Overclock.net › Forums › Components › Sound Cards and Computer Audio › Can anyone explain Sound Blaster ZXR, Logitech Z-680, Optical vs. Analog, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Can anyone explain Sound Blaster ZXR, Logitech Z-680, Optical vs. Analog, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
So I have the Sound Blaster ZXR and Logitech Z-680 speakers.

At first, I had been running without the daughter board (DB Pro) and through the analog connections. While I felt the sound was good, I wasn't completely satisfied and felt something was missing.

I installed the DB Pro daughterboard last night (comes with an SLI-like connection to the ZXR), and immediately I noticed better, more powerful sound without changing anything (which surprised me a bit as I couldn't see initially why this would be the case as I thought the DB Pro was mainly for providing S/PDIF output and recording features).


Then I also decided to try the optical connection between the DB Pro to the Z-680s, and this allowed me to use both the Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect options.



I have been watching Vudu HDX movies like Oblivion (really like HDX format for streaming video), and once I started using the Optical connection with DDL and / or DTS I noticed an immense improvement in the audio quality and experience from the film.

I think I am getting a cleaner, more detailed signal with more depth, and overall much more of the "movie theater" feel.


However, and here is where my questions are:


- I have read that SPDIF (optical) connections are limited by their bitrate of about 6mb/s ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S/PDIF ), and DDL is limited to 640kb/s and DTS is 1.5mb/s ... this is not as good as TrueHD via HDMI.


- Some people say that the ZXR's DACs will do a better job than my speakers' DACs, and therefore I should use the analog rather than the optical connection.


However, the sound seems to be far better in movies with the optical. I did think while listening to lossless musical tracks at 192khz that analog seemed to sound better.


-I am also wondering how I could get higher quality sound for movies and music. It sounds like I would have to get new speakers capable of TrueHD that can connect to a Blu-ray drive with an HDMI connection, and then I could also connect my ZXR via optical or analog to the same speakers for games and music?



Basically, TLDR:

- I have the Sound Blaster ZXR and Logitech Z-680 speakers

- I recently went to the optical instead of analog connection allowing me to use Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect in the ZXR control panel and really like it better in movies ... but some people say the ZXR's DACs will give better audio than my speakers', so analog is the way to go, and I don't understand the differences fully and why some people say go with analog and others say optical.

- ZXR has DDL and DTS connect ENCODER and my Z-680s have DD and DTS DECODER, so how does that work / which component is actually responsible for the sound quality given the prior question about ZXR DACs vs. Speaker DACs?

- How could I get better 5.1 sound than I have now, without spending more than 3-400 on speakers / receiver, and while still being able to hook up to the ZXR for games and music (and HDMI for Blu-ray)?



Thanks, I realize it's kind of long and in depth but it also seems like this isn't a topic that is discussed or very thoroughly understood.
Edited by Robertdt - 8/4/13 at 5:49pm
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 7
Thread Starter 
So I did some testing with both the optical and analog connections in movies, gaming, and music, and here is what I noticed:


-In movies and (IMO) games, the optical connection with DDL or DTS sounds far better, cleaner, and fuller.


- In HD music tracks (192khz 24bit), the analog connection actually sounds better and cleaner than any optical setting (including the "No Encoder" setting that doesn't utilize DDL or DTS).


I find this a bit surprising ... can anyone discuss why this would be the case? Or answer any of the other questions I had (re: best 5.1 set for ~3-400, which device is actually responsible for the audio signal in optical with ZXR encoding and Z-680 decoding DDL or DTS, etc..) ?
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
post #3 of 7
Oh, you made your own thread about this. I'll just answer here too.

1. Optical is digital audio. The datarates are indeed limited so the data must be compressed with DDL/DTS encoding before anything else than 2.0 audio can pass through the optical cable.

2. Because it's digital audio, the audio data is completely unprocessed while it travels from the audiofile inside your PC to the receiver (this time the Z-680). Your speakers do all the sound processing and the overkill/expensive soundcard is completely out of the loop. Of course DTS/DDL! does a little processing in the form of compressing the data.
EDIT: Does the your mobo onboard soundcard also have DTS support?

3. If the audio sounds better when you use optical, the only thing it can mean is that your soundcard is "bottlenecked" by your speakers.


In a nutshell: When you use optical to connect the speakers, it's the same as using your onboard soundcard or something like Xonar DSX (60$).

I feel like I just smashed all your hopes and dreams...
Edited by Tiihokatti - 8/4/13 at 11:53pm
Silent Hawk
(18 items)
 
Redfenix
(23 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,4GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1200/1450 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 3x AC F12 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
1x Glide Stream Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D Logitech G105 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Super Flower Golden Green Pro 750W Rosewill Blackhawk Asus ROG GX1000 Xonar DG 
AudioOther
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm Xilence Fan Controller 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,3GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1150/1500 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 2x AC F12 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
3x Spectre Pro LED 2x TY-140 Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G110 Strider Essential 600W Bitfenix Shinobi (modded) Logitech G400 
Mouse PadAudioAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK+ Xonar D1 Behringer B3031A Superlux HD-681 EVO 
AudioAudioOther
Objective2 desktop version Hifiman HE-400 Xilence Fan Controller 
  hide details  
Reply
Silent Hawk
(18 items)
 
Redfenix
(23 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,4GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1200/1450 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 3x AC F12 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
1x Glide Stream Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D Logitech G105 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Super Flower Golden Green Pro 750W Rosewill Blackhawk Asus ROG GX1000 Xonar DG 
AudioOther
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm Xilence Fan Controller 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,3GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1150/1500 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 2x AC F12 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
3x Spectre Pro LED 2x TY-140 Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G110 Strider Essential 600W Bitfenix Shinobi (modded) Logitech G400 
Mouse PadAudioAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK+ Xonar D1 Behringer B3031A Superlux HD-681 EVO 
AudioAudioOther
Objective2 desktop version Hifiman HE-400 Xilence Fan Controller 
  hide details  
Reply
post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hmm. So you're saying my sound card is minimally involved in the audio quality if I am using the optical connection?

The sound card is still involved somehow because even in optical when I change settings like Pro Studio Surround and Crystalizer, Full Range, Bass Redirection, Equalizer, Speaker Distance, etc. in the ZXR control panel the sound changes ... and then there is also utilizing the audio codecs in the ZXR control panel such as (DTS, DTS Neo 6, DDL), as well as "No Encoder" with the optical output (and I assume when there is no encoder it must be the ZXR doing the processing).

If it is really bypassing the sound card, how can all these settings in the sound card software substantially change the audio output?



It seems like the ZxR is still involved to at least some degree, but I'm not clear on how much. I also don't get the point of having a seperate DB Pro card for recording but also specifically for digital output according to a Creative Labs interview about the card on Newegg TV.

I don't get how the Z-680s are limiting the Sound Card if the output from the Z-680 DACs sounds better than the analog output from the ZXR's DACs.... if the ZXRs are being limited by the speakers, shouldn't their output sound as good as the speakers'?


What I mean by that is:


ZXR (doing the processing) ==> Analog ==> Z-680 does not sound as good as:

ZXR ==> Optical ==> Z-680 (doing the processing)




If the ZXR is actually the better processor, shouldn't it sound at least equal to the Z-680?
Edited by Robertdt - 8/5/13 at 1:09am
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
post #5 of 7
Settings like "full range speakers" are part of windows sound settings, not your soundcard.
And as I said that DTS/DDL is an exception on sound processing but it only compresses the data to a suitable form (kinda like FLAC vs WAV vs MP3).

If the SQ is worse with analog outputs, the problem may lie in the bad analog cables/inputs of the speakers. For example the FP headphone jack usually sucks because the cable connecting the soundcard and FP is usually badly shielded from EMI --> bad SQ and possible hissing noise.
Optical is completely EMI free so it doesn't get any distortions from long cables like analog does.

Personally I see all the Logitech/Creative speakers as piles of junk with a big box that makes farting noises...
Edited by Tiihokatti - 8/5/13 at 1:16am
Silent Hawk
(18 items)
 
Redfenix
(23 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,4GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1200/1450 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 3x AC F12 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
1x Glide Stream Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D Logitech G105 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Super Flower Golden Green Pro 750W Rosewill Blackhawk Asus ROG GX1000 Xonar DG 
AudioOther
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm Xilence Fan Controller 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,3GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1150/1500 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 2x AC F12 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
3x Spectre Pro LED 2x TY-140 Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G110 Strider Essential 600W Bitfenix Shinobi (modded) Logitech G400 
Mouse PadAudioAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK+ Xonar D1 Behringer B3031A Superlux HD-681 EVO 
AudioAudioOther
Objective2 desktop version Hifiman HE-400 Xilence Fan Controller 
  hide details  
Reply
Silent Hawk
(18 items)
 
Redfenix
(23 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,4GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1200/1450 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 3x AC F12 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
1x Glide Stream Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D Logitech G105 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Super Flower Golden Green Pro 750W Rosewill Blackhawk Asus ROG GX1000 Xonar DG 
AudioOther
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm Xilence Fan Controller 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,3GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1150/1500 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 2x AC F12 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
3x Spectre Pro LED 2x TY-140 Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G110 Strider Essential 600W Bitfenix Shinobi (modded) Logitech G400 
Mouse PadAudioAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK+ Xonar D1 Behringer B3031A Superlux HD-681 EVO 
AudioAudioOther
Objective2 desktop version Hifiman HE-400 Xilence Fan Controller 
  hide details  
Reply
post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Hmm... I see what you're saying but if the sound card really is not involved in the optical output, how come I can select a variety of options in the ZXR control panel that substantially changes the audio (like Pro Studio Surround, Smart Volume, Crystalizer) in a way similar to when I have the analog (and this is when I have DDL or DTS active).

I get your point that I would get the same quality with onboard optical as long as it had DDL and DTS (I don't think it does but), however i don't see how the ZXR isn't involved if all the control panel settings change the optical output as well.


Would you suggest getting new analog cables?
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
My System
(15 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 3770k @ 4.7 ghz 1.34V Asus Sabertooth Z77 MSI Twin Frozr III 7950  Gskill Trident X 2400mhz 16gb 
Hard DriveCoolingOSMonitor
Samsung 840 Pro SSD Swiftech H220x Windows 7 64 Bit Qnix QX2710 Evolution II 27" 2560x1440p  
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Vengeance K70 Corsair TX 750W  Antec P280 Gigabyte M6980X 
AudioAudioAudio
Sound Blaster ZXR  Audioengine A5+ Audioengine S8 
  hide details  
Reply
post #7 of 7
Well the Z-series seem to have some special EQ support for the digital output, but it's still plain old "playing around with EQ" (you can do the same thing with 3rd party softwares or music player plugins).

The main point of the soundcard is the high-end DAC, op-amps and other ANALOG components, that is where the hifi sound originates. All the EQ junk usually make the SQ worse so if they actually help make the sound better, it means that the speakers are so bad that they need some playing around with EQ to make them sound good.

My recommendation: Get some high-end headphones like Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro 250ohm that take full benefit from the headphone-amplifier and use whatever connection you like for the speakers.
I use Behringer B3031A speakers with the Xonar D1 soundcard (because it has a good DAC). High-end speakers cost alot more than high-end headphones, and ZXR is extremely good for headphones.
Edited by Tiihokatti - 8/5/13 at 1:44am
Silent Hawk
(18 items)
 
Redfenix
(23 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,4GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1200/1450 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 3x AC F12 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
1x Glide Stream Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D Logitech G105 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Super Flower Golden Green Pro 750W Rosewill Blackhawk Asus ROG GX1000 Xonar DG 
AudioOther
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm Xilence Fan Controller 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,3GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1150/1500 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 2x AC F12 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
3x Spectre Pro LED 2x TY-140 Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G110 Strider Essential 600W Bitfenix Shinobi (modded) Logitech G400 
Mouse PadAudioAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK+ Xonar D1 Behringer B3031A Superlux HD-681 EVO 
AudioAudioOther
Objective2 desktop version Hifiman HE-400 Xilence Fan Controller 
  hide details  
Reply
Silent Hawk
(18 items)
 
Redfenix
(23 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,4GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1200/1450 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 3x AC F12 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
1x Glide Stream Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D Logitech G105 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Super Flower Golden Green Pro 750W Rosewill Blackhawk Asus ROG GX1000 Xonar DG 
AudioOther
Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro 80ohm Xilence Fan Controller 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K @4,3GHz Asrock Z77 Extreme4 Gigabyte HD7950 Windforce @1150/1500 2x Corsair Vengeance 4gb 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingCooling
Western Digital Caviar Blue 1Tb Random LG DVD/RW Antec Kühler H2O 620 (with AC F12 push/pull) 2x AC F12 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
3x Spectre Pro LED 2x TY-140 Windows 7 Samsung S23A700D 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G110 Strider Essential 600W Bitfenix Shinobi (modded) Logitech G400 
Mouse PadAudioAudioAudio
Steelseries QCK+ Xonar D1 Behringer B3031A Superlux HD-681 EVO 
AudioAudioOther
Objective2 desktop version Hifiman HE-400 Xilence Fan Controller 
  hide details  
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Sound Cards and Computer Audio
Overclock.net › Forums › Components › Sound Cards and Computer Audio › Can anyone explain Sound Blaster ZXR, Logitech Z-680, Optical vs. Analog, Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect