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Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite, worth it??

Postby Ronin » Wed Dec 31, 2014 10:15 pm

So I finally built my new PC ( pics forth coming I promise; with Ellsworth's help) using a Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 3 as my motherboard. Here's my question it came with the Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite and I had some trouble with it initially and I am wondering if it's worth the trouble to re-install it and get it going. At first I thought it meant that it had Creative chips but it seems it's just a software addition, which for a $100 board is ok with me.

I installed all of the software from my motherboard CD when I was trying to figure out my network problems and I discovered a weird audio problem where about half of all the videos from youtube & other sites was muddy and basically unlistenable. I uninstalled the software and everything was fine but I see that this Sound Blaster suite can be purchased on its own for $30 so I thought it might actually have some worth. Does anyone have any opinion on it either way? I have a decent 5 channel surround set up with a sub-woofer but do 95%+ of my listening through my Grado SR60 headphones. Thanks.
After seeing and hearing about the amazing rigs that many people have on these forums; it seems rather silly for me to the specs of my very modest gaming PC. It works and that's good enough for me.

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Re: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite, worth it??

Postby ZeroGuardian » Thu Jan 01, 2015 11:24 am

It probably only allows for some additional Sound Blaster EAX processing that wouldn't be available otherwise. Its not going to be able to do anything to your overall sound quality as that is ultimately controlled by your sound card.

So basically it only comes down to is there a feature in the software that you find useful? If not, there is no need to keep it installed.
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Re: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite, worth it??

Postby Synchronicity » Thu Jan 01, 2015 12:36 pm

The software suite does two things: it allows you to use surround sound and EAX for specific DirectSound3D games (a few lists here and here). And it also adds a surround sound virtualizer engine called SBX Pro Studio. It works by telling your movies and games that you have a 5.1/7.1 setup, takes those added channels and downmixes them to your two channel headphones. It creates the illusion of surround sound via a process known as head related transfer function.

Virtual surround sound engines are included in most modern games with middleware like WWise, FMOD, and Miles so you don't actually need any special software or hardware to get virtual surround sound. However, take a listen to this and see what you think. The listed engines (SBX Pro Studio, CMSS-3D, Dolby Headphone, and THX TruStudio) tend to sound better 90% of the time than what the game natively produces with its own software.

Now the caveat is that the above engines sound better in conjunction with discrete hardware like a sound card, where it can more precisely process the various sound channels to create a better soundstage and 3D positioning. The software suite will be better than Realtek's standard motherboard drivers at doing this but it will never approach what you could do with a soundcard. The good news is you can spend $30 on a Xonar DG and enable Dolby Headphone and get all of that good stuff for your Grado SR60 with no headaches. That's what I ran for several years before upgrading a few times. I'm currently running a Sound Blaster ZxR (with SBX Pro Studio) and a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 990s and everything sounds like an IMAX theater.
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Re: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite, worth it??

Postby Ronin » Thu Jan 01, 2015 1:00 pm

Sounds like it might be worth the effort. I couldn't really find anything about the issue I had but I am wondering should I uninstall the Realtek stuff first and then try the Sound Blaster X-Fi? I don't know if the Sound Blaster has it's own drivers or if it needs audio drivers to work from.
After seeing and hearing about the amazing rigs that many people have on these forums; it seems rather silly for me to the specs of my very modest gaming PC. It works and that's good enough for me.

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Re: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite, worth it??

Postby Synchronicity » Thu Jan 01, 2015 1:25 pm

Yeah I believe they're their own drivers so uninstall the Realtek kind and see how that goes.

You'll also want to play with some of the settings and turn off things like bass boost and lower or turn off the Crystalizer. There's a lot of stuff buried in there that can affect the sound quality.
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Re: Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3 software suite, worth it??

Postby Ronin » Fri Jan 02, 2015 10:50 am

I'll get it a try later today (I hope) and let you know how it goes.
After seeing and hearing about the amazing rigs that many people have on these forums; it seems rather silly for me to the specs of my very modest gaming PC. It works and that's good enough for me.

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