Getting a sound increase on a PC was once invasive – requiring you to purchase and set up a sound card to get one of the best audio out of your PC. Transportable DACs and amplifiers have made it simpler to veer away from built-in tinny sound, however console players have not at all times been so fortunate. 

However that is an issue Inventive’s new Sound BlasterX G6 hopes to resolve.

Someplace in between an exterior sound card, amplifier and distinctive DAC, this factor is something however a one-trick pony. Whether or not you fancy your self a PC or console gamer, the G6 doesn’t discriminate. Inventive made it versatile sufficient to work with Home windows, PlayStation four, Xbox One and even the Nintendo Swap.

The fantastic thing about it’s the different finish is agnostic: Plug in any pair of headphones, from costly cans to an inexpensive pair of earbuds, and the distinction is audible.

Design

The G6 is the successor to the G5, but in addition carries the legacy of the E5, a mini-amp that labored wonders with each PCs and cell units. With a 130dB and 32-bit/384kHz DAC, plus assist for Dolby Digital decoding and 5.1 and seven.1 digital encompass sound, there’s so much below this small hood.

The system itself is simply somewhat larger than a deck of playing cards, so it doesn’t want numerous house, although cables should be plugged in from two ends. Whereas small and nimble, we will’t say there’s no litter when utilizing the G6. 

The principle benefit in one thing just like the G6 is its compatibility on each ends. The PC or console aspect is one factor, however the truth that any pair of headphones will work on the opposite negates the necessity to purchase a devoted gaming headset. There’s numerous technical stuff occurring to make this occur, and we discovered it wasn’t all that necessary to acknowledge the way it all works – the very fact it constantly did was ok.

A simplified clarification is that the G6 amplifies each the left and proper channels individually utilizing discrete elements to spice up and make clear audio output. Commonplace headphone amps do each channels without delay, which is ok for music however not very best for video games which have separate alerts going to every ear.

The G6 does want a continuing energy supply all through, which comes via the microUSB port on one finish. An optical enter and output is on one aspect, with a headphone jack and microphone jack on the opposite, flanking a quantity knob. Alongside one edge is the scout/direct mode button, SBX button, headphone acquire change and LEDs for the headphone enter/output indicator.

Within the field, Inventive features a microUSB cable and optical cable to facilitate the important thing connections. We might’ve appreciated an extended optical cable for console setups as a result of, as is, it doesn’t cowl that a lot floor in a front room or basement. There’s additionally no energy provide for the USB-A aspect to plug right into a wall. We used a third-party one we had mendacity round or simply plugged right into a USB port on the console or PC.

Setup

The excellent news is that you do not have to be an audiophile to get the G6 setup: there was no actual calibration required to get the G6 up and working. 

We tried it first on a PS4, the place we related the optical cable to the port within the again and one of many USB ports within the entrance. After plugging in a pair of Sennheiser headphones and beginning up the console, we ultimately bought audio to return via. (We didn’t have an Xbox One or Swap close by to check out, however we suspect the scenario wouldn’t be all that totally different.) 

On a PC, it’s somewhat totally different due to the Sound Blaster Join desktop app, which gives larger customization. It will’ve been good to hold among the settings from the PC to the console nevertheless, as a result of the G6 doesn’t have inner reminiscence to retailer settings like that, we weren’t capable of replicate any of the customized options when taking part in on a console. 

We might advise going with a headphone cable extension in front room conditions: Regardless of taking part in up the console performance, Inventive designed the cable structure for the nearer proximity of desktops, like these often seen in eSports setups. 

Efficiency

We observed an audio increase instantly as soon as we fired up the G6 – thanks, particularly, to a Inventive expertise referred to as Scout Mode that enhances the ambient noises and never solely add some character to a recreation, but in addition assist decide a plan of action. Footsteps or voices come via somewhat clearer and louder, providing a tactical benefit when transferring or hiding to keep away from and ambush enemies – and all of that’s achieved with out additionally cranking up the quantity. 

However should you wished to, you could possibly increase it by switching the acquire from low to excessive, amplifying all audio coming via the headphones. With Wolfenstein II, for example, the increase helped to tip us off when an enemy was transferring nearer with out having eyes on them. 

Turning on the SBX mode solely impressed us additional. It felt like having a encompass system between the ears. This mode not solely amplifies issues additional, however provides spatial audio enhancements utilizing algorithms to simulate a wider soundstage. 

It’s attention-grabbing, and there’s numerous technical stuff occurring to make it occur, however we should always stress that that is all virtualized.

You’ll be able to by no means absolutely replicate what a number of bodily audio system can do in a room. Inventive has as a substitute tried to simulate the expertise, and the outcomes had been straightforward to love. We not solely heard footsteps, gunshots, voices and different sounds, we additionally knew exactly from whence they got here. 

Taking part in Spider-Man on PS4, we felt like swinging via New York was each bit an audible concrete jungle. The way in which a practice handed via in Battlefield I was superior. Video games with nice music, like that one or the Shadow of the Colossus remake, solely benefitted from the extra increase.

However, we might say it’s an acquired style. The algorithms, nearly as good as they’re, don’t essentially regulate quantity ranges for various sounds. As an illustration, chances are you’ll be in a quiet space in a recreation, just for the music to jolt your ears as soon as one thing dramatic occurs. That’s not solely Inventive’s fault, thoughts you, since they don’t engineer any of the video games, however some extra work could be good there.

We tried totally different headphones to gauge any variations, concluding that high quality helps get extra out of the audio amplification. That’s most likely stating the apparent, however the excellent news is that even aged gaming headphones will really feel like they bought a more moderen lease on life from the G6. 

Verdict

At $150 (round £115, AU$200), the Sound BlasterX G6 isn’t an inexpensive add-on, both for a PC or console setup. Its focus is considerably slim, but when sound issues to you, you’re assured a lift right here with out having to invasively tinker with something. 

Sadly, you’ll have a more durable time making use of this to different use instances outdoors gaming: Sure, technically you’ll be able to plug this in on to a TV’s optical enter and get energy from a USB adapter plugged right into a wall outlet – that method, you could possibly watch films and reveals with a 3D audio impact – however you may want longer cables to tug that off should you’re trying to lean again on the sofa in the lounge.

We had enjoyable with the G6 and suggest it first to players trying to increase sound high quality and acquire a aggressive edge. For anything, Inventive and different sound corporations of its ilk most likely have one thing higher fitted to it.

Shop Amazon