It’s been an audiotastic type of summer in the Roffel household this summer. The only thing better than lounging around my pool is doing so with some great music flowing through my back door and windows out to my pool. Until recently, that sound was coming out of a variety of cheap computer speakers, but this month that all changed when I received the Creative Sound Blaster X7 with book shelf speakers.
From the Outside
The Sound Blaster X7 is technically just a external sound card, but let me tell you: it is a VERY powerful sound card that can pump out sound like you never believe. Whether you are enhancing the sound of an old set of bookshelf speakers, using new speakers, or even passing through audio to a headset, the sound quality should – and will – blow you away.
What I really liked about the Sound Blaster X7 out of the box was that it seems fairly universal. If you own it, there is a good chance you can pass the audio through this. There are output spaces for regular speaker wires, auxiliary cord hook ups, headsets, and more. You can pump audio into the device via optical cables, NFC touch and Bluetooth for your mobile devices, and even USB. Creative might be charging a premium for this product, but it really is an all-in-one device.
Since this item is suppose to sit on your desk or on a shelf, there needed to be a certain level of aesthetics to it. Chalk another one in the plus column. The Sound Blaster X7 has a great futuristic vibe – a Star Wars vibe I’ve heard some people describe it as – and it really does look great, whether you own the matte black standard model or the all white deluxe model. Neither looks out of place, and for what comes packed into it, it’s relatively small as well.
The construction of the product seems very solid, although the X7 itself is MUCH lighter then I imaged it would be. This is thanks, in part, to the light plastic casing that holds everything together. Since this is an item I haven’t moved since setting it up, the outer plastic material was a bit of a let down for me. Not only does is scratch easily – even from simply plugging and unplugging cables and wires, and slightly moving it dust the shelf – but it quickly loses its aesthetic appeal as those scratches become more noticeable. I do understand that a better casing would have come with a higher price, and with the unit already coming in around 400-500 USD, I can respect the decision to go with plastic to keep the price down.
I’ve briefly touched on this already but it needs to be said again. Yes, the Sound Blaster X7 is an expensive product, but the number of connection options really does make this the all-in-one device you need. If you are not into having the best audio you could possibly have, sure, pass on this product. But if you are that person, don’t let the high price sway you away. If you need different hookups for multiple input sources, the X7 is definitely the way to go.
Another great bonus to this system – which is the case with most high end sound cards – is the ability to remove the bottom panel on the device and swap out the op-amps. Many will never do this, but a few will, and for them, it’s a nice added touch.
On our website, we do not often review products for the ‘audiophile’ because frankly, 90% of our readers just want good audio. That being said, I think there is still a good reason why gamers should invest in a product like this.
Quality audio sources definitely makes playing video games more enjoyable, especially when playing games where soundtracks – or basic audio cues like footsteps – are both enjoyable and important. When using the Sound Blaster X7 to amplify both my surround sound speaker set, and my headphones, as been a delightful experience, and one I’m not willing to give up. As a heads up, my sound tests and comparisons were almost done solely on the PC, where the Sound Blaster X7 has (reportedly) performed the best.
The first thing I can safely say is the headphone amplification works like a charm, pushing high quality audio through fairly inexpensive headsets, regardless of the brand. Of course, the better the headset you pass through the Sound Blaster X7, the better the audio will be, but for those who perhaps only use a headset on rare occasions – and thus perhaps have a fairly cheap set – this will do wonders to your audio.
When hooked up to the (recommended) E-MU XM7 bookshelf speakers, the sound is fantastic. To be fair, when we hooked up the bookshelf speakers to other sound card systems, the quality – both with the devices and the speakers themselves – was not great; when hooked up to the Sound Blaster X7, however, the sound was really great. From our few tests, the E-MU XM7 bookshelf speakers seemed to have been built solely for use with the X7. Since we have both products, it is not an issue for us.
Not everything is where we would like it. For those looking for a quality bass output, in most cases we found the Sound Blaster X7 is not going to tickle that deep itch. As I’m not one to turn the bass up really loud, it’s not really a problem for me. For those that do, however, perhaps the X7 is not for you. Amplified base through this system, in our tests, just didn’t seem to sound quite right, no matter what speaker or headsets we used.
Although the Sound Blaster X7 won’t provide you the bass you might want, and although it suffers from a number of design flaws – if using off the PC, there is no volume indicator on the device itself! – the Sound Blaster X7 is a great, multi-use portable sound card that will make even your oldest speakers sound like new. For those looking for a variety of connection options in one device, you cannot go wrong with the Sound Blaster X7. If you are looking to fill a particular, connection need and don’t need the universal-ness of the X7, there are cheaper options on the market for you.