Sound BlasterX H7 Headset Review
Given the fact that one of my favourite products to take a look at is Headsets it’s pretty amazing that we’ve never tested a product from Creative, well until now that is. Creative have after all been around for what seems like forever in the world of PC audio starting with the ubiquitous Sound Blaster Live card way back when. Today I will be taking a look at the latest and most expensive headset that Creative currently produce, this is the Sound BlasterX H7.
The Sound BlasterX H7 is the king of the BlasterX range that itself is new from Creative. The range comprises of the H7, H5 and H3. The H7 is a circumaural stereo headset that also features 7.1 virtual surround sound. The headset is equipped with two 50mm Drivers with a frequency range of 20-20,000Hz. In addition to this the H7 features a detachable microphone and an in-line control box featuring volume, mic mute and call control.
The Sound BlasterX H7 arrived at pcG in what must be one of the most unusual boxes yet seen. The box itself is circular (so that may mean it’s not a box at all!) with a clear front allowing full view of the headset within. The box/case also happens to stand up making for quite a feature on the desktop. There’s very little information on the front other than the product name and the following highlights: Professional 7.1 HD – USB/Analogue Headset and CLEARER – LOUDER – HARDER – BETTER. That’s what it says…
The packaging is not what you’d call frustration free though, although to be fair it did a fine job of protecting the contents. It took some time to get the headset out of the box thanks to numerous pieces of tape here and there. This needs to be improved IMHO although I do like the case itself.
Once inside the box we find the H7 headset along with its detachable microphone and two braided cables one for PC and one for mobile devices (phones/tablets etc). In addition to this there’s also a basic multilingual guide as well as warranty information.
At the time of writing the Sound BlasterX H7 headset is available from Amazon for approximately £112 and comes with a 1 year warranty.
courtesy of Creative
Windows Vista™ 32/64 bit SP1 or higher
BlasterX Acoustic Engine Software for Windows
First impressions of the Sound BlasterX H7 are very good, the H7 is a good looking headset and reminds me of the original HyperX Cloud/QPAD QH-90. In fact it’s very similar in the fact that the headband and the ear-cup supports are identical, maybe the innards are the same also!? The design of the H7 is one that’s likely to appeal to many as it’s not too over the top and in fact may be considered by some as a little understated. Only the Sound BlasterX design on the ear-cups lift the H7 out of the norm, especially when the headset is powered up… 😉
The design of both of the ear-cups is effectively the same with the left side featuring both the captive braided cable and the 3.5mm Jack socket for the detachable microphone. Each ear-cup features a single 50mm Driver with a frequency range of 20 – 20,000Hz. The ear-cups themselves are big enough to fit over your ears (circumaural) and are of the closed back variety, meaning that sound leakage is kept to a minimum. The ear-cups feature a large degree of vertical swivel but very little horizontal movement, but fit over and around the ear (even a large ear) well. Each ear-cup also sports an aluminium face plate that features a smart looking Sound BlasterX design with an illuminating (red) ‘X’ logo.
The headband is made from steel and and is surrounded (top and bottom) with a good deal of padding and covered in faux leather. The top of the headband also sports a smart looking Sound BlasterX logo, although (somewhat disappointingly) it is only printed on. The inner part of the headband has plenty of padding which is always good to see, or is that feel!
The H7 features an adjustable headband that’s likely to fit the smallest head (as it’s very small when retracted) to almost the largest when at full extension. I say almost as I’ve not got the largest head (insert joke here) but I used the headset on a setting only a couple of notches away from full extension. So if you’ve got a really big head, this may not be the headset for you.
Within each ear-cup the 50mm Driver is covered with a thin soft material to ensure that the Driver doesn’t rub against your ear. Each cushion also utilizes memory foam to further aide comfort levels.
The In-Line Control Box (ILCB) can be found approximately 350mm from the headset itself. Personally I think this is too close as it dangles around by you chest and generally gets in the way IMHO! The ILCB supports volume control, courtesy of a small wheel, microphone mute via the top mounted switch and call control (phone only) via the side mounted button. Note there is no illumination here, which I feel is a shame, although there is a simple red ‘X’ logo on the top.
As I mentioned earlier the detachable microphone attaches by way of a single 3.5mm Jack socket found at the bottom of the left ear-cup. The microphone is of the boom variety and features a flexible pipe-cleaner style design. This means that the microphone can be positioned in the desired position (close to the mouth) and actually stays there! 😉 Note that the microphone is also fitted with a windscreen (foam bobble) in an aide to keep popping (from the ‘P’ sound) to a minimum as well to protect against unwanted noise and moisture.
At this point I have to say that I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen so far. The Sound BlasterX H7 appears to be a well made good looking headset that should appeal to many. Although at this point it’s hard to see where the £112 price tag comes into play, but of course I’ve not heard it yet…
|Connection options for the Sound BlasterX are a little odd, especially when connecting to PC. The only way to connect to PC is via the USB cable provided, meaning that if you’ve got a decent sound card such as a Sound Blaster Z (oh the irony!), you’ll not be able to connect it up! That’s because the only other cable provided is a combined headphone/microphone plug for tablets, mobile phones etc!? Also the supplied USB cable for PC is too short in my opinion at just 1.5m.|
The Sound BlasterX H7 headset was tested on our new Test Rig, a fresh installation of Windows 10 was performed as to get full functionality from the H7 the Sound BlasterX software needs to be installed (get it here).
Version 1.01.11 of the Blaster X Acoustic Engine Pro software was downloaded and used throughout testing.
The following games were also used during testing:
- Metro Last Light (benchmark)
- Unigine Heaven (benchmark)
The performance of a headset is predominately based upon what it sounds like, therefore what we have here is my opinion on what I think about the audio performance of the Sound BlasterX H7 headset; of course this is somewhat subjective…
Overall the sound reproduction of the H7 headset is very good indeed and definitely challenges my favourite headset the HyperX Cloud (QPAD QH-90). The sound produced in Game is both clear and vibrant in fact I’d say the default setup seemed a little over bright if anything. Bass reproduction is also very good with the 50mm Drivers capable of some really low tones. Volume levels are also good (I like it loud BTW!) with the H7 capable of some real volume, although I did notice the control itself (on the ILCB) was a little noisy in operation. Detail levels were also particularly good with new sounds being heard (mainly in Overwatch) that had not been heard before – a clear sign of a good headset. Also all of the frequencies were well represented with a particularly impressive mid-range, it’s good to see a manufacturer focus on something other than just bass…
Of course should you wish to mess with the sound there’s the BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro software to play with. Here you can mess with the headset and its sound to your hearts content and there’s plenty on offer from pre-defined and custom Sound Profiles for Games through to Stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 (Virtual) configurations. Now as some of you may know I’m not a fan of virtual surround sound, in fact I’m not really a fan of software when it comers to sound. But what Creative have provided here is very good and is the best example of Virtual Surround Sound that I’ve heard. Wow James are you feeling ok!? 😮
As far as comfort is concerned the Sound BlasterX H7 scores very well indeed thanks to the large openings for your ears (even large ears!) and thanks in part to the use of plenty of memory foam within the cushions themselves. Even during those longer play sessions lasting 4-5hrs (here’s looking at you Witcher 3) the H7 remained very comfortable, although your ears are likely to get a little on the warm side as there’s little to let them breathe. Of course the plus side of this is that thanks to the closed back design very little noise escapes, sop you’re unlikely to upset your neighbours, should they be close… 😉
In testing with our VOIP of choice (Razer Comms) the noise-reduction microphone worked well, and I had no complaints (other than the usual) from my online buddies. This was despite the fact that there’s no way of easily knowing if you’ve got the microphone facing you, thanks to that foam bobble! In setting up I found that I did not need to mess with any of the Windows controls to get good results; Result!
Creative’s Sound BlasterX H7 is indeed a fine Gaming headset, that not only looks good but sounds even better, but it’s not without some minor flaws. Lack of PC connectivity options for soundcard owners is one but the biggest is likely to be the price…
The Sound BlasterX H7 arrived at pcGameware in what must be the most unusual box yet seen for a headset. The circular case is really rather smart and shows off the headset well, but it was a bit of a nightmare to get into to be honest, with bits of tape everywhere. But once out of the box and in my hands I quickly warmed to the H7 and noted that it was rather similar to the HyperX Cloud and QPAD QH-90. Although this is no bad thing as the original QH-90 (which the Cloud is based upon) is my personal headset of choice!
The Sound BlasterX H7 is a good looking headset (if a little understated) with a large 50mm Driver in each ear-cup, meaning that this is a stereo headset that also happens to feature virtual surround sound via the (not supplied) software. Each ear-cups features a smart looking Sound Blaster ‘X’ logo that illuminates Red when powered up and can also be controlled via the software. In addition to this the in line control box (ILCB) features volume control, microphone mute and a call control (for mobiles) button. I have to say that I’m a little disappointed by the ILCB and feel Creative could have done more. The volume control is also somewhat small and also noisy in operation and there’s no illumination which also would have been nice, especially at this price. Also the cable distance from the headset to the ILCB is too short (just 350mm) meaning that it dangles around by your chest. Even the cable from the ILCB to the PC is quite short at just 1.5m.
Once powered up the H7 looks a little better thanks to the pulsating ‘X’ logos on the side of each ear-cup. The H7 sounds good too, really good in fact and is one of the best sounding headsets I’ve heard in some time and gives my personal headset of choice (HyperX Cloud (not Cloud II)) a real run for its money. But it’s worth noting that out of the box you cannot connect this headset to a soundcard, even Sound Blaster’s own Zx which is what I use normally! Why? Well out of the box the headset can be either connected by USB or by a combined mic/headphone Jack plug like the one found on a mobile phone!? Personally I think this is a big oversight on Creative’s part and rather poor IMHO!
But getting back to the sound, the sound provided by the USB soundcard is, especially for a USB soundcard, probably the best I’ve heard. The sound reproduced by the 50mm Drivers is very clear and controlled, picking up sounds in Overwatch that I’d not even heard before. The sound is also well rounded with no major emphasis on a particular frequency. In fact the mid-range is particularly impressive, and it’s nice not to see (or is that hear) that the sound is simply drowned out by over zealous bass.
The microphone also performed well in testing and I had now complaints from my online friends, well, only when I messed with the Voice FX controls in the software. The software itself is also very comprehensive and easy to use and is a great place for those who like to mess (sorry tune) the sound to their liking.
The one major issue that the Sound BlasterX H7 faces though is the price as at £112 (at the time of review) it’s pretty expensive. Especially when you consider you can get a HyperX Cloud for under £60. Ok, it doesn’t feature Virtual surround sound, but for another £60 you can buy a Creative Sound Blaster Z card and have quite the sound setup. Decisions, decisions… 😉
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Many thanks to Creative for providing this sample for review