Creative Sound Blaster X7 Testing and Conclusion
Testing audio quality is very subjective and cannot be measured without thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment. Even then, no two people hear sound quite the same way. Still comparing audio provides a way to determine how clearly you might hear different instruments on a music track or how well you can identify direction in a surround sound game.
I will be primarily using the XM7 with the X7 to upgrade my PC setup into audiophile territory and set up the speakers according to Creative’s suggested positioning. The XM7 speakers were placed at about eye level and 30 degrees to each side of the monitor. Distance to the primary sound stage is about 4 feet.
I have been using a set of Logitech Z506 5.1 surround sound speakers and found them adequate but lacking when compared to my home theater system. Even so, I think I am in the majority in using a higher end pc speaker system when compared to most enthusiasts.
Firing up the X7 paired with the XM7 speakers for the first time was an eye opener. There is an added richness to the sound that is immediate and noticeable. I immediately went to some of my favorite FLAC recordings to see if the demo had misled me. I ran through some Daft Punk and discovered the XM7s fill in the bass much better than I had expected bringing a smile to my face. Next I tried some Pink Floyd, often a go to for sound testing, and the layering sounds in Time and Money reinforces the impression that I have been missing out on so much of the music from my old speakers. Soon I was running through everything from Lindsey Sterling to REM while the smile grew bigger and bigger.
Next I fired up my favorite pair of surround gaming headphones; my Sennheiser PC 363Ds. Some slight tuning in the driver and I am off playing Battlefield 4 (and a bit of the Battlefield 1 demo too). I am still not sure I love the Recon mode but there is no doubt the sound quality and directional surround are the best I have ever experienced from these headphones. Tanks rumble and the sniper fire is distinct and easy to pinpoint. Is it cheating to use high quality audio equipment? I don’t care!
I also used the X7 in my review of the HyperX Cloud Revolver Pro Gaming Headset Review. This may be my best pair of stereo headphones (my B&O set have onboard processing of their own) and they proved the deeper bass and clean highs are not isolated to one setup. I am left wondering if a pair of true studio headphones is in my near future thanks to the new life the X7 has brought to my current gear.
Finally I used the onboard Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX Low Latency and AAC codec support to connect to my Amazon Dot. Sadly there is no lossless audio option yet but streaming music and chatting with Alexa while simultaneously playing games is a luxury I didn’t know I needed. I may end up with another set for down stairs now!
It is rare that a review leaves me feeling like I need to up my game but the Creative X7 does just that. Everything I used simply sounded better. I found myself reading through the long list of options and brainstorming ways I could use them better, Bluetooth PlayStation support, PC audio and standalone functionality the list is virtually endless.
Pairing the Creative X7 with the E-MU XM7 speakers was the biggest surprise. It is so easy to simply make due with an old set of PC speakers after all. Even without a set of surrounds or a dedicated subwoofer everything just sounded better. I am embarrassed to say the upgraded power source is already on the way. If the XM7s sound this good now, what will an extra dose of power bring out? And that’s not even really broken in yet.
The Creative Sound Blaster X7 represents the Pinnacle of Sound Blaster technology. It’s both a sound card replacement and a solid DAC. For the price you get just about every audio technology an enthusiast could ask for at a level that may mean you will never have to upgrade again. If sound quality is important to you, don’t settle for those old PC speakers. Upgrade to the X7 and pair it with a set of E-MU XM7 speakers. You will never look back.
Firmware and hardware upgradeable
Class leading sound quality
Ridiculous connectivity options
Easy to use software controls
More features than you know what to do with
Requires software for many features
Some settings require odd software combinations
Headphone stand feels like an afterthought
Love it or hate it shape