Sound Blaster X7 Review – The X7
Shown above we have the X7 in its standard angular black and gold design. A new white and gold special edition is also available. There is a large volume dial at the top and then below it our dual microphone panel. Beneath that is the power/bluetooth button, Dolby status LED and a button for effects on/off. There are also 3.5mm connectors for mic in and headphone out with a 6.3mm headphone out between them.
The X7 supports NFC, aptX, CSR, AAC and two simultaneous Bluetooth 4.1 connections and on the back there are two holes to mount our headphone stand. Elsewhere there is a 4-8 Ohm selector switch, speaker outputs and power input. The bottom row of connectors start with Line Out for left/right, rear and centre/sub. Line in for right and left are next and then we have optical in and out. The final connector is a USB port which we use to connect to our PC/Mac (asynchronous mode, AISO support for reduced latency and jitter).
Flipping the X7 upside down we find that there are four rubber feet on the base to keep it steady on our desk, the USB Host port (High Def audio playback and charging) is on the side for easy access and there is a removable panel which allows us to access the Op-Amps for easy replacement.
As far as key features and specifications of the Sound Blaster X7 go we have…
- 24-bit Sound Blaster SB-Axx1 multi core Digital Signal Processor (DSP) with Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder certification.
- EMU32 bus (process 32 concurrent audio streams)
- 127dB DAC with support for 24-bit 192kHz playback (Burr-Brown PCM1794 when paired with Axx1, 24/192 up to 5.1channels)
- Burr-Brown PCM4220 123dB ADC capable of 24-bit, 96Khz on analog line in.
- Nichicon Fine Gold capacitors.
- 100w Class-D digital amplifier (TPA3116D2, 2x50w @ 4 Ohms)
- TPA6120A2 Headphone amplifier
Sound Blaster X7 Review – Bundle
The bundled item starts with the standard PSU (an enhanced PSU can be bought separately for advanced audio configurations requiring more power) and then we have a USB cable as well as optical/phono cables. The wire item you can see above is a stand which inserts into the back of the X7 giving us a place to hang headphones.
Sound Blaster X7 Review – Software
We have two options as far as the X7 control panel goes. The first is a standard desktop option, and the second an Android or iOS app.
The panel allows us to control options such as Crystalizer which boosts quality of low bit rate files, smart volume to set profiles appropriate to our listening environment (e.g. Night mode) and Dialog Plus which enhances spoken tracks within videos. The smartphone app from Crucial gives us the vast majority of the functionality available in the desktop application. We get a nice clear menu structure and control of all the key settings such configuration of speakers and headphones.
Sound Blaster X7 Review – User Experience and Conclusion
The design of the X7 will certainly stand out in any home entertainment or desktop environment and while it is a plastic body used here, the finish is of a high enough standard to fit in with expensive components. The gold and silver highlights help add a look of quality and the LEDs used are discrete enough. All of the key ports are gold plated and each feels solid enough. Inside we have a selection of components from Creative as well as other industry leaders in the form of Burr-Brown, Nichicon, Texas Instruments and New Japan Radio.
For connectivity we get everything we could possibly need to connect PC, Mac, Console (PS4/Xbox One), Android/iOS phones/tablets and stand alone players. The X7 will even drive two headsets at the same time, or allow two Bluetooth devices to connect at the same time. On the performance front the X7 excels. The choice of components used by Creative is excellent with the pre-installed Op-Amps providing a clean, warm sound with exceptional detail. These can of course be easily swapped out by accessing the panel on the base and the experience tweaked for your needs.