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Creative Sound Blaster E Series USB sound cards double as portable headphone amplifiers

Creative's latest generation USB sound cards will naturally work with PCs and Macs, but will play nicely with your smartphone too

Creative has officially launched its latest generation USB sound card, the Sound Blaster E Series – a range of pocket-sized audio adapters that also double up as portable headphone amplifiers, and even work as compact DACs for compatible smartphones and tablets. The Sound Blaster E1, E3 and E5 all use USB plug-and-play for giving your PC or laptop a sonic upgrade, with Creative’s unique SBX Pro Studio DSP technology for tweaking equaliser presets and crystalising low quality audio.

Taken away from home, however, and each one can be used as a portable headphone amplifier. The entry-level Sound Blaster E1 has a 25 hour battery life and weighs only 25 grams, meaning you can slip it in a pocket and listen all day and night. With a 106dB SNR and a 600-ohm headphone amplifier, you’ll be able to use a pair of top-end headphones that would usually be too demanding to drive using a smartphone or tablet alone. It also has two 3.5mm audio jacks, so two people can listen simultaneously. It should be available to buy now directly from Creative for £39.99.

The mid-range Sound Blaster E3 might be slightly larger than the E1, but the increased dimensions make room for Bluetooth playback – meaning you can listen to high quality audio on a smartphone or tablet without having to run a cable from device to handset. It has an increased SNR of 110dB, again supports 600-ohm headphones and works as a Desktop sound card on PCs or Macs, but also works as a portable DAC. If you have a compatible smartphone or tablet, you’ll be able to connect the E3 with a USB on-the-go cable and listen to uncompressed digital audio – even if your handset doesn’t support playback natively. When streaming over Bluetooth it will last up to eight hours on a single charge, or up to 17 hours when used with a wired pair of headphones. It is also available to buy now for £99.99, straight from Creative.

Finally, the flagship Sound Blaster E5 is capable of high-resolution, 24-bit/192Hz audio playback through a Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC. A dual-gain switch lets you toggle between high and low gain for different headphones up to 600-ohm sensitivity, with a signal-noise ratio of 120dB. It can be used as an external DAC with compatible smartphones and tablets through the full-size USB port, and includes Bluetooth 4.1 with NFC for one-touch pairing. The aptX Low Latency codec produces the best possible wireless sound quality, for discerning music fans that don’t like cables. It should last up to eight hours on a full charge when playing via Bluetooth, or longer if you use a wired pair of headphones. It costs £169.99 directly from Creative.

“Since the inception of Sound Blaster, we have provided the best audio quality for PC and Mac users. That being said, the mobile market has rapidly grown, creating opportunities for entertainment experiences on the move that only a few years ago were confined to the PC or living room,” Long Chye Low, General Manager for Sound Blaster Audio at Creative, said of the launch. “With the Sound Blaster E Series, we are not only able to enhance the PC audio experience, but have gone beyond it. These devices capitalise on our high-end audio expertise, and give smartphone and tablet users the opportunity to experience uncompressed audio quality while on the go.”

All three new Sound Blaster E Series sound cards are available to buy now from We’re hoping to take a closer look as soon as we can.

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