Creative’s Sound BlasterX AE-5 sound card has built-in headphone amp, RGB

Since the advent of onboard motherboard audio and audio output on graphics cards, dedicated sound cards have mostly been relegated to an optional component of gaming PC builds. But for those who strive for the best possible sound experience, a sound card can make all the difference. Creative recently unveiled their newest sound card, the Sound BlasterX AE-5, and it’s armed to the teeth with high-end components aimed at both the audiophile market and serious PC gamers.

The Sound BlasterX AE-5 features a quad-core Sound Core3D audio digital signal processor (DSP), and a 122dB ESS Sabre-Class digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Having a powerful DAC is important, as it’s where the conversion from digital data to analog sound signal takes place, and Sabre’s chips are some of the best in the industry. They’re often used in high-end Yamaha receivers and Astell & Kern’s premium portable devices. With these chips, Creative promises the Sound BlasterX AE-5 will multiply your onboard motherboard audio quality by up to 32 times. The soundcard’s playback quality tops out at a whopping 32-bit/348kHz, which is well above the average 28-bit/198kHz of most hi-res audio.

While it is armed with the necessary specs for hi-res playback, the Sound BlasterX AE-5 also features an onboard Xamp Headphone Amp for driving headphone and headset audio. Each of the channels is individually amplified thanks to dual-amp design, which essentially means that each channel is separated, resulting in high clarity for each channel. Creative claims the Xamp can drive everything from sensitive in-ear earphones to studio-grade headphones thanks to an output impedance of 1 to 600 ohms. Beyond driving headset audio, the AE-5 also can support a 5.1 surround sound speaker setup.

The thought of sacrificing space in your case for a sound card may be off-putting for some, but Creative seems to know the market it’s aiming for, and has anticipated the desire of PC aficionados to customize their devices to aesthetically fit in their desktop setups.

The AE-5 has a built-in Aurora RBG controller which can light up the card via PCB and supports up to four LED strips. These different lighting elements can be controlled with Aurora’s Reactive Lighting System, which gives users the ability to chose from 16.8 million colors to display and program custom effects or variations. This RGB controller can also control various other devices, supplanting the need for an external RGB controller, and freeing up space for other components.

The Sound BlasterX AE-5 launches in July with a price of $150. Starting June 13, customers can pre-order the sound card from Creative’s website, or from retailers like Fry’s, Newegg, or Micro Center.

Product Review

These are the affordable noise-canceling headphones you’ve dreamed about

The TaoTronics TT-BH060 are a value-packed pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones that offer solid sound, exceptional battery life at a great price, making them one of the most compelling pairs out there.
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as difficult as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Home Theater

Apple may be making noise-canceling headphones safer to use on the streets

Over-the-ear headphones are massively popular, but they block a lot of outside sounds, which increases the risk of accidents. A new Apple invention hints at a way to have great sound, and great safety, and it might be coming soon.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Gaming

Xbox-exclusive games could find a second home on Nintendo Switch

Microsoft is reportedly set to release some of its first-party games on Nintendo Switch, as well as the Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud services. Cross-play between Switch and Xbox One is already enabled.
Gaming

Transform into a tetromino master with our Tetris 99 tips and tricks

Tetris 99 is the latest battle royale game to stir up quite a bit of commotion. The Nintendo Switch Online exclusive adds a few new unexplained quirks to the Tetris formula. We've got you covered with our Tetris 99 tips and tricks.
Computing

Metro Exodus update brings DLSS improvements to Nvidia RTX 20-series PCs

Having issues in Metro Exodus? A February 21 update for the title recently delivered enhancements to Nvidia’s deep learning supersampling feature and other fixes for low-specced PCs. 
Gaming

Need to perform a factory reset on your Xbox One console? Here's how to do it

Whether you're upgrading to a One X and giving your old console to a friend, or troubleshooting a technical issue, sometimes your Xbox One needs a clean slate. Here's our quick guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One.
Gaming

Battle royale-style Tetris 99 is the first Nintendo Switch Online-exclusive game

If you want to play online multiplayer on Switch, you'll need a Nintendo Switch Online subscription. Here's what you need to know about Nintendo Switch Online, from price to features to the awesome library of NES games.
Gaming

The best PUBG weapons to win you that coveted chicken dinner

Which weapons in PUBG are worth the time to scout out and fit with attachments? Which are going to help you become the last player standing? We've got the answers you need in our best PUBG weapons guide.
Gaming

Here's where Xur is and what he has for wares this week in Destiny 2: Forsaken

The weekly vendor in Destiny 2: Forsaken always brings Exotic weapons and armor, some of the toughest loot to find in the game. Here's everything you need to know to track down Xur: Where he is, when he shows up, and what he's stocking.
Gaming

Want to play as Iron Man or Waluigi in GTA V? Our favorite mods make it possible

Grand Theft Auto V is best on the PC for many reasons, and modifications may be the most important. You can cause riots, spawn unique cars, and play as a cop with just a few extra files.
Deals

Walmart slices prices on PS4 DualShock 4 controllers just in time for Anthem

The standard black PS4 controller is what usually comes with the console itself, but if you want to add something a bit more customized your gaming experience, Walmart is offering a wide variety of colorful DualShock 4 controllers at…
Gaming

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.