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Best sound card for Sonos 5.1 home theater (1 Viewer)

What sound card would you buy for a SONOS system (5.1 DD only) to watch movies and play video games?

  • Creative Sound Blaster ZXR

  • ASUS Essential STX II


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ahg985

Auditioning
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
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Alejandro
Dear all,

TL;DR undecided between ASUS essential STX II, and Creative Sound Blaster ZXR (see comparison below).

I am seeking advice on what sound card to buy so it work the best with my rig. For years now I use a Samsung 60” 4K TV as a monitor in my living room, connected to a computer (motherboard ASUS X99-A). I use it to watch movies, listen to music and play video games. Knowing nothing about sound systems I recently rushed into buying a Sonos 5.1 system, now connected to my PC. The main limitation with sonos is that it will only read Dolby Digital, and only have one optical as input. I had to buy an optical switcher to connect TV and PS4 also to Sonos. And I had to download an unofficial driver to make sonos work with the motherboard Realtek HD, which was emitting DTS. Now Realtek emits Dolby Digital, but only two channels. So, I have assumed that to take full advantage of the system (I wish I had bought Bose 700 5.1), I better get myself a sound card...

I am undecided between ASUS essential STX II and Creative sound blaster ZXR. Both are similar price. Below are the main pros and cons I got from reading reviews:

ASUS pros:
1. Seems best sound quality overall
2. More versatile, better quality for movies
3. Allows to upgrade to 7.1
ASUS cons
1. Worse driver / software interface
2. Last update 2015. Product may be discontinued
3. Optical output though adapter with coax (not big deal)

Creative ZXR pros
1. Seems superior for gaming, more specific features
2. Nice driver interface and support
3. Optical output
4. 124 vs 120 dB ASUS (other specs are the same, and I assume this 4dB I would never use)

Creative ZXR Cons
1. Focused on gaming
2. Does not support 7.1
3. Apparently inferior sound quality when compared to ASUS
4. Reported problems with windows 10, seem fixed but it is not 100% clear

Summing it up, ASUS essential is better overall although may be worse for gaming and they might discontinue supporting the product in the near future (this is what concerns me the most).

Thanks (and vote in the poll)
 

Chris Strnad

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Apr 18, 2000
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CLE
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Chris
3. Optical output though adapter with coax (not big deal)
It could be a very big deal depending on who is making the adapter and how it is powered--there's a very strong chance of introducing audible noise to the signal.
 

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