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Sound BlasterX Katana Multi-channel Gaming Soundbar review

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Introduction

Audio comes in multiple variations but quality and quantity are the main components that we look for in choosing an audio output device.   Creative Labs Sound BlasterX Katana give you quality sound without having to give up the quantity.  The sleek style fits perfectly under a monitor or TV.  Sound BlasterX Katana versatility continues through customization and it’s five input choices.  Whether you are a dedicated PC gamer with the occasional console craving or vice versa the Sound BlasterX can travel between with you.    Sound BlasterX Katana inputs include Optical, Computer, USB, Bluetooth, and Auxiliary.   Geared toward the gaming community the Sound BlasterX Katana doesn’t appear to let music suffer in its quality audio output. 

ProClockers would like to send a Thank You to Creative Labs for the Sound BlasterX Katana to review.

Creative’s take on the Sound BlasterX Katana:
Named after the sword so technologically perfect in structure and so demanding in its creation, the Sound BlasterX Katana exhibits the same sleek sophistication and formidable strength in its design and audio prowess. In a league of its own, the Katana fits right under your monitor with a slimness that’s unmatched by other so-called gaming “sound bars” and is powered and enhanced by our award-winning multi-core audio DSP making it the world’s first true Under Monitor Audio System (UMAS). In addition, the Sound BlasterX features the Aurora Reactive lighting system, a series of 49 programmable LED lights lined from edge to edge of the Katana chassis, making it the perfect addition to fully optimize and customize your PC and desktop setup.

 

The Katana gives you an immersive audio experience for your games and movies with the BlasterX Acoustic Engine and Dolby Digital Decoding. This audio system embodies the perfect combination of our most powerful 24-bit high-resolution DAC and sophisticated 5-driver system. Housing a tri-amplified design where the 5 drivers are individually powered by DSP-controlled amplifiers, the Katana delivers ultra-precise audio at each part of the audio spectrum. Equipped with a plethora of connectivity options, you can trust the Katana to be one of the most versatile and most powerful speakers to ever grace your desktop.

Features & Specifications

Key Features:

Under Monitor Audio System: So Sleek, Yet So Powerful

The Katana can be effortlessly tucked right under your monitors and TV. With a slim profile shorter than 60mm, this Under Monitor Audio System is drastically superior in form and function to ordinary “gaming soundbars” and is perfect for all setups, especially multi-monitor PC and/or console gaming rigs.

The chassis is exquisitely crafted and reinforced with a sturdy, brushed aluminum panel. This construction minimizes harmful vibrations that reduce clarity. Together with its clean, purposeful lines, the detail-oriented craftsmanship behind the Katana makes it a truly remarkable piece of tech and art.

Aurora Reactive Lighting System: Light Up Your Setup

The Katana incorporates the Aurora Reactive lighting system, where its base is lined with 49 programmable LED lights from edge to edge. Just like each unique harmony of the Japanese sword, the Aurora Reactive lighting system comes in 16.8 million colors for you to customize your ambiance lighting effects to create your own unique profile that elevates your gaming and movie experience.

Inside the Gaming Soundbar

2.5″ (63.5mm) Upfiring Midbass Drivers

The highly efficient 2.5″ midbass drivers housed in an optimally tuned ported enclosure pump out clean, transparent midrange and dynamic midbass. Directing the audio upwards also provides for a wider soundstage that doesn’t require the listener to be situated in the audio sweet spot.

1.3″ (34mm) High-excursion Tweeters

The high-frequency drivers feature inverted alloy dome diaphragms and wide polymer surrounds for low-resonant frequency and extended low-frequency response. These high-excursion tweeters allow us to cross them to the midbass at a much lower frequency than conventional tweeters, resulting in seamless driver integration and uncompromising clarity.

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Inside the Subwoofer

5.25″ (133mm) Subwoofer Driver

The long-throw subwoofer features a super stiff paper cone and low loss surround for clean, detailed, chest-thumping bass. The driver is housed in a CARB-compliant MDF cabinet with a flared port tube for laminar air flow and increased output. Experience the Katana to hear its powerful bass that reverberates through your bones.

Tri-Amplified Design: Put the Cutting Edge in Audio

The Katana utilizes a game-changing tri-amplified design with a total output of 75RMS/150W Peak Power to deliver room-filling audio, with uncompromisingly clear, high-definition, well-balanced audio and deep resonating bass. With the tri-amplified design, the amplifiers are controlled by our proprietary multi-core Digital Signal Processor (DSP) – two dedicated to driving mids, another two dedicated to delivering the high frequencies, and one dedicated to churning out the heart-thumping bass. From traversing through ravines to bullet-fast evasive maneuvers, you can hear all the details that other speakers fail to deliver.

Comprehensive Connectivity Options

#SetupGoals are now achievable with the Katana. Comes equipped with comprehensive connectivity connections, the Katana is versatile and compatible with many multimedia devices.

Optical-in

When connected via optical-in, the Dolby Digital certified Katana delivers realistic virtual 5.1 surround sound, giving you the most of your console gaming and movie nights.

USB Audio: 7.1 Virtual Surround PC Gaming

Level up your PC gaming experience with Virtual 7.1 audio when you connect to the Katana via USB. You can also enjoy 24bit/96kHz high-resolution audio via the USB Connection.2

Crystal Clear USB Audio for Sony® PS4™, PS4 Pro, and PS4 Slim

Enjoy cinematic audio performance on the Sony® PS4™, PS4 Pro, and PS4 Slim via USB! Beyond powerful audio performance, in-game communication is also enhanced with a full suite of noise-reduction and voice morphing technologies made possible by the Katana’s built-in advanced Sound Blaster processor.

USB Flash Drive: Integrated Audio Player

Play your entire music collection directly from the Katana via your USB Flash Drive that contains your favorite songs and press the Play button to enjoy a fantastic listening experience. You may also refer to your playlist from the Sound Blaster Connect

Bluetooth: Wireless

The Katana supports Bluetooth v4.2 that gives you a connecting range of up to 10 meters, so you can enjoy all the convenience for great wireless audio.

Perfect for Late Night Games

You don’t have to wake up the entire house to be a late-night gamer. With the headphone jack and microphone inputs, the Katana works with most headphones and headsets, so you can conveniently put your best game forward, even when everyone else is in their deep slumber.

Remote Control: Wield all that power remotely

Sit back and enjoy your movie. The Katana comes with an IR Remote Control, so you can have access to all the controls at your fingertips.

Specifications:

Dimensions (H x W x D)

Soundbar: 60.0 x 600.0 x 79.0 mm (2.4 x 23.6 x 3.1 inches), Subwoofer: 333 x 130 x 299 mm (5.1 x 11.8 x 13.1 inches)

Weight

Soundbar: 1.5kg (3.3 lbs), Subwoofer: 4kg (8.8 lbs)

Drivers

Soundbar: 2 x 34mm Tweeters, 2 x 2.5″ Midbass Drivers, Subwoofer: 1 x 5.25″ Long Throw Driver

System Configuration

2.1 system

Bluetooth® Version

Bluetooth 4.2

Bluetooth Profile

A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth)

Supported Codecs

AAC, SBC

Connector Type

Bluetooth, AUX-in, USB FlashDrive, Headset out, USB Audio, Mic-in, Optical-in

Color

Black

Remote Control

Infrared

Design

Tri-Amplified Design

 

System Requirements

  • For Wireless Streaming:
    Compatible Bluetooth devices that support the Stereo Bluetooth Profile (A2DP)
  • For Wireless Control:
    Compatible Bluetooth devices that support the Bluetooth Remote Control (AVRCP)
  • For 7.1 Virtual Surround Audio Playback:
    Windows PC
  • For Digital 5.1 Audio Playback:
    Optical-in
  • For High-resolution 24-bit 96kHz Audio Playback:
    For PC via USB Connection
  • For Playback via USB Flash Drive:
    Up to 128GB formatted in FAT16/32/exFAT.
    Common audio formats such as MP3, WMA, FLAC, and WAV.
    (MP3 and WMA up to 320kbps and FLAC up to 1.3Mbps).
  • For Sound Blaster Connect:
    For Windows® OS
    Intel Core™2 Duo processor 2.2 GHz, AMD Athlon 64×2 Dual Core or equivalent processor
    Microsoft® Windows 10, Microsoft Windows 8.1 32-bit or 64-bit
    1GB RAM
    600MB of free hard disk space
    Available USB 2.0 or 3.0 port
    Internet connection (optional)
  • For Direct Connection to AUX-in Jack:
    Analog audio devices with a 3.5mm output
  •  
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Package Contents

  • 1 x Sound BlasterX Katana Soundbar
  • 1 x Sound BlasterX Katana Subwoofer
  • 1 x Power Adapter
  • 1 x USB Cable (1.8m)
  • 1 x USB Cable (0.6m)
  • 1 x IR remote (battery included)
  • 2 x Wall Mount Brackets
  • Warranty & Technical Support leaflet
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety & Regulatory leaflet
  •  

Warranty

1-year Limited Hardware Warranty

Packaging & Unboxing

 

The Sound BlasterX Katana comes in a box that features the design and shows the speaker lit up. 

The back of the box gives a description of 7 of the major features of the Sound BlasterX Katana. 

The side features 2 more key features of the Sound BlasterX Katana.  The Ultra Slim Profile makes fitting under your monitor easy giving you optimal space on your desk.  The Acoustic Engine for PC on the Sound BlasterX Katana allows you to customize enhancements for unprecedented levels of audio realism with 7.1 virtual surround and clear cues.

The opposite side of the box shows what is inside the box.

The top of the box features the 5 output options.

Inside the box, there are foam pads surrounding the Sound BlasterX Katana as well as some foam covering that is placed over the speaker portion as well as the subwoofer portion.

Once you unbox everything you will notice even the subwoofer is packed in foam and it is all really secure.  There is a box that contains the remote, power cables and the mounting brackets.

Once you get into the box there is a box containing power cords, brackets, and the remote.

The box is piled up with the power brick, multiple regional power cords, the remote, a USB cable and wall mounting brackets for the bar itself.

A Closer Look

 

It seems like quite the complicated pile with everything out of the box, but it’s really not that bad, most of it is different power cords you won’t need.

Let’s look closer at the speaker features. The Sound BlasterX Katana has a Sound BlasterX logo on the top of the buttons. 5 buttons to control on/off, volume +/-, Source, and SBX. The on/off button doubles as your Bluetooth pairing button as well.  The SBX feature is the 5 sound and light presets. There is also enough room for peripheral cords such as your mouse and keyboard to run under it.

The Sound BlasterX Katana comes with 3 power cords. This allows for use internationally without the need for regional SKU’s. a North American ‘Type A’, a nearly universal Europlug ‘Type C’, and the UK favorite ‘Type G’. The Katana’s power brick supports 100-240VAC 50/60Hz input so it should work about anywhere if you can get it plugged in.

This lets you see the Sound BlasterX Katana from the below.  You can see the thin addressable RGB LED strip as well as the feet that allow the Sound BlasterX Katana to sit up enough to allow the bottom vents to give ample air flow.

Let’s look a little closer at the back plugins.  Here you can see where your DC power and Subwoofer output cords plugin as well as Mic, headphone, aux line-in, optical, USB flash, and computer plugins are.    

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The remote comes with a battery pre-installed, but don’t forget to pull the little battery protector out and discard prior to use.

An eight-character display hides behind the grill. You can see it’s messages any time you make a change to the source, EQ, Inputs, or while powering up or down. It fades out after a short while to keep the seamless experience.

The lighting under the bar is indirect and makes a nice splash across your desk or table without being too distracting.

Software

 

The Sound BlasterX Katana has a software download that you get from the website.  The install is a very easy and typical install set up.

Once you install the software and open you will be able to customize the different presets and explore a few presets made for specific games.   Each preset has its own special page where you can customize the sound to how you like.

The above shows the 4 pages of the presets.  You can change these presets as mentioned above to modify your personal preferences.   

Lighting style does include some presets but Sound BlasterX Katana has it set up for you to control your mood lighting.  You can change lighting motions, direction, speed, and color.  During your customization, you can have up to 7 colors rotating.

Testing

Testing out audio equipment is almost 100% subjective can vary between people but my experience with the Sound BlasterX Katana was nothing less than amazing.

Built for gaming the Sound BlasterX Katana is on 2 slanted feet allowing sound to be angled upward.  This seems to allow players to hear front drivers better as well as wash more of your desk in glorious RGB lighting.   During gameplay using the Sound BlasterX Katana, I heard clearly and was able to tell directions of enemies.  

The Sound BlasterX Katana while geared for the gaming side doesn’t slack in the music department and even podcasts.   Testing out the Sound BlasterX Katana I found the trailer for the 54th CAS award Motion Picture winner Dunkirk.  From the dramatic lows to the extreme highs the Sound BlasterX Katana kept up.  The sound was crisp clear almost life-like feeling.  

With a podcast being voice only sometimes I have found speakers tend to crackle or pop during them.  I was impressed with the Sound BlasterX Katana for providing me with a clean and clear sound during the podcasts.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

 

So is the Sound BlasterX Katana worth it?  In my opinion absolutely!  After using this as my sole hearing platform during my computer usage I am highly impressed. During gaming, I was able to submerge myself fully into gaming just as I would if I had headphones on.  The slight angle of the Sound BlasterX Katana makes a huge difference from other soundbars.  Having the angle legs really sets it up high enough to evenly distribute the sound toward the gamers head.  This in return allows for a premium gaming experience.  Even with little desk room, the sleek bar fit can put right under the monitor with no issue.  If you have your monitor or TV wall mounted, you can even do the same with the sound bar.

The software allows you to customize the presets and makes the overall Sound BlasterX Katana experience your own.   While geared toward the gaming crowd, the Sound BlasterX Katana does not disappoint on music, movies, and podcasts and would be just as at-home in a small home theater or living room gaming setup with your favorite console. The versatility to move between devices during use should be a sought-after feature in your speaker search, and the Sound BlasterX Katana slices through the toughest requirements.

Awesome job Creative!

 

 

 

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ProClockers was founded in 2004, and since then we have reviewed thousands of tech products, including motherboards, CPUs, graphics cards, PC cases, cooling solutions and more. Whilst many of the original products we reviewed back then have long bit the dust, we continue working hard to provide unbiased PC hardware and tech reviews.

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