Creative was one of the big winners of last year's CES in Las Vegas to get two important awards. Its external sound card, Sound Blaster X7, specially designed for gamers and music lovers, has been awarded in two different categories. Specifically in the categories "Components and Accessories Audio/Video Home" and "PC Hardware and Components" in the CES Innovations Awards. This device offers High-Resolution Audio (HRA); works as an external Digital Analog Converter (DAC) USB; offers a powerful audio amplifier low latency; Bluetooth connectivity and includes Dolby Digital decoder. A prestigious panel of independent industrial designers and engineers, and media who choose the best products in the 28 available categories judged the awards.
SOUND BLASTER X7
The Sound Blaster family of sound cards was the de facto standard for consumer audio on the IBM PC compatible system platform, until the widespread transition to Microsoft Windows 95, which standardized the programming interface at the application level, and the evolution in PC design led to onboard motherboard audio, which commoditized PC audio functionality. The creator of Sound Blaster is the Singapore-based firm Creative Technology, also known by the name of its United States subsidiary, Creative Labs. Source: Freebase.
Creative Technology Ltd. is a Singapore-based global company headquartered in Jurong East, Singapore. The principal activities of the company and its subsidiaries consist of the design, manufacture and distribution of digitized sound and video boards, computers and related multimedia, and personal digital entertainment products. Source: Freebase
Sound Blaster X7 "Premium" external sound card
Designed to connect with a broad range of entertainment systems, the functions of the Sound Blaster X7 are included in the higher range of Sound Blaster audio solutions: provides high audio resolution 24-bit / 192kHz; DAC (digital-analog converter) 127 kB; and 100W audio amplifier.
This device increases the quality of any audio and delivers a lighter, more powerful and more resounding experience for video games, music and movies sound. Provides the best possible experience for both the expert and advanced audio consumer who seeks the highest possible quality and for the most demanding players.
The Sound Blaster X7, designed with one goal, to offer a superior audio experience, pure and lossless video games, music and movies using only the most advanced components.
- Includes the DAC / ADC SNR of 127dB Burr-Brown PCM1794 converter, for conversions higher audio available of up to 24 bits and 192 times kHz-.
- Mount a Class D amplifier TPA3116D2 Class-D Texas Instruments, which delivers 100W of power, for example, passive speakers
- Use capacitors Nichicon "Fine Gold" that ensure a dynamic bass and clear treble
- A Texas Instruments 120 dB helmets amplifier, TPA6120A2, will be the best partner you can have when it comes to high-quality helmet (up to 600 ohms). With it, you can hear the sound with maximum detail and the highest quality.
If you join these components to the multiprocessor DSP Sound Blaster SB-Axx1, it makes the Sound Blaster X7 an exceptional audio experience, both for total immersion in video games, to feel all the details in the music with high fidelity reproduction, obtaining pristine details.
Sound Blaster X7 White & Black
The pyramid-shaped design that symbolizes that the X7 is the "Everest of Audio." The Sound Blaster X7 includes a multitude of connectivity options, including USB, analog, optical connectors and Bluetooth. These connections allow for maintaining connectivity with a variety of audio and entertainment platforms, including PCs, Macs, game consoles like Xbox One or PS4, smartphones, tablets, media streaming devices, and even smart TVs.
Sound Blaster X7 Video Review
The Sound Blaster X7 can connect directly to a passive speaker audio cable directly, or banana plugs, plug in an analog 5.1 sound system for surround sound, speakers, studio (6.3 mm connectors) or a conventional ( 3.5mm jacks). The microphone array that the X7 includes enables voice recording of crystalline form without external microphones. If you want to use an external microphone, you can do it with a 3.5 mm.
Sound Blaster: The Sound Blaster X7 is the ultimate upgrade for pro-gamers and audio enthusiasts. This feature-packed Ultra High-Resolution Audio (HRA) device acts as an external USB DAC and a powerful audio amplifier with low-latency Bluetooth® connectivity and Dolby Digital decoder. Take a look at the Sound Blaster X7, and why it's our Biggest, Baddest, and Boldest Sound Blaster yet.
Creative Labs Sound Blaster X7 Audiophile DAC Amp Review
Creative Sound Blaster X7 Review
Joker Productions: This is a review for the Creative Sound Blaster X7 Receiver, DAC, and headphone amplifier. The X7 works a lot like an external sound card thanks to its included software and all the different ways you can connect to the X7.
The X7 sports a 127db Burr Brown DAC. You can run a single pair of headphones at up to 600 ohms of impedance or two pairs at 300 ohms of impedance per pair. There is also support for hi-fi stereo speakers and 5.1 surround setups.
Creative Sound Blaster X7 Limited Edition Review | Best DAC for Gaming | PC and Console
In this review, I go over the features and my personal opinions on the Creative Sound Blaster X7 Limited Edition. The Blaster X7 comes at a hefty price, but I feel that this is worth it for audio enthusiasts seeking the best solution currently available. I enjoy using this when I am gaming on my 4k capable PC or even on the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, or even my Wii U. Thank you guys for watching the video.
Creative Sound Blaster X7 Unboxing and Review
JoyboyP's Reviews: The audio from this DAC is fantastic, but software can be a little buggy when setting it up but is excellent.The installation only takes a few minutes and is quite simple. This thing has a ton of compatibility for connecting to just about anything that handles audio of all kinds. It is quite expensive, but the price is justifiable by the sheer sound quality this thing gives you.
Creative Sound Blaster X7 Review
AVForums: An external soundcard for your PC, a standalone headphone amplifier and DAC, a communication device and high-end HiFi unit for music and movies - what more could you want?
An In-depth look at the Sound Blaster X7
Sound Blaster: Ryan from the Sound Blaster team talks about the Sound Blaster X7 and the many different features built into this compact Amplifier.
The Biggest, Baddest, Boldest Sound Blaster Ever! The Sound Blaster X7 is the ultimate upgrade for pro-gamers and audio enthusiasts. This feature-packed Ultra High-Resolution Audio (HRA) device acts as an external USB DAC and a powerful audio amplifier with low-latency Bluetooth® connectivity and Dolby Digital decoder.
As gamers, it's part of our hobby to seek "the next level". We're always looking for new adventures, new ideas, new graphics, and new ways to push the competitive edge. In the past few years, there has been a growing awareness (or for the hardcore, a resurgence) of how virtual surround combined with great headphones provide an ideal gaming experience: individual, immersive, no speaker placement issues, and high value. Compared to 3D video, surround leaves the box of the TV screen and immerses the player in the game environment. Creative Lab's new Sound Blaster X7 is the result of a growing consumer awareness of these benefits and Creative's taking note that there is a market for upgraded component quality and convenience.
Sound Blaster X7 Review
Here's the shortest way to describe what the X7 has to offer: it weaves the web of practically all your audio sources into an all-in-one high fidelity component and plays them back (almost) however you want. The X7 offers a surround DSP, desktop DAC, desktop headphone amp, passive speaker amp [!], and beam forming microphone. The X7 can connect to optical (game consoles!), USB, RCA analog line-in, mic line-in, and Bluetooth sources. Plus, it looks impressive with its pyramid/prism shape, uncluttered front, volume/mute knob at the apex, and wire headphone stand/home above it. Overall the X7 is a smaller unit than I expected and it rated an "Oh, that's a tidy little setup" from my girlfriend.
Those qualities were enough to make me jump at trying out the X7 as soon as it was released... but if you're reading this, I suspect you are still trying to find out if it's worth its $400 MSRP price tag.
The Specs & Sound
I want to point out right away that the specifications are all listed on www.soundblaster.com/x7, and except for one minor addition to that list, I just want to focus on how each of those numbers benefits the sound.
Right now, I'm keeping the writing juices flowing by listening to Daft Punk's newest Random Access Memories (featured in Stuff.tv's "30 Greatest Audiophile Albums" article). The Burr Brown 127dB S: N-DAC and Texas Instruments' headphone amp is quickly revealing detailed minutia such as reverb and the decay of drums, with solid, tight bass, mesmerizing mids, and clean clean clean, clear treble.
With good headphones, I can hear most of these details with the built-in DAC in a typical 86dB motherboard or 98dB DAC built into previous console-gamer DSPs, such as an Astro Mixamp or Creative Recon3D. Often, however, I won't NOTICE these details until the X7 (or my other DAC, a Schiit Bifrost Uber) seems to pull the wool out of my ears and reveals the details. Playing "Hooked on a Feeling," I never before noticed the organ that begins playing at 25 seconds. The X7 is an excellent DAC, so much so that since I don't lose any entertainment value compared to the $420 Schiit Bifrost Uber and I gain all the extra features, I'd easily recommend it for gamers over the Bifrost.
Sound Blaster X7 - Audio
Another shortcoming with a motherboard or Mixamp, those "entry-level" devices have merely "entry-level" amps. With higher quality headphones, which feature higher impedance (Ω, or Ohms) and lower sensitivity, I had to double-amp with a dedicated headphone amp to hear the actual level of dynamic and controlled the quality of the headphones.
Nothing extra needed in the X7, thanks to the Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 solid-state headphone amp chip "capable of driving high-end 600Ω headphones." It certainly doesn't seem to be straining to supply my 150Ω Sennheiser HD700, 62Ω AKG K712, or 32Ω VMODA M-100; "Spirit in the Sky" digs amicably into the artist intended distorted guitar and sounded awesome (and yup, I have the Guardians of the Galaxy OST).
One last specification that is Head-Fi famous but rarely published by amp manufacturers is the headphone output impedance; I asked Creative, and they told me it was 2.2Ω, which is a stunning and beautiful universal measurement that will allow for all but the most sensitive IEMs to drive nicely without distorting.
Okay okay, that is great and all, but how does it sound while gaming? Creative's proprietary SBX processing for headphone surround, combined with a nice DAC, amp, and headphones, really makes a great recipe for console gaming - an example of something greater than the sum of its parts. Sure, it plays great from PC like the top of the line sound cards, but the X7 is the first Dolby Digital Live surround decoder with a headphone DSP that has high-end parts.
In testing, I played CoD: Ghosts while streaming to Twitch. I often pointed out for my viewers when I was picking out enemies by sound alone, well before we saw the opponent (and I blasted them). I was about three months rusty from competitive FPS. I still dominated because my awareness was so good! I showed the streamers how I tracked opponents through walls and anticipated when we would see them come around corners.
Playing a single-player game like Metro: First Light, it's easy to get caught up in the atmosphere and spook when you hear a monster climbing the pillar off the screen to your right. If you've never gamed with headphone surround before, it sucks you in and immerses your senses, even more than 3D video. SBX processing sounds cleaner and more realistic than the rare headphone surround DSP built into any home theater receiver. Plus, it's adjustable.
Controls and Adjustments
The X7 has the best controls I've ever seen in an audio component. The PC control panel is logically laid out with different sections and icons in a sidebar, AND every control is also accessible from a similar layout on the smartphone/tablet app. I have iOS devices, and the PC control panel is replicated on my iPad, while my iPhone 5S has icons on the main screen that correlate with the sidebar sections on other devices. The connection is Bluetooth, and there is a one second delay between making a change and the X7 changing to reflect that, but that doesn't diminish how cool it is to mess with SBX and Equalizer settings while the game is playing live on the main screen.
The first screen of the Sound Blaster X7 mobile app on my iPhone allows me to switch between speaker and headphone output (don't have to unplug anything!). Also, change volume, choose if I want my iPhone's sound to play through the X7 or something else, and make a choice between the nine control categories. I'll focus on just three for the scope of this review: SBX Pro Studio, Mixer, and Profile (in the Cinematic panel, just set it to "full" and leave it there).
SBX Pro Studio
I covered a lot of these functions in my Recon3D USB review, and they perform mostly the same here. The sample video/sound clip built-in to the PC control panel is useless, but you can just play a real game while making adjustments.
"Surround" and its strength slider allow the virtual headphone surround goodness. I prefer personally to have this setting pretty high while gaming (~80%-100%) but getting used to 67% at first is a good baseline.
"Crystalizer" is supposed to "restore" the liveliness of compressed audio, maybe this would be great with the Sony MA900 or HD650 to "wake them up," but the headphones I prefer are already pretty lively, and this setting is fatiguing to me, so I switch it off.
I like Creative's "bass" setting here and find a little boost pleasurable. I believe it makes an EQ adjustment and perhaps a little volume compression, the "crossover frequency" sub-setting is a cutoff point for where the bass boost stops having an effect, so I can keep the bass from bleeding over the detail of the mids.
"Smart Volume" is a volume compression to "minimize sudden volume changes" and make quiet sounds not so quiet compared to the loudest sounds. I know a lot of people will switch it off, and I find it situational, but sometimes I find it useful when a movie or especially TV show is quiet then suddenly booming, or if I'm writing a review article for 6 hours and I just want to listen to modest volumes.
"Dialog Plus" enhances voices, again something I quite enjoy with movies and TV shows.
On the mobile app, the SBX panel is also where the 10-band EQ lives - sometimes the EQ seems to hide from me, but then I remember that it's in this SBX panel, at the top of the screen.
Astro Gaming, eat your heart out. The Astro Mixamp has two dials, a master volume dial, and a game-to-chat balance knob. If you use any "chat", then the Mixamp loses some maximum volume output. The X7 has no such volume issues because it's all digital, and you can rebalance the amount of your overall production, mic monitoring (hear yourself echo in your headphone), line-in, SPDIF-in, Bluetooth, USB Host, and SPDIF Out. Any of those could also be muted, or change the balance of left/right ear in case you have any hearing loss or one speaker just sounds "off."
Oh, I guess this is as good a time as any to point out that ALL these sources can be playing at once (only one Bluetooth at a time, you can pair two but switch which is feeding audio). So, you can have your PS4 going, your iPad playing some music, your friend on PC chatting with you, and hear your phone ring and quickly switch to just that connection. Since these play simultaneously, you can get creative with your console connections, which I'll get back to in the setup section.
Yay for controls and options! Boo-hiss for having to change all the settings per-headphone or for each type of media. Luckily, the X7 can save a set of settings into different profiles so you can switch everything quickly, or use one of Creative's preset ones.
Connections and Microphone
Alright, I've already listed the types of connections on the X7, but I just wanted to go a bit more in-depth on a few things. First of all, while the X7's mic works on PC and Bluetooth, there isn't a convenient way to use the X7's mic with a gaming console. That all has to do with Xbox simply not supporting USB audio, and the PS4 being unable to "see" the X7's mic among all its other features.
Second, when gaming on PC, my friends consistently preferred my dedicated Blue Snowball USB mic -- even my cheap HDE/Neewer clip-on mic I found on Amazon sounds a little cleaner. A big part of that quality can be attributed solely to the compromise of being further away from a mic and then the room acoustics come into play. But it must be said that I'm not compelled to use the x7's Beamforming Mic much, and that hurts the "all-in-one" score a bit. On the bright side, I had my friend call my phone with Bluetooth, and it seamlessly changed the playback and mic audio to the call once I accepted, so that's a plus.
Connecting the X7 to Bluetooth headphones (which often have a mic, nearer your mouth) is currently not possible, but Creative is aware that this is a "highly requested feature." So, if Creative adds Bluetooth headphone support, cool things could happen, and suddenly the PS4 or Xbox could wirelessly connect to 3rd party Bluetooth wireless headphones. Now, Sony itself doesn't support 3rd party Bluetooth headsets in the PS4, but they did with the PS3 (which I don't have). If Sony adds 3rd Party Bluetooth support for PS4, this could solve chat/mic issues, because it could "see" the X7 as a headset, which would enable the built-in mic at least and the X7 could mix game and chat audio.
In the end, right now it's simpler and sounds great just to use the X7 for audio game duty, and plugging in a desktop USB mic into a computer or PS4/3, if you're the type of person who likes to chat. You could also do what the console manufacturers want you to do, and use a Kinect or PS Camera as your mic, the mic quality on those are the same as the X7 (because they pick up your voice from a distance and get some of the sounds of the room). You could also get more complicated with a lapel mic or ModMic and route chat audio from the controller or Syba USB dongle to the X7; personally, that's too much wire mess, and I'd stick with a USB mic or Kinect.
Who Is This For?
The X7 has proved it's worth to me, performing some impressive feats of Alchemy while also being rather future-proof, and I'd buy it again if I had to. That said, I realize that some of its features may not be worth it to my dear readers. I'd recommend something like a Turtle Beach DSS, which fits pretty much in the middle between the 1Dimensional stereo sound from a console controller/PC motherboard and the high-end sound of the X7. I'd recommend saving up for the X7 if some of these points make sense to you:
- If you live in college dorms, apartments and condos.
- Best DSP on the market besides Beyerdynamic Headzone and Smith Realizer - realistically the X7 gets the max quality out of games and can produce better-than-CD music.
- Make use of 3 or more features (DAC, amp, surround DSP, Audio Source mixing, etc.).
- "Next Level" quality, for those seeking better than a Mixamp.
- Enough quality and input/output connection option to future-proof your setup.
- Review by Evshrug (that's my Head-Fi username), special thanks to @Stillhart for editing and encouragement, and Ryan and Susie of Creative Labs for the extra information and helping me get my hands on one of the early units.
Audiophile Quality and Tons of Connectivity
08/15/2015 Edit 2: Upgraded to Windows 10. Drivers and software have an ETA of the 3rd week of August. Just a heads up to everyone else.
04/15/2015 Edit: Creative Labs has just released a firmware update that fixes a few bugs for people connecting this via USB and a host of other changes, along with that there is a new driver update released almost a day ago. Just a heads up in case people have some lingering issues or want the latest driver update.
I recently purchased the X7 for an X99 build I just completed. I needed an external sound card as the current PCIE slots were all taken thanks to a 3 Way SLI Rig coupled with an M.2.
The X7 came nicely packaged, the headphone stand and all other accessories included. What was surprising was the amount of power cables that came with the X7. There was a wire for every country socket that I could think off, a nice touch. There was a manual, a micro USB to USB cable, a 3.5mm to RCA cable, along with a 3.5mm RCA input cable.
Incredibly simple, connect all the cables, since I am using this with my PC a USB cable was required. I am pairing the X7 with the Logitech Z906, and it was very simple to connect everything. I was running in 15min. There is no driver CD, so the drivers have the need for manual downloading from the creative labs website.
The amount of options for connectivity this DAC has is astounding. Everything from Bluetooth, NFC, USB, optical, etc. I could go on; the options are very very impressive. The build quality is also very impressive. The metal volume knob is a nice touch, gives the whole thing a high-quality feel. I am also especially fond of the headphone stand. It is large enough to carry headphones such as the Bowers & Wilkins P7 I have on it quite quickly.
SOUND QUALITY and FIRST IMPRESSION
Suffice to say these sound leagues better than the built in motherboard sound card (ASUS RAMPAGE EXTREME V) which has apparently an excellent one from the factory in the form of the SOUND EXTREME FX. The software from the website installed without a hitch, and I had everything running in minutes. The layout is very simple and provides enough options in case one wishes to modify settings or sound depending on taste.
Took the opportunity and tried it in a few games, namely Dragon Age: Inquisition, Starcraft II, Homeworld I&II Remastered, and Far Cry 4. The sound was crisp and clean, the channel separation in a 5.1 setup was excellent, one of the main reasons I was unhappy with the built in soundcard (motherboard).
I have tested the Bowers, and Wilkins P7 with this DAC, and I am very pleased with the sound quality that I have experienced. There is a noticeable improvement especially compared to an iPhone or iPod apparently.
I also want to add that there is an app available for both iOS and Android for the X7, which serves as a remote control. I quite like it, allows me to control the DAC remotely.
I've only had this for a few weeks, and I am quite pleased with it, all in all, I have always had a discrete sound card, since the days of the Creative Labs AWE 32 and AWE 64, which was a while ago! Anyone that values sound and requires an external soundcard/DAC should consider this. The sound quality is phenomenal, the DAC itself is stylish and built very nicely and offers loads of connectivity options as well. RECOMMENDED! Review by: Asim Qureshi on Amazon.
- Audio ProcessorSB-Axx1™
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR)127dB (DAC)
- Connectivity Options (Main)microUSB
Built-in Stereo Mic
1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) Mic In
Line / Optical :
1 x RCA Aux/Line In
1 x TOSLINK Optical In
1 x TOSLINK Optical Out
2 x Binding Post Passive Speaker Out (L/R)
1 x RCA Line/Front Speaker Out
1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) Rear Speaker Out
1 x 1/8" (3.5mm) Center/Sub Speaker Out
1 x 1/8" (3.5mm)Headphone Out
1 x 1/4" (6.3mm)Headphone Out
1 x Type A USB Host Port - Device Audio Stream & Charging
- Headphone AmpUp to 600 Ohms
- Max Channel Output5.1 Channels, Stereo Amplified
- Audio TechnologiesSBX Pro Studio, CrystalVoice, Scout Mode, Dolby Digital Technology
- Intel® Core™2 Duo or AMD® equivalent processor (2.8 GHz or faster recommended)
- Intel, AMD or 100% compatible motherboard
- Microsoft® Windows® 10 32/64-bit, Windows® 8.1/8.0 32/64-bit, Windows 7 32/64-bit, Windows Vista® 32/64-bit SP1 or higher
- 1GB RAM
- >600 MB of free hard disk space
- Available USB 2.0/3.0 port (High Speed Recommended with driver)
- Macintosh running Mac® OS X® 10.6.8 or higher
- 1GB RAM
- >600 MB of free hard disk space
- Available USB 2.0/3.0 port (High Speed Recommended with software)
- iPhones/iPads running iOS 6.0 or higher for Bluetooth^
- iPhones/iPads running iOS 6.0 or higher for USB Host Audio streaming via Lightning Connector
^ Devices must support Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy) or higher
- Phones/Tablets running Android 2.3 or higher for Bluetooth
- Phones/Tablets running Android 4.1 or higher for USB Host Streaming*
* Devices must support AOA2 USB Streaming
- Sound Blaster X7 Device
- Quick Start Leaflet
- WW Warranty Leaflets
- 24V/2.91A AC-DC Power Adaptor and Cable
- RCA to 3.5mm Stereo Cable for Front Out
- RCA to 3.5mm Stereo Cable (Female) for Line-In
- microUSB Cable 1.5m
- Headphone Stand
As you can see you won't be missing out if you opt to get the new Sound Blaster X7. It truly is the "Everest of Audio". You can visit Creative's Official website and check out this audio beast for yourself! Enjoy!
More Information on the Sound Blaster X7
The Sound Blaster X7 is the ultimate upgrade for pro-gamers and audio enthusiasts. This feature-packed Ultra High-Resolution Audio (HRA) device acts as an external ...
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This download contains an updated firmware for Sound Blaster® X7. For more details, read the rest of this web release note.
Before Sound Blaster showed me the X7, its $400 all-in-one audio DAC/amplifier, I asked the question that I thought most skeptical PC gamers would want to ask: Is ...
Sound Blaster X7 Limited Edition The Biggest, Baddest, Boldest Sound Blaster Ever: The Ultimate Sound Companion for Pro-Gamers and Audio.