This was posted 9 months ago, and might be an out-dated deal.

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Creative Sound Blaster X3 Hi-Res 7.1 USB DAC & Amp Sound Card $159.95 Delivered @ Creative AU

1130

Creative Sound Blaster X3 SOLD OUT.

Sale Pricing seems to have ended. The X3 is listed at full price now.

For those who were late to the party and missed out, it will probably go back on sale in a couple of months. Keep a look out on the website.

Creative Labs (Australia) are running a limited time promo on their Sound Blaster X3 external USB sound card/DAC/Amp. It normally retails on their site for $179.99. However it’s sold at Australian retailers for $200+ plus shipping.

The last time it was this price was one month ago, where it was sold out within an hour or so of me posting the deal on Ozbargain.

It will probably be sold out very quickly again.

https://www.ozbargain.com.au/node/546674

This is one of the best external USB sound card/DAC/Amps you can buy if your main focus is on gaming while also wanting to enhance your movie or music listening experience and driving headphones in the audiophile territory. This is not a product that would suit a super audiophile.

Comparable products are the Schiit Fulla 3, Sound Blaster G6 and Sennheiser GSX 1000.

Review:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2uzy5kJv68E&feature=youtu.be

###

From personal experience, the Creative Soundblaster X3 was posted via FedEx Singapore and arrived within a few days.

I’ve been using it with a Phillips SHP9500 and Vmoda Boom Pro Microphone purchased from Amazon and I can definitely notice a difference in soundstage/quality vs the onboard audio on an Aorus X5 v6 gaming laptop and an Audio Technica ATH-AG1X gaming headset.

The lag free side tone/mic monitoring feature is also much better than Windows mic monitoring feature.

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  • Schiit Fulla

    …sounds like my old man trying to swear in english 😅

    • Haha it's a great name isn't it. Their products really are "the Schiit" too! At any price they're great value. Quality, design, features, all amazing.

  • Thank you for this. I've been eyeing up the Fiio e10k for quite some time but it's never seen fit to go on sale. I'm excited to check out the Super X-Fi system! Reviews seem favourable.

    • No problem. Glad you were able to buy one at this price. A lot of people missed out during the previous deal.

      It was sold out, when it came back in stock Creative put it back to full price.

      #

      Yeah you’ll have to test the various settings to find what you like.

      Direct Mode is the DAC/Amp without any post processing. So just like a regular DAC/Amp.

      SBX is one of their 7.1 surround sound modes.

      Super X-Fi is another 7.1 surround sound mode and their newest surround sound implementation.

      Then you have the equalisers you could play with or just choose a preset.

      I mainly just use Super X-Fi with the movie preset. But it’ll depend on your personal preference and what headphones you use as different audio set ups will sound different.

    • I recently bought the ifi Zen DAC after similarly wanting the e10k for over a year. More expensive but absolutely worth the price if you have good pairs of headphones!

  • whats a creative saver? thought shipping is free

  • I remember sound blaster from about 1998

    • Good times. Remembering when I was first of my friends to get an X-Fi, when everyone else had soundblaster live… #flex

      • I remember the sound blaster demo. Played some classical music and it totally blew my mind after the beep bops I’d heard before.

    • Me too. I got a Sound Blaster 16, which did 16-bit sampling and I did a lot of testing with it; the difference between 8 and 16-bit was night and day. Talking difference between 256 levels vs 65k levels. A friend had the Sound Blaster Pro which was 8-bit, both of these produced amazing sound for games at the time.

      I had a Gravis Ultrasound too, that was the bomb diggidy. Sure I've still got it in my box. Full wave table for MIDI sound reproduction onboard. I think I had traded it with some other kid and he didn't think it worked but it did. Thee board was like 25cm long it something.

      You needed a GU for watching a lot of the demos of that time, good times.

      • Mine was a Sound blaster pro Totally agree. Was so cool at the time.

      • Good old times. I dont think we'll ever be blown away again like the first time we heard a 8bit or 16bit sound card.

        • My very first PC had a 120Mb HDD and a SoundBlaster. It had just enough room for windows and one game: Strike Commander plus Speech Pack
          Total free space after install: 5Mb

          It blew everyone away.

          The next big shift was when VGA cards shipped with 1Mb memory. Paired with a SoundBlaster Awe32, that shit was photorealistic (lol).

          I think we'll next get blown away by VR systems that can reproduce scents

          • @BinaryPirate: Yeah the AWE32 was kinda the pinnacle of the Sound Blaster range. After that it all went a bit weird.

            Yeah my first PC (if you don't call a TRS-80 or Commodore 64 a PC) had a 200mb HDD with 4mb ram. Back then Windows was an unnecessary shell on top of DOS.

            I remember when my friend got a Pentium 100 and got Need for Speed. Phwor.

  • Is this better than built in 7.1 audio on a motherboard or a sound card for gaming audio? I always thought USB wasn’t quick enough to be better

    • USB is fine, even a lot of the high end external audio amp/dacs use USB.

    • The Creative X3 is a sound card plus a DAC and Amp.

      I can only speak for the gaming laptop I’m using. An Aorus X5 v6 which was around $3000 when released.

      With the same closed back gaming headset I’ve been using I noticed better quality sounds and sound stage with the Creative X3. It’s hard to explain but it just sounded better.

      First person shooters like Squad and Post Scriptum sounded more immersive and gunshots and explosions sounded fuller.

      One feature that you probably won’t get with most internal/on board audio is lag free mic monitoring.

      Being able to hear your own voice when you’re talking with a headphone/headset on.

      Windows audio setting does have a mic monitoring setting but it has a slight delay when playing back your voice.

      The X3 doesn’t have that lag. I’ve been using it for nearly a month and it’s mic monitoring feature is much better.

  • If I'm just listening to Spotify and doing occasional gaming with bluetooth headphones, will this make any discernible difference?

    • Will you be plugging in your Bluetooth headphones with a 3.5mm cable?

      Or using it purely wirelessly?

      If it’s going to be used via Bluetooth I would say it’s definitely not worth buying this sound card/dac/amp.

      If using it plugged in, yeah you’ll probably enjoy listening through it more than what in-built audio you’re currently using. As for how much difference you’ll notice, I can’t say since it’s a subjective thing.

  • Why do people need this? What do they use this for?

    • It’s mainly for people who use headphones or headsets but you can also use it with a full speaker set.

      Someone might use this to upgrade to a better sound card rather than using the inbuilt audio in their laptop or PC motherboard.

      Someone might use this to power headphones that their laptop or PC motherboard may be inadequate to use to full potential.

      Someone might use this for gaming specific features like No Lag Mic Monitoring or Virtual Surround Sound or Scout Mode (setting that makes it easier to hear foot steps).

      Someone might use this to enhance music listening or movie watching via headphones.

      Someone might just want an audio volume knob on their desk or ability to mute your mic with a press.

      Or a combination of some or all those possible reasons.

      There are many benefits to using an external Dac and Amp combo (the X3 is also a sound card).

      You’ll need to do some research online to find out more about the topic. Read forums/articles or watch YouTube videos. Other people can explain this better than I can. But personal experience is probably the best way to figure out if it’s worth it or just a gimmick.

      I’ve been using onboard laptop audio for years and only have just now bought a sound card/dac/amp and I’m happy with the purchase and would not switch back to inbuilt audio.

      • Also really good if you run a laptop or mini ITX machine.

        Edit: I've got the old xfi pro that I used to use on my metabox laptop. That was a pretty big upgrade over the onboard before the laptop finally died.

    • One possible application that makes a lot of sense is a tablet or phone based sound system. Most sound systems you can buy now are stuck in the 90s, and you have to spend quite a bit before you get a screen. Even then, it will be a crappy and hard to work with.

      The tricky part is that tablets and phones rarely have good audio processing. They're only really built for cheap headphones.
      However, if you could take a tablet, put it in a dock and connect it to a USB dac, then all you need is an amp and speakers to make a high quality sound system with all the power and flexibility of iOS or Android.

      • It's certainly true that on-board PC sound cards are still stuck way back in a time when shielding want a thing.

        However, tablets and phones have a lot more than basic sound processing going on.
        LG uses quad-DACs in most of their phones.
        All the big brands use at least one, usually two.
        HTC's last few flagships came with USB-C headphones that had a DAC dongle built in.

  • Missed deal last time just nabbed one, thanks OP.

  • Finally pulled the trigger, always wanted a dac for my headset

  • Been using sound card with active speakers (don't like headphones) for years mainly for movies and music in a PC setup. Recently switched to using an av receiver setup with HDMI audio input, passive speaker and dedicated subs and the difference is night and day.

    Creative Soundcard had its days in 1990s but built in MB soundcard is now good enough . Personally sound card would make good enough sound better but would nevrr match the quality of av receiver and not even close to being audiophile quality

    • Disagree. Motherboard sound is usually an onboard codec and/or uses cheap and quick design philosophies. Dedicated boards usually have more of a focus on sound quality such as higher quality capacitors and better amplifier ICs, and better quality DACs. These external DACs put out great quality sound. Often the manufacturers state the model of the ICs they use to prove it. Hard to confirm things like PCB design and caps used.

    • Was going to ask the same question. I mean I have the cheapest AVR, so don't know how much this would help in that setup.

    • Take one of these dac for a spin. The difference in sound is night and day. That's from a fellow gamer

  • Is this actually better than the Sennheiser GSX 1000?

    • In terms of supported impedance, the X3 is definitely better as it is able to drive headphones between 32 ohm - 600 ohm. The GSX on the other hand is recommended for 16 ohm to 150 ohm.

      • I have TaoTronics BH085 headphones which I'm guessing would be quite low impedance?

        • Yeah probably within the 30 to 50 range like any other wireless headphones. For what I read on reddit though, using a DAC with a wireless headphone (connected with wire of course) is probably not the beat setup.

    • In this YouTube review the guy says it’s objectively a better product vs the GSX 1000.

      I don’t have personal experience with the Sennheiser though.

      The Sennheiser does have a nice touch interface though, whereas with the X3 you’ll need to use the software app on a computer or mobile app to change most settings.

      https://youtu.be/2uzy5kJv68E

      • Sennheiser also has a newly realised GSX300 for $129, was going to get it until I saw this promo haha

        • Wow yeah must be really new, never heard of it plus zero YouTube reviews and not many written reviews.

          The X3 is most likely still the better buy ;)

          • @emoticon: Yep, saw it the other day on JB's website. Given that there are no reviews or mentioning of it anywhere now, I would probably steer clear of it.

      • In this YouTube review the guy says it’s objectively a better product vs the GSX 1000.

        For a second there I thought you were talking about the motorcycle - Suzuki GSXR 1000

    • According to the video review posted by the OP, it's about the same. But this one has the edge, and comes with gaming features.

  • Any difference between this and already having an extreme music in the PC? I have Logitech z623's, am i going to notice any difference at all with these?

    • I'd say very little difference, especially with your speakers - they are already active, and small.

      There is a reason why Creative is no longer the consumer PC audio product giant it once was. Nobody really needs this. But spending money creates a placebo effect.

      Even chips like ALC887 built into cheap motherboards have very good SNR and volumes. Software Dolby Headphone is good enough to "show" you the foot steps direction in most games.

      And what "audiophile" wants to be tethered to their PC for a "listening experience"? This product isn't "true audiophile" to start with, and the noises associated with your PC (fan noises, etc) makes the argument for "clean audio" while sitting next to your PC moot. It's a stretch to say that this would give you better quality audio nuances but then conveniently ignoring the background fan noise etc you've put yourself in by sitting next to a PC.

      One would be far better off buying a cheap dedicated amp and large speakers for a proper upgrade, IMO.

      • Thank you very much.

      • Can I ask for suggestions for cheap standalone amps? I have two devices that needs it. Is nobsound ok for driving most speakers and headphones?

      • This is a headphone AMP/DAC for gaming. It's not supposed to be used with speakers. It's not optimised for listening to music, though it will sound a lot better than all onboard sound cards.

        Edit - I'll correct myself here. This one has connections for 5.1 PC speakers. If you're using onboard sound this will improve what comes out of your speakers.

        Also, all the best audiophile headphones are cabled. A clear indication most audiophiles are okay with being tethered to something.

        Quite obviously this will serve no useful purpose in your life but don't discount it for everybody else.

        The headphone DAC/AMP market is increasing as people start to realise they don't have the space for a full 9.1 receiver setup and onboard sound just isn't loud or quality enough.

  • Thanks for the post just ordered mine. Now I just need a HD660s

    • I’m waiting for the Massdrop x Sennheiser HD58x to go on sale :)

      • Just checked the price for HD660S and yeah… it's going to be a hard pass for me unless it gets to $400 range (unlikely). Meanwhile, I'll keep an eye on the HD6XX and HD58X on Addicted to Audio. They seem to be on par with their Sennheiser counterparts.

  • Can’t see anywhere what Bluetooth they implemented. Sxfi uses A2DP, so must be 4.2, but if it isn’t 5.0, it’s already EOL, so may be replaced.

    5.0 makes lots of changes, I believe the main thing being the ability to elegantly handle phone calls when paired with a phone

    DACs out of Cn implement 5.0 and It looks like many do this, but I still haven’t bought one. Waiting for them to go sub <$100

    • The Bluetooth on the X3 is only used to change audio settings remotely, like equaliser and sound modes for example.

      It cannot be used to stream audio if that’s what you were planning on using it for.

    • +1 vote

      edit: Emoticon is on the ball! =)

      • Thank you!!! I understand what they are saying but Bluetooth version doesn’t matter in this case.

        • True indeed. But what are they doing building bluetooth in, and not implementing audio, or phone features… er, like… even the cheap ones do these things.

  • Would this work with something like an Apple TV that you could then hook up to quality speakers?

    • Yes you can plug speaker systems and AV receivers into the X3.

      But I’m pretty sure you can’t connect the X3 directly to the Apple TV because the Apple TV doesn’t have a USB port or audio ports just a HDMI port.

      So you’ll need to plug your speakers into the X3.

      Here’s a setup video from Creative:

      https://youtu.be/s8qcEV8aXIs

  • To run in Direct Mode do you need to install and run the software or can i just plug and play with drivers.

  • Perfect timing! The day after I bought my DT990 Pros! Thank you!

  • Sorry if this is a bit vague, but if I already have a USB sound card from this https://www.hyperxgaming.com/us/headsets/cloud-revolver-gami... (scroll down to the USB card) does it still make sense to buy this to get rid of the buzzing sound that I get from my motherboard?

    Thanks

    • Hey sorry for the delay. Had to watch an unboxing video of your Cloud Revolver S.

      Not a vague question.

      Yes it would be worth it.

      The USB sound card is detachable so just don’t plug it in because the X3 will replace it as your sound card.

      Plug the revolvers 3.5mm cable into the headphone port on the front of the X3. It can handle both audio and microphone using the one port.

      I use it with the Vmoda Boom Pro mic and a Phillips SH9500 which is a similar setup to your headset, with the audio and microphone using a single cable and it works perfectly.

      With the X3 being external it should get rid of your motherboards buzzing sound.

  • ive been waiting on this since the last post :) thtanks!

    • No problemo, I’ve been checking the website every few days just in case the price lowered again :)

  • If folks are after a cheaper less branded alternative (with advantages and disadvantages, see below): I'd been pretty happy with Topping D10. I paid $118 back in Sep 2018.

    Here's an Amazon listing with all the geeky details for any audiophiles.

    The advantage is a better bare bones DAC with up to 32-bit 384kHz in the Topping D10 vs 192.0 kHz on the Soundblaster X3. It has a standard USB2.0 port.
    The disadvantage is lack of customer support, limited output options, no bluetooth control, or fancy X-Fi stuff. For some, it's advantageous to have a USB-C port.

    • That’s a stand-alone DAC though, which already costs $144.

      You’d still need to buy a standalone Amp with a microphone input to be more comparable.

      Which would drive up the cost.

      Plus the X3 is also a sound card.

      In my opinion they are different products for different types of users/use cases.

  • This post reminded me when creative sound cards were a thing in the 90s.

    Surprised there is a market for this tbh

  • This seems to be a great value, while i was researching for dac/amp this came up last time. Then again, now i have found the dac amp that suit my need :) (not creative lab).
    I feel like this one has a better value for the $$$ that is my opinion, if you do some research on google.

    https://imgur.com/a/Jx4xOLw

    I like this because i hook it up to my bookshelf speakers and I could change the tube and the sound stage would change depending on the tubes.
    Overall, if you are keen on tube dac/amp this is good value for the $$ even though there are many other tube amp that is way better than this one.
    But the creative lab is a great choice too :)

    • Oooh I love Massdrop products.

      The X3 would still be better for online gaming though because it has a microphone input.

      Different products for different use cases.

      • Yea definitely its a better option when you need to plug in a build in mic to the dac/amp. I chose the X6 because I have a standalone mic. and with tube amp the soundstage is really different :D

  • I've been using an Astro mixamp with my PC for a few years now, mostly because I like having the physical volume controls. I just ordered a pair of Beyerdynamics DT 770s 80 Ohm version. Will I get much more out of buying the X3 than what I'd get on my current setup?

    • I believe you wouldn't hear much of the difference, except maybe the sound stage and sound signature from both dac/amp. I have the DT 770 250ohm, this pair of cans is quite flat, I guess whatever dac/amp you plug it, it would definitely change its sound stage

      • Cheers for the info. Guess I'll wait til I get them and see how they sound across different devices and stuff before I buy any more equipment.

    • I have the same headphones but use them on PS4. They didn’t sound good running them with the Astro mixamp TR, maybe because the profiles loaded into it were made for my A40.

      After a lot of research I ended up picking up the Sound Blaster G6, it took a while to get used to but I feel like the sound quality is a lot better with this and I can pinpoint sounds more accurately now.

      Apparently for FPS gaming the GSX1000 has some of the best implementation of VSS. If I gamed on PC I’d probably go with that over X3

  • I got one of these from the last deal, and the helpful information posted in there. Very happy with it! Driving DT990 for gaming, and have been quite impressed so far!

  • I just want to point out that you will need a SXFI profile to control the software by Soundblaster. Yes, say that out loud… S X Fi…

    • Just to use Super X-FI mode.

      You need to take pictures of your ears and face for the software to tune it. Using that mode is completely optional though.

      Haha you probably watched Hardware Canucks video on it where he pronounces it S*X Fi.

  • I still have a Creative external CD-ROM drive, which I bought to burn CDs that never worked and they wouldn't replace. It was $1,000+ at the time, must of been 20 years ago! I still have the freakin box and drive in the cellar somewhere 🤣🤣🤣

  • Is this good for Sundara

    • You have a $600 pair of headphones?

      You could probably buy a much more expensive DAC/Amp to pair it with.

      The X3’s can drive the headphone, which is only 37ohms.

      What do you use the Sundara’s for?

    • I think you should go for a Topping L30, JDS Labs Atom, or Schiit Magni 3+ or Heresy, I'd recommend the L30 though, it should be slated for a September-ish release and measurements show better performance than other two amps. DACs are not really an issue unless you have a really bad motherboard, but a $15 Apple dongle DAC is pretty damn good as well.

  • Didnt really need one, but grabbed one anyway :) Cheers OP!