REVIEW – Since headphone ports on mobile devices are a dying breed, I’ve been using a cheap adaptor for my iPad Pro, which uses USB-C but no headphone jack. And no, I don’t like using Bluetooth! Today I get to try the Creative Sound Blaster X1 USB DAC.
What is it?
The Creative Sound Blaster X1 USB DAC is a super compact device that upgrades your audio quality instantly to high-resolution playback with its built-in AKM 4377 DAC, coupled with the Ti/Burr-Brown™ INA1620 dual audio operational amplifier.
What’s in the box?
I could not help but notice the box had a cutout for the silica “do not eat” pack.
- Creative Sound Blaster X1 USB DAC
- USB-C cable
DAC: 24 bit, 96 kHz
Audio: 115 dB DNR
Impedance supported: 16-600 ohm
Ports: 1 x USB-C port for PC, 1 x 1/8″ Headphone / Headset Jack
Design and features
This thing is tiny. On one end, a 1/8th” headphone jack. The other end of the Creative Sound Blaster X1 USB DAC sports the USB-C that goes to your source device.
This diagram explains what all the buttons and LED indicators are for. Apparently, there’s a mic control but I do not believe the microphone is onboard the X1.
Tap the Super X-Fi button once to toggle the sound effect. Orange is off, and green is on.
I was most interested in finding a headphone adapter for my iPad, so that’s what I tested. This is an iPad Pro 12.9″ and the Sennheiser HD 6xx, which has a listed impedance of 300 ohms.
Compared to the usual generic cheap USB-C to headphone adapter, the Creative Sound Blaster X1 USB DAC provided much more volume headroom. I felt I could crank the sound far beyond my comfortable listening limits.
Activating the Super X-Fi function provides a somewhat “wider” sound stage, or immersive effect. I’m not a fan of these features, but you might like it.
What I like
- Short USB-C cable included
- Handles higher impedance headphones (up to 600 ohms) with ease.
- No separate app required
What I’d change
- You may or may not care for the Super X-Fi Sound effect.
I don’t care about fancy settings or apps. I just wanted a headphone amplifier in the smallest possible size that could drive my 300 ohm Sennheisers with ease. I think I found it in the Creative Sound Blaster X1 USB DAC.