Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2 Gaming Soundbar Review
Don’t be distracted by the RGB – this sound bar produces great audio
This is off topic, but I’m a vintage PC nerd. When it comes to Creative products I admit to a disproportionate number of Sound Blaster cards in my collection of old components, along with a few CD-ROM drives and speakers from the 1990’s multimedia era. I even have a Modem Blaster.
And I actually use modern Creative products, too; there’s an external Sound Blaster connected to the PC I’m typing this on (Sound Blaster X-Fi HD), and I have a pair of Creative speakers (GigaWorks T20 Series II), which sound very good for their size.
Naturally, when Creative’s PR firm reached out about reviewing a new Sound Blaster product, I said yes immediately. After some delays, our sample of the product was delivered earlier this summer (it launched back in October 2021), and I’m finally able to check it out myself. I’ll have to see if I agree with contributor Chris Coke’s assessment from his glowing review over at MMORPG.
“Explore uncharted audile territories and achieve elevated sound experiences with Sound Blaster Katana V2! Bringing back not only the finest features of its predecessor such as the revolutionary tri-amplified design, the Sound Blaster Katana V2 now sports an all-new sleek, matte black build, upgraded list of comprehensive connectivity options, and further engineered to deliver 68% more power than before! Immerse yourself in rich and flawless audio dynamics, and even stronger bass reproduction with the improved tweeters and subwoofer.
We’ve also further stepped up the audio processing game on Sound Blaster Katana V2 by equipping it with not just the Sound Blaster chip, but also the Super X-Fi UltraDSP chip as well-so you can continue your gaming adventure with multi-channel surround sound in your headphones late at night. With all these major upgrades and more, make the soundbar system the center of your audio hub.”
- Adapter Power Input: 100 – 240V ~ 50 / 60 Hz 2.5A
- Adapter Power Output: 24 V ~ 3.0 A
- Soundbar Power Output: 66W RMS
- Subwoofer power Output: 60W RMS
- Total System Power: Up to 126W RMS (Up to Peak: 252W)
- Frequency Range: 50–20,000 Hz
- Microphone: 2 x MEMS microphone
- Operating Temperature: 0– 40°C
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.0
- Bluetooth Operating Frequency: 2402–2480 MHz
- Supported Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP (Wireless Stereo Bluetooth)
- Supported Codecs: SBC
- Operating Range for Bluetooth Devices: Up to 10 meters (Measured in open space. Walls and structures may affect range of device.)
- DC In
- Subwoofer Out
- SXFI Out
- USB In
- Aux In
- Optical-in (Toslink)
- HDMI ARC
- Headset Out
- Dimensions (L x W x H):
- Soundbar: 600 x 95 x 62 mm / 23.6 x 3.74 x 2.44 inches
- Subwoofer: 150 x 367 x 367 mm / 5.9 x 14.4 x 14.4 inches
- USB C to A Cable: 1.2 M
- Power Cord Length: 1.5 m
- Optical Cable: 1.5 m
- Product Weight:
- Soundbar: 1.524 kg / 3.35 lb
- Subwoofer: 6.4 kg / 14.1 lb
“Tri-amplified Multi-channel Gaming Soundbar with Super X-Fi Technology.”
Packaging and Contents
Creative did a nice job with packaging (an exciting topic, I know), with both the soundbar and subwoofer well protected with soft foam wrap and substantial foam padding on each end/corner. The accessories were contained within a pair of smaller boxes inside, with each item separated nicely within.
It was all very carefully thought out inside a pretty compact box, and I appreciate the attention paid to protecting the items from the perils of ground shipping.
As to a rundown of these contents, there is of course the soundbar and subwoofer, a remote, a power supply with three different power cables supporting various countries, brackets for mounting the soundbar to a wall, a USB Type-C to Type-A cable, a TOSLINK (optical digital audio) cable, and paperwork including a user guide.
Finally, we will have a closer look at the 72 watt adapter that will be powering both the soundbar and, by extension, the passive subwoofer (i.e. the sub does not have its own amplifier onboard).
Katana V2 Design and Features
The Katana V2 is a compact soundbar, with a total width of 23.6 inches, a depth of 3.74 inches, and a height of 2.44 inches. The soundbar itself weighs in at 3.35 lbs.
There are some design differences between the Katana V2 and the previous Katana, notably with the placement of the display on the front of the unit with the V2. In addition to the drivers on the front of the unit there are two upward-facing drivers on the top of the soundbar, which actually point slightly backwards due to the sloped top surface (depending on placement audio will be reflected back to the listener).
Inputs are generous, as we have a look at the rear of the soundbar:
Here we find HDMI ARC for TV audio, USB-C for connecting to your PC, a 3.5 mm analog input for connecting anything you can think of, and a TOSLINK optical input. There’s also a USB connector for connecting a Super X-Fi USB dongle, should you happen to own one of these headsets, and a standard RCA output to the subwoofer.
Speaking of the sub, it’s a 14.4 inch tall, 14.4 inch deep unit, with a width of 5.9 inches. The sub feels pretty substantial, weighing in at 14.1 lbs, It is a ported design, naturally, and there are soft pads under each corner to protect your floor (and help with vibrations).
Features (via Creative):
FLAGSHIP MULTI-CHANNEL GAMING SOUNDBAR | Forged in aluminum and constructed with superior engineering materials, the Sound Blaster Katana V2 is sleeker, more refined, and up to 68% more powerful than its predecessor. Bring your games to life with natural and realistic sound reproduction via true 5.1 channel hi-res playback with certified Dolby Audio decoder, or blast your music away and enjoy detailed undistorted sound even at high volumes
EXCLUSIVE TRI-AMPLIFIED DESIGN AND IMPROVED DRIVERS | Sound Blaster Katana V2 features the same triamplified design, with each of the 5 drivers in the soundbar and subwoofer set individually powered by the DSP controller, delivering audio that is powerful and precise. The soundbar is also upgraded with two all-new improved fabric dome tweeters for cleaner and more refined highs, and a substantially larger subwoofer driver for deeper and more impactful bass
SUPER X-FI AND SXFI BATTLE MODE | The action doesn’t have to stop when it’s late in the night. Super X-Fi technology allows you to continue the multi-channel speaker experience in your headphones! Simply plug your headphones into the soundbar and turn Super X-Fi on to enjoy hyper-realistic surround audio without disturbing anyone. Powered by the Super X-Fi UltraDSP chip, Sound Blaster Katana V2 also offers SXFI BATTLE Mode, the highly-raved secret weapon that renders you unbeatable in FPS games
CUSTOMIZE EVERYTHING | Sound Blaster Katana V2 comes with all the customization options you need. The builtin Sound Blaster chip offers our trademark processing technologies that allow you to tune the audio the way you like via the Creative app. You can also change the RGB lighting, or save custom presets to a programmable button on the remote control. Prefer a certain sound mode, volume, and lighting color for parties? Save all of the settings and more on a programmable button for easy access
TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR OWN AUDIO HUB | With a host of upgraded connectivity options, including a HDMI ARC port, optical port, as well as wireless Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity! The Sound Blaster Katana V2 works with various platforms, from gaming consoles such as PS5, PS4, Xbox Series S, and Nintendo Switch, as well as PC, Mac and mobile devices too. Its slim profile allows you to tuck it under any monitor effortlessly, and its sleek and elegant design fits perfectly in any living room setup as well
I try not to be an audio snob, but I have specific criteria for the things I use. I have the impression from past experiences that sound bars have a bit of a thin sound, particularly when listening to music. Most are better served providing spacious-sounding audio for video content that’s better than your TV speakers.
The Katana V2 actually sounds REALLY good – as long as you have one of the EQ modes enabled. I found that the EQ off setting produced a thinner, narrow sound that was significantly less engaging. I alternated between the Movie, Music, and Gaming modes, with each providing what I determined to be essentially a different midrange emphasis.
With these EQ modes engaged the Katana V2 provided excellent sound from all sources, I initially tested with a PC via the USB-C input, and via a Bluetooth connection to my phone. The sound was surprisingly full, regardless of source. And, while the sub isn’t going to rattle the windows, there is power at the low end.
I did my initial assessment of sound quality down in my office area, which has a low ceiling. So what happened when I took the Katana V2 to a larger room? Well, pretty much the same thing. The subwoofer wasn’t able to provide quite the same impact in my living room, given the larger space, but it was still producing a powerful low end. And the soundbar itself produces a satisfyingly wide sound field.
Having a larger screen behind it also seemed to help project the audio better, given the backward angle to the top-mounted drivers. And connectivity was a snap, with both HDMI ARC and TOSLINK optical working without issue after setting the audio out on the TV properly (I have a 2016 LG B6 OLED).
I’ll add that my family is spoiled by the big sound of our living room setup, whether they realize it or not. There are tower speakers for the main channels and full size bookshelf speakers for the surrounds, and bass is handled by a pair of 10-inch subwoofers. It’s a dramatic, powerful sound system driven by a fairly high end AVR, and while this soundbar can’t replace it, it was a more that adequate stand-in for a couple of days.
And now for a look at the software Creative offers for this, and other, products.
No complaints about the design or functionality of this clean-looking software, as setting up and customizing the experience with the Katana V2 was very easy. The software is essential for customizing EQ and lighting effects, and I noticed that even when the device had been disconnected for days it still remembered my software lighting preferences when I connected it to my TV via HDMI ARC, so there is onboard memory for such things.
And now for my one complaint about the software, which isn’t actually about this software at all. You see, to access the features provided by the Super X-Fi UltraDSP chip, which you can take advantage of using any headset via the headphone jack, you can’t use this software.
Users are directed to download an additional application via the Windows store (groan), which I begrudgingly did for the sake of this review. However, this wasn’t enough effort, as an account is required just to use the software. I’ll pass, leaving this review incomplete.
The Sound Blaster Katana V2 is a very impressive product in every respect. It delivers big, spacious sound from a very small footprint, and it’s very easy to set up and use.
The only real drawback I can think of is the price, which is $329.99 USD. In fairness, you are getting quite a bit for the money, but this price does place it in the same neighborhood as other <$350 soundbar + sub solutions, with brands like JBL, Klipsch, and Polk Audio, just to list a few.
Granted, the above brands aren’t offering everything that Creative is with the Katana V2. I get it, RGB isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but that isn’t the only thing that makes the Katana V2 a “gaming” soundbar. Plug this Sound Blaster branded soundbar into your PC via USB, and it actually becomes a legitimate external sound card.
No, a gaming soundbar isn’t for everyone, and not everyone has $329 for PC audio. But you know what? The Katana V2 sounds fantastic and offers impressive versatility as both a PC and living room solution.
I still wish Super X-Fi features could be accessed without making an account in a separate app, but otherwise my experience with the Katana V2 was overwhelmingly positive.
This is what we consider the responsible disclosure of our review policies and procedures.
How Product Was Obtained
The product is on loan from Creative for the purpose of this review.
What Happens To Product After Review
The product remains the property of Creative but is on extended loan for future testing and product comparisons.
Creative had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
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Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Creative for this review.
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I bought one a couple of months ago.
You really need to emphasise that this device works over USB. You do not need an onboard sound chip for this to work.
A minor annoyance I found is that while Windows’ volume goes from 0 to 100 the soundbar goes from 0 to 50. Fortunately there is a 2:1 mapping, but it’s annoying nonetheless.
I talked a about the USB functionality (“plug this Sound Blaster branded soundbar into your PC via USB, and it actually becomes a legitimate external sound card”). To me it’s what makes this a “gaming” product, and what differentiates it from other soundbars.
Me Sebastian. Can you ask if creative if coming out with a new version of Super X-Fi Amp? I bought it when it came out and I must admit. It’s pretty good. I’ve used 5.1 forever, but my condo is to small and it simulates it pretty good