Creative Sound Blaster X3 Review

Design & Build Quality



“Looks like a cheap Knock-off of JDSLabs The Element, no ?”

The Creative Sound Blaster X3 definitely looks like JDSLabs DAC/AMP with its large volume wheel, surrounded by a LED Ring, and square base. But, this is where the similarities end.


Where the Elements exhibits a classy aluminum chassis, CNC’ed in one big chunk of metal, the Sound Blaster X3 uses plain plastic. From afar, the difference isn’t easy to spot, but look closer and your eyes will immediately catch it. 

The Creative X3 can be hooked with just a USB-C cable

That said, the X3 doesn’t feel as cheap as it may look on a first basis. Sure, Creative won’t win a visual award for this DAC, but for a plastic one, it’s very impressive to see how close they get to to the genuine metallic case.

Obviously, it’s not as polished as The Element, but at the same time, it’s also twice cheaper. So yeah, I’m willing to let it pass, even if it’s a bit… clunky. It has a certain charm, if I may say so.

Build Quality

The Creative Sound Blaster X3 is well built, but seriously lacks the finesse of the usual gear we review on Headfonia.

No gold-plated port, no laser-etched logo, just your plain marks, printed over the device. Thankfully, everything fits right in place, and even after a few hundred, if not thousand, plug in/out, no port has loosened up.

On the good side :

  • the volume knob feels strangely comfortable
  • Size and weight are perfect, 12,9×12,9x4cm for 330g
  • The LED ring is a gimmick, but the kind of gimmick you’ll like

The three buttons upfront gives a nice “click”, and the Sound Blaster logo at the back is the only way to identify the X3 as a Creative legacy’s product.

Not the best, but also not the worse device we held. So let’s take a look at the layout now.


This is where the Sound Blaster X3 gets to shine.

The front panel gets :

  • One headphone out. A classic 3,5mm TRS headphone jack
  • A microphone in. So you can connect your microphone and get your own pre-amp.

On the rear side, you have :

  • a full array of line-out to connect your home-theater, or your speaker amp. Front/Side/Rear/Center-sub, so you can get up to 7 speakers + 1 Subwoofer
  • line-in (Jack 3,5mm). A classic, allowing you to connect another DAC to your X3 and enjoys the headphone-amp/Pre-amp
  • An optical-out, to use the Sound Blaster as a bridge between your computer and your DAC. Works as a pass-through. 
  • And finally, a USB-C Port, to power and feed the X3

It’s all very clever, and Creative even allows you to control each side’s volume, in case you want to keep some pieces of information through your headphone, and the rest onto the speakers via SPDIF.

Of course, I’m a bit sad to see that Creative didn’t add a balanced output, but you better have a good unbalanced one, than a mediocre balanced one.

Inside the box

This will be fast, you don’t get much with the Sound Blaster X3.

In the box you have :

  • the Creative Sound Blaster X3
  • a USB-C Cable
  • a quick-start manual

The end.

Yes, this is a very, very, simple/dire bundle, so if someone ever offers you to make an unboxing video with the DAC, you better be ready to improvise.

Let’s get to the handle part, shall we?

The article continues on Page Three, after the click here

4.4/5 - (188 votes)

A nerdy guy with a passion for audio and gadgets, he likes to combine his DAC and his swiss knife. Even after more than 10 years of experience, Nanotechnos still collects all gear he gets, even his first MPMAN MP3 player. He likes spreadsheets, technical specs and all this amazing(ly boring) numbers. But most of all, he loves music: electro, classical, dubstep, Debussy : the daily playlist.


  • Reply April 16, 2020

    Tom Lee

    Thanks for the review! I happen to see the X3, and I have been thinking to choose it over the Mojo. Could you elaborate a bit when saying its amp section is better than the Mojo considering there’s no amp section in the Mojo?

    With its design, I guess it is mainly used for desktop not portable. I am also curious to know if there’s noise isolation implemented in the X3 i.e would the electrical noise (RF noise) coming from the computer to the DAC be eliminated? And if there’s a DAC connected through its optical out would the noise be eliminated too before the signal is sent to the DAC? The Mojo doesn’t have such noise isolation which raises my concern, but it is understandable because the Mojo is made for portable usage.


  • Reply April 17, 2020


    Creative provides usb analog multi-channel DAC/sound cards with little to no compatibility with linux, and this one makes no exception.
    Too bad.
    There was a linux friendly product called Aim ultimate usb audio which is now discontinued. I’ve been using mine for 6 years and I fear the day it may stop working, because there’s no true replacement device available at such a price and quality level, even from Asus.
    Unless you know about one!

  • Reply April 29, 2020


    Hi there, nice review. Could you elaborate more on the SXFi effect on multi-channel content?
    As I understand from its spec sheet, you could also choose use SBX profiles for mutli-channel.

    Are there any comparisons between SBX and SXFi?

    If I am not wrong, PS4 can only output a stereo signal to the X3. Are you able to test and compare the SXFi with other virtual surround sound systems(e.g SBX, Dolby Atmos for headphones) with 5.1/7.1 content on the PC?

    Finally, I have read on forums that the latest firmware update from Creative cleared a lot of sound issues with the X3. It was released at the end of April.

  • Reply July 7, 2020


    “it doesn’t work with non-certified Super X-Fi headphones”
    Ok. I stop reading here.

  • Reply April 21, 2021

    J Law

    This is the very reason i got this X3 is to revive my Z-5500, but after plugging it in like i usually do and switcht o the 6 CH direct input…no sound comes through the x3…when i’ve detected audio working on windows 10

  • Reply May 4, 2021

    James Harrison

    Creative has always provided center channel AND subwoofer through the SAME output. You just need a Y-splitter from the center/sub out and one part of the Y will be the sub output and the other will be the center. I don’t know why they do it this way, but they do, and it actually works. You’ll probably never read this comment, but just thought I would give you the solution since you asked for it.

  • Reply August 10, 2021

    David Novak

    The Creative SXFI THEATRE have a great sound quality!

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