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Sound Blaster X5, the new audiophile card from Creative

As we announced last week, today is the day chosen for the launch of this product and what better way to find out about it than the review of the Creative Sound Blaster X5. Before us we have an external sound card that has a bi-amplified output for high impedance headphones and compatibility with PC, Mac and the PS4 and PS5 consoles.

Creative Sound Blaster X5

Before starting the review, we want to thank Creative for giving us the Sound Blaster X5 for your analysis.

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Technical specifications of the Creative Sound Blaster X5

Creative Sound Blaster X5
DAC Sound Blaster Acoustic Engine
2 x Cirrus Logic CS43198
PCM 32-bit / 384kHz
THD: -115dB
Dynamic Range (DNR): 130dB
DoP 128 / DSD 256
headphone amplifier 16 – 600 ohms
Balanced Output: 1.61 Vrms (162 mW) @ 16 Ω / 2.28 Vrms (162 mW) @ 32 Ω / 5.05 Vrms (170 mW) @ 150 Ω / 5.05 Vrms (10 mW) @ 600 Ω
Unbalanced Output: 1.61 Vrms (320 mW) @ 16 Ω / 2.28 Vrms (320 mW) @ 32 Ω / 5.05 Vrms (170 mW) @ 150 Ω / 5.05 Vrms (85 mW) @ 600 ohms
ADC 24-bit / 192kHz
DNR: 114dB
THD+N: -105dB
connectivity USB-C (PC connection)
Bluetooth 5.0 (SBC)
SPDIF IN/OUT
RCA IN/OUT
Balanced 4.4 mm jack headphone output
Unbalanced 3.5mm jack headphone output
3.5mm jack microphone input
USB-A Host
Audio Technologies CystalVoice
Scout Mode
Compatibility Windows 10/11
macOS 10.15+
PS4/PS5
Dimensions 216 x 170 x 72mm
Weight 879 grams

Packaging and Accessories

front packaging

The review of the Creative Sound Blaster X5 It cannot start in any other way than by facing its packaging. Before us we have a cardboard box that shows us its desEsports Extrason the front and lists some of its main technologies in the lower margin. Meanwhile, on the back, we find some of them defined, as well as two images that allow us to glimpse their connections.

rear packing

inner packing

Inside, we find the sound card very well protected by a foam frame and the accessories well organized around it. The accessory kit includes, in addition to the documentation, an SPDIF fiber optic cable, a USB/USB-C cable for the digital connection and a jack/2xRCA cable for the analog connection.

Manual

Creative Sound Blaster X5 - Accessories

DesEsports Extrasand Features of the Creative Sound Blaster X5

Creative Sound Blaster X5 - 3/4 View

We continue the review of the Creative Sound Blaster X5 already with her in front of us once we have removed all the protections of the packaging. We are facing an external sound card that has a gray metallic chassis with dimensions of 216 x 170 x 72mm and a weight of 879 grams. Although it is not very portable, it offers a size and weight similar to other high-end external sound cards, also called DAC/AMP, which are combined with a headphone amplifier.

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Creative Sound Blaster X5 - Front

The front of the Creative Sound Blaster X5 It offers numerous physical controls where a large potentiometer stands out on the right side to control the general volume, as well as an additional one to control the volume of the smaller microphone input. We also have a low or high gain selector for the amplified headphone output, being able to opt for a 3.5mm jack conventional or a balanced 4.4 mm jack for headphones, obviously, balanced. The latter implies that the stereo channels have separate signals, although only high-end headphones have such a connection. In addition, we have several buttons that allow us to choose between the speaker or headphone output, equalization modes or if we will use it on PC or one of the compatible consoles, that is, PS4 or PS5.

Creative Sound Blaster X5 - Connectivity

We flip the card over to meet the rest of its connectivity on the back side. On the one hand, we have stereo RCA input and output, digital SPDIF input and output. On the other, a USB-C connector allows connection to PC or consoles and a USB-A port allows the connection of other devices by acting as a hub. In addition, it offers Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with SBC codec for sound reception, but not to send the signal to possible wireless headphones.

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Creative Sound Blaster X5 - Base

One last look at the base of the Creative Sound Blaster X5 It offers two wide rubber feet for a perfect support on the table.

We must emphasize that inside it has a couple of audio processors Cirrus Logic CS43198 that allow drives audio from 32-bit and 384kHz, being also compatible with the transmission of sound DoP 128 bits and DSD 256 bits. We should note that it specifies a -115dB THD and a 130 dB dynamic range, very good values ​​that bring it to the range of audiophile products. In addition, it has a double headphone amplifier that allows the connection of models of between 16 and 600 ohms offering up to 320 mW on the unbalanced output.

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Testing

Creative Sound Blaster X5 - On

For the tests in the review of the Creative Sound Blaster X5, we have connected it to our desktop PC using the included cable and, although it is not necessary for its use, we have installed the driver that allows it to use Creative’s sound processing software. To it we have also connected the Beyerdinamic MMX300 headphones and some audio monitors yamaha HS5carrying out the sound tests with files FLAC/MP3 320Kbps and with some games.

Testing

The first thing to note about the Creative Sound Blaster X5 is the excellent power it offers. It is true that the MMX600 They’re easy-to-move 32-ohm headphones and don’t require a lot of amplification, but in low-gain mode they get annoying at 100% volume. Obviously, it can handle models of up to 300 ohms with total ease, although 600 ohm models will move them with relative solvency as long as we don’t look for exaggerated volumes.

software 2

If we use the “Direct Mode”, either from the software or from the front physical button, we will not perform any sound processing beyond the “basic” conversion to analog (DAC). With this, we obtain a purer sound in which its clarity and neutrality stand out, without enhancing any of the bands and offering an exceptional sound. The difference in sound quality compared to a sound card integrated into the motherboard is evident from the first moment, both from the speakers and, even more, from the headphones, giving the sound greater brightness and great dynamics.

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Software 3

If we choose to process the sound, we can choose between predefined modes for Music, Movies and games, with a list of numerous titles to which it can be adapted. Personally, the Music mode seems completely disposable to me, because although it seems to improve the sound in untrained ears, what it does is a V equalization with an extra surround that, in my opinion, destroys the music. However, the Movie mode is quite practical to give a more surround sound in them and the effects focused on games allow to a great extent to improve the positioning in shooters (Scout Mode), although at the cost of a less realistic sound. Also, the

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Software 4

Also, the tab CrystalVoice It allows you to control the sound capture of the microphone, improving the voice capture and its volume, as well as applying equalization and even vocal morphing for “fun”.

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Conclution

Creative Sound Blaster X5

We conclude the review of the Creative Sound Blaster X5 highlighting that this is a sound card focused on audiophiles with some very interesting features and some shortcomings. On the one hand, the pair of processors Cirrus Logic CS43198 They do a very good job in the sound to analog conversion (DAC) section, whether we use the software or the direct mode. On the other hand, the Xamp headphone amplification system allows even high-impedance models to be handled with solvency, showing itself to be really powerful in our tests.

But not everything is good in this model, because an XLR connection for the microphone is missing, instead of just a 3.5 mm jack, the possibility of emitting Bluetooth sound is missing, and not only receiving it, and even a balanced line output for monitors. All this would make it an exceptional DAC, although it would perhaps make it too expensive.

And we can find for sale the Creative Sound Blaster X5 for about 300 euros on the official website, a high price if we take into account that the Sound Blaster X7 itself is on sale at that price with 5.1 sound, speaker amplifier and better components. Of course, compared to other DACs on the market, it has the great advantage of being compatible with PS4 and PS5so we can get the best sound from both consoles with it.

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Main advantages
+ Excellent sound and very good performance
+ Good desEsports Extrasand finishes
+ Very powerful headphone amplifier with impedance selector
+ Balanced headphone output
+ Digital and analog inputs
+ Very comfortable volume wheel
+ Integrated BT receiver
Negative Aspects
High price
No XLR connection for microphone
Other Aspects
* Could offer balanced line output

from the The Computer Tinkerer we grant him the Gold Award to the DAC/AMP Creative Sound Blaster X5.

Gold Award

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