Creative Sound Blaster X4 Review

Testing and Final Thoughts

My testing setup for the Sound Blaster X4 has been completed using two headsets, each with a different use case emphasis. For gaming and communications, the Corsair VIRTUOSO RGB Wireless SE (32 ohms) was used with it’s 3.5mm audio cable, and for music and multimedia testing, the AKG K240 Studio (55 ohms) headphones were used. And while neither headset supports full SXFI, the ability to utilize a virtual 7.1 setup with a standard stereo headset can add a lot more immersion in games. Keep in mind that the X4 requires you to use the hardwired connections for your audio devices. That means if you are used to using a wireless headset for example, you will either be out of luck, or will have to invest in a wired solution.

Speaking of games, most of my audio testing in this arena was done in Apex Legends, a first-person battle-royale shooter. After I had set my headphones to the 7.1 surround sound option in the playback menu of the Creative app I was ready to configure the X4 for my game. By simply selecting the Apex Legends option in the Sound Mode drop-down menu, the X4 made certain adjustments to it’s audio engine and voila! In all seriousness though, I did notice that I had better positional information on my enemies when compared to not using the X4’s game profile, which seemed to make my gameplay improve when locating and engaging with enemy teams. I also noticed an increased volume of other in-game sounds like gunfire (my own included), as well as an almost “echo-heavy” sound to the game. After a few rounds though, I was acclimated to the new sound profile, and have continued to use it since.

Creative likes to tout the inclusion of SXFI support with the Sound Blaster X4, and while I don’t have access to any Super X-Fi certified headsets or speaker setups, I can tell you that it is no joke. Back at CES 2020, we visited the folks from Creative and went through the process of mapping our ears and sound profile using a multi-step process in their demo room. Thankfully Creative also allows you to create a custom profile via their SXFI App, so you too can get a custom profile for your Super X-Fi experience. Once the mapping process was completed, the Creative team proceeded to demonstrate the amazing ability to provide realistic surround sound capabilities using a pair of their in-ear audio solutions and a small USB amp. The experience was amazing, and at times we would remove our earbuds just to see if they were messing with us, as the positional audio coming from these earbuds made it seem like you were hearing a 7.1 surround sound system with amazing accuracy. And when paired with a compatible SXFI product, the Sound Blaster X4 can provide you with the same experience.

Moving on to our multimedia testing, I switched over to my AKG K240 Studio headphones, and depending on whether I was listening to music or watching a movie, I selected the appropriate sound mode within the Creative app in order to get the best experience. And while I wish the K240’s had more of a noticeable low-end to them, I found my listening experiences to be enjoyable in most instances. Only in bass-heavy music or heavy action scenes with rumbling explosions did I miss out on the bass. But switching back over to the Corsair VIRTUOSO, I was able to regain the low-end that was more to my liking.

While all of these configuration changes and settings can be found within the Creative application, the three buttons on the top of the Sound Blaster X4 can be used to make adjustments to common settings. I have listed out the basics for each button below.

Creative Sound Blaster X4

Audio Bal/Mute – A quick tap of the leftmost button will quickly mute your microphone, turning the illuminated dial to red. While still in mute mode, you can then use the control dial to adjust the microphone recording level. Tapping the button again will unmute the microphone. Holding in on the button will switch over to the audio balance function, and will illuminate the control dial in green. From here you can fade/mix the audio balance between your game’s audio level and your voice comms application. While this does take a bit of configuring within Windows prior to use, it is a handy option for quick adjustments to multiple audio sources.

Mode/Direct Mode – The X4 itself has three EQ modes – Music, Movies, and Footsteps Enhancer. Quick presses of the Mode button will cycle through these options, as well as turning them off entirely. Each of these on-board modes can be customized within the Creative application as well. Holding the Mode button will enable Direct Mode, which cuts out all audio processing and provides the source material as-is.

SXFI/Line Out/HP – The SXFI button is available for turning on and off Super X-Fi and SXFI BATTLE modes with ease. This button also allows you to switch between the speaker and headphone outputs without having to plug and unplug devices, which is a handy feature.

As I mentioned in my introduction, the use of add-in or external soundcards has been something that many PC enthusiasts have been able to skip over in recent years due to the improved quality of on-board solutions. However, the variety of connections, access to enhanced audio settings via software and hardware controls, and overall improved audio performance make the Creative Sound Blaster X4 a serious candidate for inclusion in your PC setup. Not only does it provide improved day to day audio for your main rig, you can simply grab the X4 and it’s USB cable and take it on the road with you for enhanced audio wherever you are. And you don’t just have to use this device with a PC – multiple current-gen consoles like the Sony PS5 and Nintendo Switch are compatible as well. Throw in the extra customization you get when pairing the Sound Blaster X4 with Creative’s suite of software, and you have a performance-enhancing audio machine that is ready to help you dominate on the virtual battlefield, or shake your world while watching the latest action movies.

Creative Sound Blaster X4

From gamers to audio and cinephiles, to everyday users that simply want more connectivity options and control over their audio, the Sound Blaster X4 does not leave you wanting for more. Being able to tweak your audio beyond the standard in-game or OS-level settings is a game changer, and a welcome addition to any setup. And even without the use of additional software, the on-board controls found on the X4 provide easy access to the some of the most-used functions of the device. The Sound Blaster X4 is currently available for $139.99 at our favorite online retailer. Overall, ThinkComputers gives the Creative Sound Blaster X4 a 9 out of 10.

Pros:
– Easy to setup and use
– 7.1 virtual surround
– Enhanced our gameplay and multimedia experiences
– Super X-Fi
– Compatible with PC, Mac, and multiple consoles

Cons:
– Not compatible with wireless headsets
– Super X-Fi requires compatible equipment