Creative Sound Blaster ZxR review

Kat Orphanides
2 Jan 2013
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

The ZXR is great for gamers who also want to enjoy high-quality music reproduction


The Creative Sound Blaster ZxR uses the same SoundCore3D processor we saw on last year's Recon3D gaming range of sound cards, and has dedicated inputs for audio recording beyond the usual 3.5mm microphone and line inputs. It also comes with a daughterboard that provides optical S/PDIF inputs and outputs, and a pair of RCA inputs.

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR ports

A daughterboard provides S/PDIF inputs and outputs

The Sound Blaster ZxR isn’t trying to compete with the likes of M-Audio in the audio production market because it lacks XLR or multiple TRS inputs, but its RCA inputs mean you can connect the output from other recording equipment or an existing hi-fi system.

Creative Sound Blaster ZxR daughterboard

The daughterboard has its own SoundCore3D processor

The daughterboard even has its own SoundCore3D processor that’s used to apply audio effects and processing to the daughterboard's inputs. You won't need a separate expansion slot for the daughterboard, and it draws power from the main sound card, but you will need a slot on the backplane.

The main sound card requires a PCI-E x1 slot. On its I/O panel, you'll find a 1/4in stereo TRS microphone input and a 1/4in TRS headphone output with a built-in headphone amp capable of powering studio headphones with a 600ohm impedance.

It has its own dedicated TPA6120A2 op-amp which, like other op-amps on the card, can be replaced if you prefer the audio characteristics of a different op-amp chip. A stereo pair of RCA that outputs audio to your speakers uses NJM2114D and LME49710 op-amps.

Unlike many hi-fi and audio production sound cards, Creative hasn't neglected 5.1 surround sound for gaming and movie enthusiasts. A stereo output pair that shares another NJM2114 and LME49710NA op-amp combination lets you connect rear and centre speakers.

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