A PC audio blowout with Ryan Schlieper from Creative Labs – The Full Nerd Ep #16

The Full Nerd Episode 16 Live! This week Gordon, Adam and Brad host Creative Lab’s Ryan Schlieper for some in-depth nerding about PC audio, the API wars and whether your computer will have a soundcard or not again.

Be sure to tune in every other Tuesday for the live show and subscribe in your favorite podcast app.

37 thoughts on “A PC audio blowout with Ryan Schlieper from Creative Labs – The Full Nerd Ep #16

  • February 8, 2017 at 8:39 pm

    Boston ex-pat too…I don't miss any of the Massholes on the road.

  • February 8, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    I like my sound blaster z card even though it's sound is a not on the warm side what so ever.. Since i added a video card to my PC it's been getting some interference/noise from that. Been planning on adding a X7 for a while now.

  • February 9, 2017 at 1:05 am

    Sound cards are no longer popular when CPUs become more powerful and the audio chips are integrated into the motherboard design.  The computer slots are now used for video or fast SSD storage.

  • February 9, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Lets go through some stuff.

    1. NX Waves for Windows is a $10 software virtual surround sound (VSS) solution that can output to any USB DAC. You can use a bluetooth head tracker with it if you want and it has more HRTF customization than Creative. This is the option you want. Combine it with a Fiio E10K or Fiio Q1 and you've got a setup far cheaper than the Sound Blaster G5/E5.

    2. Creative can't even put proper specifications on their products like power output into a variety of impedances. Schiit and Fiio are destroying Creative in audiophile credibility and specifications to show it. If you want a high power amp get a Schiit Magni 2 or 2U. If you want a high power portable amp get a Fiio A5.

    3. All the Creative internal soundcards have very high output impedance. You want an output impedance of less than 1Ω. Sound Blaster Z has an output impedance of 22Ω.

    4. Sound Blaster E1/E3 don't even do virtual surround sound properly as they can't appear as a 7.1 speaker system to Windows.

    5. The X7 can't even appear as a 7.1 speaker system to Windows for 7.1 VSS. It can only appear as 5.1.

    6. Unless Creative VASTLY improve the customization of their VSS HRTF processing they are irrelevant.

    7. If you've got loads of money then get a Smyth Realiser A16 when it is released. This is the absolute best VSS out there and the HRTF used is based upon your own binaural room impulse response which is why it actually sounds like high fidelity speakers. You'll want to be using it with high end headphones and it costs ~$2000 but it will support Atmos.

    8. The only feature that Creative has that makes it unique on the market is the hardware mixing of multiple inputs on the E5/G5. That is a genuinely great idea that should be expanded upon.

    9. The E3 sucks so bad as I've written on Head-Fi in in the past. Too much noise floor and the volume control increments are far too large.

    10. While Creative suck less today than they did years ago my impression is that the company culture is as screwed up as Sennheiser. Feedback goes into a black hole and never gets implemented. I've written at length about how to improve the E5/G5 on Head-Fi years ago and yet still the specifications page is still barren. They are just so horrendously out of touch in what is said on any enthusiast PC gaming forum on the internet though that has improved. There are plenty of people who want good headphones for gaming as seen on /r/Headphones and they don't have massive budgets. The audiophiles that go to shows like Canjam are a very small portion of the audiophiles as a whole so their tastes aren't representative. Go to /r/Headphones and you'll see that Fiio and Schiit are the ones recommended over and over again because they are quality products, with detailed specifications and at great price points. They use metal for a case rather than the cheap plastic you see on the Sound Blaster E5. If you prove your products are good through measurements whether they are DAC/Amps, headphones or IEMS then people will buy them. You however have to prove that first.

    11. There is a large backlash against virtual surround sound because people see it as a gimmick. They see it as a gimmick because they DO NOT understand how it actually works. Creative has to put time into clearly explaining why it is not a gimmick. Can your marketing not suck for once.

    12. None of the Creative DSP interacts with the game engine of any modern games. It is all applied to the 2.0, 5.1 or 7.1 audio output from the game. If you've got something like the Sound Blaster E5/G5/X7 the Creative DSP processing is done on their processor but it's not significant and most of it such as Crystallizer you wouldn't want to use. The only DSP of value is the SBX Pro Studio.

    13. What would really add value to Creative devices is if parametric equalization, IIR and FIR convolution was possible on the Creative DSP processor. At the moment EqualizerAPO with PeaceGUI is commonly recommended on /r/Headphones.

     You can contact me on reddit as /u/Dreyka1

  • February 9, 2017 at 10:16 pm

    It's funny. I have been reading a bit about DACs and their use in audio lately so I decided to pick up a Sound Blaster Audigy 5 card and, wow! It really does make a difference with both my surround sound and headphones (built in DAC amp). Bass is much more pronounced and it just 'feels' cleaner. Definitely will be keeping it for my next build.

  • February 10, 2017 at 7:28 am

    FFS ! If you want to get to the fuckin' point, advance it to 14:06 , it's just "blah blah blah" up to that point.

  • February 10, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    I've never built a PC without a sound card. Even though Mb audio has improved it still doesn't match having a card to handle sound. As usual I'm solidly behind Gordon on this.

  • February 10, 2017 at 8:18 pm

    HRTF for the win. I'm installing System Shock 2 with Alchemy on Windows 7 right now. It's great to be able to tell when something's coming at you from above/below …

  • February 10, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    You should ask why companies like creative don't care one bit about putting FM synthchips on their cards at all.
    There is a DEMAND and a MARKET for these chips as emulation does not sound the same, and it goes ignored, to the point people keep very old PC's around just for these functions.
    If you don't believe there isn't a demand, do a search for FM tracker music. It's an Untapped Rev stream that goes ignored, that actually used to be one of the MAIN reasons to buy a card from creative, even when they switched to the crappy CQM in the later awe series (early awes used yamaha synth chips) it was STILL a reason to buy it.

    As for now the only card worth buying from Creative currently is the AUDIGY RX, which still features EAX and FULL HARDWARE GM synth support with FULL SOUNDFONT support if you load the X-FI's bank control panel, along With low level ASIO since its an Audigy 24 with a PCI-E bridge chip with driver support clear up to Win10. Which i notice he did not talk about since its very cheap and if everyone knew they would not sell those overpriced less featured Z's, which are a disgrace to the company. Go back to your Roots CREATIVE, Start Championing FM, and GM synth again.

  • February 10, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Ryan Schliper invited us to contact him at the end of this video, but never provided any method of contact. Googling is not forthcoming either. Any input to how the good sir might be contacted?

  • February 10, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    It would be nice if Creative released another proper 7.1 gaming card (with 7.1 outputs, not virtual 7.1). I've been sitting on an old X-Fi Titanium forever because the subsequent Sound Blaster cards only supported up to 5.1 output; I was connected through analog to an AV receiver with 7.1 speakers and I didn't want to lose those two speakers. I've since started using HDMI from my GPU to a Denon receiver and have been very happy with the Denon and Audyssey processing (that compensates for speaker distances and volume levels); with today's audio processing done via APIs like FMod or Wwise, I think I'm set since I don't depend on headphone technologies, I'm not sure if I'll buy another Creative card, but I could see myself interested if they did decide to release something new with proper 7.1 output. I'd like to have that noise cancelling mic tech from the Z cards, but won't trade off two speakers for it.

  • February 10, 2017 at 11:20 pm

    I still do not see the reason to use a sound card at least for my setup. The HDMI audio out of my last 4 Nvidia cards is perfect. I guess in my case my receiver is the sound card since HDMI audio out only passes the pure digital, untouched audio to a device which in my case is a Harmon Kardon with awesome DACS.. I have 6 channel audio in every game I play and have been doing this for a very long time. I love that my receiver switches bitrates to match the audio I am playing for always bit perfect playback up to 6ch 192khz. This can be a very cheap solution for 5.1 gaming. Just get a fair 5.1 receiver with HDMI and you are finished. Every game will just work and you relieve your CPU of having to process any audio as it's all being done on your receiver. What pros are there to a sound card over a HDMI receiver of some kind ? The only thing I can not do is record but that is another story.

  • February 11, 2017 at 1:16 am

    lol.. When Creative guy says the jump on bugs as fast as they can… Sound card drivers are atrocious.

  • February 11, 2017 at 7:31 am

    FFS, atrocious driver support and hw compatibility is what killed these cards. I've had Creative SB Live! and X-Fi, I had Aureal-based cards, I have Asus Xonar now. Every goddamn time driver support is basically non-existent. And no, releasing a buggy beta driver with OS support after 2 years said OS was launched doesn't count.

    "Good DACs are expensive"… looks at ODAC2, marks another point for BS.

  • February 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    Then Creative Lab need get on the ball with Linux support as I have useless Sound Blaster Z with no audio what ever.
    Yes Microsoft need to bring back DirectSound and Hardware Audio Acceleration.

  • February 11, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I had creative cards from sound blaster pro to the xfi titanium, they had massive difference against shitty onboard audio, i remember having eax and clear positional audio around 2002 when most didnt and everybody called me a cheater playing counter strike, i could perceive separated steps while distinguishing 1-5 people behind a wall, now i can barely correctly perceive 1 in a game like bafflefield one, and when i do its glitchy and sometimes players behind you dont even make sound. Even today positional audio isnt as good as it was when it used to be hardware accelerated. But, now onboard audio is also "fine", good enough quality and has amps for headphones which makes audiocards for gaming almost useless since its all software and done by the cpu anyway, because developers dont fucking take the time of doing it right. Great respect for Creative Labs and their products. They used to be more popular in Brazil, now theyre pretty much nonexistant, too much expensive for the little benefit of extra quality for audiophiles.

  • February 11, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    I have had sb16, sb32, sb dvd voodoo sb live, sb  Audigy 4 and now on sb Z-Series love them but oh sure driver sometime was a living hell but so were msi dirver, windown install

  • February 11, 2017 at 11:30 pm

    yeah positional audio is one thing, yeah it stinks that got lost. However digital HDMI audio and ARC killed your cards, the best way to get audio out of a PC is not via the HDMI port into a high quality receiver, there simply is ZERO need to buy a sound card any more, that and you cant do TREU HD, ATMOS or DTSX out of an SPDIF, why are you even talking about this. Just looked at you top end card on ebay, £300, hahahahahahahahahahahahaha, what a joke.

  • February 11, 2017 at 11:31 pm

    oh please NO SERIOUS musician is going to buy of one you crappy cards.

  • February 12, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    I knew there was something wrong with positional sound these days… although I just thought I was getting old. 😉

  • February 12, 2017 at 3:34 pm

    Windows 10 proves that even if the community was vocal about it, they still wouldn't listen.

  • February 12, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    So why not just use digital out of cheaper dedicated sound card for EAX and 3d audio with good external dac? It would be much more flexible, and economical for people with multiple digital sources. No matter how much I like my PC, I still turn on PS2 or PS3 from time to time and I would like to use them with DAC/head amp, but I also want EAX.

  • February 12, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Does anyone know how modern creative soundcards might interact with some of the new HRTF headsets that are coming to market soon?

    I remember watching an interview from last year about ossic x headphones that were building a headset with multiple speakers and a way to measure the spacial distance between your ears to get more customized hrtf solutions to sound and better positional audio. It sounded like that processing and calculation would be done via software from ossic x, but I wonder if some of the modern soundcards on the market or upcoming would have a way to directly communicate with different headset hardware and tap into their unique capabilities?

  • February 13, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    A lot of hate for Creative, was when the used lawsuits against smaller company Aureal, which arguably had a superior product.  Aureal ultimately prevailed legally but was bankrupted by defending themselves.I will dance a Jig, the day Creative goes bankrupt. It will be justice.

  • February 17, 2017 at 8:12 am

    the problem of your Z-series sound card is output impedance. Z got 18ohms and ZxR is worse with 40ohms. X7 solved this but THD+N with load is substantially worse unless you use some really high impedance headphones.

  • October 13, 2017 at 3:13 pm

    Considering from Windows 8.1 onwards, audio-acceleration hardware support was re-added, what Creative (or even Asus, for that matter) should be doing with working with engine makers like Epic with the Unreal Engine or some of the middleware companies like Fmod or WWise to push for enhanced audio immersion using, for example, 4096 3D positional voices or more at ~192kHz sampling and utilising GDDR5 from Samsung and other vendors to bring onboard X-RAM to around 1-8GB at present, in line with present GPU card standards. All the engine would have to do is check to see if a sound card is installed, then determine how much onboard RAM is present and offload as many audio files as possible onto it as they are loaded, similar to how video cards operate. If one isn't detected, then it just uses the stock standard CPU and system RAM, just like how you don't really need a video card to run Windows, but for playing games like Fallout 4, Doom, etc., it's pretty much required without stuttering like crazy as what happens when one tries to run Skyrim on just the Intel Graphics 3000 present in a i5-3570k. Perhaps call it OpenAL 2.0 or something similar, perhaps even moving the standard back to an independent organisation that isn't Creative.

    As an example, you could have it so that sound effects like rain default to a looped folio recording of rain when a sound card isn't detected, but with one installed, an individual rain drop sound is calculated according to volume, velocity, what material it is hitting (grass, puddles, tin, concrete, dirt, etc), where it is in relation to a player and the more processing power and onboard RAM there is, rain noises could be dynamically generated using as many voices as able to be utilised to have a varying playback every time, along with other background noises such as wind, footsteps, trees swaying, thunder, gun shots, voices, etc. running at the same time. The cracking of glass windows could also be potentially dynamically generated in a similar manner as well. But again, no sound card = back to stock folio effects.

    It'd essentially turn the sound card into an audio physics processing card, in a way that a video card is more-or-less a visual physics processing card. Done right and with the proper support in place, sound cards could swing back into demand. Otherwise if done half-baked, sound in games will pegged to the lowest common denominator, being the current console generation. As I mentioned above, audio in games should be pushed to the point that much more than 128 voices should be the minimum standard for real-time generated audio, particularly for FPS/VR applications, whlie leaving the main CPU to be relegated to managing more complex tasks like AI and other tasks not so easily delegated to GPUs.

    And for crying out loud, make HDMI out an option on some of the higher-end cards, like how it is standard now on video cards, so that if people do want to run the audio into a home theatre receiver that has it, then they can do so. By all means keep the standard 3.5mm headphone jack and RCA and component inputs and outputs, but maybe have it on a second row like how the GPU cards do. Worst case, have an HDMI-to-RCA/Component output box or DAC to go with it if real-estate on the back of the card is an option, but have it anyway.

    As for front-panel connections, nothing to stop case and motherboard manufacturers offering a decently shielded front panel connection cable to minimise the electrical noise generated inside a system. Or again, have a special semi-external DAC-like front interface available that is shielded and can fit into a DVD or Blu-Ray sized drive bay at the front and allow for a SATA connection inside from the soundcard to it to deal with electrical noise. Again, more than one way to skin a cat on this approach. You could even have the analogue input/outputs be on a separate daughter board on the rear like with the ZxR if people really want it that way, but keep the digital processing and digital in/outs confined to the main card where electrical interference isn't quite an issue.

    Matter of fact, soundcards could be split into two distinct camps: Audio processing cards, and audio input/output cards/interfaces. Let the hi-fi/audiophile/musician camp deal with the audio input/output side of things as it plays to their strengths, and let the likes of Creative/ASUS/Gigabyte/MSI/etc deal with the audio processing cards like how ASUS/Gigabyte/MSI are the main graphic card vendors with Creative and/or ASUS providing the base reference designs like how nVidia and AMD provide the base reference video cards and the others manufacture their own variants. If done right, win/win for PC audio and could give consoles a kick up the backside with regards to audio in games.

  • December 25, 2017 at 6:51 am

    I have owned the: Creative Audigy se PCI($60USD), XFI Xtreme gamer PCI(S100USD), & the Xfi titanium PCI Express soundcard($150USD), its sad when fans/users end up writing better 3rd party soundcard drivers then creative.

    I spent alot of money….. i'm not a "Hater" creative does NOT know how to write stable soundcard drivers, I had many creative driver issues including blue screens crackling audio ect & I know I am NOT the only one.

    I moved on from soundcards,- In the end I went with schiit audio jotunheim Amp/Dac, it has way cleaner sound / plug & play no drivers required, Amp/Dacs are the future,- creative is already a dead company of the past.

  • February 3, 2018 at 11:49 pm

    The sound on my motherboard is straight trash. (AB350M Pro4)
    Although I would rather get and am getting an external DAC/AMP.

  • February 4, 2018 at 12:16 am

    The mayflower Arc and Massdrop O2 + SDAC DAC/Amp is really good. The mayflower Arc Would be better for gaming.

  • March 28, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Creative lost me around Audigy as a customer. My hate for them grew every card they released from my first SB16 and AWE64, and every generation there after because of crap bloatware drivers, and ever increasing marketing lies. Here's a rant from 2004 regarding mine, and others frustration with Creative…https://hardforum.com/threads/creative-sucks.842453/ Here's a rant from 2010….https://hardforum.com/threads/even-though-i-hate-to-admit-it-the-creative-x-fi-titanium-sounds-really-good.1506649/ Yes, it's interesting to hear a devs perspective and the other side of the story, but my hatred still lies with Creative. Your driver support is NOT in the top 90% of all companies for your products. Your customers state you have bad drivers, and you keep hearing the same thing over and over – because it's true! I've been into gaming computers since the beginning. Creative is one of the worst companies historically for driver support. Now I won't speak to more recent Creative Experience. I removed that frustration from my life about 5 years ago. Onboard is fine on quality motherboards, and unless you are running a high impedance headphone – lots of the complaints against onboard (system noise, low quality, poor stereo separation) in this video are invalid.

  • January 20, 2019 at 9:53 pm

    Is it ironic that Episode "16" is discussing Creative?

  • January 20, 2019 at 9:54 pm

    Ryan Schlieper talks about "pack in" software with drivers as though Creative did it as a gesture of goodwill.

    I would guess that they took money from vendors to include software with their drivers.

  • January 21, 2019 at 12:04 am

    1 hour 22 minutes and 39 seconds and not a single mention of DanielK?

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