Sound BlasterX G6 Virtual Surround Musings and Measurements

Discussion in 'Headphone Amplifiers and Combo (DAC/Amp) Units' started by purr1n, Jan 7, 2022.

  1. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    STEP 4: Device options


    Start by turning off most things.
    [​IMG]
    • Super X-Fi (should be off already from setting 7.1 earlier)
    • Equalizer (but more on this in Step 5)
    • Crystal Voice
    • Direct Mode
    • Scout Mode
    • Encoder (unless you’re piping your TOSLINK optical to an AV receiver that can decode Dolby Surround, in which case you’ll want this on)


    Time to turn on the surround processor.
    [​IMG]
    • Select Acoustic Engine
    [​IMG]
    1. Turn on Surround, set it to whatever you like. On my X4 anything above 30 creates a really awful reverb, YMMV.
    2. Turn on Crystalizer, and set it to 0.
    Keep everything else off.
     
  2. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    STEP 5: Saving your profile

    [​IMG]

    If you now go to save your profile with the little disk icon, you may be met with the following message:

    [​IMG]

    The default profile for the Equalizer is “Onboard” which cannot be saved to a profile, so even if you have EQ Off you need to make a custom profile.

    [​IMG]

    Open the Equalizer panel

    [​IMG]

    Change any one point on the EQ, and save it with a whatever name.

    [​IMG]

    Now turn EQ back Off again.

    [​IMG]

    You should now be able to save a profile.

    [​IMG]

    At this point it’s a good idea to unplug and re-connect your device.

    At least currently my X4 can get into a state where no sound can play if I screw around too much with settings.

    Ye Olde “Have your tried turning it Off and On again” fixes it.

    Now get out there, and PWN some N00bz with your Unfair Advantage. Or maybe just watch a nice movie iunno.
    :drunk:
     
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  3. mk351e

    mk351e Rando

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    [I tried using Scout Mode. It sounds like maybe some EQ or compression. In the end, I would honestly say that Scout Mode not only sounds like shit but also fucks up spatial cues and puts sounds into a blender. Evidently some SB engineer went full retard with this Scout Mode shit (more likely their marketing department). Perhaps a True Gamer™ can chime in if they find that Scout Mode does something for them or if I am doing something wrong. I'm open to being wrong.]


    I'll chime in - I have this unit and I use it strictly for PS3/4/5 gaming on my simrig. I also tried it for music and movies, just for for the hell of it. For music, this unit is a hard NO. For movies, pretty much the same - the sound modes were irritating AF.

    I play 2 types of games - first person shooters, and driving sims. For FPS games, scout mode is flat out awesome! It works exactly as advertised, so if you're a gamer, read about it, buy it and enjoy; simple as that really. For driving games, it's even more awesome as the various modes allow you to make things sound far more intense and realistic! I don't remember the names and settings as I set it up over a year ago and haven't adjusted it since. For the price, this is a steal, but for gaming ONLY. Also, it has more than enough power to drive my IE900, HD820, and TH900 to deafening levels with no problem, and no noise or anything.

    Fun fact - I wanted the creative labs x7 for years and finally bought one. Strange product really; I ended up returning it, buying the x G6 and keeping it along with the extra money (though the feature set is different of course).
     
  4. jexby

    jexby Posole Prince

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    wow. The screenshots of Windoze settings BS or Creative Device Settings sub-menu hell completely exemplify WTF is wrong with this industry of "quality audio" either for gaming or for audiophile listening.
    the complexity in configuring these devices to achieve anything over mediocrity is beyond a time sync, it's a full stop barrier to adoption.
     
  5. Walderstorn

    Walderstorn Friend

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    I have it. Its the second best one I tried. There's a software that I bought 2y ago that I liked more, but it was a bit buggy unfortunately. What was good about it was that you could choose the level of implement and, since it had a low level of artifacts, was my favourite. I will check the name when I get home but I'd you want hassle free atmos is my favourite.
     
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  6. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Unfortunately no can do with the G6. There's no SPDIF option on the Sound Control Panel which allows a second output to be sent from music apps.

    Will try this out and report back.
     
  7. Degru

    Degru Facebook Friend

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    Have you tried the HeSuVi simulated version of Windows Sonic? Weirdly enough I find that it sounds completely different and DRAMATICALLY better than the "real thing", and it has a no reverb preset too. I liked it the most out of all the presets present in that software.

    On that note, personally don't see the need to buy virtual surround hardware when this software exists for free :p (unless you're going totally crazy with a Realizer A16 or are playing old PC games with hardware accelerated sound)
     
  8. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    It's gaming. That the G6 could pull off virtual surround I think was something stumbled into by accident. @Hands or @zerodeefex was the one who told me about this. Anyway, I agree, I can't stand all those options and buttons because most of them sound like ass.

    I think manufacturers feel that having plenty of options makes their product more appealing for the kiddies. Crystalizer, Fartizier, Scunt Mode, 16 Filters, PLL on/off, Resampler, etc. The list goes on. Personally, I dislike this approach. What it tells me is that the manufacturers / product managers / marketing teams have absolutely no fucking clue. I just don't have enough time. This is why I won't bother with NOS DACs and HQ Player. Well, maybe I will find time - and even offer observations with speakers since most people don't use speakers here.

    All that shit that I wrote up above for the G6 should have been one standard preset, maybe among a total of three, one of them with everything being off. Creative can always offer a hidden dweeb mode with all those knobs and shit for full customization.
     
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  9. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    For me that the CL surround is better than dolby is a happy accident.

    • I wanted the microphone control of the X4 for games without a tuneable gate or ptt function
    • I wanted a USB C, UAC 2 device
    • I wanted to keep using a device that presents 2 outputs so I can do surround shenanigans on one and keep the other 2ch
    Anything else is a bonus.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Will give HeSuVi and Dolby's software (evaluating this very minute with some movies). Software solutions I've tried so far have been between "kinda-shitty" and "meh" with the exception of Darin Fong's Out of Your Head, which has two decent presets: https://fongaudio.com/out-of-your-head-software.

    As I mentioned before, this was something stumbled upon by other SBAFers who thought to themselves "wow, not meh, this is actually good" with respect to virtual surround with headphones.
     
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  11. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Dolby Access Impressions:

    upload_2022-1-10_14-51-17.png
    upload_2022-1-10_14-51-23.png

    Pros:
    1. Brain dead install from Microsoft App Store or whatever - even though the UI for the Microsoft app store sucks balls. When will Microsoft hire a non-fuckhead to design their UIs? Anyway, no need to download two or three pieces and install.
    2. Brain dead interface to turn on (although it's not so obvious how to disable it). No running though 27 steps on 5 screens to make it work.
    3. Minimal reverb (although this itself has side-effects to the illusion of 3D sound).
    Cons:
    1. Confusing / multiple steps to disable Movie mode (go into custom, turn on virtualizer, turn off, press enable, etc.
    2. No ability to dial in reverb level. I know reverb can sound annoying, but once one gets used to it, it's part of the illusion. The fact is, sound waves from speakers in different locations will arrive at the ears at different times and even the most well treated movie theaters will have some sound bounce.
    3. Doesn't seem to change frequency response based on where the sound comes from in relation to ear. I think this is more than a small part of the illusion - I mean, this what the HRTF stuff is supposed to be all about after all.
    4. Cannot render sounds behind the head very well. Well, the G6 doesn't exactly do this like a real surround speaker system, but at least when it fakes it, it's an acceptable facsimile where I can say to myself: "oh, that's supposed to come from behind me". The Dolby Access app instead just pushes a sound that is supposed to be rear-left to super far left.
    5. Noticeable lag.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
  12. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    @purr1n Thanks for the helpful writeup and for sharing your thoughts! Really glad you took the time to play around with this one and found some good in it!

    I can't say I've tried every virtual surround solution out there, but what I appreciate about SBX is its ability to accurately localize sounds in games, including behind the head, with an astonishingly minimal amount of reverb or other odd effects. It might not have the largest stage or most 3D sound, but it's not too bad. The clarity and accuracy more than make up for it.

    SBX is particularly beneficial in competitive shooters once you become familiar with it. While it won't help your technical performance, it frequently gives an edge in environmental awareness.

    Where it might suffer is in vertical localization. After all, it's only emulating a 5.1 or 7.1 surround system. Some games include their own virtual surround or 3D options for headphone users which properly handle verticality. That said, I still find SBX to best most of these offerings on the horizontal plane, often to the point where you will still do better overall with SBX. On most shooters, verticality is limited to minimal levels, so you can often figure it out through situational awareness and context.

    On top of that, the EQ works rather nicely. The mic input is fairly decent. The amp isn't too bad for a device like this. I can use the HD650 with it and be content for general use.

    The DAC isn't horrible. It has a sort of rich, inky character to it like some of the Wolfson stuff (i.e. Gamma 2). Not particularly refined and has a pretty narrow and forward sound, if I remember correctly, but at least it didn't sound lifeless and boring.

    Yeah, there's a bit of a learning curve to figure it all out, and there's lot of useless crap. But, hey, that's just the dumb norm with PC gaming. I've grown up with it and would rather have a bunch of crap to turn off than risk missing a key option or component I want or need. The software and firmware had some odd bugs for a while, but it's generally smooth these days.

    Overall, though, it has a lot of useful functionality (gaming or general use), rarely falls flat when it comes to the useful parts, and definitely delivers where it matters most.

    I did try out several products, whether that be software, devices like the G6, headsets, etc. to find the right virtual surround solution for me. The G6 subtly and unceremoniously killed any interest I had or need I felt in trying more products. There was no revelatory moment when I realized it was the device for my gaming needs. No honeymoon phase, nor a following wane. I just...stopped thinking about it without realizing it. I just got along with the G6 fairly naturally once we got to know each other a bit.

    2, maybe 3+ years later, I realized this little device had been my gaming daily driver without giving it much thought one way or the other. Since I work at home, it serves double duty as audio I/O for that as well.

    When I thought of what other things, audio, technology/gear, or other goods, have lasted me 2-3+ years, while doing their job well, and without me ever getting that itch to try something else, I realized, "Oh shit, this is definitely on my short list of best products I've purchased."
     
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  13. Ryanr1987

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    Love this.

    I've had this little device since around the time it was released. It's prob the most underrated piece of tech I own, often being ignored in conversations but being a daily driver and when I think about it; a must have for a small, portable external source for me. I agree once you turn a lot of the bullshit off, it's a neat little device with a half decent DAC but soso amp section.

    Pair this with some DT770's, 990's, HE400se, HE5XX you have a kick-ass little set up.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    Exactly! You are probably not surprised this still sits at my desk. I've been using it for movies and certain games like HZD, just not ARPGs which are horrible with the SBX effects. I just haven't gotten to writing everything down until now. It really wasn't as hard to set up as I thought. The super cool feature is the ability to turn everything off at the press of a button on the box (the app simultaneously recognizes this).
    g7off.jpg
    I've experimented with software before and found it to be a waste of my time with shitty implementations. Now I have found EQ APO and HuViSuSuSudio or whatever very promising - but then yesterday I found myself back into the trap of finding what profile I liked best, wasting half an afternoon. This is nice when you are young and have nothing better to do with your life. However, I don't have time like how I used to.

    upload_2022-1-11_10-24-40.png

    With the G6, after initial BS, it just works. Not only works, but works damn well. It's surprising because Creative gets so much wrong with sucky modes, but happens to get this right out-of-the box (with the right settings). It deserves to be reiterated how well the imaging aspects are implemented, specifically localization precision and ability to actually image behind (or allow me to recognize that it's from behind rather than to the side).

    With respect to the DAC, I think it sounds pretty good for what it is. It uses an old Cirrus, actually Wolfson part. Not perfect, not the best timbre or headstage, but like what you said at least its lively, engaging, and not boring. I'll hook USB powered hub or Y cable deal to see if I can feed it better power from my good USB power brick than from the computer USB.
     
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    Last edited: Jan 11, 2022
  15. fraggler

    fraggler A Happy & Busy Life

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    A few of us played around with Redscape Audio a couple years ago and I find it to be a fun add on. https://superbestaudiofriends.org/i...e-audio-3d-tracker-software-impressions.8527/
    There is a free trial if you feel like testing it along with these options. I found it to be quite useful in Overwatch vs the Atmos for headphones built into it. I don't use it for music listening via headphones, but in my tiny box of a home office, it did some decent things for me with my desktop speakers.
     
  16. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    C'mon man, its been what, at least 20 years where all MS online stores have awfulbad interfaces.

    I'm thinking we should just accept it, because to do otherwise is veering into "old man shouts at clouds" territory.:drunk:
     
  17. atkhan

    atkhan Rando

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    I had the Creative Sound Blaster E5 back in 2016 or so.
    Terrible amp section. Couldn't run my 25 ohm EMU Teaks right.
    My fiiO E07k sounded better in comparison, at the time.
    All that gimmickry is taken aback by the sound/power capabilities.

    I sold it off - never looked back at Creative DAC/Amps.
     
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  18. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    Cool. Not the same product.
     
  19. purr1n

    purr1n Super Friend

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    FWIW, the Fiio K5 Pro (reviewed here) didn't sound any better, maybe worse. I'll do a full GONAD panel on the G6's amp section.
     
  20. atkhan

    atkhan Rando

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    Really? Okay that's a bit of a surprise for me. The differences I heard between the fiiO e07k and the Creative E5 were quite audible - though I did not do an objective test or measurement on either.

    But again, this does surprise me much.
     

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