Creative Sound Blaster X3 Digital to Analog Converter Review

 

There’s something about having a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC). The dials make you feel like a DJ and there are exclusive custom audio profiles at the touch of a button. But do you really need a DAC?  These days ALL, if not MOST, motherboards have integrated audio systems that boost and enhance quality and immersion – Asus with its Supreme Fx, Gigabyte has AMP-UP Audio Technology. It was hard for me to justify hooking the award-winning Creative Sound Blaster X3 DAC up to my system. But let me tell you, the set up was so easy and all of a sudden my ears filled with the sensation of a whole new audio experience that outshines the competition.

Compatibility ranges from the Usual windows, Mac and mobile devices, as well as Bluetooth (no audio stream), but the latest firmware adds upgraded support for the PS4 and Nintendo Switch (with some disabled features of course). Unconfirmed for XBOX players.

What’s in the Box?

Nothing too crazy here, you get your Creative Sound Blaster X3 DAC and USB –C power cable. The usual paperwork with an Important Read Me First card, directing you to download their SXFI App and Sound blaster Command App for the system you’re using.

The DAC Command Software

This DAC is honestly the most customizable DAC I’ve ever come across. With the software and the 3-button set up, you can customize the audio your way. What’s extra exclusive about this DAC is that they created and developed a “Super X-Fi” App. This App lets you control every aspect of the Sound Blaster X3 system, plus many other accessories that you should definitely investigate.  To get the full-on custom experience, The X-fi App has a head mapping utility. It scans your ears and front face using a special algorithm. It adjusts the position of how the sound comes out even in 2 channel stereos and adjusts your volume based on your ear shape. Every ear is different. Soundwaves bounce off the inner ears and volume becomes louder or softer based on that ears shape. The DAC balances every type of audio perfectly to every shape of ear.

Using the Creative Sound Blaster Command App was amazingly smooth. And, it’s so easy to switch over from listening to music to watching a movie. With its SBX, you can change to different profiles like the intense bass of the gaming profile or “sitting in front of the big screen” movie profile. Among the more exclusive are profiles for specific games like the Call of Duty Series or Apex Legends. Adding a profile is extremely easy as well. It lets you set how the “Acoustic Engine” handles audio, like surround sound and Smart Volume that streamlines intense moments like jump scare and even scarier build up jump. This is a dream for horror gamers like myself.

Super X-Fi automatically downloads your head map and adjusts anything you are playing based on your customized head and ear profile. The setup is effortless and asks you to pick out the headphones you are using from a lengthy list of compatible headsets. Once in, I recommend matching with the Equalizer, which gives multiple modes that assign to the “Direct Mode” button with an available color led that indicates which setting you are on. Make sure to check out the “Footsteps Enhancer.”

Paired with the exclusive “Scout Mode” I was able to pinpoint footsteps during gameplay. Without this setting I’d be spinning around in circles, raising my chances of the enemy getting the first hit. Did I mention that you can hear the enemy reload as if they yelled it out to the world?

Crystal Voice records clear and static-free. During my skype conversations, others have said it was so clear that it was like I was right next to them in the same room. Digging into the settings, you can have smart volume options, the ability to transform your voice and even set a Microphone Equalizer in case your voice is a booming bass or a soft speak.

Rounding off another significant feature for those true Audiophiles, is an Encoder setting, enabling this with encoding audio into Dolby Digital Live surround sound. The only trade is that you must use a TOSLINK optical cable to connect to the SPDIF out on the x3 DAC. Luckily, I had such a cable and used it while playing Rocket League, in which the audio present is in a stadium feel. Using the Dolby encoder, it felt like I was at a live game. The cheers came out brighter than ever and you could even hear the sounds of the cars’ engine that you would have never thought were there before. I may use this setting for all my gaming needs, and even when I want a solo concert in my room.

After 3 days of using the Sound Blaster x3, it’s grown on me. The software is by far the easiest audio platform to navigate. The audio is crystal clear and vivid. And the customization to your audio is a tier above any competition. You will find this $119.99 piece of hardware is well worth the investment. I’ve come to appreciate a whole new experience in audio fidelity and hope you will be able to say the same.

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