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Creative Sound Blaster X5 Interface Review

Rate this audio interface

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 19 10.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 78 44.1%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 73 41.2%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 7 4.0%

  • Total voters
    177
Thanks for the review.
If this had a parametric EQ, with separate headphone/line out settings, it would have been very interesting. If...
 
all in one
It only has a line input and an electret (headset) mic input. So you can't connect a regular big dynamic mic or a mic that needs 48V directly to it. No guitar input either.
For comparison, the Yamaha AG03 can handle all of those.
 
interesting unit. For those who want to digitize unbalanced sources (vinyl, etc) casually and are looking for a competent one-box solution, I think this is a great deal

Creative is known for being a quite proactive and supportive company. If they can fix the ADC phase and DSP performance hits via a firmware update this would really push the unit to a different class IMO.

Digital I/O is very nice to see.

It only has a line input and an electret (headset) mic input. So you can't connect a regular big dynamic mic or a mic that needs 48V directly to it.
For comparison, the Yamaha AG03 can handle both.
Deleted the comment I posted but yes I missed this point. I’d say the motu m2 would be the superior ADC direct competitor but this has a far more powerful headphone section. Comes down to use case i guess.
 
Decent ADC and DSP comes with a price usually,same with added features.
It would be an interesting comparison to the upcoming Topping interfaces.

All bets there will be on the SW side I think.
 
If this had a parametric EQ, with separate headphone/line out settings, it would have been very interesting. If...

Have they removed the ability to have separate EQ for headphones/speakers? At least G6 had that. The screenshot in the review seems to indicate this one has as well (changing output should change how the EQ settings look like). As for parametric EQ, well.. I did decompile the SB Command's drivers and they do seem to send the EQ bands as hardcoded instructions to the device (with each band having its own bit set in the instruction, so it's not something that's modified in the packet), so I'm not sure if that's implementable. But I could be missing some middle-layer here as I don't have any specs of the DSP.

Mic not working is quite normal if the DSP is disabled, I think most of the Creative products do the same (with some exceptions apparently, like X4). Shame that the DSP reduces audio quality in this one, it didn't in G6.

And for me, the same big thing that plagues the older ones is the weight. I liked G6, but eventually switched to iFi Zen Dac V2 just because it has so much weight and stays still on my desk when I change volume (where my G6 just keeps running around the desk).
 
Have they removed the ability to have separate EQ for headphones/speakers? At least G6 had that. The screenshot in the review seems to indicate this one has as well (changing output should change how the EQ settings look like).
I mostly wanted to point out that it needs to be a separate setting for this feature to be useful. Just in case some manufacturer is reading this and taking notes...:)

But I think you're right. According to this page is looks like the X5 has separate DSP settings for hp/line out (and SPDIF out is probably affected by the line out config too).
 
This measurement looks familiar somehow:

index.php


That's what i get when I forget the "monitor on" option of my interface on (I boosted it a liitle too so it's more visible) :

monitor on.PNG

monitor on


monitor off.PNG

monitor off

Some hidden setting maybe?
 
Sometimes you do get exactly what you pay for. For the money and particular applications it’s fit for purpose. Amir, thank you kindly Sir for the review. ;)
 
Not going to lie, but I did entertain the idea of getting this a month ago. Based on measurements and this review, feel bit vindicated that I stuck to my current stack which is still top notch.
 
Some quick thoughts of mine on this product & review. I've got the Creative G6 DAC/amp, doesn't look like there's much to be gained from going from G6 to X5 - they have the same gaming functions by the looks of it, and the G6 measures just as well if you run it at -2dBFS, the G6 does clip if you run it at 0dBFS according to Amir's review. The X5 looks to have more headphone power for difficult to drive headphones though. Might be worth getting the G6 over the X5 to save some $ if you're ok about running -2dBFS on the G6 and don't need the extra headphone driving power. X5 is obviously a good product though from the measurements here, I gave it a very enthusiastic mark in the voting poll because it measures so well for audiophiles whilst also offering the gaming element.
 
I love that they sent you the device for testing, but I expected more from them. Maybe they will release a revision.
What happened to all the craze with gold plated connections? :D
 
Performs better than a minidsp 2x4 at least. Any other options to get dsp into your system for cheaper?
 
Performs better than a minidsp 2x4 at least. Any other options to get dsp into your system for cheaper?
It's not at all comparable to miniDSP 2x4 in any shape or form, the X5 doesn't do any parametric EQ for a start, instead it Graphic EQ, which is a lot more limiting. Also they're not even the same product category, they're used for different things (totally). miniDSP 2x4 is basically a standalone parametric EQ capability combined with all sorts of flexible routing & re-routing of inputs & outputs, including sub integration. miniDSP 2x4 is almost as flexible as your own imagination in some respects, it's a completely different product to the X5, it's not the same product category, it's not the same usage scenario, they're a different category of product for a different purpose.

To answer your question though, Quidelix 5K, but of course it's not a gaming product so doesn't have the Virtual Surround Sound & other gaming functions:
 
This looks like a competent good-value option to provide EQ to all these headphones that perform badly in your tests Amir.
It's Graphic EQ, not Parametric EQ, so it's not flexible enough to do detailed EQ for headphones. The Graphic EQ is good enough to raise bass levels though and you might get lucky that your headphone has a treble peak where one of the bands of the Graphic EQ resides, in which case you can use that band to lower it, but often times you won't be able to get a good result using Graphic EQ because the frequency bands are fixed and they just won't be in the right position a lot of the times. So unfortunately this is not good for fixing headphones.

EDIT: instead you need the Quidelix 5K that I linked in the post above yours, or use software parametric EQ instead.
 
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