Testing & Final Thoughts
I have been using the Creative Sound Blaster X3 with a simple Razer Kraken stereo headset. The main reason for this is I feel that is what most people buying this unit will already have a stereo headset, more than likely a gaming headset and not an X-Fi certified one. I also wanted to see if the X3 could really improve the experience I was already getting with my motherboard’s onboard audio.
For me gaming is the most important thing. Most of the time when I have headphones on I am gaming. If you have been watching our Twitch streams you know we’ve been playing Apex Legends a lot. So I connected my headset to the X3, set it to virtual 7.1 surround and enabled the Apex Legends SBX profile. One thing I instantly noticed was how much better the game sounded. The music felt better, the sound effects were more pronounced, it was a great starting experience with the X3. After playing a few rounds I really enjoyed the positional audio the virtual 7.1 provided, I could tell where enemies were coming from, which I felt game me an advantage. I then enabled the Scout Mode in the software, this according to Creative is to help you hear beyond what you see. In my testing all it really did was increase the audio levels. I’m not sure I would have it on all the time, it is nice that you have the hot key option, so say it was the end of the game against one other team I would switch it on. Overall though the X3 really enhanced my gaming experience compared to my motherboard’s onboard audio.
One of the big selling points of the X3 is the addition of Super X-Fi, which you won’t find in Creative’s Sound Blaster AE-5 or AE-9 sound cards. Super X-Fi is really amazing, you really have to experience it to really understand how great it is. Basically it captures the listening experience of a high-end multi-speaker system in a professional studio, and recreates the same expansive experience in your headphones using computational audio intensive techniques to custom fit audio, for every individual, through a sophisticated Head and Ear-Mapping process. So you will have to map your head (Creative provides an app to do this), but after that you are good to go. Now for gaming Super X-Fi is not really worth it, but for watching movies and listening to music it is pretty awesome. Basically it feels like you are in a movie theater or sound studio, but you simply have a pair of headphones on. Sometimes you forget you even have headphones on, which is pretty awesome!
Creative has really made the X3 a great device for so many people and that is why I am so impressed with it. For a desktop user like myself it provides better audio than my motherboard’s on-board audio and since it is outside my case I don’t have to worry about any interference like I might get if I installed a PCI-Express sound card. If you are a laptop or say small form factor PC user this device is definitely going to give you better audio and is so easy to set up. Also you are not limited to just headphones, you can connect a receiver using the SPDIF out on the X3 or even a full surround sound system. Not a PC gamer? The X3 is also compatible with PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Because the unit is so small I can also easily take it with me, another plus over an internal sound card.
It does not matter if you are a gamer, someone who wants Super X-Fi or just someone who wants better audio you are not going to be disappointed with the Sound Blaster X3. The sound quality from the device is excellent and its ease of use and multi-functionality make it a real no-brainer. Right now you can pick up the Sound Blaster X3 at our favorite online retailer for $119.99, which we feel is a very fair price. Overall ThinkComputers gives the Creative Sound Blaster X3 a 9 out of 10 score our our Recommended Award.
– Great overall sound
– Small form factor and external
– 7.1 virtual surround sound is good
– Super X-Fi
– Can work with PC, Mac, PS4 and Switch
– Super X-Fi might be hard for some to setup
– Super X-Fi requires an account