Creative Sound BlasterX Katana Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Audio Analysis

Creative Sound BlasterX Katana fits well under my TV-turned-monitor on my desk.

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 is quite a paradox haha). On the wired, analog side, tests were conducted primarily on my computer via a USB connection. For Bluetooth wireless tests, I mainly used an Apple iPhone 6 for its AAC support. These are some of the best consumer sound equipment out there in the market today, and will reduce its potential to be a limiting factor in our auditioning.

After over 200 hours of break-in time -- well above typically required period -- we put the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana to the tests. The equalizer was set to Neutral. All tracks on our devices are uncompressed CDs, FLAC, or LAME encoded MP3s at 192kbps or higher.

The sound character of the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana is what I would describe as "flat-ish". It comes with a boosted upper midrange courtesy of the 1.3" high-excursion tweeters, but lacks oomph when it comes to the low frequencies. This should not come at much of a surprise, because even though a subwoofer is included out of the box, the 75W RMS amplifier works hard to power the entire system.

On the topic of the subwoofer, I would describe it as being weak. I do not believe it has enough power, therefore it lacked punch. I listened to the Sound BlasterX Katana side-by-side with the Audioengine HD6, and the HD6 had at least as much bass as the Katana without even having a subwoofer. Except at lower volumes, the subwoofer was not very audible. On the positive side, it was not overdriven for a pleasant experience. The bass was light and reasonably solid with acceptable roundness and smoothness. Its definition and articulation was also acceptable.

I found the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana's midrange to be more forward-sounding. It is of lower to moderate thickness, but vocals and instruments in this range was natural and clear. However, there was not much warmth. In fact, it sounded kind of cold, and it lacked the saturation and richness I prefer. The treble, on the other hand, was amplified. You can hear a solid lower treble extension, but attenuation at the upper treble can be heard. The Katana also carried a hint of clashiness and was occasionally messy in this range. I detected a bit of dryness as well. Therefore, percussion-heavy instruments may come off as uncomfortable to listen to.

The soundstage this soundbar creates is 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.

Closing off with the auxiliary auditioning results, I would say the detail and precision of the Sound BlasterX Katana's sound reproduction was about average. Its frequency separation was also acceptable; there were no surprises here. Therefore, its overall cleanness was passable, but nothing spectacular. The sound was cohesive, but has some room for improvement due to its sound distribution profile of reduced bass, moderately thick midrange, boosted upper-midrange, and attenuated upper treble.

One thing to note is its Bluetooth range. The integrated internal antenna was not very sensitive, causing occasional hiccups in the audio stream even at close range. I have seen headphones with better antennas, which is a disappointment considering the size of this product.

The Creative Sound BlasterX Katana generally delivered average sound quality; exhibiting no surprises in performance in our auditioning results today.

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