Our Sound Blaster X3 review focuses on this external DAC and amp from Creative Labs. You’ll get all the necessary information about it to help you decide if it’s something you need.
The goal of Creative Labs to enhance audio was manifested recently with the in-house created the Super X-Fi technology. According to the company, SXFI technology captures the audio experience of top-notch multi-speaker systems in professional studios. Then, it recreates the same comprehensive experience in your headphones via complex algorithms and intensive methods. It’s to customise audio for everyone through the refined head and ear-mapping methods.
Quite a high and interesting claim, but Creative already has the technology integrated into a couple of products. These include an external amp, in-ear headphones, and over-ear headphones. But recently, they used the technology for a high-resolution 7.1 channel external DAC and amp for consoles and computers. This is the Sound Blaster X3.
Sound Blaster X3 Packaging
This part of our Sound Blaster X3 review is where we talk about the product’s packaging and its contents. The Sound Blaster X3 came in a grey and white-themed box. You’ll find an image of the product in front, while Creative is at the top right corner. On the top left corner of the box, you’ll see “Sound Blaster X3” written there.
Below the image, you’ll see the features of the X3, while the box’s sides give extra information as well.
Inside, you will find the Sound Blaster X3 with other items as well. These include a USB Type-A to Type-C cable, warranty leaflets, and a quick start guide.
Next up on this Sound Blaster X3 review is the design and features.
Sound Blaster X3 Review – Design and Features
The Sound Blaster X3 has a rectangular box-like shape that measures 129 x 129 x 40mm and weighs 330g. Its size is perfect for setting on top of your chassis, plus it has a robust build, making it better. We like that it comes with four feet to keep it fixed in place.
To control the volume, audio balance, and microphone levels, a LED-ringed knob is present. Each of these come in different colours as well. The Sound Blaster X3 supports Bluetooth for device controls. However, do note that it doesn’t support Bluetooth for streaming.
The front portion of the product is home to three main buttons. These are the SXFI, audio balance, and mode. The first button toggles the SXFI mode on/off, while the second adjusts the balance between background and microphone noise. For the last one, it cycles through EQ modes, specifically movies, music, footsteps, or a specific SXFI mode. The same features are in the Command Software of Sound Blaster.
For the 3.5mm headphone and microphone jacks, they are in front of the X3. As for the rear, it houses a USB-C port, an optical-out, line-in, plus four ports to link a speaker system.
You can use this DAC and amplifier mix with your Mac, PC, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 via USB Type-C. You can use this with your smart devices via 3.5mm line-in and outputs to A/V receivers through optical-out. Generally, it lets you achieve improved audio outputs for various setups.
Next on our Sound Blaster X3 review are the key features of the product.
Key Features of the Sound Blaster X3
On this part of our Sound Blaster X3 review, we will talk about this product’s unique features.
Excellent Audio Performance
The Sound Blaster X3 features a 600-Ohm headphone amp that can drive studio-grade headphones with ease. With 32-bit / 192kHz playback, you can experience clear, detailed, and accurate sounds.
The world’s first external USB DAC and amp sound card features the Super X-Fi technology. With this, Sound Blaster X3 enhances your experience on Mac, PC, and even on PS4. Earning 15 awards this year, the Xi-Fi technology recreates the audio quality of a high-end multiple-speaker setup in your headphones. It’s more than a 3D surround technology since it optimises audio for your hearing profile to deliver the ideal experience.
The Super X-Fi technology transforms the sounds of streams and compressed videos into an impressive cinematic experience. It can also turn your music into a live concert with the same expanded soundstage. For gaming, Super X-Fi makes gives you an immersive audio experience through your headphones, which is perfect for role-playing games.
Custom EQ Modes
The Sound Blaster X3 offers three available EQ modes designed for boosting audio. All of these are ready to use once it’s out of the box. To access the EQ modes, press the Mode button on the X3 and select from Music, Movies, and Footsteps Enhancer.
You can customise the EQ modes based on your preferences, then save your settings using the Sound Blaster Command Software. You can also save these using Sound Blaster’s mobile app.
Audio Balance for the Perfect Game and Chat Harmony
The X3’s Audio Balance feature allows for conference calls while listening to music or podcasts simultaneously. It comes with a control knob where you can turn left or right to manage audio control. The knob lets you toggle between speaker sources and the SPIF interface. Also, you can control the volume between your teammates’ voice, and your gaming sounds to make them more audible.
Industry-Leading Audio Processing
To better enhance your audio experience, Creative included their industry-leading audio processing technologies. It features the Sound Blaster Acoustic Engine’s suite of audio boosters, delivered via the remade Sound Blaster Command software.
With that, it’s easier to customise audio for your needs. For changing audio settings between games, music or movies, you can switch and save to different profiles with a click. The best part is that you can control every bit of the software.
For added convenience, you can manage Sound Blaster X3 through mobile devices via wireless Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It’s accessible via the Sound Blaster Command app. Without having to switch between PC and console, you can save and customise EQ settings with ease. Also, you can switch between Speaker and Headphone output just by using your mobile phone.
This is the part of our Sound Blaster X3 review where we’ll look at the X3’s specifications. It’s a product that measures 129 x 129 x 40.6mm and weighs 330g. It has a DNR or dynamic range of 115dB; plus, it comes with connectivity options as well.
These include TOSLINK optical out, ⅛” rear out, ⅛” sub/centre out, and a ⅛” headphone/headset jack. There’s also a ⅛” extension mic-in jack, ⅛” front-out, and a ⅛” side-out jack.
Moreover, you’ll find a ⅛” line-in jack, plus a USB Type-C port for your Mac or computer as well.
For the headphone amp, the supported headphone impedance is 32Ω – 600Ω. For low gain, it’s 150Ω while the high gain is 150 to 600Ω 150Ω, 2.9V RMS at 600Ω. For the operating systems: it works with, these include Windows 7, 8.1, and Windows 10.
The DAC has a dynamic stereo range of 115dB, with THD+N of 0.0004%. For the ADC, these are 104dB with THD+N 0.0017% available. It’s also USB bus-powered, USB-C.
Hands-on with the Sound Blaster X3
Now in this part of the Sound Blaster X3 review, we’ll be getting hands-on with the X3. We linked it to a test computer and listened through over-ear headphones. The audio quality was clear and spacious, even when playing a wide variety of music genres. Our source of music was from Amazon Music HD.
Listening to the same tunes, in standard and Ultra HD quality, it indicates that it produced a much cleaner sound. There isn’t much, but if you intently listen to parts of a song, you’ll notice an extra crispness there.
We also tested it on the PS4 where the Sound Blaster X3 functions as an extended headset. With the sound quality it produced, we received excellent results as expected. Generally, having a good DAC makes a huge difference in your sound quality. So, the X3 is vital to PC users and gamers who are audiophiles as well. But of course, you’ll also need good headphones as well.
Out of the box, its sounds are accurate. With that, we didn’t feel the need to toggle with its EQ settings for the most part. Overall, the Sound Blaster X3 performed amazingly, so it gets five stars from us because of it.
Sound Blaster X3 Review Summary
The Creative Sound Blaster X3 is an impressive DAC that comes with Super X-Fi technology. It’s an excellent unit that can deliver superior quality audio to your headphones while being highly compatible.
If your current output doesn’t deliver your desired sound quality with your audiophile headphones, you should consider the Sound Blaster X3. It’s compact, user-friendly, and offers excellent value. Most importantly, it transforms your audio experience, whether you watch movies, play games, or listen to music.
To conclude our Sound Blaster X3 review, we highly recommend this DAC and headphone amp. If you want to get your hands on it, you can purchase it from the company’s official website.