Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D review

Kat Orphanides
23 Oct 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
90
inc VAT

This USB sound card is a niche product tailor-made for gamers, but it's ideal for its intended purpose

Advertisement

Most sound cards rely on driver software to handle at least part of their audio processing, calling on the driver and your CPU's processor power when they have to handle intensive tasks such as environmental audio on the fly in games or processing a surround sound audio stream into virtual surround sound for stereo speakers or headphones. Creative's new Recon3D USB sound card uses the new quad-core Sound Core3D processor to handle every aspect of audio processing itself, taking the pressure off your PC's CPU.

The most obvious advantage of this is that you can experience the same high-end audio processing regardless of whether you connect the Recon3D to a PC, Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3. It’s a niche product designed for gamers who use headsets, hence the lack of both optical S/PDIF and analogue surround sound outputs.

The Recon3D is a compact unit powered by a Micro USB connection. A ring of buttons allows you to change volume, trigger Scout Mode - a (possibly cheating) gaming option that vastly increases the volume of tell-tale sounds made by your enemies, making you very hard to sneak up on - and trigger the audio preset you've programmed into the sound card. You can only change the preset by connecting it to a PC with Creative's software installed, but by default the unit turns surround sound audio into binaural virtual surround sound, suitable for a standard pair of stereo headphones. This means that you don’t actually need to configure it unless you have specialist requirements.

Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D amplifier

There's also a Crystalizer, which enhances the dynamic range of your music. This is particularly effective; almost all recorded music has dynamic range compression applied to it so that it sounds subjectively louder, at the cost of the range and subtlety of volume that was originally present. The Crystalizer compensates for this. There's also bass enhancement, Smart Volume normalisation - handy if you're listening to a mixed set of tracks recorded at different volumes - and Dialog Plus, which increases of the volume of the human vocal range frequencies: ideal when watching films.

Cinematic processing options include Dolby Pro Logic surround sound decoding and Dynamic Range Control, which limits the maximum volume of a movie soundtrack, so you don’t have to worry about being deafened by a massive explosion. Crystalvoice vocal processing applies noise reduction to your mic input and can even disguise your voice. The control panel is rounded out by the usual mixer and equalizer settings, as well as the ability to save everything as a custom profile on the Recon3D. This means that the sound card will remember your settings, even if you connect it to a different computer or console. In all cases, the effects are among the best we've heard. Overall sound quality is excellent as well – the Recon3D creates a lifelike rendition of recorded audio, helped by its 24-bit, 48KHz output.

Read more

Reviews