- Specifications and Photos
- Hardware/Software Installation and functionality
- Gaming and Audio Performance
I tried a few FPS and third person shooter games with a normal two channel headphone.
The sound was very precise and the Scout mode helped from time to time when you needed to pick out precisely from where you are being fired upon from. Scout mode isn’t something that I would recommend keeping on for a prolonged period but just for a few moments when you need to precisely need to be aware of enemy fire. Luckily the mode can be easily activated and deactivated on the fly by pressing Alt + O
Non fps games like Real-time strategy and Role Playing games were also a treat as the bass and treble performance was noticeably better than vanilla onboard sound and so those explosions and sword clashes sounded quite nice. Now the scout mode doesn’t work in some of the games I tried though its not needed in RTS games and only a few RPG games would really need the Scout mode.
Since EAX was disabled from Windows Vista onwards all games with EAX support won’t work since this card doesn’t run on Windows XP (where EAX is still supported). However there are a lot of effects and EQs to play with to tweak the sound for each game.
Now one of the main USPs of Creatives biggest competitor in this price range – The ASUS Xonar STX/ST was its capable headphone amplifier which actually did a very good job of driving expensive headphones that required a headphone amplifier to sound good.
Creative have now included a headphone amplifier in this Recon 3D soundcard and they claim they can drive headphones upto 600 ohms properly (most headphones start at 32 ohms and the good ones go upto 300 ohms).
Now one difference between the Recon 3D and the ASUS STX is that the STX can change the flavour of the sound at a hardware level via OPAMPs. The OPAMP on the Creative is fixed and cannot be changed. This is a small negative as the default OPAMP on the Creative is very good and I doubt any other OPAMP would improve the sound significantly.
Thankfully Creative have managed to include a very capable headphone amplifier and the two headphones I tried – a Sennehiser HD650 (300 ohms) and a Yamaha YH100 (150 ohms) were very loud at barely 40% power. To give an idea how hard it is to drive these headphones, I can’t get a loud enough sound if I connect these headphones to my onboard sound card at maximum volume.
Coming to audio quality it fares quite decently as well. I compared it to my dedicated audio sound processor – the Music Streamer II which costs around the same as the Recon 3D. After lots of testing I found the differences between the two were barely 10% and I struggled to pick out the differences between the two sound cards. And we have to remember that the Music Streamer II doesn’t have a headphone amplifier nor does it sound that great for gaming so the Recon 3D suddenly seems like very good value for money.