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SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review

SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review. Creative’s new USB audio sound card is the Sound BlasterX G5. It includes the SB-Axx1 multi-core chipset for hardware-accelerated SBX Pro audio and can deliver true 7.1 sound. It is built with ‘audiophile components’ including a 24-bit/192kHz, 120dB USB DAC and headphone amplifier with 2.2 ohm output impedance. Headphones with up to 600 ohms can be driven by the built-in amp. The external device also sports a USB port into which you can plug other USB peripherals such as mice and keyboards.

Pricing on the day of review is £129.99

[Features]

The pocket-sized Sound BlasterX G5 delivers massively superior gaming audio performance in a compellingly tiny form-factor.

This virtual 7.1 24-bit/192kHz, 120dB USB Digital Audio Converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier delivers for the ultimate headphone gaming audio experience – whether it is for your PC or for your gaming console.

Click To Read General Specs
  • Audio Technology
    • SB-Axx1™
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)
    • 120dB (DAC)
  • Connectivity Options (Main)
    • microUSB
  • Line / Optical In: 1 x 3.5mm jack
  • Line / Optical Out : 1 x 3.5mm jack
  • 4-pole Headphone-out with Mic: 1 x 3.5mm jack
  • Dedicated Mic In : 1 x 3.5mm jack
  • Audio Technologies
    • CrystalVoice, Scout Mode
  • Supported Operating Systems
  • Mac OS X v10.8 and above, Windows® 10, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 8, Windows® 7, Windows Vista®
Click To Read Detailed Specs
  • Audio Technology
    • SB-Axx1™
  • Max. Playback QualityPlayback:
    24-bit / 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192kHz
  • Max. Recording QualityLine-in:
    24bit / 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0, 176.4, 192 kHz
    Mic-in:
    24bit / 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0 kHz
    ~16kHz (Frequency Response)Optical In:
    24-bit / 44,1 / 48 / 88,2 / 96 kHz
  • OutputStereo
  • Max. Headphone OutputHigh Gain
    150Ω – 600Ω
    Low Gain
    32Ω – 150Ω
  • Included Accessories
    • microUSB cable
    • Mini TOSLINK Cable
  • Key Features
    • Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)120dB (DAC)
    • Upmixing of Stereo to Virtual Surround
  • Connectivity Options (Main)
    • microUSB
  • Line / Optical In:
    1 x 3.5mm jack
  • Line / Optical Out :
    1 x 3.5mm jack
  • 4-pole Headphone-out with Mic:
    1 x 3.5mm jack
    Dedicated Mic In :
    1 x 3.5mm jack
  • CrystalVoice
  • Scout Mode
  • Audio FidelityUp to 24-bit / 192kHz
  • Software & Compatibility
  • Included / Downloadable
  • SoftwareBlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro Software for Windows
  • Supported Operating Systems
  • Mac OS X v10.8 and above
    Windows® 10
    Windows® 8.1
    Windows® 8
    Windows® 7
    Windows Vista®
  • Compatible Platform
    • USB 2.0
    • USB 3.0
  • Supported Gaming
  • Consoles
    • PlayStation® 4
    • Xbox One
  • Dimension (H x W x D)
    • 110 x 74 x 22 mm
    • (4.3″ x 2.9″ x 0.9″)
  • Weight
    • 145g (0.31lbs)
  • ASIOPlayback & Recording
  • Recommended Usage
    • Gaming

Courtesy of Creative read more

[Packaging]

The exterior box is a small sleek black carton, with some seriously enticing imagery and text. From the front side we’re shown a top down view of the product, and ALL the key information is listed in a neat manner

On the base, Creative has managed to display a lot of information, without cramming or forcing it on you. There’s tons of detail here about the specs and features.

Inside the box, we obviously have the main unit, a red USB Cable, optical cable, and user manuals/warranty guide.

[First Look & Impressions]

SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review - Top View

First impressions are very good, the unit is super compact measuring just 110 x 74 x 22 mm (H x W x D). Creative uses a blend of materials and different finishes, to assemble the product. The one that jumps out from this view is the centre band, which has a brushed aluminum finish. With the Sound Blaster X logo, in the center. The X portion of which, glows red when the unit is powered up

 

SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review - Side

Around the side, we find the control to enable scout mode, (more on this soon) switch between 3 different soundblasterX profiles, which are indicated with the 1,2,3 LED on the right. Finally, we have a Gain switch which switches between 32Ω – 150Ω, right up to 150Ω – 600Ω nothing on the opposite side to mention.

 

SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review - Front

From the front side, Creative offer exactly what most want! A simple and convenient dial for volume and input/output for microphone and headset. A dim red under glow emits from the volume dial, which is great in a darkened environment!

 

SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review - Back

Inputs are housed on the backside of the product, and the one that is most noteworthy is the additional USB device slot. This means if your low on ports, using the G5 has no negative impact. You can also hook up a USB headset here too.

 

[Usage & Experience]

*Foreword*
As I product reviewer it’s my responsibility to deliver a truthful, fair and accurate analysis. I work with many product types, and for the bulk of which I have a predetermined testing method. These methods are set to ensure one product can be directly compared to the next. However some peripherals such as this, keyboards and mice are the exceptions. There is no industry standard benchmarks or test method. The method I devised on based on a realistic usage of such products… Simply using them

SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review - Connectivity

Setup differs slightly from on platform from the next, we started with consoles first using headphones. PS4 setup was easier than Xbox one, but performance was the same on both platforms. The product running solo with no access to software, to tweak, actually worked very well. The benefits of using the scout functions are obvious. I’ve used headsets with virtual sound on consoles, and yes it’s better than stereo. This product makes those approaches, sound very poor by contrast. Also worth noting, as the included documentation makes no reference, you can use the USB pass-through port for a USB headset.

On a PC is where the products shines, with full control of the goodies inside, namely the XB-Axx1 multi-core chipset. Out of the box, the product requires the complimenting software to unleash and make the most of it. That said, it’s not optional either, as the drivers are embedded into the application. On some devices that would annoy me, but the software is critical so, no points are knocked off overall score.

 

feature_software_1_profile

This is where the magic takes place with the blasterX G5, the first tab we have is profile, which is self-explanatory. Not only do we have genres, but specific optimized modes for games too.

Acoustic engine, offers you  complete control, with tons of sliders to find the settings right for your games, movies and applications.  An equalizer is found on the next tab over, here you can select from the many predefined sets, or tweak your own. Scout mode as referenced earlier is a very interesting addition to the product. The idea behind the mode, is to enhance footsteps and amplify them, offering the edge over other players. In reality, this worked extremely well

Advanced settings grants even more control of volume, playback and recording levels. The application is very smooth, well designed and easy to navigate, with tons of control for the user.

Actual audio performance then? Highly subjective from one user to the next, but the differences on both console and PC are very good, I’ve used countless headsets that convert and simulate 5.1 and even 7.1 in the past, some great, others not so much. What this does is act as middle ground and ensure whats being sent to the speakers/headset is arriving in the best it can…for 130 pounds anyway! Console users will notice an obvious improvement, and the scout mode is exceptional. PC is where it stands out with the mass amount of control.

[Final Thoughts TL:DR]

If your one of the many consumers, that use onboard sound from your motherboard, fear not…you’re in the masses. Thing is, any equipment you have hooked up right now, speakers, microphone or headset, IS being limited and not delivering its best. Couple them up with a product like this, and you’ll unleash their potential. The instant and a clear difference was a wake-up call for me, and begs the question what was I thinking, not investing in this sooner!

I’m seriously impressed with build quality, complimenting software, and of course the gain of audio quality.

The Sound BlasterX G5 has been a delight to work with, the instant improvement in quality is apparent, and you can tweak away with tons of control. The unit is super sleek, performs great, and well worth the asking price

We would like to thank Creative  for providing the review sample, and eagerly await more from them, in the near future!

SOUND BLASTERX G5 Review
Bottom Line
Don't let the price sway your attention elsewhere, this is a premium product, and delivers matching audio quality. A brilliant addition the SOUND BLASTERX range
Positive
Amazing Performance
Solid & Feature Rich Software
Connectivity Options
USB Passthrough Port
Stylish Design
Negative
Grip isn't the best, product can slide depending on surface
9
Amazing
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