The Creative Sound Blaster X5 full review

You can also be interested in these:

The Sound Blaster X5 External Sound Card from Creative is a device that provides a bi-amplified output for high impedance headphones and is compatible with PC, Mac, and PS4 and PS5 consoles.

Appearance and features of the Creative Sound Blaster X5

This sound card has a grey metal structure with dimensions of 216 x 170 x 72 mm and a weight of 879 grams. Although it is not very portable, it offers a size and weight similar to other high-end external sound cards, also known as DAC/AMP, used with a headphone amplifier.

On the front of the Creative Sound Blaster X5, there are many physical controls, highlighting a large potentiometer on the right side to control the overall volume and a smaller one to control the microphone volume. In addition, there is a low or high gain selector for the headphone amplified output, with the option of a conventional 3.5 mm jack or a 4.4 mm balanced jack for balanced headphones. This means the stereo channels have separate signals, but only high-end headphones have that connection. There are also several buttons to choose between speaker output or headphones, equalization modes, and to choose whether to use on PC or on one of the compatible PS4 or PS5 consoles.

On the back of the card, there are stereo RCA inputs and outputs, digital SPDIF inputs and outputs, a USB-C connector to connect to PC or consoles, and a USB-A port to connect other devices such as a hub. It also offers Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity with the SBC codec for receiving sound, but not for sending signal to wireless headphones.

At the base of the Creative Sound Blaster X5, there are two wide rubber feet for perfect stability on the table.

The Creative Sound Blaster X5 features two Cirrus Logic CS43198 audio processors, which allow for 32-bit, 384 kHz audio handling. It is also compatible with 128-bit DoP and 256-bit DSD sound transmission. Additionally, its THD is -115 dB and its dynamic range is 130 dB, placing it in the audiophile product category. Finally, it has a double headphone amplifier that allows for models with 16 to 600 ohms to be connected and provides up to 320 mW in unbalanced output.


It is important to note that the Creative Sound Blaster X5 offers great sound power. It’s true that the MMX600 headphones are easily portable with a 32 ohm resistance and do not require significant amplification, but in low gain mode, they can be uncomfortable at 100% volume. Of course, it can easily handle headphones up to 300 ohms, and although it can move headphones with 600 ohms, these can be uncomfortable at excessive volumes.

Creative Sound Blaster X5

If you use “Direct Mode,” either from the software or from the front button, no additional sound processing is performed beyond the basic conversion to analog (DAC). In this way, a purer sound is obtained with noticeable clarity and neutrality, without emphasizing any band and offering exceptional sound. The difference in sound quality is evident from the first moment compared to an integrated sound card on the motherboard, both in the speakers and even more so in the headphones, giving them additional shine and dynamism.

If we choose to process the sound, we can choose from pre-set modes for Music, Movies, and Games, with a wide list of available titles. Personally, the Music mode is not recommended, as although it appears to improve the sound for untrained ears, it does so by performing a V-shaped equalization with an additional surround that, in my opinion, damages the music. However, the Movie mode is quite practical for offering a more immersive sound and the focused effects in the Games mode allow for better positioning in shooters (Scout Mode), although at the cost of a less realistic sound.

Creative Sound Blaster X5

Additionally, the CrystalVoice tab allows you to control the microphone’s audio capture, improving voice clarity and volume, as well as applying equalization or even voice morphing for fun.

Conclusions about the Creative Sound Blaster X5

In conclusion of our review of the Creative Sound Blaster X5, we can highlight that we are facing a sound card focused on audiophiles with very interesting features, but also with some limitations. On one hand, the Cirrus Logic CS43198 processors do an excellent job in sound-to-analog (DAC) conversion, both using software and in direct mode. On the other hand, the Xamp headphone amplification system is capable of handling even high-impedance headphones with ease, and showed very powerful in our tests.

However, there are also some aspects that could be improved, such as the lack of an XLR connection for the microphone instead of just a 3.5mm jack, the inability to emit Bluetooth sound, and the absence of a balanced line output for monitors. These additions could turn the Sound Blaster X5 into an exceptional DAC, but they could also overprice the product.

The price of the Creative Sound Blaster X5 is around $300 dollars or less on their official website, which may be considered high compared to other similar products on the market. For example, the Sound Blaster X7, which has 5.1 sound, speaker amplifier, and better components, is available for the same price on sale. However, one of the advantages of the Sound Blaster X5 is its compact size and portability, making it an attractive option for users who prioritize portability.

More stories like this