The easy way to better sound on my computer is surprisingly simple
If there is no good sound card on the gaming computer, the X1 sound card will provide a significant improvement. But it is also worth considering listening to music.
Creative became very well known for its sound card when we still had Pentium processors. And that know-how has come to good use in the external and ultra-compact external sound card. To that extent, it provides better sound from both my desktop and laptop, but also at a slightly high price
There is nothing new in adding an external sound card to your computer. Not even in compact form.
But Creative’s Sound Blaster X1 USB DAC is exceptionally compact yet packs impressive technology.
Specifications with a grain of salt
Now, numbers and specs are welcome, and in the case of the X1 they are definitely real values, but they don’t say much about reality.
Because when you promise a signal-to-noise ratio of 115 dB, 32-bit digital conversion and more, I know it’s on paper. In other words, the device is only 6.7 centimetres long, so it is all in one chip and cannot be compared to larger and more expensive digital converters.
On the other hand, it may impress a little that the company uses digital circuits from Burr-Brown, which usually means high sound quality.
The X1 can be used with both Mac and PC and in both cases, the difference with and without the X1 connected was more than just a little audible.
Ultra simple connection
The X1 is powered by a USB-C connection and a small cable is included that plugs into one end and a mini-jack for your headphones or external PC speakers at the other.
You can download an app that gives extra options, but it can also be used without it. There is a volume button and a button where you can surf through the different sound options.
Dynamics that can be heard
In a quite ordinary stereo, it is immediately clear that the X1 makes a difference.
There is more dynamism, a greater clarity in the midrange, and generally more drone and grip on the sound. This applies both via the built-in sound card in my laptop and desktop PC.
This applies to both my Windows and Mac computers. The difference is significant on both.
It should of course be mentioned that all tested computers are standard. Measured against a gaming PC or other with a dedicated sound card, it is not certain that the X1 will provide such a significant improvement.
If it is used with a headset with a microphone, you will be able to hear that it automatically mutes the sound of those who are not speaking. In addition, there are a number of other options where it can amplify weak sounds. It can therefore add value to video conferencing.
And why not – there is no reason to take the X1 off when you want to do nothing but listen to music. Good thinking.
Sound effects for better or for worse
However, the USB DAC is primarily intended as a sound-enhancing device. And it manages that well, as I said. You can also install Creative’s X-Fi, which is also available for the company’s headphones.
Here you will be able to get a greater spaciousness and especially for films you can achieve a surround-like sound image. And it actually works. Not as good and accurate as real surround, but I find it better with than without the effect.
For music, there is no doubt that it sounds better without the extra effects.
Perfect size great price
The X1 is definitely an add-on that can be used for anything. Especially if you listen to music a lot or have video meetings often.
The difference is significant. And the compact size certainly makes it interesting. On the other hand, the price is rather high.