clean up the signals. However, when it comes to S/PDIF digital outputs (or even coaxial) such as those found in higher-end motherboards, I would think the differences are a bit less clear. Digital is digital, after all, and those S/PDIF ports are probably used to send those digital signals to an external DAC or receiver anyway. Perhaps sound cards do offer better digital outputs, but I've yet to actually hear the difference because I have yet to own one of those fancy receivers or DACs. I have a decent 2.1 speaker setup and as far as 3.5mm analog goes, the difference is quite noticeable.

Of course, for games X-Fi delivers not just superior analog outputs (and perhaps digital as well), but other extra features such as EAX as well. The value of EAX, however, really depends on the user and his/her setup. The more pressing concern would be, if you already spent a cool bundle on a high end audio setup or home theater audio system, I think you'd be doing it a big injustice by hooking it up to 'good enough' integrated audio. Many folks say it takes the right speakers to show you the difference between integrated audio and a proper sound card, and that of course implies that hooking expensive speakers/receivers to integrated audio wouldn't give the best audio quality. The X-Fi Titanium is just $80 nowadays. It's not a big stretch if you had money to buy a high end audio setup in the first place.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 12:00 am

Picked one of these up today, it was nearly free, and the X-Fi software suite is utterly garbage. I'd use onboard and happily, but the also-nearly-free motherboard I got with my Pentium Anniversary doesn't have proper outputs.

The DAC may be garbage, but it's serviceable, and it has much less horrible software than the X-Fi.

Still looking for a good Xonar, though. Hopefully one will be on similar fire sale next time I hit Microcenter, and I can dump this "Creative" junk. Failing that, I'll get a better motherboard with usable onboard audio.

But software-wise, for use with Windows 8.1, it actually is a win over the X-Fi Ti I was using. The X-Fi had some really annoying foibles, it would occasionally forget if my speakers were 5.1 or 2.0, or it would just plain stop outputting audio altogether. Really annoying to suddenly have audio completely stop mid-game.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 12:26 am

I used an X-Fi Titanium Fatality Pro with my previous computer. I now use the ALC898 on a Rampage IV Gene board, and I'm actually fairly convinced that the integrated audio on this Asus mobo sounds a little more...natural or less colored than the X-Fi. It's quite nice. Crystalizer and the other Creative "enhancements" were disabled on the X-Fi.

If I was after better sound, I wouldn't even consider the Recon3D. Instead, I'd hook up an external DAC, or perhaps one of those Titanium HD cards.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:00 am

Holy necromancy, Batman!

Forge wrote:it has much less horrible software than the X-Fi.
[...]
Still looking for a good Xonar, though.

Haha, right. The Xonar drivers are even more atrocious -- at least as far as the interface goes -- and in most of the earlier versions they contributed to system latency (DPC) as well, birthing the Uni-Xonar mod in the process.

Now I'm not a Creative fan by any stretch of the imagination (after all, I *have* bought a Xonar Essence) but at least their driver interfaces are designed in a developed country. Thinking about buying a yet newer audio card a few years down the line, Creative are back on my radar again.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:28 am

For better music playback, I'd get an external DAC like this one and hook up a good pair of speakers to it. External DACs are more expensive than a sound card, but will sound excellent. For gaming, I don't know of any affordable external surround DACs.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:38 am

Like what was said earlier, the Recon3d is a minor update to the x-fi that makes it cheaper to produce, so you're better off sticking with the x-fi. However, the SB-Z series is a higher quality card than both the recon and x-fi, and it throws in a few new features, making it a worthy upgrade. For the most part though, the x-fi is good enough, and I'm happy sticking with mine. I actually do have a Z, but I like the old control panel better. Some people like the new one, so it's really up to personal preferences and whether or not you want the new features.

Also, when it comes to wifi, you're vastly better off with an usb device like this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6833166103
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:11 am

Since this zombie-thread is now fully animated, is there a concise list anywhere showing what motherboards have what codec/DAC?

I know there are a whole bunch of reasons not to use analogue audio but my workstation has a beautiful pair of M-Audio BX8 reference monitors. Best £250 I ever spent on sound....
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 2:45 pm

Meadows wrote:Thinking about buying a yet newer audio card a few years down the line, Creative are back on my radar again.

Good thinking - I really like my SB Z (aside from useless microphone which came with my particular model). Completely stable drivers (under Win 8.1), nice control panel (which I don't even open anymore once I disabled all sound enhancements), 0 issues in games.

Of course you still have a chance of getting a defective Creative card or some conflict with particular hardware configuration but based on my personal extensive experience with Asus software for their various devices I'd rather take chances with any Creative product than experiment with most of Asus products (except their motherboards, which are still good if you don't use included software junk) :wink:
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:41 pm

My SB-Z has worked pretty well for me, with one exception:

Windows Update keeps finding a Creative driver it wants to install. It's dated later than the one on the Creative website, but I think it's actually the same (or a previous) driver. If you let that one install, it never seems to completely finish installation. It just sits there, requiring a restart, every time I come out of sleep.

But, the sound on the SB-Z is fantastic.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:58 pm

"Windows update" works in a very mysterious ways (I've seen it desperately trying to update my Nvidia's GPU drivers some time ago even though I already had latest WHQL drivers), I generally don't let it "update" any drivers past the initial installation :wink:
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:11 pm

Image

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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 4:59 pm

Yep. Always good policy. I just find it interesting when they start finding things.

It was a mental lapse one day when I installed from Windows Update. Patch Tuesday; I just clicked everything (the device drivers come up so rarely that I didn't expect both to show up the same day).

Still, I do encourage a nice SB-Z. Occasionally, you can even get a good deal on it. Great card, as long as you aren't stupid enough to let Windows Update install drivers (read: Don't be like me).
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 6:03 pm

In another thread, I wrote: Take a look at the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z 70SB150200000 (OEM) or 70SB150000000 (Retail) or 30SB150200000 (OEM).
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:13 pm

I have the SB Recon3D PCIe. The chip is PCIe native and the drivers that go with that. Now, I don't know how much weight can be put into that because if I fire up a game before opening the control panel it takes 15 minutes or so to open and I've observed this behavior before on older equipment. I've also had the driver crash with the result being no audio and require a reboot to restart it. But that phenomena has not been observed recently. Driver updates occurred every few months after I bought the card, since it was recently released, but are now infrequent and everything other than the control panel opening problem appears resolved.

In games the positional audio works well enough while using headphones and I am heard clearly on the microphone, but I have to max out microphone boost. For music, well, It works well enough too. I think I can barely hear above 9KHz. The control panel allows for a lot of tweaking if default does not sound right.

The card is also picky which slot it goes into on an AMD AM3+ motherboard with Windows 7 64bit. This behavior is also par for the course. I have no idea why for decades this happens over and over with peripheral equipment.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:51 pm

My Johnson wrote:The card is also picky which slot it goes into on an AMD AM3+ motherboard with Windows 7 64bit. This behavior is also par for the course. I have no idea why for decades this happens over and over with peripheral equipment.


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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Sun Jul 20, 2014 11:53 pm

Yeah, quite possibly.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:15 am

I had similar issues on an AM2+, which is why I reverted to the x-fi ti.
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Re: Sound Blaster Recon3D PCIe

Postposted on Mon Jul 21, 2014 12:15 pm

Well, good as the SB-Z sounds, I couldn't find one, even refurb, for a price close to this R3D. My X-Fi Ti was 20$ at the last BBQ, and this R3D was 35$ at Microcenter. Hopefully I'll have a better motherboard late this year, and my need for a card will drop to zero.

How sad is it, that I replace the X-Fi Ti, which seems to be near-universally praised for it's audio quality, with an R3D, which only has better drivers.... And I feel I've come out ahead? Creative just hasn't gotten any better over the last decade. :(
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