Creative takes aim at pro gamers with audiophile-grade Sound Blaster X7

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The Sound Blaster X7 made its debut at IFA 2014 in Berlin (Photo: Paul Ridden/Gizmag)

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Creative Technologies has combined its audio processing know-how with high end audiophile-grade components and specifications for a new addition to the Sound Blaster audio family that's been developed to wrap serious gamers in high resolution sonic goodness. The new X7 boasts more features than any Sound Blaster before it, including a built-in power amp, cross-platform connectivity and intelligent audio enhancement technologies.

"Our goal is to allow all these users of all these platforms to enjoy the best audio in the way it’s meant to be heard, and in the way they want to hear it," says Sim Wong Hoo, CEO of Creative. "That’s why we’ve created the Sound Blaster X7. It is absolutely the biggest, baddest, and boldest Sound Blaster to date."

The rather impressive list of audiophile-grade components starts with a Burr-Brown 127 dB digital-to-analog converter that supports high resolution audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz, and a Burr-Brown two-channel 123 dB analog-to-digital converter for high quality, low noise analog line-in playback and recording. Then there's a Class D amplifier capable of delivering up 100 W of power for "amazing audio quality even by audiophile standards on passive bookshelf and tower speakers."

Creative has chosen a Texas Instruments 600 ohm headphone amp that's capable of driving audiophile-grade headphones, and included swappable op-amps for customizable tonality, Nichicon Fine-Gold capacitors for optimum performance and gold-plated audio connectors with impedance selection. An SB-Axx1 multi-core DSP allows access to Creative's SBX Pro Studio audio processing suite, which includes sound enhancements technologies like SBX Crystalizer (for bringing out audio detail), SBX Bass and SBX Smart Volume (can level out sudden changes in volume).

The X7 promises plug and play compatibility with computers, laptops, game consoles, tablets, smartphones and TVs, and comes with 5.1 channel surround sound courtesy of Dolby Digital decoding technology. It can be used as an external sound card for PC/Mac via USB 2.0, for games, music and movies (and just about everything inbetween), and select iOS/Android devices can take advantage of included USB Host connectivity.

Tap-to-connect wireless streaming is offered via Bluetooth 4.1 with aptX support and NFC, and support for the ASIO protocol helps keep latency during high resolution playback to a minimum.

Rounding out connectivity options are optical S/PDIF in and out ports and RCA inputs for connection to existing sound systems, 3.5 mm and 6.3 mm headphone jacks and a 3.5 mm microphone input jack, though a built-in beamforming CrystalVoice microphone array does allow the X7 to be used as a speakerphone.

In the design department, the X7's trapezoidal prism housing sports all the right angles to be a good match for Alienware's latest Area-51 gaming computer.

The X7 is scheduled for release next month, a Creative rep at IFA 2014 told me that the price will be US$399/€399.

Product page: Sound Blaster X7

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