It’s not often I fall so hard for a piece of technology but the Creative Sound BlasterX Katana is one incredible piece of hardware. The soundbar was recommended me to my friend Teddy K (Digital Trends) at a party a few weeks back. Teddy’s word is good so I had to get my hands on one. At the time I was rocking an old Panasonic soundbar from a few years back that had seen better days. It was nothing to write home about and I’d usually just end up using the built-in TV speakers. I had been eyeing a SONOS soundbar but the price was out of my budget so I needed something more affordable. Thankfully, that all changed after plugging in the Sound BlasterX Katana. Within three days of using it, I texted all my gamer friends and said, “BUY THIS F’ING SOUNDBAR AND THANK ME LATER”. If that text didn’t convince them, surely this review will.
The Sound BlasterX Katana calls itself the first” Under-Monitor Audio System” and sure it could live on my desk but I don’t do enough PC gaming to justify it there currently. I did test it out on my computer and my desktop screen (my desk is a mess) and I did enjoy it, but I much prefer it in my living room setup. Those that will want it to live on their desk will be happy the soundbar is raised ever so slightly to allow for cords to run underneath it. I live in a fairly large condo for Toronto and this little soundbar has no problem filling the room with the volume only around 9 or 10 (It goes to 50!). It’s really loud. Like really really loud. It’s quite impressive that a two feet long, and a mere three inches tall soundbar can produce such noise. Its slim profile does look really good under my 27-inch second screen computer monitor but I have no problem with it sitting under my 57-inch TV either. Sure it looks small, but it does the job.
The soundbar is your classic jet black with a housed in brushed-aluminum chassis on top. It’s got a LED panel on the front giving you rudimentary control of the Katana, with five buttons on the top: Power, Volume Down, Volume Up, Source, and the “SBX” button that cycles between various preset profiles. These presets include: Neutral, Gaming, Concert, Cinema, and Night. The Sound BlasterX logo lives on top of the device and gives off an edgy video game vibe.
On the back are the various hookup options including: MicroUSB for your PC, optical, regular USB for thumb drives, Aux in, Mic in, and a headphone jack as well as a place for the power and sub cord to live. It also has Bluetooth capability if you so want it. There is surprisingly no HDMI option, but I didn’t find myself needing one.
Under the hood is five drivers total. Two tweeters along the facing edge, two mid-bass drivers pushing audio up from the top, and a separate relatively small subwoofer that packs a punch that is meant for under your setup. It’s nothing more than a shiny black box that is approximately five inches wide, a foot tall and a foot deep connected by one single cable. It’s got a single small logo on the lower portion. You don’t need to power it into the wall which is nice. I have enough cords behind my TV already.
Also included is a small remote control that allows you to Play & Pause, adjust volume and EQ, cycle through various lighting schemes (extra fun when a little stoned), change your sources, and pick from the audio presets. It’s an average looking remote that is easy to lose. Adam Roffel suggested I upgrade to a Universal Remote on Twitter and I plan on doing that soon. He also loves this device.
One thing of note is the power cable is surprisingly short. Depending on how you plan on positioning the device you might find yourself needing an extension cord.
In terms of sound again I stress that this device is extremely loud. It can make my apartment shake with the volume turned up to 15. 20 if I really want to party and annoy the neighbors. The volume goes up to 50, but I haven’t found a need for that extreme volume. Even quieter video files I’ve had floating around my Plex get a serious boost on this machine. You know those files I’m talking about. At 25 this thing is going rock you, and your entire apartment floor and I suggest for best results (and peace of mind) to keep it on the lower end.
I found 10 to be the magic number for most movies and games. It’s the sweet spot. Playing through Wolfenstein: The New Order on this machine was a dream. It sounded beautiful. I could hear every footstep, bullet, and cry for help loud and clear from the direction the sounds were coming. Explosions would encompass my whole room and I felt like I was right there in the action. It constantly made my jaw drop. The same goes for movies, watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes allowed me to hear every roar as the director and sound team intended. It felt like I was at a movie theater in my living room without someone kicking my seat.
I found myself switching between the Cinema and Gaming presets made a huge difference. It’s shocking the sound quality that comes out. I know I said it early but I wanna reiterate. This is an amazing device. This is an easy replacement for computer speakers especially given the price. At the time of writing this, the Katana only sells for $299.99 USD on the Creative website. That’s a pretty damn good bargain.
It also can light up. I’m a sucker for things that light up. The Katana is outfitted with a string of 49 RGB LEDs that sit on the bottom of the device that reflects off your desk giving you a miniature light show. There are a few presets available straight out the box including a rainbow wave (was great for Pride last weekend), a dim yellow almost brown mood light, and a pale white light that bounces back and forth. If you download Creative’s software you can customize the lights any way you want. You can save it to the onboard memory if you want to move it to the living room like I did.
The Creative software is fairly easy to use and you can set up the soundbar anyway you choose. On top of changing the LEDs, you can also adjust the sound presets to your liking. This will please the audiophiles in the room. For casual sound users, you should have no problem with the built-in presets.
For the price, this is soundbar reigns supreme over the competition. It’s incredibly easy to get working and the sound quality is superb. To go from my old soundbar to this is night and day. My movies and gaming truly feel alive now. If you’re in need of a soundbar for your main room or one of the extra TVs in your house this is a no brainer. It won’t break the bank and will easily impress your friends. The Creative Sound BlasterX Katana gets 5 Brockstars out of 5.