With so many options to choose from, picking the right headset can be a daunting task. Creative, the audio company best known for its PC sound cards has released an all new 7.1 headset called the Sound BlasterX H7. It’s a part of the company’s lineup of audio solutions intended for PC gamers. As with their other products, the H7 does not disappoint.
The H7 comes packaged in a plastic dome, defying conventional packaging. It can be a bit of a hassle to get open, but once I got it out, setting up the headset was a breeze. The H7 comes with a USB cable, a 3.5mm cable, and a removable microphone that attaches directly into the headset.
The earpads and headband are covered in soft leatherette material with memory foam that fit very comfortably. The other parts are a mix of brushed black reinforced steel and matte plastic, giving it an all-black design. Even with the microphone attached, it remains fairly light. It’s easily one of the more comfortable headsets I’ve worn, which is especially important given that you’ll be wearing them for hours at a time when you’re gaming or just sitting at the computer.
The exterior of the cups has a BlasterX logo that lights up in red when you plug it in via USB, which pulse to the music you’re listening to. You’re not going to be able to see it, but it looks nice when worn in public at a LAN café or while on Twitch.
The H7 is powered by a 50mm driver that’s powerful enough to drive bass-heavy music without muddying the sound. Creative lists the driver’s sensitivity as 118dB/Mw with a 32Ohm impedance, meaning your iPhone will be able to drive it, if you so prefer. The frequency response is standard for 50mm drivers, at 20Hz to 20kHz. As for how it sounds with music, it’s one of the better gaming headsets I’ve listened to and suffers from none of the drawbacks exhibited by the similarly priced Razer Kraken 7.1 Chroma.
When I first installed the headset, I experienced some issues with the microphone, which was dropping in and out during voice chat. You have to push it in until you feel a click, or you’ll experience intermittent disconnections. Once I figured that out, the microphone worked as advertised with no further issues. The unidirectional microphone is attached to a flexible boom with noise reduction.
The braided cable from the headset attaches to a control unit that allows you to mute the microphone, control the volume output, and pause/play music and answer calls on Skype. The pod has two outputs: USB and standard 3.5mm. Using the USB output lets you take full advantage of the headset’s 7.1 features and even plug it directly into a PlayStation 4. It’ll also work with an Xbox One, but only through the 3.5mm connector.
When hooked up via USB, you can use the BlasterX Acoustic Engine to select your sound profile, control the LED lighting, and fiddle around with a variety of options including surround, crystalizer, bass, smart volume, and dialog plus. You can also move from 7.1 to 5.1 or Stereo, though I prefer to keep it at 7.1 to get all the advantages the directional sound offers in first-person shooters. Like Creative’s other offerings, you can also turn on Scout Mode to listen raise the volume of footsteps in games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
If you just want to play games with the H7, Creative offers something called the X-Plus Configurator that automatically configures the headset whenever it’s in USB mode to modify the audio signature with a game-specific profile whenever you launch a supported game like The Witcher 3 or CSGO. The configurator reduces the volume of “non-critical sounds” like ambient noise and amplifies the footsteps and gunshots.
Additionally, the H7 plays well with the Sound BlasterX G5 headphone amplifier/DAC, which I previously reviewed, and plugs in directly into the device through either its 3.5mm audio port or USB input at the back.
The H7 costs $129 and is fairly inexpensive for the features it offers and its solid build quality. The 7.1 audio offers precise directional sound in 3D games, and the fact that it can hook up directly to the PS4 without turning your desktop into a mess of wires offers it a major advantage over other products in the same price range. Overall, Creative did an excellent job with the Sound BlasterX H7.
It’s available from most online electronics retailers or directly from Creative.
Disclosure: A unit was provided by Creative for the purpose of this review.