Connectivity is one of its strong points, and in total we will find:
- TOSLINK optical input.
- TOSLINK optical output.
- RCA input.
- RCA output.
- 3.5mm headphone output (unbalanced).
- 4.4mm headphone output (balanced).
- 3.5mm microphone input.
- USB-C, for power and connection to the computer.
- USB for connecting other audio devices, including wireless headphones.
Regarding the playback and recording resolution, we find:
- Microphone input: 24-bit 192 kHz PCM.
- Audio input: 24-bit 192 kHz PCM.
- Optical input: 24-bit 96 kHz PCM.
- What U Hear input: 24-bit 192 kHz PCM.
- Audio/Headphone Out: PCM 32-bit, 384 kHz, DoP 128, DSD 256.
- Optical output: 24-bit 192 kHz PCM.
- Native DSD support.
This sound card is compatible with headphones from 16 ohms to 600 ohms, and has an output impedance of 1 ohm. In addition, very importantly, it also has Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, with A2DP, AVRCP and HFP profiles and SBC codec to connect any device wirelessly (such as your mobile) and be able to play music from it.
Creative has packed all of this into a device that is 216mm long, 170mm wide and 72mm high, weighing 879 grams and consuming just 5W (since it is powered by 5 Volts and 1 Ampere).
This sound card comes in a cardboard box with a very simple design and gray tones. At the top of it we can see a photo of the product as such, along with its main features in a list at the bottom. Below, we will see more technical details, in several languages, and on the side we will basically find the content that we will find in the package.
When we open the box, the first thing we find is a large block of foam, very important to protect the sound card during transport and ensure that it does not suffer any damage.
Inside this foam we will find the device, its instruction manual, a USB-A to USB-C cable for power, an RCA to mini-jack cable for sound, and an optical audio cable.
Other than that there are no other accessories, so let’s proceed to the Sound Blaster X5 itself.
As we can see, on the front it offers us all the controls and three minijack connections, while on the back we find the rest of the connections. One thing that we have not liked very much is that in a device of this category and price, Creative has opted for a plastic casing instead of metal.
From left to right, on the front we find the power button, a button for the Bluetooth connection, a button to mute the microphone, another for the screen, a regulator to adjust the microphone gain, a switch to set it to high gain or normal mode, a button to switch between speakers and headphones, a button to adjust whether we want direct or processed audio output (DSP), a button for the equalizer, a switch to choose whether we have the sound card connected to a PC or a console, and the volume control. Also below all the buttons, we have a microphone input, an unbalanced headphone output, and a balanced output.
On the back we have an RCA audio output, an RCA audio input, the optical output and input, USB-C for power and connection to the computer, and a USB Host to connect, for example, speakers, headphones or transmitters. wireless.
So that the sound card remains fixed and does not move, at the bottom we find two non-slip rubber feet. In case you have to access the interior of it, it is under these rubber feet where we will find the screws.
Having seen the device, we are going to proceed to connect it and check how it works.
How does the Sound Blaster X5 perform?
To make this sound card work, we just have to connect it to power through the USB-C port. It works with any 5 volt and 1 amp transformer, so in this sense we are not going to have the slightest problem. If we connect it to a USB port on the computer (which is USB 3.0, so that it has enough power), we won’t need auxiliary power, and at the same time we can use it as an external sound card.
If we are not going to use it on the PC, we will have to connect some audio input (via RCA, the optical input, and even via Bluetooth) so that the audio enters and outputs it through the connected headphones or speakers.
We have connected it directly to the computer, to a USB 3.0 port. Windows has recognized it without problems and from the first moment we have been able to start using it. Immediately afterwards we have installed the Creative software, which has detected a new version of the firmware of the card and the driver, and has installed them on the computer automatically. So, we have carried out all the tests with the latest firmware and the latest version of the drivers of Windows 11 22H2.
The interface of the program, as we can see, is very simple. In the main tab, the device tab, we can find all the options and functions of the device, and from there we will access the main settings, as we will see later. But first, let’s see the other sections of the left menu. Secondly, we have “Reproduction”, from where we will be able to configure the audio quality, as well as if we are going to use speakers (and what type) or headphones.
The recording section allows us to configure the recording quality of each of the audio inputs.
We also find the configuration section, from where we will receive firmware and driver updates, as well as configure Bluetooth and see the technical details of the product.
Now we are going to see the configuration of each of the effects of the program. The first of them is him Acoustic Enginefrom where we will be able to adjust the sound engine depending on the effects that we want to apply, such as surround, crystallization, bass, intelligent volume and dialogue enhancer.
He equalizer allows us to adjust each of the three equalizers that are recorded in the memory of the sound card. In this way we can change from one to the other very easily using the button on the card itself depending on the type of content we are consuming.
In CrystalVoice we can configure the options for improving the audio recording with the microphone. For example, noise reduction, echo cancellation and more.
direct mode It will allow us to reproduce the sound as it arrives on the card, without processing it. We can activate or deactivate it from here, or with the DSP button of the device itself.
The section of Scout Mode It allows us, when we use headphones, to detect footsteps, voices and sounds much better in order to locate our enemies.
mixer It will allow us to configure the sound mixer depending on the sources that we want to have more or less volume.
Lastly, the sound mode It allows us to configure the audio engine, adjusting in real time the profile that the sound card is using to achieve the perfect audio.
Conclusion, is it worth it?
From our point of view, it is not an essential component such as a good processor, a good graphics card or high-performance RAM. Also, since all motherboards have their own sound card, it is not a component that attracts everyone’s attention, since almost everyone connects their speakers to the motherboard. Of course, if you ever try a sound card like this Creative Sound Blaster X5, you will surely never use the motherboard connectors again.
Whether you have professional quality speakers or cheap ones, thanks to this sound card you will be able to listen to music like never before. The quality and clarity with which it reproduces the audio is simply amazing, and in fact, since you can switch between processed and raw audio with just one button, it is something that you will be able to easily check and compare for yourself in followed… and believe us when we tell you that the difference is overwhelming.
In our case, we wanted to test the Sound Blaster X5 with a simple Sound Blaster Stage 2.1 soundbar from the same brand, which, despite not having bad quality at all, is still an entry-level product. When we have activated the sound processing of the X5, the change has been really amazing, with a much sharper and clearer sound… really, the difference is incredible, just as incredible is that such a simple sound bar can get a sound so good. Even at maximum volume, there is no distortion at all, by the way.
It is clear that, if you want outstanding audio quality, you will need a sound card like this, since those of motherboards get you out of trouble… but little else. Of course, we are talking about an expensive device, VERY expensive, and its price is around 300 euros. All in all, if in the end you bet on making the investment you will have one of the best sound cards on the market and for many years.
To put a hitch, as we have already mentioned before, we must mention that the outer plastic casing does not correspond to a product of this range and price; An aluminum cover would have been ideal, although if it were metallic it would have already given the product a finish worthy of a Premium device. Except for that detail and that it is quite expensive, this is an excellent quality product, and therefore we believe that it deserves our Gold award and our recommendation for its performance.