"There are currently no mini-amps quite like the Sound BlasterX G5."
Today’s consoles have evolved into multi-purpose entertainment hubs that offer diverse content for a wide audience. Music and movie lovers, for example, are a relatively new wave of customers thanks to more cinematic narratives, uniquely interactive experiences (rhythm games, etc) and, of course, app integration that offers a user-friendly ecosystem for all media. Recent technological advances make such complex and unique experiences possible.
While discussions revolving graphics regularly steal the spotlight across mass media, improvements in audio technology deserve just as much attention. Thanks to veteran audio experts like Creative Labs and Edifier re-defining audio on gaming platforms, it’s no longer necessary to own overpriced hardware in order to enjoy high-quality sound. Affordable alternatives like the Sound Blaster X7 and the E5 provide the same sound quality seen in devices twice the price range, and they usually boast better features too.
Creative Lab’s latest Sound BlasterX G5 is the first portable amp specifically designed for console gamers. Unlike the recently released Sound Blaster E5, the G5 supports true 7.1 surround sound and can apply 3D positional surround sound to basic stereo. This is great news for console gamers as the sound quality improvements are monumental. With its 2.2 ohm output impedance that supports studio-grade headphones of up to 600 ohms, the G5 delivers a transformative experience.
"With its 2.2 ohm output impedance that supports studio-grade headphones of up to 600 ohms, the G5 delivers a transformative experience."
There are currently no mini-amps quite like the G5. This tiny, palm-sized device is packed with useful features specifically designed for expanding auditory performance across various video game genres. It’s not just an amp, it’s its own miniature ecosystem that’s populated with endless tweaking options for both tech-savvy users and novices. But you don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy the G5. This is an excellent amp for music and film aficionados, and thanks to added 7.1 surround sound support, enjoying big blockbusters has never been more immersive.
Creative Labs are masters of elegant industrial design and seamless UX. The G5 is beautifully crafted. Its blueprint shares obvious similarities with the E5, but I prefer the G5’s subtle nuances, like the illuminated, red X that indicates volume strength, or the added Scout Mode switch for quick mode selection. The G5 is only 4.3” long, 2.9” wide and 0.9” tall. The small size means there’s minimal clutter when connecting the amp between consoles and headphones or speakers.
It takes mere minutes to learn how to operate the G5. There are just enough controls on the exterior to provide easy access to quick profile switching without crowding the device with too many buttons. It’s a plug-and-play device, so the G5 is ready to go out of the box. For advanced 7.1 surround sound tweaking, however, the G5 requires the freely available BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro.
The Sound BlasterX G5 houses powerful hardware that pushes gaming audio to new heights. Thanks to 24-bit/192kHz, 120dB USB DAC hardware driven audio playback, even the most minute details are amplified with great clarity and crispness. COD and Battlefield matches are no longer games of tug of war between low and high frequency sounds. Even when surrounded by deafening explosions, environmental details necessary to pinpoint enemy and ally locations remain discernible. The BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro allows for further personalization beyond the default setup. The software is available on PCs and mobile devices only, but up to 3 custom profiles can be saved for quick access via the SBX profile selector when gaming on consoles.
"Creative Labs’ Sound BlasterX G5 is extraordinary. For only hundred fifty bucks, Creative Labs is offering audiophile sound quality that’s accompanied by abounding extras typically reserved for much pricier devices."
The BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro is a treasure chest of features. The profile hub is packed with specially customized setting for different genres, like FPS and racing games, but also title-specific profiles for games like COD, Dota 2 and Counter Strike. The equalizer hub offers precise frequency adjustments for different music genres, and also allows manual tweaking for users who seek full control over each individual slider. The main Acoustic Engine page is used for enabling extra features for enhancing clarity, balancing volumetric shits, and tweaking the surround sound strength, among other useful tools.
My favorite feature is the Scout Mode. This isn’t a new mode by any means, and plenty of other manufactures have their own version of it, but this particular implementation is the most impressive yet. Scout Mode is meant to amplify little details so that gamers can better hear the enemies and incoming fire. Usually, this mode works well when it comes to bringing out the details, but it severely impacts overall sound quality. The G5’s Scout Mode doesn’t sacrifice the bass and treble quality while still delivering the same enhancements. In fact, it’s even more effective than the surround sound settings. This may be an unintentional result, but the G5’s Scout Mode is the device’s most standout feature.
Creative Labs’ Sound BlasterX G5 is extraordinary. For only hundred fifty bucks, Creative Labs is offering audiophile sound quality that’s accompanied by abounding extras typically reserved for much pricier devices. As far as mini-amps go, it doesn’t get cheaper and better than this. Even if you’re not particularly picky about the sound in your games, you owe it to yourself to check out the G5 and see what you’ve been missing.
Review by: Tin Salamunic