Audio Gaming Reviews Soundcards

 Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus in long-term test – Strong Sound plus an upgrade with Dolby Digital Live and DTS

Long-term test, sound check and software

I have been using this sound card for almost 2 months now, with very different headphones and in direct comparison to other sound solutions. What convinced me the most is the built-in headphone amplifier, which is not really naked and can compete with many big ones. The DAC is very well, no question, but I have neither bat genes nor the claim to be a born gold ear. The theoretical values are all over the top anyway, so that the practical implementation rather interested and fascinated me in the end. Colorful also works, even in software. If you need it.

A G5, G6 or even the X7 from the same company can be beaten in direct comparison in terms of headphone performance. This also applies to the variability of the headphones used, which ranges from the 25 Euro entry-level product to the Beyerdynamic T1, T90 and Amiron Home from my collection. And it doesn’t matter whether 16 or 600 Ohm headsets are used, the part simply has what it takes. It’s not an absolute high-end yet, but for the price it’s a really fine story. If you need DTS, you should go for the Plus version, the rest will be happy with the older Non-Plus version, which is almost identical in construction.

Despite this I still have to insert a small separation between music and gaming scenarios. The sound of good music sources is always best if you don’t use any of the sound profiles. Linear here is absolutely state of the art, nothing else. If you like it, you can add some bass, otherwise you should play with gain and volume. Also in the equalizer the stored sound profiles are a bit strange, as the example of the concert preset shows. If you use it that way, you will hardly be able to distinguish a violin from a flute.

Achieving full scale is only one facet. After all, the subjectively perceived timbres also change somewhat. With too much gain you always get a more metallic impression in the end, with too little it gets a bit musty and bland. However, we already fantasize about the final battle level. In everyday life the maximum pressure on the earwax is more likely to be the focus. The sound impression is full-bodied and free of real quirks. The signal-to-noise ratio is good, because there’s almost nothing disturbing audible.

In gaming, intelligently used DSP can be an advantage, but it depends on the sound carpet of the game in question. You can correct many shortcomings and also deepen the room, but you should never start to fully live out your gaming instinct. You are quickly over the limit and even lose resolution if you overdo it too much. The dream of being able to locate an enemy before he was even born is a legend that can never work like that and never will.

Summary and conclusion

You don’t get a cheap sound solution for 145 Euro, but you get a solid and convincing sound solution. No matter if music or gaming, Creative has created exactly the compromise with the Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus, which can satisfy both target groups and is really convincing. With Dolby Digital Live and DTS, Creative has added two important features, which you might need – or not. The better is the enemy of the good and sometimes even the 30 Euro cheaper good is completely sufficient. But good to know that the upgrade is available.

It doesn’t matter which type of headphones you plug in, because the sound card is probably the least likely to fail. However, there are no more excuses for headphones if they get acoustically out of line. The Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus plays mercilessly loud and even the semi-open Beyerdynamic T90 with their possible 100 mW per channel at 250 Ohm impedance can be played to the pain threshold. Nothing against good onboard sound, but this part here is simply one step better with the right transducers. At least.

Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus - Quick Start Guide

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus, PCIe x1 (70SB174000003)

digitalo.deLieferzeit 5-7 Werktage114,80 €*Stand: 27.05.24 21:10
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Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5, PCIe x1 (70SB174000000)

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Pure Edition, PCIe x1 (70SB174000001)

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About the author

Igor Wallossek

Editor-in-chief and name-giver of igor'sLAB as the content successor of Tom's Hardware Germany, whose license was returned in June 2019 in order to better meet the qualitative demands of web content and challenges of new media such as YouTube with its own channel.

Computer nerd since 1983, audio freak since 1979 and pretty much open to anything with a plug or battery for over 50 years.

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