In recent years, soundbars have conquered the home theater market. The advantages of the narrow sound bars are obvious: due to their compact form, they require little space and still generate a room-filling sound. In most cases even surround sound can be simulated, whereby the results of different systems differ in their quality. A further advantage is that, unlike a full-grown 5.1 system, no complex wiring is required for the rear surround speakers. The “WAF” (Wife Acceptance Factor) thus benefits immensely.
The company Creative now wants to bring the concept to the desk and is aimed primarily at fans of digital entertainment and professional “Steam-Sale” collectors. The LEDs on the underside are therefore as inevitable as the Amen in the church. Because of the estimated 300 € the Sound BlasterX Katana should offer more than RGB-Swag .
Weak Midrange, but Powerful Bass
In order to give the sound more power, a wired subwoofer is included in the scope of delivery in addition to the sound bar itself and an infrared remote control. This is also bitterly necessary, because without this support the sound is very thin and limited to the rather pointed highs. Unfortunately Creative chooses the sledgehammer method for the bass, so in the default setting the bass hums very strongly and drowned out the rest.
However, if the sound bar is connected to the PC via USB, the optional driver software can help. Unfortunately, not all problems can be solved so easily. Although the software offers many possibilities to adapt the sound to your own needs, the sound remains similar. The highs are a bit too high, the midrange remains too much in the background and the bass is imprecise but powerful. In this case, marketing departments like to choose the description “gaming-optimized sound”.
If the Sound BlasterX Katana would cost half the price, the sound would be absolutely fine. In the 300 € price range, however, it competes with candidates such as the “Companion 50” by Bose or the “Concept C” by Teufel. They don’t offer real surround sound either, but better stereo separation. The virtual surround sound of the Sound BlasterX Katana is also not very convincing. If this is activated in the software, only a slight reverb effect will occur.
The RGB lighting is a nice bonus, but should not be the only reason to buy. Unfortunately, the effect wears off quickly. This is also due to the fact that relatively few setting options exist. There is no link at all with events in games. The following configurations can be found:
- A series of colors runs from one side to the other.
- Up to seven zones with one fixed color each.
- A solid color across the entire width.
- A breathing effect of any color (the LEDs will be brighter and darker).
Profiles can be defined with a combination of sound settings and lighting and linked to specific programs. This is good because it allows the sound to be optimized for each individual game and the desired setting is automatically selected.
A Communication Talent
Also positive are the possibilities to connect different players. Although the sound bar is primarily intended for use as a USB sound card on a PC, it can also be connected via Bluetooth, optical TOS link and 3.5 mm jack. In this case, however, you cannot use your own sound or LED profiles.
If you don’t want any external players at all, you can simply plug in a USB stick with audio files and listen to music in this way. In this case, the music can be controlled either by buttons on the top of the unit or with the supplied remote control. This is also possible when connecting via USB or Bluetooth. Then the control commands are forwarded directly to the connected device.
Creative presents with the Sound BlasterX Katana an interesting product. The sound bar is a good and space-saving solution, especially when there is little space on the desk. Especially for fans of RGB lighting there are further possibilities to create your own desk setup. Unfortunately, the sound can’t keep the manufacturer’s promise, so the product is only recommended to a limited extent for the current price.