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Creative Sound BlasterX G6 Review: Still a viable option in 2024?

The Creative Sound BlasterX G6 is a powerful, feature-packed DAC/Amp combo that significantly enhances the audio experience for gamers and audiophiles alike.
creative sound blasterx g6

In a world where graphics often steal the spotlight, it’s easy to overlook the importance of high-quality audio in the gaming experience. The Creative Sound BlasterX G6, a high-resolution USB gaming DAC, is here to remind us that powerful audio can transform the gaming landscape, delivering an immersive, high-fidelity experience. But how does the Sound BlasterX G6 fare against the competition in 2024?

Key Specifications

  • DAC Chip: The G6 uses a high-resolution DAC with model number Cirrus Logic CS43131.
  • Audio Resolution: Supports up to 32-bit / 384kHz PCM and DoP audio streams.
  • Connectivity:
    • USB: Micro USB
    • Optical Out: TOSLINK optical output, supports up to 5.1 channel audio.
    • Optical In: TOSLINK optical input.
    • Line In/Mini TOSLINK In: 3.5mm jack.
    • Line Out/Headphone Out: 3.5mm jack, supports both stereo and optical out.
  • Headphone Amplifier:
    • Supports low and high impedance headphones, from 16 ohms to 600 ohms.
    • Features Xamp headphone amplifier with discrete components on separate circuitry for each channel.
  • Audio Technologies:
    • SBX Pro Studio: A suite of audio enhancement technologies.
    • Scout Mode: Enhances audio cues in games, such as footsteps and weapon switching sounds.
    • Dolby Digital Decoding: Provides realistic surround sound.
    • 7.1 Virtual Surround Sound: Simulates a multichannel audio experience.
  • Supported Platforms:
    • PC
    • Mac OS
    • PlayStation consoles
    • Nintendo Switch
    • Xbox consoles
  • Dimensions: 111 mm x 70 mm x 24 mm.
  • Weight: 144 grams.

Overview

Initially released in 2018, the Creative Sound BlasterX G6 is an impressive combination of a DAC and a headphone amplifier that bridges the gap between your PC or gaming console and your wired headphones, providing a sound quality leap that your built-in sound systems can’t compete with. Designed for audio enthusiasts who double as gamers, the G6 is essentially a high-quality external sound card that enhances your audio experience significantly, whether you’re listening to music, watching movies, or immersed in an intense gaming session.

What separates the G6 from other DAC/Amp combos? Well, the G6 not only offers 7.1 virtual surround sound but also comes with Creative Lab’s own SBX “Acoustic Engine”, which is essentially Creative’s own algorithm for delivering surround sound audio.

Design & Build Quality

The design of the G6 is a testament to the saying, “good things come in small packages.” It’s compact, lightweight, and portable, making it a convenient addition to any gaming setup. Despite its plastic construction, the G6 has a textured, metallic appearance that gives it a sleek, professional look. The volume dial deserves special mention for its sturdy, smooth glide mechanism, allowing precise volume adjustments.

The G6 is equipped with a 3.5mm combo headphone/headset jack and a dedicated microphone input at the front, and several connectors at the back, including a USB port and optical input/output ports. These features make the G6 compatible with various devices, including PCs, PlayStation, Xbox, and the Nintendo Switch. The G6 also features a number of buttons on the right side: Scout Mode, SBX, and the gain toggle.

The overall design is functional without sacrificing aesthetics. However, the design language does have a bit of a “gamer” feel to it.


Sound Quality

At the heart of the G6 lies a potent DAC that supports 32-bit/384kHz playback and can drive headphones with an impedance of up to 600 ohms, which is sure to please gamers who are also audiophiles. This powerful combination also ensures that the G6 delivers a drastic improvement in the sound quality produced by most PCs and gaming consoles.

With the G6, you can expect enhanced audio at both the high and low ends simply due to the power available to drive most headphones, providing a more immersive experience whether you’re in the middle of an intense game or simply listening to your favorite music.

There’s also an ASIO driver available for Windows, adding extra value and peace of mind for audiophiles who want to ensure the audio chain is not interfered with.


Performance

As mentioned earlier, the Creative Sound BlasterX G6 supports up to 32-bit / 384kHz audio playback and can be configured for stereo, 5.1, or 7.1 audio output. You also have the ability to enable what is called “Direct Mode”, which disables all processing done by the G6 so that you get a pure sound output.

The Sound BlasterX G6 supports headphones with up to 600ohms impedance. I don’t have any that high on hand, but it is able to power my Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80ohm and Fostex T40RP MK3 headphones with ease, though I use the high gain mode for those to get a much fuller sound.

Gaming

For gaming, the G6’s performance extends beyond just delivering high-quality sound. With features like Scout Mode and SBX surround profiles, the G6 enhances the gaming experience by amplifying environmental sounds and directional cues, giving you a tactical advantage in games. This is extremely helpful in competitive games such as Call of Duty and Fortnite. 

The Scout mode feature works as advertised, though I personally find it too distracting to use. The SBX surround profiles, on the other hand, I found extremely useful. Using the Acoustic Engine, the surround intensity can be manipulated depending on your game type. For first-person shooters, you can lower the surround intensity so the soundstage isn’t as wide, helping you identify enemies with greater accuracy. For RPGs such as Skyrim, Starfield, or Dying Light 2, you can increase the surround intensity to widen the soundstage, which allows you to be more immersed in the game environment. 

These are my recommended settings based on game type:

  • 20%-35% for FPS games
  • 40%-45% for horror games
  • 60%-69% for RPGs and games with large worlds to explore

Music

Music playback on the Sound BlasterX G6 sounds very neutral. This isn’t a bad thing, and in fact, there really isn’t too much to say here. You’re able to listen to hi-res audio files through the G6, and thanks to the ASIO driver, you have certainty that the audio chain is intact (assuming your software allows you to select the audio interface for playback). If you want to get a surround sound efect for music the G6 allows you to do just that. It’s not my thing, personally, but I can confirm it does work.


Features

The G6 is packed with features that make it a standout in the world of gaming DACs. Beyond its impressive sound capabilities, the G6 offers a range of customizable options via the Sound Blaster Connect desktop app. This includes preset profiles for various games, an equalizer, and surround sound settings.

The G6 also comes with a Scout Mode button that enhances dialog and environmental sounds, making it easier for you to detect enemy movements and actions in games. This can be enabled at anytime by pressing the Scout Mode button on the right side of the device. With the SBX button, you can toggle the surround sound options, creating a more immersive gaming experience.


Competition

There aren’t too many surround sound gaming DACs on the market right now, but here is a look at a few of the ones available and how they compare to the Creative Sound BlasterX G6.

Qudelix T71

This portable DAC/Amp is not marketed as a gaming DAC, but the T71 does boast its own virtual surround sound algorithm. As discussed in my review, this may be the best virtual surround sound implementation in the industry right now as it gets the imaging and soundstage just right, which is hard to do when you are downmixing a surround audio source to stereo headphones. You also have added features such as EQ profile support and the ability to tweak the intensity of individual speaker channels. The T71 is twice the price of the G6, though, so that may dissuade those looking for a more budget-friendly option. 

EPOS GSX 1000 2nd edition

The EPOS GSX 1000 2nd edition is another product that uses its own virtual surround sound algorithm to reproduce multichannel effects in stereo headphones. If you are solely focused on gaming this is a great option for the price, as the sound quality is excellent and there are just enough features to get the most out of games and music without being overwhelming. This is not a good option if you are dipping your toes into the audiophile realm. Playback support maxes out at 16bit/48kHz, and it severely lacks the power to drive most mid-high-end headphones, topping out at 50ohms for impedance. The Sound BlasterX G6 absolutely demolishes the GSX 1000 in support of higher-end audio experiences. 

Creative Sound Blaster X3 and X4

The Sound Blaster X3 and X4 are newer than the G6 and have more modern connections, such as USB-C instead of micro-USB. They also support iOS and Android devices. What they lack though is playback support, maxing out at 24bit/192kHz vs the 32bit/384kHz of the G6. There are other minor tradeoffs, but overall I feel the G6 is still the superior device.


Final Thoughts

creative sound blasterx g6

The Creative Sound BlasterX G6 is a powerful, feature-packed DAC/Amp combo that significantly enhances the audio experience for gamers and audiophiles alike. Its ability to deliver high-quality sound, coupled with its range of customizable features, makes it a valuable addition to any gaming setup.

With that said, there are some critiques to consider with the G6. The device uses a dated micro-USB connection, meaning if you need to you cannot use one of the many USB-C cables you probably have by now. The G6 also lacks a 4.4mm balanced connection, making it less suitable for pure audiophiles.

From its robust build quality to its impressive performance and features, the G6 is a testament to Creative’s commitment to delivering high-quality audio products. Whether you’re an avid gamer looking for a way to enhance your gaming experience or an audiophile seeking a portable DAC and headphone amplifier, the Creative Sound BlasterX G6 is a worthwhile investment, and HiFi Oasis highly recommends it.


We are not always able to cover all details of a product, both hardware and software, in our reviews. If you have any specific questions you’d like answered about this product please feel free to leave a comment or contact us directly.

HiFi Oasis Overall Rating

HiFi Oasis Overall Rating
8 10 0 1
8/10
Total Score
  • Design & Build Quality
    7/10 Good
  • Sound
    8/10 Very good
  • Features
    9/10 Amazing

Pros

  • Surround sound virtualization works great for most games
  • Lots of connectivity options
  • Sound Blaster Command app offers lots of features and customization
  • ASIO driver included
  • Enough power to drive most headphones

Cons

  • Dated micro-USB connection
  • Exterior aesthetics may put off some people
  • No 4.4mm balanced connection
Total
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