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I TeK things...
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


Hey what's going on OCNers, I am bluedevil and today we are going to talk about another product from Creative Labs. This time it's the Sound Blaster X3 Hi Res 7.1 External USB DAC and Sound Card, with Super X-Fi.

So last time we looked at the Sound Blaster AE-9 from Creative Labs, which is a PCIe based sound card with an external audio control module. Which is great if you are running a desktop with an available PCIe slot, but what about those users that are on a laptop or the dreaded Mac? Well that’s where the Sound Blaster X3 from Creative Labs steps in. You see, not everyone wants or has the room for a sound card these days. In the AE-9 review, I asked why have a sound card in 2019? Having the ability to work on several platforms is probably why a lot of people would opt for an external sound solution, not to mention being easier to setup than a PCIe based sound card.

Starting off I would like to thank Creative Labs for sending over the Sound Blaster X3, links will be in the description below..


Like I said in the Sound Blaster AE-9 review, why not just use the onboard audio from your computer? For some of you audio from any source is “good enough”. Then there are some of us that crave more, more clarity, more depth, more of EVERYTHING. Last year Creative Labs had me sit down at CES and try out their new headphone holography called Super X-Fi. I can honestly tell you that I really enjoyed the sound I heard, but I understand it may not be for everyone. Super X-Fi took a bit to understand, while I personally think it’s amazing for movies and games. For music, I prefer Super X-Fi off. Music to me seems echoey and slightly distant, not that it is bad, it kinda sounds like you are at a small bar with a band playing for a smaller group of people.


So aesthetically, the Sound Blaster X3 reminds me of the GSX 1000 and 1200 Pro from Sennheiser. Having front 3.5mm headphone and mic jacks, making the it differ from the GSX models. There are three buttons on top of the X3, the first one for mic mute, the second one for switching modes, and the Super XFi button toggle. The X3 itself provides high power 32-bit, 192 kHz playback at 115 dB DNR / SNR. The very large volume knob, which also has a ring that lights up blue, white or red depending on the function, is located in the very center of the X3. The shiny beveled edge on the volume knob is also a nice touch. Moving to the rear IO of the X3, you are greeted with front, side, rear, and C/SUB 3.5mm line outs. A single 3.5mm line in, Optical out, and a USB-C port finish out the rear IO nicely. The bottom also has four low profile rubber feet to keep the X3 from siding around on your desk.




Alright so Super X-Fi might not be for everyone, but the X3 does offer other things that are appealing as well. Like customizing 3 different preset EQ modes with the Mode button. Mode 1 is Music, Mode 2 being for Movies, and lastly Mode 3 for Footsteps Enhancer which would be helpful for gaming. Another cool feature is that the X3 is compatible with most devices like Windows PCs, Macs, PS4, and the Nintendo Switch.











So how does it sound? After listening to the same tracks at 32-bit 192khz like I did in the Sound Blaster AE-9 review, I would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Sound Blaster AE-9 and the X3 at the same volume. Notice I said at the same volume, the AE-9 is noticeably louder at higher volumes, most likely due to the extra power that is drawn from the PCIe PSU rail. Also something to note is the playback resolution on the X3 is only at 192khz unlike the 384khz playback resolution found on the AE-9, giving a nod to clarity in favor of it being almost three times more expensive. Another key difference is the headphone amp, the AE-9 is capable of driving headphones up to 600 ohms, with 5.3v RMS. The X3 can also drive 600 ohm headphones, but at a mere 2.9v RMS. That explains why the X3 doesn’t get as loud.


So in conclusion is the X3 from Creative Labs the end all audio device, no. The Creative Labs X3 does offer an extremely good aesthetic, simple to set up, and is a relatively lower priced DAC/AMP combo while providing great sound. Priced at $120 US, the X3 earns a solid 4.5 out of 5 flames. If you are looking for higher end audio out of your PC or consoles, I can confidently recommend Creative’s Sound Blaster X3 provided you don’t need audio to be screaming loud.

Alright guys, that’s gonna do it for today. Thank you all for watching or reading, please also take the time to subscribe, hit the like button, and bang the notification bell to make sure you get every bit of Overclock that you can get.

bluedevil out.


Creative X3 AMP DAC
https://us.creative.com/p/sound-cards/sound-blaster-x3

Creative AE-9 PCIe Sound Card
https://us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-ae-9






 

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Noone commenting on this at all? Is this 'dac' that bad? To me it looks like an ok external soundcard/'dac', for an ok price.
To me the Sennheiser 1000 is super, BUT the permanent noice reduction on the mic intake is for me a no-no!
 

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There is no such thing as end all audio device.
I definitely wouldn’t classify anything from creative as end all
 

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I TeK things...
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
There is no such thing as end all audio device.
I definitely wouldn’t classify anything from creative as end all

As I didn't. ;) The X3 does however, offer very good versatility in compatibility in various platforms. Is there other solutions out there that are cheaper, sure. However they might not be as polished.
 

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I have checked out several DAC reviews including this and the EA-9. For me mic record quality is important, and this X3 is doing very good in several aspects, also the mic audio quality. Sadly the EA-9 has bad mic quality, same with the Sennheiser 1000/1200 (sadly it has PERMA mic noise reduction that kills the mic audio). If not I had ranked the Sennheiser above the X3.
 

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Instantly recognized by Windows after plugging it in via USB, no fiddling with the computer whatsoever. Haven't tried a mike yet though.

It's a different class of equipment of course and not for everyone; really depends on your needs/wants, and budget.
 

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Yes very different class, many times the cost.
True (and I implied that), but it's not out of range for everyone here. Otherwise you wouldn't have people buying motherboards upwards of a $1,000, cpus upwards of $2,000 or more, and gpu setups that sometimes reach for the sky. That said, like a number of other things, it is a very niche product and I certainly wouldn't expect everyone to run out and buy one.
 

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*Missed this, so excuse the belated reply*
Unless you (read the website) are getting money for showcasing this, i'd humbly request your refraining -in the future- from using such terms in the description.. :)
Clickbait titles make you look bad, unless you really mean what you say, in which case worse still, make you look ignorant.

As to the topic itself, in a world dominated by "musical", overly "warm", plastic Chinese crap, nothing needs be said, it'd be pointless; especially in this forum, due to its having a rather different kind of audience. There's a knowledge gap that needs be bridged first.
But should anyone be willing to expand their horizons a bit, suffice it to say that should one opt to go for an external DAC, pre-amp/amp, combo, or anything inbetween, they need:

i) steer clear of 'gaming' brands. Or brands that cater to them.
ii) focus on proper, non trendy/gamer/hypey products that were made by sound engineers, not software developers; products that were aimed at people wanting to listen to music, not someone's 'interpretation' of what such a music should sound like.

Forums (not here) exist for this, options abound. Starting from the universally affordable and going all the way up to mortgage levels and beyone.
Step out of the "gaming" cesspit pool and start exploring your (real) options.
And my sincere apologies to bluedevil for being my usual level of frank, but Jeesus.. like, really. It's one thing not having the space for something external and thus sticking to "sound cards" and it's quite another to have the audacity (or again, the ignorance) to proclaim the above.
 

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I TeK things...
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
*Missed this, so excuse the belated reply*
Unless you (read the website) are getting money for showcasing this, i'd humbly request your refraining -in the future- from using such terms in the description.. :)
Clickbait titles make you look bad, unless you really mean what you say, in which case worse still, make you look ignorant.

As to the topic itself, in a world dominated by "musical", overly "warm", plastic Chinese crap, nothing needs be said, it'd be pointless; especially in this forum, due to its having a rather different kind of audience. There's a knowledge gap that needs be bridged first.
But should anyone be willing to expand their horizons a bit, suffice it to say that should one opt to go for an external DAC, pre-amp/amp, combo, or anything inbetween, they need:

i) steer clear of 'gaming' brands. Or brands that cater to them.
ii) focus on proper, non trendy/gamer/hypey products that were made by sound engineers, not software developers; products that were aimed at people wanting to listen to music, not someone's 'interpretation' of what such a music should sound like.

Forums (not here) exist for this, options abound. Starting from the universally affordable and going all the way up to mortgage levels and beyone.
Step out of the "gaming" cesspit pool and start exploring your (real) options.
And my sincere apologies to bluedevil for being my usual level of frank, but Jeesus.. like, really. It's one thing not having the space for something external and thus sticking to "sound cards" and it's quite another to have the audacity (or again, the ignorance) to proclaim the above.
So I assume you are directing this at me? And thank you for your sincere apologies. :D

Being frank, yes this is promoted content. The whole point of a "click baity" title IS to get people to click on it. My role, which actually is much more than "YouTube Manager" nowadays, is to attract new members to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, as well as OCN as a whole. Doing this requires money, lots of money. So promoted content is a necessary evil if we want to stay relevant, it helps bring content to OCN that normally would get allocated to another site/influencer. Lord knows I can't afford all the review units that are sent to me. Think of it this way, the world is much bigger than OCN, however OCN is a big enough forum that deserves some attention. But when OCN pretty much "shats" on every kind of content that is produced, we are perceived as very negative. Funny you mentioned "cesspit", when I go to shows like CES and Computex, I get asked if OCN is still a "cesspit"? I have to put my best face forward and say I am working to turn that around. Don't get me wrong I think OCN is great, I have been here since 06', I have had plenty of chances to go elsewhere, but I just seem to keep coming back. :D I remember a day where people actually wanted to help each other instead of proving each other wrong on everything. This is the image we portray to the outside world.

Sorry about the rant, it's just something that's been bothering me for a while.
 

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I have checked out several DAC reviews including this and the EA-9. For me mic record quality is important, and this X3 is doing very good in several aspects, also the mic audio quality. Sadly the EA-9 has bad mic quality, same with the Sennheiser 1000/1200 (sadly it has PERMA mic noise reduction that kills the mic audio). If not I had ranked the Sennheiser above the X3.
Just repeating myself before this thread goes overboard. If anyone can point me in the direction of a similar good product at same price range, it would be great. But until then my conclusion is that this is a good product for its price-range.
 

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Quite honestly I get audiophile quality using Toslink out of onboard sound into an audio engine DAC what outputs to studio audio engine monitor speakers and an SVS 1000 sub or I can plug in my sennheiser cans. S.B. anything hasn’t appealed to me for better that 20 years, basically since Toslink was born.
 

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Maybe be OK for headphones, but pretty sure its inferior to my 5.1 hi-fi speaker setup driven by an Onkyo AV receiver.
 

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does anyone know the brand of the DAC(s) used in this X3 model?
 

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OCN described as a cesspit? they must be referring to recently. Y'all used to police this like your lives depended on it.

and really, that just insulting. most of the internet is much more cesspitted than we are, even today. Pathetic how perception works.

more likely they view us a cesspit because we're hard to sell crap to, and get yelled at by NVidia for hacking buck controllers with command prompt.

Quite honestly I get audiophile quality using Toslink out of onboard sound into an audio engine DAC what outputs to studio audio engine monitor speakers and an SVS 1000 sub or I can plug in my sennheiser cans. S.B. anything hasn’t appealed to me for better that 20 years, basically since Toslink was born.
someone was trying to convince me I should be using 3.5mm out instead of SPDIF out to my dac/amp stack, to have the most benefit from the DAC, because SPDIF pulls the same digital signal as USB?

idk, something along those lines.
 

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Vermin Supreme 2020
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ooops
 

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Old and Decrepit
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OCN described as a cesspit? they must be referring to recently. Y'all used to police this like your lives depended on it.

and really, that just insulting. most of the internet is much more cesspitted than we are, even today. Pathetic how perception works.

more likely they view us a cesspit because we're hard to sell crap to, and get yelled at by NVidia for hacking buck controllers with command prompt.



someone was trying to convince me I should be using 3.5mm out instead of SPDIF out to my dac/amp stack, to have the most benefit from the DAC, because SPDIF pulls the same digital signal as usb
idk, something along those lines.

3.5mm is analog. My DC only has analog out, digital in.
analog is susceptible to noise and uses a varying voltage to supply the sound signal. USB compared to SPDIF cant supply the same sampling rate and still is over wire so you are back to noise vulnerability unless you are using some serious shielded cables or iron cores. EMF can't induce noise onto an optical signal.

Heres a nice little read. In the end choose what you want. Ive gotten the best results with a DAC and optical. No noise, no rice crispies

https://vanatoo.com/blog/analog-coax-optical-or-usb-which-input-is-best/
 
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