Wow, I just received my ZXR today and completely agree with people who say it's terrible.
I'm using CS 1.6 for testing because CSGO sound is awful. I've been playing 1.6 for 8+ years with an xfi extreme gamer, AD700's, Alchemy, 5.1 on windows, and headphones on SB control panel. I also turn the bass on windows to minimum and raise the treble a bit.
I tried the ZXR at first with the same settings and "surround" checked under "SBX pro studio" tab and the sound was terrible. I have bass on 0%, Crossover Frequency on 700. Unchecking "Bass" is terrible (ridiculously strong bass). Smart Volume and Dialog Plus are unchecked. Scout mode off, EQ off.
I tried setting windows to stereo instead of 5.1 but didn't see a difference. I unchecked "surround" and it sounded a bit better. I was about to uninstall and remove the card and figured I'd try without alchemy and with "surround" checked.
I guess Alchemy is no longer needed with this card because without alchemy it sounds a lot better. But still this is definitely a downgrade from the now $50 extreme gamer card.
Sound is more muffled rather than crisp (even with crystallizer on), distance is not as obvious, and front vs behind is even worse.
With "SBX Pro Studio" power button deactivated, and with or without Alchemy, the sound is still bad. The bass is also so strong under this setting that it hurts my ears even when my volume is so low that I can only just hear other ingame sounds.
I also tried moving the "Surround" slider back and forth, but anything other than default just sounds strange.
The mic on the ACM can be set to not pickup loud noise (in mumble with voice activity – amplitude) from a keyboard (cherry brown) that is right next to it, but everyone tells me the quality is horrible. I have "noise reduction" checked because otherwise there is a loud static sound. "Acoustic echo cancelation", "FX", and "Smart Volume" are unchecked. "Focus" is set to minimum.
I will keep the card in for a couple of days to see if anyone has any suggestions for me to try.
High level competitive gamer (CS 1.6).
In my opinion any "gaming" mouse pad over $10 is a rip off unless you want to spend money on pure aesthetics. The $8 Supermat is better and cheaper than any "gaming" mousepad I've used. Zeus Gear XL is a good alternative.
I will not answer PMs that could/should be asked in threads.