Multi-core processors and vastly improved onboard audio solutions have all but rendered discrete audio cards obsolete, just don't speak such nonsense to Creative, which just unveiled a new generation of Sound Blaster soundcards. Three new cards comprise the company's new Sound Blaster Z Series, including the Sound Blaster ZxR, Zx, and Z, all three of which are PCI Express parts.
"The audio landscape for gaming and entertainment on the PC has changed. As content creation and consumption evolves with the interactivity of the Internet, our vision is to enable the best listening experiences for music, video and games, and to transcend the basic concept of sound quality as a specification with enabling technologies that allow users to completely customize their PC audio," said Low Long Chye, Director of Product Marketing for Audio. “For audio playback, we use studio-grade components to deliver outstanding fidelity, and then greatly enhance the listening experience by implementing our SBX Pro Studio suite of audio technologies."
Pricing starts at $100 for the Sound Blaster Z, the entry-level model in the three-card lineup. It boasts 120dB SNR and supports 192KHz direct pass-through to analog out.
For $50 more, the Sound Blaster Zx adds an external ACM (Audio Control Module) with a built-in dual microphone array and mic/headphone I/O connections. And then there's the Sound Blaster ZxR, which shares the same hardware and software features as the Zx but adds a DBpro daughter card that offers optical output and 123dB analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) with RCA Aux-in and optical input. The ZxR will sell for $250.
Creative says the Sound Blaster ZxR and Zx will be available in December; the vanilla Z version will be available in October.