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HomeNewsPump up Mac audio quality with new Sound Blaster X5

Pump up Mac audio quality with new Sound Blaster X5

In addition to jacking up speaker sound, the X5 should make most headphones sound better.
In addition to jacking up speaker sound, the X5 should make most headphones sound better.
Photo: Creative

Creative’s new Sound Blaster X5, a USB sound card, digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and headphone amplifier, promises to jack up your Mac’s audio quality.

It’s not cheap at $280. But the device launched Tuesday might make big difference in the sound flowing from speakers and headphones alike.

Creative Sound Blaster X5

Here’s Creative’s name and tagline for the product: Sound Blaster X5 — Hi-res External Dual DAC USB Sound Card with Fully Balanced Xamp Headphone Bi-amplifier for Audiophiles.

That’s a mouthful, but then the X5 appears to do big things for sound quality coming from Macs and other platforms. Those include PCs, gaming consoles and sound systems.

The device, featuring several audio inputs and outputs, supports ASIO 2.2 for low-latency playback and recording.

“Decked with class-leading components, breakthrough audio technologies, a comprehensive connectivity profile and sporting a premium look and feel in a sleek build, the X5 simply pulls out all the stops as a compelling audio solution like no other,” the company said.

Dual-DAC design

A view of the back shows you additional inputs/outputs.
A view of the back shows you additional inputs/outputs.
Photo: Creative

The X5 is the first Sound Blaster with Creative’s dual-DAC design. It sports two Cirrus Logic CS43198 DACs “for high-resolution, lossless playback in 32-bit / 384 kHz over PCM with ultra-high dynamic range of up to 130 dB DNR,” the company noted.

It added that the DACs can also decode audio formats in DoP128 and DSD256 for high-fidelity audio streaming.

And audio distortion is nearly nullified by an oversampled multi-bit modulator. It manages a Total Harmonic Distortion rating of just 0.00018%, Creative said.

You can buy the X5 on Creative’s website. The company’s X4 Sound Blaster is on Amazon, but the X5 doesn’t appear to be there yet.

Price: $279

Where to buy: Creative

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