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Mad Lust Envy's Headphone Gaming Guide: (9/10/2019: Grado WH1 'The White Headphone' Added)

Discussion in 'Video Games Discussion' started by mad lust envy, Jan 17, 2011.
  1. illram
    I notice things changing and there is no rhyme or reason to them, and I don't remember specifically the circumstances, so I haven't bothered contacting Creative as my bug reports wouldn't be too helpful. Things like surround changing to normal vs. ultra wide, profiles changing, settings within each profile changing for seemingly no reason, and 5.1 switching to 7.1 pretty frequently. I keep an amp plugged in all the time so luckily the lineout settings issue has not affected me, although the one time I did try headphone directly, I did notice that setting also changing.

    They've got some work to do on the software, clearly.

    If Creative looks at this thread I'd like them to explain why the heck their EQ functionality is so much worse than the X7 or even the E5. I mean audio quality wise. It really sounds like the EQ quality of the E3. (Which was bad, particularly the bass). Is this a software issue that can be fixed? This apparently uses the same DAC chip in the S8+ and Note 8 phones, which I can use an EQ on and it sounds fine....
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2018
    halcyon and Cesarlo like this.
  2. Rozzko
    Hi!
    And what's about Sony paltinum headphones? I understand that it's not the best sounding headphones, but it has Sony 7.1 virtual sound for some games, does mad lust try Sony platinum in uncharted 4? I thinking of best virtual sound for my PS4. Thanks
     
  3. mindbomb
    I think we all assumed optical output from a console, where the console can only output 5.1 dolby digital.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2018
  4. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    I know setting it to 7.1 works fine if you're feeding the optical signal to another dac, but I'm sitting here testing the Tests between 7.1 and 5.1, and to my ears, I get better positional cues when I set it to 5.1. The 7.1 speaker rear speaker cues directly compared to the same speaker cue in 5.1 sounds too close and not as accurate in position.

    So I still say that if you're feeding the G6 signal to another dac via the optical out, I would still recommend setting it to 5.1.

    Guys Creative is working on fixing the settings issues, and they also want to know what exactly is that you want them to do in terms if voice/game balance on things like the PS4. I don't have with a mic, so I'm not certain on what to tell them here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
    illram, Vader2k and Lay. like this.
  5. Fegefeuer
    yeah, the rear cues of the 7.1 setup sound what I called slightly "phasey". It was way worse on the G5 where it would not only blend more but also sound like someone is eating the back of your head. The HesuVi "version" of 7.1 SBX does have better rear cues from memory. More distinct, less crosstalk.

    Yet right now, all I want is a firmware that doesn't autoswitch and stays in the headphone mode forever together and ever, forever and ever and eeever, like 90's Eurodance.
     
    Vader2k likes this.
  6. Lay.
    Better option: Ability to select from the software if you like to use the gnob to 1) control sidetone or 2) control chat/game balance.

    Decent option: Ability to change and save the balance with software

    If you could change the chat/game balance with the G6 volume/sidetone gnob, this would be the best device ever for the PS4. I'm loving this thing with HDV 820 & HD 800 S
     
    Vader2k and Mad Lust Envy like this.
  7. Cesarlo
    Many thanks for assisting us with this, MLE. Much appreciated.

    As Lay. said, we need some way to balance and adjust the chat/game audio. It's been trial and error at the moment. Joined a party last night and a couple of people said I sounded a little far away from the mic, but I couldn't adjust it there and then - it'd mean disconnecting my G6, hooking it up to my laptop, going into settings, etc. It isn't ideal at all.

    They said I sounded really clear, better than when I used to use my boom mic with the X7, just that I sounded a little quiet.

    The time before that, game audio almost dominated the chat audio, to the point that I couldn't hear my friend very well at all at times. Again, there was nothing I could do on the fly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2018
  8. dandiego
    With the G6 in "Direct Mode", does it still decode Dolby Digital 5.1 and just output the left/right channels? Or does the full 5.1 signal just pass through untouched? Thanks
     
  9. headphonesonly
    It will only be stereo
     
  10. Mad Lust Envy Contributor
    I may edit/update in the future.

    ----------
    ----------

    Creative Sound BlasterX G6
    [​IMG]

    $150 (price checked Sep 2018)
    Where to buy: Creative, Amazon, Newegg


    Note: As with the X7, Creative will likely update the G6 throughout the months, fixing and improving its feature set where any issues encountered at the point of this review may well be eliminated. I will be updating this review whenever new fixes or tweaks are noteworthy and worth mentioning. The review will be written mostly as if all is working as it is intended. At the moment, there are problems which I will address in the 'Issues/Bugs' section of the review. This review will also be structured a little differently due to the sheer amount of features and settings I need to discuss.


    Creativelabs Sound BlasterX G6. A gaming-centric dac/amp, that supports up to 32bit/384khz quality audio.

    Before I begin, I'd like to give an obscene amount of thank yous to Creative for giving me the opportunity to test the G6 as well as the Creative Trio. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have had this chance. @Evshrug also receives many thanks for being the original point of contact between Creative and I. Ok, with that out of the way, on to the review.

    Creative has finally given us something we have been begging to have for years: A simple device that can output virtual surround to external dacs and/or amplifiers. Granted, this is not even close to its main use case, but it's finally here. Rather, it's here again, as Creative already gave us that in the form of the X7 a few years ago in form of an update for the X7, after many months of begging from the audiophile community. The X7 however is a bigger, more expensive, and more fully realized product that doesn't make too much sense to purchase just for that specific use. The G6 is more or less like a shrunk down version of the X7. More affordable, portable friendly, and without any real trade-offs aside from not being able to power speakers, and a little less feature packed. Is it worth your dime? I definitely think it may be, and in the future, I definitely think it will be. Let's see why.



    Build

    The G6 looks identical to the G5, but with more functionality and versatility. No larger than a standard men's wallet, if a little thicker, the G6 can be easily transported and easy to use for things such as laptops. It's encased in a really nice dark metallic finish with a brushed metal accent on top where the Sound BlasterX branding (which has a customizable RGB led on the 'X') is placed. The entire bottom side is covered in an anti-slip rubber material.

    On the front of the unit is the volume knob with a white led ring surrounding it that brightens as you raise the volume. If you push in the volume knob and hold it for a few moments, the led ring will light up red, letting you know that it has changed to sidetone (mic) volume control. To the left of the volume knob is the 3.5mm headphone jack, while the 3.5mm microphone input is on the right.

    On the back of the unit is the inputs and outputs. The far right is the micro USB input for power/PS4/PC dac capabilities. I really do hope that whatever comes next from Creative as a successor to this unit, will have USB-C input. Let's be forward thinking in this regard, and put micro usb to rest once and for all. But that's a general pet peeve against anything that still uses micro usb. I, for some reason, am prone to destroy micro usb ports.

    The leftmost input is the line/optical in, which you're likely to use for consoles to decode Dolby Digital for SBX virtual surround, and to the right of it is the line/optical out, which in my opinion is the most interesting aspect of the G6. Through the G6 software, you're able to set the G6 to output SBX headphone surround through the line/optical out, so you can gain the benefits of SBX with external dacs and amplifiers. Many of us here have our own (higher end) gear and will want the G6 simply to send SBX to our gear. Previously, our only solution for this was Creative's own X7, though it came with a steep price, and its own really good dac and amp, so it felt a bit redundant and wasteful. Now, while the G6 has a very clean sounding dac and respectable (and high volume output) amplifier, the affordability, and ability to use with external gear really is what makes it a must have in my opinion. I believe it makes gear like the Astrogaming Mixamp obsolete, at least for the more serious audiophile. Creative, THANK YOU, for this.

    Moving on to the sides of the unit, the left side is empty on any features. It simply has a black accent and some product information. Nothing worthy of note here. The right side is far more interesting.

    To the left of the unit, there is the Scout Mode button which also functions as a 'Direct Mode' toggle when pressed down for a few seconds (the button will blink continuously while in this mode). This bypasses all forms of processing for the purest stereo signal.

    To the right of the Scout Mode button is the SBX button which is pretty self explanatory. Pressing this will activate SBX processing.

    To the right of the SBX button is gain switch/slider. Low gain on the left, high gain on the right. The G6 has a very generous volume output, and I don't see almost any headphone having a problem being driven loudly. Loud does not equate to being perfectly driven, but at the very least it's far superior to the GSX1000's meager volume output which has a tendency to sound a bit low with harder to drive headphones. As an example, I would have to max out the volume on the GSX1000 when using my HiFiMAN HE-400 to have a moderate volume. The G6 has PLENTY of volume to spare and would kill my ears long before maxing out the volume.

    Finally, to the right of the right side of the unit is some indicators below 'Dolby Audio'. The three small indicators let you know what mode you're currently using. When the left indicator is lit up, you're on sidetone (mic) volume control mode. The center lets you know if the G6 is receiving a Dolby Digital signal. The right lets you know if you're in headphone volume control mode. Sidetone and volume indicators will blink if either one is muted/at their lowest volume.

    That's it as far as what's on the physical part of the G6.

    The G6, is noticeably lighter than Sennheiser's GSX1000, though I don't think weight is an issue with either unit. It feels very sturdy and well made. Despite its much lower cost compared to the GSX1000, it looks decidedly higher end, and of higher quality externally. Of course, the GSX1000 has all its functions directly on the unit making it a bit easier to use, but aesthetically, the G6 is a much more attractive unit to my eyes.

    During use, the G6 runs quite warm, but I expect it's well within internal tolerances. It's no Schiit Lyr, at least. That thing could fry an egg. The G6 makes a pretty comfy hand warmer.


    Accessories

    The G6 comes with a standard micro usb cable to type A, and an optical cable with a mini plug on on end that goes directly into the optical input on the G6 itself. Neither cable is very long, and in my case, both are way too short to get any real use out of them. My PC and consoles are connected to a 65" TV, and thus I need pretty lengthy cables to reach where I sit. Thankfully I have my own cables, but keep that in mind. You may need to have your own lengthy cables if you plan on having the G6 near you and aren't using it in a standard PC setup where you're sitting at a desk.

    That's it as far as what comes in the box, other than warranty, setup guide and other reading material. Not that it really needs anything else.


    Software

    As previously mentioned, the G6 needs the PC software to change some pretty important settings, so I do hope the prospective buyer has a computer on hand to tweak these settings. Fortunately, once you have everything set up in the software to your liking, there shouldn't really be a need to go back often, as the main functions can just be changed on the unit itself. Let me break down the actual software. There is a lot, as you'll undoubtedly notice. Starting with the far left, there is a long vertical column with a few main options:

    Dashboard:

    This is where you will find a few important subsections:

    BlasterX Experience - a Library of custom presets like Gaming, Music, DOTA 2, Overwatch, and many more. Each preset has specific settings, like a different EQ preset, surround mode, and other values. Whichever preset you choose will have a large image to the right of this section, showing your selection.

    To the right of this, is a condensed, cut down version of the other main sections as noted below:


    Sound:

    This is where you will find the following sub-sections:


    Equalizer

    Self explanatory. You can adjust the sound via various EQ presets, or even create your own presets and save them/add them to the list. As I like my headphones/speakers in their intended state, I don't use Equalizers. However, if you're used to tweaking a sound to your preference, there's enough customizability here to reach a sound you'd be happy with. Had it been a simple few presets, I probably would have tested them and given a few impressions on what they do, but there is simply way too many here. I'll leave it to those who actually use EQ settings to experiment.


    Acoustic Engine

    This is where you'll find the most useful settings the G6 software has to offer. Here you have:


    Surround - This is the SBX surround feature. Unlike the X7 where it was a slider with great granularity, the Surround options here are limited to Normal (which is basically SBX surround being turned off), Wide, and Ultra Wide. As SBX doesn't really have any reverb, I personally recommend Ultra Wide, so that there is discernible distance in the soundstage in which sound cues have space between you and the edge of the the soundstage. I feel wide has too small a soundstage and it makes it harder to discern sound cues that are behind you. I have been a fan of SBX surround for many years now. Having been used to the really heavily processed sounding Dolby Headphone, SBX was an incredible improvement and quite literally a game changer. There's really not much Creative can improve on with SBX, and I'm incredibly content with its inclusion here. Even with the advent of virtual surround processors like Sennheiser's GSX, and Dolby Atmos, I still believe SBX stand at the top in terms of cleanest audio signal relative to how well the surround processing performs. It's not my favorite in terms of raw surround emulation, but we're talking 99% of the way there. It is undoubtedly the best to my ears in terms of not affecting sound quality in negative ways compared to the others.


    Crystalizer - Think of this as Creative's own special voodoo magic that tries to decompress audio and turn it into higher quality. This setting is granular and can be set to anywhere between 0-100. I tried to figure out which specific ranges of frequency this affects, but it seems to affect the entire spectrum from small to very noticeable bumps across many ranges. I couldn't find any volume matching point between on and off, and thus I don't feel comfortable in guessing what it exactly affects, as the entire spectrum was louder compared to having this option off. I'm not someone who likes to alter the raw sound from my speakers or headphones, and as such, I leave settings like this off, personally. This may be beneficial for lower quality headphones/speakers that lack detail and sound muffled, low grade.


    Bass - This can also be adjusted from anywhere between 0-100. The higher, the louder the bass. From my testing with Sinegen, it affects and raises the volume from the very bottom of 15hz (the lowest point on Sinegen) all the way to about 90hz, in which it begins to roll off below non-EQ volume, and normalizes/balances out at around 160hz in which it no longer affects the rest of the frequency range. Again, not something I would personally use, but if you're not comfortable with tweaking the equalizer itself, this may be an easier way to get more bass from your bass deficient headphones, or if you're just an outright basshead.


    Smart Vol(ume) - This (per Creative): "Intelligently minimizes abrupt volume changes automatically". You can choose between Off, Auto, and Night. While I don't use this, I can see a reason to use it for things like cable television, where things like commercials may be much louder than whatever you're viewing.


    Dialog+ - You can choose between Off, Normal, Balanced, and Dialog Focus. I found very subtle changes between Off, Normal, and Balanced, with Dialog Focus really making a noticeable difference in volume compared to Off, especially in the bass and lower midrange.

    Scout Mode - The next sub-section under the Sound section after Acoustic Engine is Scout Mode. In Creative's own words (as stated in the software), Scout Mode is "Designed to help you hear what you see such as footsteps, speech, and weaponry handling acoustic characteristics without the use of explicit frequency shaping..."

    You can toggle it Off/On, and there is a Hot Key function and off/on toggle for the hot key. As far as Scout Mode itself, it seems to emphasize a broad range between 3-7khz to my ears. The details are turned up considerably. Despite what the software says, I do feel it is like a specialized EQ preset.

    Dolby - Next to Scout Mode is Dolby, which confused me at first as I had initially thought the SBX surround processing would be placed here. This sub-section is essentially Dolby's dynamic range compression. It goes from Full, to Normal, to Night. Per the software, wide volume swings between loud and quiet can be customized to match your listening preferences.

    Filters - The last sub-section under 'Sound' is 'Filters'. You get choices between: Fast Roll Off - Minimum Phase, Slow Roll Off Minimum Phase, Fast Roll Off - Linear Phase, and Slow Roll Off - Linear Phase. I used to have Audio-GD gear with similar options, and like back then, I had no idea what they truly did, and how to use them, so I left it in their original state. This is outside the scope of my understanding, and even when I read up on it, I still didn't quite grasp the intention and resulting effect.


    Voice:

    This is where the section 'Voice Morph' lies. As it's likely evident to everyone by now, this allows you to alter your voice in real time with 18 different preset 'voices'. On the right you can turn on the option to listen to your morphed voice.


    Lighting:

    This section allows you to customize the led RGB color of the X in BlasterX on the top of the G6 unit itself. Your options are as follows:

    Solo - This is a solid color of your choosing. I chose a dim red, as red is the easiest on the eyes in terms of possible strain/fatigue, and the least likely to annoy in a dark room.

    Pulsate - This option is a breathing effect. You can choose the color as well as how fast the color 'breathes'.

    Music Reactive - The color with pulsate based on music. The effect can range from subtle to obvious.

    Cycle - The color cycles in a rainbow-esque pattern. You can set the speed from slow to ridiculously fast.

    As far as how to change the color, you have a column with all manner of color gradients, as well the intensity of the color, opacity, and even numerical and hexadecimal notation of said colors. In short, if you can think of a color, it's capable on the G6. I personally went with a dim red, as it's proven to cause the least amount of eye strain, and doesn't brighten a dark room like other colors. I'm not about that RGB life.


    Sign In:

    Here you can register and sign in. Once signed in, The Info sub-section will display your First and Last Name, Birth Month, and Year. You can edit your profile, change your password, and sign out. The Products sub-section shows the product (Sound BlasterX G6) and you can register the product with Creative here. Nothing terribly exciting here.


    Setup:

    Placed far down in the main options column, Setup has some very important settings.


    Headphones:

    Here you can change the Output Mode, Configuration, and Apply Headphone Virtualization.


    Output Mode -changes between Audio Effects and Direct. Audio Effects is how you can use any processing options in the software. Direct mode is the purest, unprocessed stereo signal. I use both daily and it depends on whether I'm playing games, listening to music, or listening to other forms of media.

    Configuration - Here you can set the number of speakers. Stereo (the only way to get the advertised 32bit/384khz), 5.1 and 7.1 (which are the only ways to get proper SBX headphone surround to work). Both these will cap out at 32bit/96khz, and if you change back to stereo, it will be at 96khz, until you change the sampling rate back to 384khz in Windows sound panel. Note again that 384khz does not work unless Output Mode is set to Stereo. My recommendation here is to set to 32bit/96khz, and set speakers to 7.1. You'll have the best form of SBX surround, and if you want really clean stereo audio, you can just toggle direct mode either in the software or holding down the Scout Mode button on the G6 itself for a few seconds. 32bit/96khz sounds perfectly fine to me, and I don't personally see a discernible improvement/use for 384khz.

    Apply Headphone Virtualization To - Here you can change between sending SBX headphone surround to Headphones or Line and Optical Out (in case you have an external dac or amplifier that you wish to use instead of the G6's internal dac/amp but wish to retain SBX headphone surround.) This, to my head-fi community may be the big draw, as you can finally get SBX surround and send it directly to another DAC or amplifier, at half the cost of the only other device that did this before, the X7.


    Speakers:

    Here you can change the Output Mode, Configuration, and Speaker Type

    Output Mode - Audio Effects is how you can use any processing options in the software. Direct Mode is the untouched, unprocessed signal for purest sound. SPDIF-Out Direct allows up to 24/96 bit to bit streaming without processing to the optical output signal for your external devices with an optical input.

    Configuration - Stereo, 5.1, 7.1. Pretty self explanatory.

    Select Speaker Type - You can select from Desktop, Bookshelf, Tower, and Custom Speakers (which allows you to set the crossover frequency, the default for custom being 80hz).


    Mixer:

    Here you can change the various input/output volume levels and volume balance.

    Playback, Monitoring of the Line In, External Mic, SPDIF In as well as adjust the Recording volumes of the SPDIF In, External Mic, Line In, and 'What U Hear.


    Settings:

    Under General, you can change the language for the software, toggle whether you want the software to turn on when Windows starts, check for software updates.

    Under Device, you can reset to factory default, and check for firmware updates.

    Last but not least, at the very bottom of the software window in a bar displaying your current output, what BlasterX Experience preset you're on, whether Scout Mode is on, whether SBX is on, and whether Direct Mode is on. They're all dark and grayed out if not in use.

    Further on the bottom right is a mic icon, Dolby Audio icon, and headphone icon. You can also adjust the volume here directly.


    Ease of Use

    The G6 appears easy to use at first, but it actually requires quite a little bit of tweaking before you're 100% ready to go. It is wholeheartedly recommended that you first plug the G6 to a PC, update the firmware via Creative's website, download the drivers, and software. It's quite a bit more involved than the GSX1000 in this regard, which is more or less immediately plug and play. There is a bit of setup necessary in the software to change settings not found on the unit itself, which I'll talk about in a later section. I'll just say the software itself is not immediately easy to use, and will take a bit to get used to. Not too long, but it's not child's play at first glance.

    The functions on the unit itself are relatively easy and self explanatory to use. The only shortcuts on the unit are the previously mentioned sidetone (mic) volume setting which occurs when pressing down the volume knob for a few seconds, and the other being holding down the Scout Mode button to change to direct mode for purest unprocessed stereo audio. On gaming consoles, it also needs a bit of tweaking on their side. For example, on PS4, you need to connect both usb and optical cables, and make sure the system is outputting Dolby Digital to the optical out, as well as setting the audio going to the usb connection to chat only, since if you do all Audio, you won't get SBX surround. As I mentioned, it takes some setting up before you're ready to go.

    Personally, after getting used to the software layout, I didn't find much to complain about. The main areas of the software I normally visit are the Acoustic Engine (for SBX) and Setup (for changing the speakers between stereo to 5.1/7.1, and toggling between Audio Effects and Direct Mode). Considering that I can just use the G6 itself to change these settings other than speaker number, I really find the G6 easy to use in my use case. That being said, I tend to leave all bells and whistles off. Things like Equalizers, Night Modes, Presets, Scout Mode, Bass Controls, and other things of this nature, I always leave off. The only function I use that isn't the raw, purest sound, is surround processing, as I love to play games with virtual surround. Even that gets turned off when I listen to stereo sources, like music. Seeing as I leave basically everything off, I don't have much of a reason to interact with the software itself outside of the initial setup, switching from SBX to Direct mode.

    For anyone who likes to tweak all these things regularly, there is quite a lot to sift through in the software. I'm sure with some time it will be easy to use, but it's quite crammed with features to my eyes, where some people may be a little lost at first. Thankfully, the Dashboard section of the software is basically a cut down version of the other main sections, so most of the truly important settings are placed here for extra convenience.


    Amplification

    The G6 is surprisingly pretty potent for its small size. I don't have the specs to compare, but I can with confidence say it's likely the most powerful gaming amplifier outside of Creative's own X7. It provides ample volume from what I can see, and it makes the GSX1000 seems woefully underpowered in comparison. Now, it's no desktop amp, and I would recommend having a good amplifier on hand for insensitive or high impedance headphones, but for most general headphones and essentially all headsets, the G6 is definitely potent enough, providing an outstanding amount of volume headroom.


    Microphone

    I didn't have any issues connecting the mic to the G6. The G6 has a mic input, but the headphone jack also accepts TRRS plugs, so no need to use an adapter to insert into the mic input. The voice morph settings all sounded a bit different from one another, though Brute and Orc were more or less the same, with the Orc setting being slightly deeper. I dunno if it's just me, but the Emo setting sounded quite like my normal voice. What are you implying here, Creative? I kid. The mic monitoring worked as well as one can expect. Simply pressing in the volume wheel on the G6 turned the led red, and I was able to raise the volume where I could hear my own voice clearly.


    Personal Recommendations

    The G6 will suit a variety of uses, and different individuals. Do you have a somewhat decent amount of headphones with varying levels of sensitivity and uses? The G6 will more than likely do absolutely fine with any of them. I probably wouldn't advise attaching 600ohm headphones directly to it, but I wouldn't be surprised if they would at the very least be driven to loud volumes.

    If you just want one decent dac/amp for general use? The G6 has you covered. It has a clean, detailed sound to my ears and functions has a good dac, amp, or both.

    Do you just want a device that will send SBX virtual surround to your higher end audiophile gear? The G6 has you covered here as well. The virtual surround can be sent digitally to another dac.

    Only have an amplifier? The line out will allow the G6 to function as a dac, and can send virtual surround to your amplifier without double amping (the Astro Mixamp and Sennheiser GSX1000 would have to double amp, which is less ideal, objectively speaking).

    Despite a few pet peeves with the software, I believe the G6 is the best gaming dac/amp to come out since the Creative's X7, and an even more attractive option if you already have your own gear.


    Comparisons

    Asus Xonar U3: This is an old, tiny device that is usb and PC use only, so not exactly comparing apples to apples. That being said, it is a much more affordable choice, and can also send virtual surround to dacs or amps for very low cost. Problem being that's older, uses Dolby Headphone (which is inferior to SBX in most regards), has a weak amplifier, and I personally wouldn't use for anything other than a way to send Dolby Headphone to your own gear. The G6 is in every way a superior device, with much more versatility. Unless you're pinching pennies and need a super low cost option, I would skip the U3 for the G6 any day of the week.

    Sennheiser GSX1000: This is a much more legitimate comparison. I really like the warmer, more analog-esque sound quality of the GSX1000, and I think GSX surround may be the best virtual surround out. Not by much, but I just have a slight preference to how it sounds in terms of positional cues over SBX (though we're talking a very, very slight preference). I also like that the GSX1000 is incredibly easy to use, and there is no software. All its options and settings are on the unit itself via its touch interface. On the downside, the GSX1000 is limited to just PC use through USB, and can't send GSX surround to other dacs or amplifiers, outside of attaching an amplifier to its headphone jack, which is not ideal. This is a hard comparison because I love both devices, but I have to say for most people, I think the G6 is a better option. Not only is it considerably cheaper, but it's far more versatile. I would only recommend the GSX1000 over the G6 if you simply only plan on using a device for a PC, and don't have harder to drive headphones. Even then, you're spending quite a bit more, for a more limited device.

    Creative X7: The X7 is the older, bigger, and more fleshed out sibling to the G6, and as such, is the one to go for when you just want one device that does absolutely everything. I prefer its software much, much more than the G6. The X7 has a very potent dac and amplifier, so there really is no need to get anything more. This is the one I would recommend for newcomers that want it all without needing to attach anything else. If you have or plan on using other higher end products with a gaming device, the G6 makes more sense, no question. It's half the cost of the cheapest X7, and considering you'll be using another dac and amp, all of the extra goodies on the X7 are left unused in that situation.

    Astro Mixamp: This is probably the one a lot of newcomers would probably be interested in. Unfortunately, it has been many years since I've owned any Mixamp, and I can't say what improvements, if any have been made since. All I know is that the older Mixamps (2013 and older), didn't have particularly good internals either in their dacs or amp stages. I would choose a G6 over the Mixamp 99% of the time. I believe the main benefit of choosing a Mixamp over the G6 is the game/voice volume mixing on the fly. Even then, I still would lean heavily towards the G6 due to all its other strengths over the Mixamp, including better virtual surround, cleaner, more powerful amplifier, its line/optical out properties, and more.


    Likes, Dislikes, Issues

    Likes:
    • SBX Surround​
    • High volume output​
    • Clean sound​
    • Many options​
    • Virtual surround through its line/optical out​
    • Aesthetics​
    • Versatility​

    Dislikes:
    • Software layout​
    • Software bugs (as of writing this review), like not saving settings consistently/reverting settings​
    • Can't adjust game/chat balance without going into the software​


    Issues:


    1. Not saving settings consistently.

    Apply Headphone Virtualization settings, under the Setup section is not saving the setting correctly. Let me explain. That setting has no reason to revert. So if I set it to line out/optical, I want it to remain on line out/optical from then on. Well, right now, it sometimes reverts to one or the other. I don't know what causes the setting to stick to a particular one, but it's not consistent. So I basically have to check or change that setting EVERY TIME I turn the PC/G6 on. Now, I have done most of my testing on PC, but I can imagine if someone is mainly a console gamer and wants a specific setting only to find that it keeps reverting to the other, and they aren't getting headphone virtualization where they want it, this can be incredibly frustrating.

    Say if my PS4 is in the living room, and I notice headphone virtualization isn't being applied to the line out/optical which I would send the signal to my own external dac/amp. I'll have to go back to my bedroom with the G6, turn on the PC, go to the G6 software, change the setting, and then go put the G6 back next to my console setup in the living room. Every single day. And there are even users that don't even have PCs, so their chances to change the settings are even more limited.

    I think it's a bigger problem for people using the G6 simply to send headphone virtualization to the line out/optical for their own external gear. It may possibly default to Headphone, and they can't benefit from headphone virtualization for their gear until they go to the settings on PC and change it. This has no reason to auto switch unless it detects a headphone being connected to the G6, and as far as I can tell, this setting does NOT have an auto switch function.

    My recommendations here is that hopefully wherever your G6 is setup, it is also attached to a PC, so that you can periodically check if the 'Apply Headphone Virtualization' is set to what you need it to be. In the case of headphones being attached directly to the G6, this setting does not matter, as it will still get proper headphone virtualization, but if you plan on using the G6 just to send SBX surround to your own dac or amplifier, this setting is the most crucial setting of all.

    If you're someone who plans on only using the G6 with consoles, and only plan on attaching headphones to the G6 and not to external gear, you won't have any real issues. The G6 will pick up the consoles Dolby Digital signal through the optical cable (assuming you have the console set to that), and all you have to do is turn on the SBX button on the unit. The only inconsistency here may be that you won't know if you're getting Wide or Ultra Wide for the SBX setting. Only the software on a PC lets you know what setting SBX is on, and due to the device not being consistent with these settings, you simply have no way of knowing outside of listening to the unit and knowing the difference between Wide and Ultra Wide.

    I have faith Creative will fix this with an update, but be wary that this is a current issue. I will update this review if and when this is fixed.


    2. Software pet peeves.

    The software is a step back from the X7's software which is easy to understand and navigate. It's not rocket science, but I feel the software layout can be cleaned up and simplified a bit.

    The Sign In, Setup, Settings are separated from Dashboard, Sound, Voice, Lighting sections. They're close when the window is small, but since you need to maximize to see all options, these three options are on the very bottom for some inexplicable reason.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Just keep them together, Creative. There shouldn't be a need for people to have to go to the bottom for some settings and the top for others, especially if Setup has some important settings like where to send headphone virtualization.

    In the Dashboard section, there is the BlasterX Experience. It's a long list of options that I didn't quite understand at first. It wasn't until recently that I realized it was a list of custom presets that change a variety of options. I also think this should be in its own section instead of only in the dashboard where it doesn't have any information as to what it is. There is a brief mention of what preset is chosen in the sound section, but only the name of the preset and nothing else. It's not even selectable here. Maybe I lack common sense here, maybe not.

    Under the Sound section, the first thing you see is the Equalizer screen. Well, I don't ever use Equalizer, so for me, it's just one big empty space. In my opinion, this section should have started with the Acoustic Engine sub-section which has a lot of important settings you will care about. Not to mention, that depending on whether you're in a smaller window or maximized window, these sections CHANGE ORDER.

    [​IMG]

    to

    [​IMG]

    Why? In a small window, Scout Mode is on the top left (and looks like the 1st option), but in a maximized window it is the 3rd option. Please fix this for consistency's sake. I personally think Acoustic Engine, Scout Mode, Equalizer, Dolby Dynamic Range Control, and Filters would be the best order. Just my two cents.

    Lastly, when the software doesn't detect the device, all the options change. Why does the software have settings when a device isn't even connected? These are settings that you'll never see as long as the G6 is connected. It's confusing to me.



    Final Impressions

    Barring some software woes, some settings like Surround and Apply Headphone Virtualization being a finicky setting at the moment, I believe the G6 is a potentially huge win for Creative, and something I recommend all headphone gamers that don't already have an X7 look into. There's just so much to this device, that it's impossible to be anything but elated by its feature set (aside from the previously mentioned issues). It is a stellar device that will only get better and better.

    I think the G6 is going to be an immensely popular device in the gaming community. It will surely be an automatic recommendation as a gaming dac/amp for 99% of people who ask me personally (once the issues are fixed). Creative just needs to get to work on fixing its problems so I can completely recommend it. From something that I'd at the moment consider a 7/10 (because those issues are a huge problem, and many general consumers will not want to deal with them), it can easily end up as something closer to 9/10. If they can improve the software to be simpler and easier to understand, I'd say it'd be a nearly perfect product.

    [​IMG]

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    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  11. themrmikemcd
    Can soneone please help save me from wasting my money? I have the dt770s 80ohm coming in. I have a PS4 and a mix amp and also have FIO E12 amp.

    My question is, would buying a dac\amp combo make any benificial sound difference than the mixamp\E12 that I am currently using? I dont need chat and only use for caual gaming, but want the best sound in the $100 price range.

    My mix amp is getting old and hissing a little more and wondered if buying a dac\amp to use instead of the mix amp could give me any BETTER results. Thank you all for always being so awesome!
     
  12. tmaxx123
    Do yourself a favor and sell everything. Buy an x7 , full set of sparkos opamps and never look back :)
     
    themrmikemcd likes this.
  13. themrmikemcd
    Oh, I had to sell like 3 headphones to get the DT770s lol. I have a little left over and was just wanting to upgrade my sound/ not have to use my mix amp if there was a decent benefit of using a dac\amp combo... If someone would by my ultra rare pink and white hyper x clouds 2 on ebay I would totally invest in the X7!
     
  14. Pairzilla
    Where can one buy the sparkos? I've looked at their site and didn't see any links to sellers? Also is there a certain one that best fits the X7?
     
  15. tmaxx123
    eBay or send the owner an email from his website.
    X7 needs 4 opamps total:
    ss3602 x2
    ss3601 x2

    Sound is absolutely phenomenal after the upgrade. It’s an investment but if you want the absolute best for gaming/hi res audio all in one, its the best way to go. It’s sound rivals some of my more expensive equipment.
     
    Pairzilla likes this.

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