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It is also worth noting that as with other Creative products, once we install the desktop control panel the Auto-Update program gives us access to some free extras, Creative Wave Studio and Smart Recorder which allow us to create high quality audio recordings, or fix/enhance older audio files.
Sound Blaster E5 Review – User Experience and Conclusion
Starting with the build quality and design of the Sound Blaster E5 we have a device which looks and feels great. There is a little bit of weight to it, which initially is a disappointment, however it actually assists in keeping it stable on any desk we place it on. When in a pocket it is barely noticeable and in a bag, easy to transport. The rubber base is handy, at home and one the move for providing grip and the angled design helps in this aspect too. At first it felt like the volume dial would be awkward to use however the recessed design helps stop us from knocking it easily which is ideal. The E5 also feels fairly solid in construction and we noted no issues with stability of the ports. Would we change anything? Maybe re-locate the battery LEDs to the same surface as the mic’s as that is most visible, maybe some sort of rubber edges because this is the type of device which could be dropped, or thrown about in bags but overall a well set out device.
Setup of the Sound Blaster E5 is super easy. If you have a phone which supports NFC, simply touch it on the top surface of the E5 and the two pair. Music can be played back instantly or we can install the app and gain more control. On desktop we plug in via USB and the card is ready to use, again with enhanced features through software. Or we could of course connect via line-in. There is of course the option to connect (and charge) Android devices by USB.
Creative have spent some considerable time developing their software control panel and the one used by the E5 is very similar to their other desktop parts which is great to see. It is easy to use and all changes are applied instantly. Something which can also be said of the Android app. We didn’t expect much more than a basic panel on our phone but Creative have implemented as much of the functionality as possible which is great.
So what about the listening experience? Overall, hugely impressive. If you have a high end sound card in your PC, the E5 will compete fairly well however it really comes into its own for those on standard audio, and those who use their systems on the move. Whether that be laptop or smartphone. Laptop users get what is essentially a high end audio experience in a device which is barely bigger than a phone and only takes up a single USB port (dual headphone outputs is a real bonus for those who want to share audio while travelling). Smartphone users will find themselves in a different audio world using the E5 and any sort of half decent headphones. The E5 pumps out a nice neutral, warm sound which leans a little towards the bass end of the spectrum when we use it without any of the enhanced audio features. With the Sound Blaster Tech enabled, even at a basic level Bass becomes more prominent but not to the detriment of the mids and highs. There is a lot of detail present in our audio, regardless of the profile and we noted no significant distortion or electrical noise, regardless of the in-ears or headphones used.
As far as the value goes, the E5 sits at £160/$199 or so and some may be surprised that we considered awarding it our Value Award, even at that price level. Why? It is one of the most feature packed USB DAC/Amp’s at that price level, and even quite a bit higher. You get all of the above, and thats before we start to think out of the box and consider using the inbuilt mic as an upgrade in the car… great stuff.
Summary: Good design, solid construction, easy setup,absolutely packed with features with great sound quality across a range of sources and outputs.
Available from Amazon.