Creative Sound BlasterX G6 hands-on: When awesomeness comes in a pocketable package

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I’ve been using the G6 on and off since March and I must say that this is one of those pieces of hardware that keeps growing on you and it would be unfair to review it or simply decide that it’s not what you need after messing around with it for just a few days. It’s not about the fact that it might need a burn-in period to reach its full potential — I am simply talking about the multiple scenarios needed to unveil its highs and lows.

First, let me tell you about the headphones I used with the Sound BlasterX G6 — the list is not very long, but it goes all the way down to a US$10 headset and I am happy that I had the idea to try this approach as well. This cheap piece of hardware is the in-ear Xiaomi Mi Piston Basic and by using it I realized how much can do the G6 to improve the audio experience even when paired with such low-end headphones. The other headphones that I used with the Sound BlasterX G6 are — in no particular order and, unfortunately, with nothing to fit in the 150 to 600 ohm range — the Creative Aurvana SE, my decade-old Koss Porta Pro, the Creative SXFI THEATER (wired, of course), as well as the new Creative SXFI GAMER. If I recall it well, I even tried to stand my old Sennheiser HD 201 that I try to forget about — there might be many positive reviews online, but I was very disappointed with that headset.

In addition to the headphones mentioned above, I also used the Sound BlasterX G6 with my Fluid Audio FX8 monitors. The result was good, and the amount of additional pink noise — more than reasonable. Since my mainboard’s USB ports sometimes seem to cause problems to USB sound cards, I now connect all such devices to a powered external USB 3.0 hub and everything is better — keep this in mind if you happen to encounter unusual levels of background noise/audio interference when using the Sound BlasterX G6 or another similar USB accessory.

As usual, I took the piece of audio gear in my hands through most musical genres, from classical music to extreme metal, and I must confess that I even listened to a few binaural beats therapy sessions. The software-assisted improvements to the audio source — at least when talking about music — impressed me less than what I managed to achieve with the Sound Blaster X3. However, the direct audio performance of the Sound BlasterX G6 is impressive, especially when using headphones. In this case, my suggestion is to use a flat EQ setting and forget about all the customization options that can be found in the Sound Blaster Connect software. Obviously, you should give them a try first — you might find a combination that sounds better than the direct approach.

Now, to (what should have been) the main topic of this section: the Creative Sound BlasterX G6 and games — is it really worth using this external solution instead of your mainboard’s integrated audio? The very short answer has three letters. The longer answer is that, before bothering with the adjustments, a new user should just fire up a game and press the Scout Mode button on the G6. For most games, this alone should work wonders. SBX processing, on the other hand, could help improve the music listening experience, but its impact is less noticeable — at least until the user gets to harness the settings available in Sound Blaster Connect.

Some time after the release of the Sound BlasterX G6, Creative added the GameVoice Mix feature via a firmware update. Only available for PlayStation 4 users, GameVoice Mix allows easily adjusting the game audio and the teammates’ chat volume on the G6 via the volume control knob. This feature is very useful for those times when your online gaming buddies have adjusted their mic volume too high or are simply annoying you.

Some gamers will also enjoy the customizable RGB lighting of the X in the Sound BlasterX logo, but this obviously has no influence on the audio quality. There is nothing wrong with it, only that — at least to me — the approach is too simple hardware-wise and very good, software-wise. If that does not make sense, let me explain a bit: I think that the RGB lighting-related options in the software are generous enough, but the area that provides this lighting is too small to have a solid impact on the overall look of the Sound BlasterX G6 when used in the dark. However, since there is also a white light ring around the volume button, combining them could have a rather interesting result — for example, the software should provide the user with the chance to set low frequencies visualization to the ring and the other frequencies should have an impact on the RGB light. Other RGB + white light combos could be added as well, and this is only a software-related matter, I think.

This section would not be complete if I did not mention the real-time voice processing effects available in Sound Blaster Connect. While voice-enhancing presets, noise reduction, echo cancellation, and smart volume are all great and get the job done wonderfully, what I really love are the voice morph effects. The name should say it all, so I will just mention a few of my favorite presets out of the total of 18: deep voice, demon, infiltrator, orc, chipmunk, robot.

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