Creative Labs always seems like it is fighting an uphill battle to convince people that they should want better audio. While some are seeing diminishing returns going to 4K or even HDR, most gaming fans have plenty of room to improve their sound setup. And the Sound BlasterX G6 DAC and headphone amplifier from Creative Labs is one of the easiest ways to do that.
The G6 is an external USB sound card. It features support for 32-bit 384 KHz quality. And its digital-to-analog converter (DAC) is capable of driving 130dB through Sound BlasterX’s Xamp headphone amplifier. That’s the bi-aural amp that drives Sound BlasterX’s excellent internal AE-5 soundcard. It creates crisp, clear audio by amplifying the left and right stereo channels independently.
All of that works to ensure the $150 G6, which is available now, will bring excellent sound to any headphones.
What you’ll like
Even better sound than the G5 or competing products
The G6 is an update to Sound BlasterX’s G5, which I reviewed back in 2016. That was already a great external USB card, and the G6 maintains most of its features. But Creative Labs also made improvements, and those primarily affect the audio. The G6 is capable of truly stunning sound. Its audio is deeper and richer than the G5 or even competing products like Sennheiser’s GSX 1000 gaming amp.
You can especially notice this in loud, cacophonous scenes where a lot is happening. The G6 can produce booming bass without losing much detail in the mids and highs. This means you can get explosions, yelling, gun fire, foot steps, and engines roaring all at the same time in something like Battlefield V. The Xamp is definitely the star here.
Works especially well with consoles
What I like about the G6 is that it’s just plug-and-play with consoles. It’s also not big and bulky, so it’ll fit snugly on a desk right next to your system. But it’s also small enough that if you want to drape a cable across the floor and sit on the couch, you shouldn’t feel too absurd.
And the sound on console is just magnificent. If you use headphone audio on the Switch, PlayStation 4, or Xbox One, you’re probably plugging into the headphone jack on the controllers (or the Switch itself). That’s serviceable, but the difference between that and the amplified G6 is instantly noticeable. It is like the difference between an old CRT television and a 1080p HD LCD display.
What you won’t like
Missing some features
I know that Sound BlasterX is working on updating its software, but the current state of the app isn’t great. It seems incomplete. For example, it often fails to save your options and tuning. The company has made some improvements, but it still needs to do more.
And then I wish the G6 had separate controls for chat audio and game audio. Great sound is so crucial to multiplayer games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, but it’s frustrating if you have to go into the settings for the game, in Windows, or on your console to adjust volumes on a software level.
If you play games using headphones, the G6 is almost certainly an upgrade for you. If you already have a G5 or something similar, you’ll see an improvement here as well. So I’d recommend Sound BlasterX’s latest external sound card. If you’re strictly a competitive online player, you may want to opt for the Turtle Beach Mixamp instead. You’ll have to settle for slightly less impressive audio for the independent volume controls.
For everyone else, however, the only thing to keep in mind is that the G6 has to plug into your console, laptop, or desktop directly. So just be cool with either playing at a desk, up close to your TV, or with a cable on the floor.
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