Review: Creative Sound BlasterX G6

For many people sound is an important part of the gaming experience and having good audio hardware can make a world of difference. PC gamers are familiar with the importance of choosing (and upgrading) a good soundcard to maximize the audio quality of not just games but any media they consume on their PC. Console gamers generally depend on their TV’s sound system or headset. Creative has created an external USB sound card with Xamp headphone amplifier that’s compatible with PC, PlayStation 4, Switch and Xbox One. This device is the Sound BlasterX G6, the improved successor the Sound BlasterX G5.

The guts of the G6 include a virtual 7.1 32-bit/340kHz, 130db USB Digital Audio Converter (DAC) along with an Xamp discrete headphone amplifier. Some of the included features are Dolby Digital decoding, virtual 7.1 surround sound, game-voice volume balancing and Scout Mode. In other words, it includes many of the bells and whistles types of features that people look for in higher-end gaming headsets. There is a Cirrus Logic CS43131 DAC chip, which doing some research indicates this chip amplifies headphone volume, and personal experience can attest that any headphone paired with this device will be heard loud and clear.

The G6 is relatively small and comes with a micro USB cable and optical cables. For PC use it draws power from the PC’s USB input but requires a power adapter for console use. Curiously it does not include a power adapter to plug the USB cable into a wall outlet which is essential with console use. It’s not the worst omission since most people probably have a spare one from a phone or tablet purchase, but it’s something to be mindful of if this is intended for consoles. I used the adapter that came with my phone and it worked fine. The casing of the G6 is plastic so the device is portable and lightweight. There’s an X on the top that glows when the device is powered on and with an app the color of the light and blinking speed can be changed to fit the user’s taste.

There are optical cables included with the G6. The optical input allows the user to use it for analog input with PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. There’s also an optical line out, so this can be used to pair the G6 with speakers or some other signal source. The implications here are that the G6 can be used in just about any game audio set up, whether it’s solely being used to beef up the sound on its own or as part of a more elaborate audiophile gear chain.

The bulk of the audio testing with the G6 was pairing it with various headsets on PC and PlayStation 4 and a set of Logitech 2.1 PC speakers. The specific degree of improvement varied depending on what other device the G6 was paired with but there was a noticeable difference across the board. This device does make headphones loud, so it’s recommended to not test this out starting with maximum headphone volume. Making things louder isn’t too impressive in its own right, but a fear with any amplification product is that it’ll muddy up and distort the sound which didn’t happen in this case. The game audio was louder but also didn’t lose any clarity. The individual audio tracks were more discernible, which is something that is always desired in higher-end audio gear. The world felt more alive since all individual tracks were audible and with the virtual 7.1 surround sound there was a greater sense of immersion.

The DSP sound processing is great when paired with gaming: it makes everything louder with great clarity and no distortion. However, while this device does bring video games to life it has an inverse when used to listen to music so it is advisable to switch DSP off and simply use the G6 in direct mode if you just want to chill to some music.

Closing Comments:

The Sound BlasterX G6 is a great device for people who want to maximize what they can get out of gaming audio. Toggling between the different settings to optimize each scenario can take some time to find the perfect setting for each occasion but generally speaking Direct mode is best for listening to music or watching videos while the DSP wizardry can bring games to life. Scout Mode has its own level of bringing the player into the game, though sometimes that audio can be overwhelming. The fact that this can be used with pretty much any audio set up with consoles along desktop and laptop PCs makes it a great value.

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Creative Sound BlasterX G6