Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 – Is The Sound Card Really Dead?

Final Thoughts

How can you define an experience which changes the way you look at an integral part of your interaction with the content you consume. Whether it be games, media, music, etc.

For the longest time I thought motherboard audio was good enough. For some it may still be. I left discrete audio cards long ago due to the convenience of onboard audio at the time and the lack of perceived fidelity difference.

As I started this story, I feel like I am seeing an old friend and not even for nostalgia sake. I expected when starting this journey it would be all hype and RGB but just the regular sound I am used to as what I had was so good. I was quickly proven wrong and so much so that I pulled in another test subject just to be sure.

I even posted my thoughts early onto social media along with the picture below, expecting hate and flaming for my opinion. Much to my surprise while there was varying opinions on what the best option is, many supported my findings.

Speaking of the various opinions on whats best I will note again something I said earlier. I know there are tons of different external DAC/AMP combos out there and there are also many internal cards that im sure are quite good. I hope I can get a chance to test each and maybe even some more headphone models just to further expand my knowledge.

For today I have several motherboards, The Sound BlasterX AE-5 and a variety of headsets and listening devices of varying quality.

In my opinion the Sound BlasterX AE-5 does an amazing job of surpassing any onboard audio I have on hand by a large margin and making for a better overall experience for media, music and even gaming applications.

I look forward to the next audio device I get to review as this has been a very enlightening experience.

I must add as it is a feature, the inclusion of RGB support is nice for those who want/need it. I would like to see an option of this same card without it as I feel shaving some price and the feature could be a very compelling offering.

The price at 139.99 May be tough to swallow for some but imagine if you buiy your headset which even for gaming models can eclipse the $100.00 mark, wouldn’t you want them to sound the best they can? With the Sound BlasterX AE-5 I can say you will get much more out of your audio than what I have seen on the motherboards tested.

 

 

Pros Cons
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Discrete AMPs per channel for Headphones
  • SABRE32 DAC
  • 1Ω to 600Ω support
  • RGB support
  • Price could be prohibitive to some
  • Scout features are a bit gimmicky and not recommended

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10 comments

  1. very nice review, you did not mention though, that the direct HP / speaker port will allow for 32bit / 384khz – whereas the other ports are 32/96 🙂

    love my card, paired with DT 990Pro 250ohm studio headphones.

    alot of onboard audio using the ACL1220 codec for example, will apply audio compression when you enable the equializer, making the sound sound like it is “stopped” from reaching its peak – its terrible, muddy and unclear.

    like you, i found the difference to be like night and day.

  2. I was blown away of how much better the Audio is into my B&O headphones with the AE-5…. Why are Soundcards/DAC’s so forgotten!!!

  3. Well they aren’t lol, nobody remotely interested in audio uses onboard soundcards. There are just a bunch of people online nowadays who follow the “it’s digitial and it all sounds the same”, which is of course nonsense. The best part is that 99,99% of those people have zero experience with remotely high quality headphones or audio setups, and their opinions are based on what someone else told them. Any time someone tells you there is no difference between on-board sound cards and external DAC’s or separate high quality sound card, just block out anything else they say about the topic because they clearly lack basic knowledge and have zero experience, or are just flat out deaf.

    • lol, I tend to agree, but I have also playted in a band in what seems like a previous life… The amount of difference between even the ‘high end’ or tweaked codecs/solutions (I use the word high-end very loosely when referencing any onboard audio) I see quite an improvement even in a simple card like the AE-5. There are far better solutions but for most users, this would be a huge step forward.

  4. ““it’s digital and it all sounds the same” The amount of times I have heard this line makes me absolutely cringe. I gave up arguing with people about this sort of stuff. ignorance is bliss for them.

  5. Iam new to this and have the HC V 770 and trying to figure out what software I need to get / edit videos from sd card for facebook or youtube . Please help , thanks

  6. Most of the comments are the usual ridiculous audiophool nonsense one would expect.

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