Review: Creative Labs Sound BlasterX H7 rocks the house

The Sound BlasterX H7 ‘Pro Gaming’ headset isn’t for pro gamers; it’s for anyone that wants a comfortable, feature-loaded headset that sounds great and doesn’t cost a fortune.

Features and specification highlights

packaging
The H7 comes in an interesting hard-shell plastic case. It looks like a giant pill. (Credit – Creative Labs)

The Sound BlasterX H7 is very similar to its little sibling, the H5. It’s fundamentally the same headset, but with a USB connector, surround sound support, and the inclusion of the Blaster X Acoustic Engine Pro driver and software suite, which enables its many advanced features. (The Blaster X Acoustic Engine Pro software is also the same software powering the Sound BlasterX H5 USB audio amplifier.)

Key among the H7’s features are its support for virtual surround sound and more advanced processing capabilities courtesy of the BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro drivers/software suite, which provides a variety of features such as: customizable equalizer presets, voice effects, proprietary technology such as ‘Scout Mode’ for FPS games, and a wide range of other mixing options.

Sound Blaster X H7 features and specifications (courtesy of Creative)

  • Audio Processing: BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro
  • Connector: USB or 3.5mm 4-pole analog cable
  • BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro driver/software suite
  • Crystalline capsule carry case
  • Frequency Response 20Hz ~ 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 118dB/mW
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Audio Drivers: 50mm Full Spectrum
  • Scout Mode: Yes
  • Weight 364g

MICROPHONE

  • Detachable
  • Unidirectional Noise-reduction Condenser
  • Frequency Response: 100Hz ~ 15kHz
  • Impedance: <2.2k ohms
  • Sensitivity: -40dB

SOFTWARE & COMPATIBILITY

  • BlasterX Acoustic Engine Pro
  • PC
  • Supported Gaming Consoles: PlayStation® 4 via 3.5mm 4-pole audio cable or USB connection.
  • Xbox One™ via 3.5mm 4-pole audio cable (With Xbox One Stereo Headset Adapter—not included)

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

  • In-line Remote Control Function Call Pick-up
  • Playback Play/Pause
  • Volume Adjustment
  • Microphone Mute

Sound BasterX H7 Comfort and Design

pdt_22563-3-png
The H7 delivers a strong, snug, but emminently comfortable fit. (Credit: Creative Labs)

The H7 doesn’t do anything particularly innovative in terms of its overall design and comfort, but it does provide a sturdy aluminum (but thickly cushioned) headband that delivers a snug but comfortable fit. The ear cups are lined with memory foam wrapped in faux leather.

As a whole, the H7 strikes an excellent balance between comfort and fit.

Sound BasterX H7 audio performance

The H7 delivers an excellent ‘out of box’ experience in that it delivers impressive audio quality with no driver adjustments or tweaks at all.  The bass is strong, the surround sound is good, and all of it is delivered with excellent clarity. You could arguably never touch the drivers or mixer software. But you know you’ll want to—there are so many options in the Acoustic Engine Software that you won’t be able to resist playing with them.

I was almost immediately impressed with the H7 in my first few games of Overwatch and Smite (some of my go-to games) because it sounded almost perfectly tuned to FPS gaming right away. The 500mm full spectrum drivers deliver strong bass and exceptionally clear and (if you choose) very LOUD audio. The H7 provides a little passive noise cancellation as well. Combined with its excellent (did I mention loud?) audio capabilities, it’s perfect for drowning out…well, virtually everything.

feature_remote_control
The inline remote isn’t exactly inspired, but it’s perfectly functional and fully compatible with mobile devices. Some LED lighting would be a nice addition for gaming in the dark. (Credit: Creative Labs)

The Scout Mode feature is particularly interesting to FPS gamers. It’s basically designed to enhance the audio of nearby enemies and help you better discern their location. In truth, I’m not sure it helped. While it did seem to enhance enemy audio to a degree (enemy footsteps in Overwatch, for example), it also throws off your sense of how close the enemy actually is, as well as their location. It never seemed to hurt my play, but I’m not it helped either. It’s an interesting feature regardless, and it may work better in some FPS games than others.

Running my usual gambit of general ‘usage’ tests (games, music, Blu-Ray, etc.) everything sounded excellent—good enough, in fact, that my much beloved Logitech G633 has reason to be nervous right now.  The H7 easily sounds as good and it’s a little less bulky and a tad more comfortable. (I prefer the G633 ear cup mounted controls, but I like some of the Acoustic Engine software features…)

The H7 also includes a 3.5mm mobile connector, and its otherwise unremarkable inline remote is perfectly compatible with mobile devices—so you can answer calls, forward music tracks, etc. It’s also compatible with the PS4 (via USB) and the Xbox One (via 3.5mm connector, with an optional adapter).

Speaking of the inline remote, the H7 inline remote is decent, but nothing special. Some additional LED lighting (aside from the red, pulsing ‘X’ on each ear cup) would have been appreciated on either the inline remote or the tip of the microphone to indicate Mic mute.

Overall: 9/10 — Highly Recommended

At around $100-$129 the H7 delivers virtually everything you could want from a good pair of gaming headphones: top quality comfort, high quality gaming audio, and a wealth of features through its highly customizable software suite.

The H7 is definitely a best-in-class headset for its price range.

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