Testing & Performance
Once we calibrated the microphone team communication during gaming were crisp and clear while the bombs and bullets ripped into the terrain and buildings in our immediate area. Tossing a grenade has a whole new meaning with the Sound BlasterX AE-5 powering the explosion. Team responses are clearer while effects are clean and clear with distinct sharp tones. Overlapping effects were distinct and easy to distinguish. Compared to onboard sound team communications were clearer and fewer mistakes made due to the distinct clarity of the Blaster AE-5.
The Virtual 7.1 gaming audio works terrifyingly well! One minute you’re stalking through cover and you hear the lightest snap of a twig or whispering voice and you have it pinpointed, crouch and slowly turn into the enemy while you roll a grenade burn a clip and roll to cover. Unexpected effects like incoming mortars set your heart pumping and the BlasterX AE-5 puts you inside the game.
We broke out our Nvidia 3D set with a Samsung 120Hz monitor and went full depth 3D into a crowd of zombies playing Left 4 Dead 2 using the virtual 7.1 and the BlasterX AE-5 had us in the middle of the room surrounded by flesh eating zombies with noises coming at us from every direction and it gave Boomers a whole new meaning! The racking of the 10 shot automatic shotgun gave that satisfying chachuck and we could hear the shells bounce off the ground a new layer of immersion we’d never noticed. You might take notice that there’s no need to pay extra for a headset with a lot of virtual effects as the Sound BlasterX AE-5 will provide all the variety you need!
We put a lot of emphasis on the Sennheiser HD 660S and HyperX Cloud to test the dual amplifier and there was no lack of head rocking sound what-so-ever!
Music testing we went with everything from Rap, Classic, Rock, Soft Rock, Heavy Metal, and a select group of music with background noises picked up in the studio by accident. While we prefer 70’s and 80’s soft Rock we went full gambit with everything from Box Stereo Speakers, Bluetooth Razer, higher end Logitec, and yes even Sound Blaster speakers you’ll get to gander at a little later in the month. Currently, Xmas looms and there’s nothing that says Xmas like a little Blaster under the tree. You may make more expensive choices but Creative labs leverages in at over 400 Million users and at times following the crowd pays off.
We worked extremely hard at getting the recliner into perfect listening position, put all 3 sets of headphones in reach, a couple of sets of speakers nearby and sweated our way through 92 songs in total. Some of the songs multiple times listening for studio acoustic accidents and guitar riffs with fingertip sliding noise and discovered a whole new world of audio that left us wanting more. We like deep booming bass with an edge of clarity, punchy midranges that stand out and treble that punctuates with sharp clear notes un-muddied by digital effects.
For the most part, we went true 2.0 sounds but ventured into the 2.1 Dolby realms for heavy concussive bands. Oddly enough Dr Hook and the Medicine show was the most interesting rendition with their “cover of the Rolling Stones” hit which is full of good natured banter and studio sounds.
While aimed at gaming the Blaster AE-5 excelled at music and gaming and really shines on high end headphones. When you can feel the bones vibrate and transmit sound on earphones set at a reasonable level you know you are onto good headphone amps and the BlasterX AE-5 Xamp lacks nothing for head shaking clear sound.
Now movies test audio equipment like no other genre. From music in a pub to huge explosions you don’t know what’s coming next and movies don’t have the audio continuity of other media. Action adventure movies go from whispered conversation to huge explosions with cars flipping straight into fully automatic weapons fire and do it a matter of a few seconds. Now drive all that through an HTPC with a discrete sound card like the BlasterX AE-5 and it takes a lot of the load off the CPU and built in components and offloads it to the Sound Blaster audio processor turning the movie into an audio feast making you anticipate the next tire screech.
We went through the entire Expendables franchise, a good portion of the Matrix series and enough Die Hard to find ourselves staring at the sun coming up and making its first little crack. Hearing new sounds in old favorite movies just adds to the experience and once you experience it on a Creative Labs Product you’ll rethink the whole onboard audio thing.
The audio clarity is leaps and bounds above the built in audio on high end televisions and when onboard audio gets muddy the Sound Blaster AE-5 punches out the clear crisp sound the director and sound manager of the movie intends for you to hear and sadly that’s one end of the audio experience often overlooked on video.