Sound BlasterX G5
Audio Amplifier (PC/MAC/PS4/XBOX ONE)
The Sound BlasterX G5 is a portable audio amplifier primarily targeted toward gaming. Because, well, there’s an X in the title. An external sound card that features some pretty impressive specs across the board. From an audiophile-grade headphone amplifier, to a powerful multi-core hardware based audio processor, and LED backlit mechanical controls. It comes with a USB/MicroUSB cable for connecting to PC, Mac and PS4, along with a TOSLINK/3.5mm Optical cable for Xbox One. The G5 also makes use of software to manage its three configurable audio presets.
Plug in the G5 to your Mac or PC, configure its output frequency to an impressive 24-bit 192 kHz and you’re away. Downloading the The BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro software (Windows Only) enables customising profiles for the Audio Processor. These include customisation of what Sound Blaster call Surround, Crystalizer, Bass, Smart Volume and Dialog Plus - not to mention the EQ. The sort of features that you might expect to find in a bulky home theatre amplifier, making the G5 a pretty useful little little amp not just for games but also movies and music.
The G5’s third switch toggles between low and high impedance, capable of driving an impressive range of headphones, between 32 and 600 ohm! Not bad for what is essentially a gaming “sound card.” Beastly even. Ohm-azing. Ahem.
- Headphone Amplifier Texas Instruments TPA6120A2
- Impedance Support: 32 -150 ohm (low setting) 150 - 600 ohm (high setting)
- Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC 120dB SNR
- Maximum Audio Output 2.0: 192kHz @ 24 bit
- SB-Axx1 multi-core Audio Processor
- Connections: microUSB, Line / Optical Out : 1 x 3.5mm jack, Line / Optical In: 1 x 3.5mm jack, 4-pole Headphone-out with Mic: 1 x 3.5mm jack, Dedicated Mic In : 1 x 3.5mm jack
The G5 has a matte black finish and a stealth-fighter angular design, with a combination of predominantly red and some white LED backlit indicators. Being small and light, makes it easily transportable. Three buttons on the side function well and the volume dial on the front feels solid enough, if a little awkward to use. The overall build quality feels a tad less than premium, but certainly gets the job done.
As with other gaming focussed headphone amplifiers, the G5 sports a feature called “Scout Mode”. The feature can be toggled on/off via the first of the three switches on its side and is designed to amplify higher frequency sounds and give an advantage in online competitive gaming, through better audio positioning of enemies.
Toggling the second switch cycles between the three configurable virtual 7.1 mode presets and a long press turns them off, for pure unprocessed audio passthrough - excellent for music. And for the audiophile that lives inside all of us. The Engine Pro software used for customising each preset is simple to use and once you’ve configured your preferences for various audio types, you won’t have to go back too often. The 7.1 audio presets themselves expand the soundstage in any game or movie to give more of a home theater feel, even on mid-range stereo headphones.
Sporting an impressive list of well performing features, there’s a lot to like in the Sound BlasterX G5. The unprocessed audio amplification is outstanding, the customisable 7.1/EQ presets are comprehensive and while the design is far from perfect, it’s perfectly functional. It provides a welcome and perhaps often overlooked addition to any gaming setup, with the addition of including an audiophile grade headphone amplifier that will make the most out of any hi-def music source.