It’s been awhile since Creative sent us the SoundBlasterX Katana to review, but after months of use, we’ve arrived at the conclusion that it may well be the best soundbar available on the market right now—and it won’t even break your bank.
The Katana goes head to head against pricier products from more popular brands like Pioneer, Sony and Yamaha—and despite costing at least $100 less than their cheapest offerings, it comes out on top. Even better: it’s got subtle under-lights and looks beautiful as part of any home theater ensemble, especially in the dark. It even comes with a pair of wall mount brackets if you want to go crazy with your setup.
I can’t place enough emphasis on how good it sounds—not just when I’m directly seated in front of it on the PC, or over 15 feet across the room on my lounge chair. The Katana’s capable of handling loud volumes without any crackling—to the point where I preferred to keep it at a moderate “20” setting. The subwoofer that comes with it may not have as much definition as a dedicated $500 unit, but given that it’s directly paired with the Katana, you won’t have to do any sort of tweaks to make it sound just right.
Creative’s offering comes with a wired subwoofer and will plug directly into almost anything you have on your desktop or home theater system. I had it plugged into my Sony UHD-TV via optical connection, and it paired seamlessly with games I had running on the PlayStation 4 Pro. It also comes with a micro USB slot for PC audio (assuming you don’t have a sound card), a 3.5mm aux, and a microphone input. It also offers a slot for a USB flash drive, in case you have MP3s laying around on one of those, and Bluetooth support so you can pipe through music from an iPhone, Android phone, or laptop.
The only downside is that it lacks is an HDMI input, making it less than ideal for older, smaller TVs. Given that most modern TVs (even smaller ones) have optical out, it’s not too big a deal—but it’s something to keep in mind.
Gaming on Speakers, Done Right
The Creative Katana is perfect for gaming if you don’t intend to clutter your set-up with 7.1 towers or wear a headphone. With 7.1 audio that delivers 24bit/96kHz high resolution audio, the Katana can perform virtual surround sound that works when you plug it into USB on the PC.
Plus, it’ll look pretty with any LED-backlit keyboard. The Katana comes with a variety of LED color options so you can stream a rainbow of colors or keep things low-key with one of the more subtle glows. You can also turn it off entirely, if that gets too distracting for the game you’re playing—not that I had any issue with that.
If you’re gaming at night, the headphone-out lets you plug any pair of headphones equipped with a 3.5mm jack, or enable “night mode,” which lowers the bass output.
PC gamers will also be pleased to know that every Katana comes with a free download of Warhammer: End Times – Vermintide.
For a device that’s priced at a mere $299, the Katana is an absolute steal thanks to its wonderful form factor and surprisingly powerful audio. I give it two thumbs up. You can get it directly from Creative.
Creative sent Gameranx a sample unit of the Sound BlasterX Katana for the purposes of this review.