Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2 Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

I made sure the subwoofer was better placed in the actual testing, but this makes for a nice photo with the original Sound BlasterX Katana behind the Sound Blaster Katana V2.

Reviewing audio devices require extensively trained ears and lots of experience. Even for audiophiles, it may prove challenging at times to obtain an accurate evaluation of a product without a thoroughly familiar product to use as a simultaneous reference. While I am not going to even try to claim that I am the only trustworthy or best reviewer for sound, it is fact that most computer review sites have editors who are insufficiently trained in reviewing audio equipment. Give them practically anything and all you will read about goes along the line of "good bass, nice midrange, awesome treble, really clear sound, 10/10". While there are many knowledgeable audio reviewers at various respected online media outlets, they are by far the minority.

As I have mentioned in my past audio reviews, there are really no true objective measurements for speaker sound quality. As the reviewer, however, I will put it through a series of subjective tests to try to come up with the most objective rating possible. Yes, it sounds like a paradox haha. On the wired side, tests were conducted primarily on my computer via a USB connection. I used an Apple iPhone 12 Pro for the Bluetooth wireless tests.

After sufficient hours of break in time, I put the Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2 to the tests. All audio enhancements and effects were disabled to represent the natural acoustic tuning of this soundbar. All tracks are FLAC, high bitrate AAC, or LAME-encoded MP3s.

You can definitely hear the lineage of the Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2 carried from the Sound BlasterX Katana in its sound character. In short, the latest model has a similar sounding profile, but also significantly improved in all the key areas. The sound character of the Katana V2, like the original Katana, is what I would describe as "flat-ish". It comes with a boosted upper midrange courtesy of the 3/4” fabric dome tweeters and 2.5" up-firing midrange drivers. I cannot say there is a lot of power in the low frequencies even though a subwoofer is included out of the box, but the 126W RMS amplifier in the Katana V2 is a big and needed boost from the Katana's 75W when powering the entire system.

On the topic of the subwoofer, it delivered solid and round bass where present. I cannot say it is strong or deep, and it certainly will not shake your house, but it still represented a significant improvement in power from the first Katana. Like its predecessor, it is not overdriven for a generally pleasant experience. The bass was mostly audible and reasonably smooth. Its definition and articulation were also acceptable in practice.

I found the Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2's midrange to be generally forward-sounding. The midrange is boosted from neutral, but not as much as its predecessor. The Katana V2 is much better controlled in this regard. It is of lower to moderate thickness, but vocals and instruments in this range was natural and clear. There was not much warmth though. There is a noticeable improvement in all measurable metrics compared to the original Katana, but it still sounded colder and hollower than I would have liked, and there remains lots of room for improvement in its saturation and richness.

The Sound Blaster Katana V2's treble is also much better compared to the last model. I immediately noticed its increased sharpness, wetness, and brightness, making the performance decent overall. Furthermore, the treble in the Katana V2 had much more energy with much less attenuation on the upper end relative to the original Katana. There still was not much kick to it, but it was reasonably immediate and tight. Its clarity and crispness were reasonable as well. This made percussion-heavy instruments reasonably comfortable to listen to, which the first-generation Sound BlasterX Katana was often not.

The soundstage this soundbar created was exactly what it looks like in real life: Mid-width, little depth. In other words, there was not much depth but some width, although not a whole lot. Its imaging was centered, because it literally is. It was slightly better than the original Katana though.

Closing off with the auxiliary auditioning results, I would say the detail and precision of the Sound Blaster Katana V2's sound reproduction was good. Its frequency separation was also good; there were no surprises here, but improved compared to the original Katana. Its overall cleanness was also improved, and I would consider it to be good. The sound was reasonably cohesive. Its sound distribution profile includes average bass, acceptable midrange, forward-sounding and boosted upper-midrange, and reasonable treble.

The Bluetooth range was good. I did not experience any hiccups in the audio stream during my testing. I even tried putting my Apple iPhone 12 Pro on my car's trunk in the garage -- representing a bad scenario, since the phone is placed on a metal surface for additional signal attenuation -- while streaming music to the Sound Blaster Katana V2 located in my basement with no noticeable issues. The Sound BlasterX Katana had problems even at close range, so it seems the issues were fixed in the newest design.

I have included a sample recording using the Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2's built-in beamforming condenser microphones above. Although my voice came through sounding a bit nasally, it microphone worked well enough in capturing my voice and the quality was still reasonable. Overall, I found the microphone to be passable for audio conferencing.

All in all, the Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2 generally delivered generally reasonable sound quality for a soundbar. It was noticeably better than the Sound BlasterX Katana in all measurable metrics, but there was nothing in its auditioning results today that will surprise you or blow your socks off.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Subjective Audio Analysis
4. Conclusion