Sound BlasterX AE-5 Review: An Uncompromising Gaming Sound Card For Audiophiles

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Sound BlasterX AE-5 Review: Final Thoughts and Rating

Creative Labs makes a great argument for upgrading to a discrete sound card with the Sound BlasterX AE-5. The Xamp headphone amplifier's discrete amplification circuit really brings headphones to life. It’s virtual 7.1 produces convincing positional audio without the need for gaming-specific headphones with a ton of discrete drivers. This lets you use high-quality headphones for music and gaming at the flip of a driver panel setting.

sb ae5 style box
Music reproduction, however, is where the Sound BlasterX AE-5 truly shines. The sound produced from my Sennheiser HD 570’s amazed me, despite owning the headphones for over 15 years. There is a downside with the music performance, and that’s because it makes you want to go straight to Amazon and order a set of Sennheiser HD 600s.

sb ae5 style 1

At $150, the Sound Blaster AE-5 is worth every penny and can still teach an dog old set of headphones new tricks. Creative Labs faces tough competition from other manufacturers with USB gaming headsets sporting discrete 7.1 drivers, but less is more when it comes to audio. The Sound BlasterX AE-5 shows audio nirvana for music, gaming and movies is achievable with two drivers, a good amplifier and DSP. Not to mention there's the nostalgia of installing a new Sound Blaster in your PC, as you did a decade or two ago.

hothardware recommended

 hot not 
  • Wonderful Sound Reproduction
  • ESS Sabre DAC
  • Clean Xamp Headphone Amplifier
  • Great Virtual Surround Sound
  • Aurora Reactive RGB Lighting
  • HD Audio Header
  • RGB LED Strip Header Placement
  • Pricey

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