Creative Sound Blaster X7: test and review

Since the advent of sound cards, the computer is capable of performing most of the functions of specialized equipment. And while specific audio accessories and peripherals have lost popularity in part because of the quality of integrated equipment, brands like Creative yet continue to offer products. The Sound Blaster X7 is a monster features, the most emblematic being the stereo amplifier. We have already seen USB DAC-amps, but never too exuberant model in terms of functions.

Despite the compromises inherent in this kind of hybrid amplifier, the Creative Sound Blaster X7 managed to seduce us with its performance and power of 100 Watts. At 400 euros, the X7 is undeniably expensive for his / external amplifier card, but it is a complete solution that can interest all who wish to make quality audio on their PC.

Design

Coincidence or not, the triangular shape of the X7 copy of a famous pair of speakers used in recording studios, namely Triple P “Pyramid”. It is also perhaps a simple nod to the E-MU, Creative pro model.

With 15 centimeters, this “pyramid” is rather large. A large knob metal volume, which unfortunately is not backlit, occupies the front of the housing. Just below, is a grill that hides the noise-canceling microphone and two buttons: Power / Bluetooth and SBX control. A portion of the connector with a 3.5mm microphone jack and two headphone outputs (one 3.5 mm and 6.35 mm), takes place at the base of the facade. The rest of the connector is at the rear of the housing. It contains the terminals for the speakers, a variety of input / output, a switch to toggle between an impedance of 4 or 8 ohms.

In use, a few annoying aspects include ignition and connections arise. The power button mechanism / Bluetooth lacks firmness. Maladjusted, its plastic surface rubs against the rest of the chassis. Another point unpleasant, feet are useless. The camera moves when you press a button or when a cable connection. We must keep a hand. Unlike almost every amp of this price, no remote control accompanies the Sound Blaster X7. It is necessary to use mobile X7 Control available on Android and iOS via the Bluetooth connection.

functions

The Creative Sound Blaster X7 is equipped with DAC (Digital Analog Converter Analog Digital Converter) Burr-Brown PCM1794 that the brand already uses on its soundcards upscale. A chip that decodes up to 24 bit / 196 kHz. The device also features a Dolby Digital decoder. However, if you want to manage DTS HD-Master Audio formats Digital TruHD or Blu-Ray, you should opt for another solution, such as an HDMI-compatible card.

While X7 is intended for use with a PC, it can be used directly as an amplifier for other devices: Android devices / iOS USB, TV or game console via optical S / PDIF jack or all kinds of devices with analog audio output (including those already mentioned).

Connected to a PC, the Sound Blaster X7 can be used to make recordings. You should know that there is no input selector on the X7 that will play together all the sources you connect, including Bluetooth.

The X7 offers a full range of audio outputs: two-way gold-plated connectors for the speakers, 5.1 analog connections for surround sound and home theater, made optical S / PDIF, headphone outputs 3.5 mm and 6.35 mm. Creative ensures that the “headphone amp” can handle a 600 Ω impedance headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT 880 or Sennheiser HD 600.

performances

Whether to play or listen to music, Creative’s past as leader of his PC is heard immediately: the X7 is a talented artist. While it may operate as independent stereo amp, we mainly tested with a PC.

With its stereo vocation, the X7 amplifier is not very good surround sound. We would have appreciated that the subwoofer is entitled to its own output instead of sharing a 3.5mm jack with the center channel. Players who want to add bass to their stereo configuration must go their way. Compared to the internal sound card X-Fi Titanium HD, the X7 delivers a softer, more neutral and balanced.

The Creative Sound X7 gave better results with speakers like Audioengine P4s of 685 S2 and Bowers and Wilkins. We also followed the recommendations of Creative and tested the system with a pair of A1rx-c Chane, but we found that all lacked momentum. While Aon GoldenEars 2s are close to A1rx-c, they gave a better rendering associated X7.

The headphone amplifier works as advertised and similarly to other products in this category. With the Philips Fidelio X1, we enjoyed a surround sound with excellent bass for games and movies. Retail annoying, the X7 does not detect the headset if you use it when off. Must first turn it on and then connect the headset …

The Creative Sound Blaster X7 can do so many things that it’s easy to miss its strengths. If you can answer yes to all these questions, then this is for you

A: you want a two-way system on the desktop

B: you have a good pair of passive speakers

C: You want to save your computer.

Although Bluetooth, connector and amp dedicated headphones are the most significant, the primary purpose of X7 is to listen to music from a PC to the Hi-Fi speakers. This set of features associated with a strange design make X7 a somewhat curious craft, but that has exceeded our expectations in terms of performance.

Article by Ty Pendlebury for eLaptopComputer.com