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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
One important note for those considering this for gaming - the virtual surround in X5 only accepts stereo input, not 7.1 like their older products.

Their product strategy is similar to the smartphone market, where X3, X4, GC7, G6 are similar but each one is missing something.

Like the GC7 I use has 5.1 optical input for consoles, but X4 has only stereo optical input. X4 has the better headphone output, while GC7 has 10 Ohm output impedance and rather limited output (still sounds good to me though). X3 has 5.1 analog outputs. G6 allows sending virtualize audio over optical, but GC7 does not. It's chaos out there.
 
One important note for those considering this for gaming - the virtual surround in X5 only accepts stereo input, not 7.1 like their older products.

Their product strategy is similar to the smartphone market, where X3, X4, GC7, G6 are similar but each one is missing something.

Like the GC7 I use has 5.1 optical input for consoles, but X4 has only stereo optical input. X4 has the better headphone output, while GC7 has 10 Ohm output impedance and rather limited output (still sounds good to me though). X3 has 5.1 analog outputs. G6 allows sending virtualize audio over optical, but GC7 does not. It's chaos out there.
I'd just like to clarify what you're saying, because people will get confused: you're just saying that it doesn't have physical 7.1 inputs, however for sure the DAC can process 7.1 real channels of sound information that comes from your game or your movie via it's USB connection with your PC for instance - it will then process those 7.1 channels of information into 7.1 Virtual Speakers and then send that down into the 2 channels of your headphones, so it creates the 7.1 virtual speakers in your headphones through processing, but the DAC for sure accepts 7.1 channels of information.
 
I'd just like to clarify what you're saying, because people will get confused: you're just saying that it doesn't have physical 7.1 inputs, however for sure the DAC can process 7.1 real channels of sound information that comes from your game or your movie via it's USB connection with your PC for instance - it will then process those 7.1 channels of information into 7.1 Virtual Speakers and then send that down into the 2 channels of your headphones, so it creates the 7.1 virtual speakers in your headphones through processing, but the DAC for sure accepts 7.1 channels of information.

No, X5 only accepts 2.0 over USB input.
 
I still have PTSD from what they did to Aureal. I had a Diamond Monster Sound MX300.
For those who don’t know. They sued Aureal for patent infringement. Aureal won, but lost so much money in lawyer fees and fear from consumers that their sound cards would be obsolete that Aureal went bankrupt.
 
I can't really figure out what is the target suitable for this product.

Home studio isn't, one would buy an actual audio interface.

Gamers and streamers? An actual audio interface is always better.

Home listening? Though good performance, there's plenty of cheaper DAC that do better.

I'm not blaming the product but I can't understand the purpose of a device lying (IMHO) in-between of nowhere in the market.
 
I'm always looking to see if anything will offer all that a single Onkyo SE-U55SX does- two toslink in, one Coax in, two toslink out, as well as RCA in and out. And a headphone jack that is probably a joke, but that's not what I use it for. Mix and match your DAC/ADC connections or just use it as a digital hub. All that with a stated SINAD of 113. I keep being tempted to get one on Amazon JP for Amir to test. But if the emperor has no clothes then I will be in a pickle.
 
I'm stumped! The company has told me that they don't ship to New Zealand. Are we in the land of the long white cloud not able to buy this product? How does that make sense?
 
This is surprisingly decent given the usability an average user can have with this device, and the brand name itself (Sound Blaster doesn't have a good rep when it comes to Hi-Fi performance).
 
I'm stumped! The company has told me that they don't ship to New Zealand. Are we in the land of the long white cloud not able to buy this product? How does that make sense?
It does seem to be vaporware in Aus/NZ... I note that Creative have an au.creative site, so I assume they won't ship to NZ? If they ship to Aus, do you have someone you know in Aus that could forward it to you?


JSmith
 
No, X5 only accepts 2.0 over USB input.
Wow, thanks for that information, that's crazy that they say it can offer Virtual Surround when the device can't even process 5.1 or 7.1 channels in movies & games down in to 2-channel - basically the X5 is only seen as a Stereo device rather than for example my SoundblasterX G6 being seen as a 7.1 device by the OS. I'm gonna change my vote in the poll from a Great to a Poor, it's unforgiveable that they're marketing this device as Virtual Surround Sound capable when it's doing nothing of the sort! On that one point alone I have to give this product a zero mark, even if it measures well as a traditional ASR audio product, it's criminal to have a gaming device marketed as Virtual Surround capable when it's not even seen as a multichannel device by the OS. In that case gamers definitely need to be buying the SoundblasterX G6 instead:
 
Would be funny to see measurements of one of the Creative classics like SoundBlaster 16 Pro
 
Were this available ~20 years ago when I was shelling out similar money for their "studio" PCI cards... I would have lost my mind. Now in the age of totally transparent DACs for under $300 or miniDSP devices for greater cost but similarly greater flexibility... this is far less impressive.

Still triggers a bit of nostalgia seeing that logo however (both positive and negative).
 
well you can still add this functionality on ANY stereo device via dolby atmos app, dtx app, sonic app etc. Yes it is limited to the OS and it wont show up in windows drivers , but its essentially accomplishing the same thing. One would need to make sure that all games are set to output in stereo and then change to surround sound in the app. Basically instead of using Creative's own virtualization drivers one would be using whatever drivers come with the app (which might actually be better in some games). Yes creative did a shit job advertising it but i wouldnt call it a deal breaker.
 
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well you can still add this functionality on ANY stereo device via dolby atmos app, dtx app, sonic app etc. Yes it is limited to the OS and it wont show up in windows drivers , but its essentially accomplishing the same thing. One would need to make sure that all games are set to output in stereo and then change to surround sound in the app. Basically instead of using Creative's own virtualization drivers one would be using whatever drivers come with the app (which might actually be better in some games). Yes creative did a shit job advertising it but i wouldnt call it a deal breaker.
You can even go one step further and use the free HeSuVi to simulate (using a recorded impulse responses) Creative's own SBX and a plethora of other such effects.

This will work in any game supporting 5.1 or 7.1 output.

In my opinion this product is a wasted opportunity to combine games-oriented DSP that Creative is known for with sound output that nobody is going to complain about.
 
Wow, thanks for that information, that's crazy that they say it can offer Virtual Surround when the device can't even process 5.1 or 7.1 channels in movies & games down in to 2-channel - basically the X5 is only seen as a Stereo device rather than for example my SoundblasterX G6 being seen as a 7.1 device by the OS. I'm gonna change my vote in the poll from a Great to a Poor, it's unforgiveable that they're marketing this device as Virtual Surround Sound capable when it's doing nothing of the sort! On that one point alone I have to give this product a zero mark, even if it measures well as a traditional ASR audio product, it's criminal to have a gaming device marketed as Virtual Surround capable when it's not even seen as a multichannel device by the OS. In that case gamers definitely need to be buying the SoundblasterX G6 instead:
Yeah X5 is complete failure (in European countries cost 310 euros!!!) for that money I can buy G6 (already have but for contest sake but it can cost less then 100 euros on begining of each month on Creative site) plus JDS Atom Amp+ (which can power much better than X5), AKG K240 Sextett in good condition and EDT 770VB for Sextett.

G6 is good jack of all trades for nonhardcore headphone enjoyer (and gives me option to utilize virtual 7.1 so games and some music sound good, SB Command and ASIO drivers now work good enough to be usable) and use almost same DAC chip (yes they are more like a twins but difference isnt too much noticable). Also quality of X5 is questionable (plastic case, knob isnt as accurate how Creative claims- not suprising, microphone USB DSP is pure dumpster fire), no Dolby or DTS decoder so not even PS4/PS5 can make X5 do some lossy virtual 5.1/7.1 surround, no XLR so kiss goodbye true balanced setup (AE-9 has it and cost less then X5), Bluetooth codecs are alredy outdated when X5 came out. DSD 256 can only Windows users, Mac is stuck with DoP 128. Only that X5 beat over G6 is direct mode can use microphone unlike G6.
 
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