Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Creative Sound Blaster X7 review

Richard Easton
9 Dec 2019
Creative Sound Blaster X7 front angle
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
330
inc VAT

The Sound Blaster X7 is a worthy audio upgrade that looks great and can be used in a number of different ways

Advertisement

Specifications

Warranty: Two-year RTB, Details: uk.creative.com, Part code: Sound Blaster X7

Audio fidelity is just as important as visuals when it comes to immersion, but it’s often overlooked; your PC or laptop’s on-board audio chip can often be an area where manufacturers make cost-savings, resulting in compromised sound quality. Creative’s Sound Blaster X7 bypasses these integrated DACs completely, and will also work happily with other devices including your TV, games console or tablet.

The X7’s pyramid-like design and black and gold colour scheme is certainly eye-catching, and despite housing both a Burr-Brown PCM1794 digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) and a Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 headphone amplifier it’s surprisingly light and relatively small. We’re sure you’ll have no qualms with displaying it openly on a desk or bookshelf.

The X7 can hook up to any PC or laptop via USB, but that’s just the start in terms of connectivity. A digital optical output lets you connect to a set of active speakers, while RCA and 3.5mm connections let you plug in a set of 5.1 analogue speakers. This is a bit limiting, however, if your sound system extends beyond five speakers and a subwoofer.

If you’re more interested in driving a pair of headphones, there are 6.3mm and 3.5mm headphone jacks on the front, as well as a microphone jack. The headphone amp is able to drive a pair of headphones up to 600 ohms, which means you’re able to use even the most inefficient and demanding headphones. A headphone stand attaches to the rear of the X7 to display your cans, but disappointingly we found the stand rather flimsy.

Bluetooth 4.1 low latency is built-in, letting you connect a Bluetooth device to effectively turn any connected speakers into wireless ones. An NFC pairing point on the side pairs compatible devices in a matter of seconds. Because the X7 uses the less-lossy aptX codec, it should maintain the audio fidelity of your source, and the low latency component ensures there’s minimal delay. This is crucial if you’re watching movies with the audio synced through Bluetooth, and in our testing worked perfectly.

An optical input will let the X7 manage sound for a TV or games console, and a USB port on the side of the unit acts as a USB host, letting you connect an Android or iOS device. This will provide superior sound quality from a smartphone or tablet than using the headphone jack, as the X7 will handle the digital-to-analogue conversion as well as acting as an amplifier. Your Android device will need to support USB on-the-go, however.

Two pairs of speaker terminals on the back will even let you hook up a pair of passive loudspeakers. They accept either bare wire or banana plugs, and can drive 4 or 8-ohm speakers, with a switch on the back toggling between the two impedances. Out of the box the X7’s amp can power two 38W speakers, but this can be boosted to two 50W speakers with an optional high capacity power adaptor.

Finally, the X7 has a built-in beamforming microphone, which supports Creative’s CrystalVoice technology to improve voice pick-up and reduce background noise. We found it worked well during Skype conversations and we were able to speak normally without audio from a TV behind us being picked up as well. You can also use the X7 for hands-free calls with a smartphone connected over Bluetooth.