Which soundcard should I buy?


Dec 27, 2017
Hi, I have a new Dell XPS 8920 SE desktop w/Win10Pro.
I ordered my desktop through Dell & am not happy with the onboard soundcard/interface.
It shipped with an integrated Realtek soundcard & Waves Maxx audio Pro software (Dell didn't offer me a choice). I have Harmon Kardan HK695 2.1 speakers

The sound on this new PC sounds flat, muffled & like I'm listening through a wet blanket. It's not clean or crisp despite tweaking for over 2 weeks now.
These HK speakers rocked well enough on my old PC: a dell Dimension 8200 with a dedicated SoundBlaster Live! Value card, so not looking to replace speakers.
I'm thinking adding a dedicated soundcard may make the difference I crave. (I have both extra PCI & PCIe slots avail):

Here are 2 cards I'm considering.

ASUS Xonar Essence STX
Creative Soundblaster Zx

I mostly listen to internet streamed music & MP3's through my speakers. I do a little gaming, but music playback via speakers is more important to me than gaming sound effects or headphone use.

I actually ordered the SB card but am now having 2nd thoughts as I keep reading the ASUS Xonar card is by far the better choice for playing music, whereas the SB Xz is probably best for gaming.
However, I also read the ASUS card requires a separate power connection from the PSU, whereas the SB does not: This true? (I'll be installing this myself) I chose the pricier SB Zx over the SB Z because of the ACM for ease of install (gives me a place to plug mic/headphones & bypass the header attachment) That said, I don't have endless $$ to spend, lol $100-$200.

Anyone have any suggestions on which soundcard I should choose, or suggestions of a more appropriate card to buy for my needs?

Appreciate any input...
Thanks very much!


Jan 3, 2013
go with the Creative Soundblaster Z or Zx if you need the Module the software of creative is good and i am using Zxr i have used the ccreative Z too
and as for the Asus the card is good for movies has some punchy mid and high but for music the card sucks and the software is crap


Dec 27, 2017

Thanks very much for your input.
I'm going to go with The Soundblaster Zx.
Glad to hear from a satisfied user. I'm pretty sure I'll be happy with my choice now.
(Especially since Creative won't let me cancel my order, lol
Much appreciated!
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