Creative’s Sound BlasterX series was released back in November and looks to be one of their more competitive offerings in the space. Within their new lineup are 3 gaming headsets which include the H3, H5, and H7. While I received a sample of the H5 a couple of months ago, I try to “wear” my review a little whenever I can to give a more accurate representation of the product.
Between music, videos, and games I put in quite a few hours with this headset. So in terms of comfort, which is number one in my book, I should be able to give you a good idea of how it stacks up.
Sound BlasterX H5 Design, Comfort, and Fit
On the outside, the headset looks to have the exact comfort and look that I prefer. Creative took a sleek but minimalist approach to the H5 that includes a steel headband with aluminum architecture and a sleek brushed black aluminum ear cup with logo. The leatherette memory foam headband has no design or embroidery but is very plush and adjusts up or down about 1 1/2 inches on each side. The same goes for the leatherette memory foam earcups which are plush and comfortable.
The leatherette memory foam headband has no design or embroidery but is very plush and adjusts up or down about 1 1/2 inches on each side. The same goes for the leatherette memory foam earcups which are plush and comfortable.
Included with the headset are a detachable unidirectional noise-reduction condensor microphone and one of the more nicely braided cords I’ve come across. On the 1.2m cord itself is a volume adjustment and mute button for the microphone as well as call pick-up and play and pause button.
The microphone quality was a lot better than I expected. If you want a sample of exactly how it sounds you can check out the video on this page or on YouTube. I found it to be slightly worse than the $50 modmic, but a lot better than other options I’ve seen in the past.
For drivers the H5 sports respectable 50mmm FullSpectrum drivers that I’d consider good for lows and mids and average for highs.
Real World Use and Comfort
Comfort is always a bit of a tricky topic to review. As someone who has a big head, things that are often uncomfortable for me feel fine for just about anyone else.
Having used the H5 over the last two months, it was comfortable up until around the 3-hour mark.
After that time, I did feel some pressure on the side of my ears. I’m not sure if this is because the steel frame was pushing in too tightly or because the gap in the earpads for where your ear goes was simply too large.
My guess is that those who have a smaller head than mine will have a larger threshold for when this headset gets uncomfortable, but you can take this information for what it’s worth.
Sound BlasterX Software
Like most of its audio products, the Sound BlasterX H5 comes with software to enhance your audio experience. The software can be downloaded at Blasterx.com/software but does require e-mail registration as well as an activation key which is sent to you. This was a bit more tedious than other software I’ve downloaded from Sound Blaster, but it’s a small complaint about a software that I feel is above average in its category.
Looking further into the software we find some standard genre options including; adventure and action, driving simulation, first-person shooter, real-time strategy, and sports as well as a couple of games under each. It’s nice that Creative has included such specific options for gamers; however, it is somewhat surprising that a music option wasn’t included. What’s more is that if you’re going to add specific games to profiles, then why not include more than two under each category? Lastly, it seems like gamers should have a bit more control here in terms of profiles and specific options like I’ve seen with other Creative software.
That being said the software itself is free and does add to the product. What’s more is that I was able to use the “select playback device” feature here to use various devices with this software. This is certainly an option that Creative didn’t have to include but should get some love for.
Sound BlasterX H5 Vs H7 and H3
For those that like the H5 but are interested in going for something either higher or lower-end, here’s how it compares to the other models in the series.
The Sound BlasterX H series includes, from top to bottom, the H7, H5, and H3. The H7 is a 7.1 surround sound gaming headset that includes dual-mode USB/ analog connectivity and backlit earcups with a customizable pulsating effect. Other than these specifications the H5 is similar to the H7. Both include a steel headband, the ported and closed headphone design, tilt 50mm audio drivers, and the playback pause, or call pick-up options which aren’t available for the H3.
Despite not having a steel architecture the H3 is still foldable with a more plastic headband and 40mm drivers. All drivers across the Sound BlasterX headset series are fullSpectrum and all the mics are detachable with noise reduction.
Price and Alternative Options to the H5
At $130 the Sound BlasterX H5 is a bit pricey compared to other similar options on the market. Specifically, the *Kingston Cloud II looks to be a nearly identical headset at a price of around $99 right now. We’re not sure if Creative intends to move their price down; however, my suggestion would be a retail price of around $89.99 for the H5 to remain competitive. A good alternative to the h5 at the $100 price point would be a modmic and the Superlux HD668B. At around $130 go for the Sennheiser HD 518 with a modmic.
Cloud II Vs. H5
*The yoke of the H5 and Cloud look the same but the internals are very different. Creative’s team of engineers, scientists, and audio experts designed the earcup, baffling, and acoustic model inhouse using their expertise.
Overall, the Sound BlasterX H5 gaming headset combines comfort, sound quality, and a better-than-expected microphone with a minimalist design that I truly enjoyed. The price is still somewhat high for the mainstream when compared to other options on the market, but I’m guessing that it’ll eventually get a price cut. At that point in time, I’ll give it my recommendation.
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