Great Audio Aesthetics, Passable Material Ones
Creative have refreshed their line of external DACs with the Sound Blaster X4, compatible with everything from Apple to PS4 to PCs with optical or digital 3.5mm out. It is capable of up to 7.1 sound out thanks to four 3.5-mm linear outputs, as well as TOSLINK and headphone outputs, all of which should be able to benefit from the integrated Dolby Digital Live support.
TechPowerUp tested out the big shiny knob in the middle and discovered it knows a fair number of tricks. The initial mode, toggled by the middle button, allows you to control output volume and mute with a push of the button, toggle to the second and it will do the same thing for your microphone levels. The third mode allows you to balance audio output from two different sources, handy for producing gaming streams, thanks to the Sound Blaster X4 showing as two separate playback interfaces in Windows and macOS.
The shell is plastic which disappointed TPU somewhat, but if you are more interested in how it sounds than how it looks you should take a peek at the full review.
The Creative Sound Blaster X4 is a direct successor to the excellent Sound Blaster X3. This external USB sound card keeps everything good about its predecessor and adds a couple of interesting additions to the mix, most notably SmartComm Kit—a combination of features aimed at improving our online call quality.