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Creative Sound Blaster Axx SBX 20 Sound Blaster with Bluetooth Wireless and Dual-Array Microphone
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Average Customer Review:
( 33 customer reviews )
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15 of 16 found the following review helpful:
Looks better than it soundsDec 12, 2012
By Tim W
Industrial design: 4/5
Electrical design: 1/5
Sound quality: 1/5
First, let me say that I am a big fan of the retired Creative D200. Surprisingly great sound in a tiny package. My wife and I received the BlasterAxx SBX20 as a gift, and I was pretty excited to open it and try it out. I was thinking it'd be the new and improved D200.
Boy was I wrong.
It starts with the fact that this thing is powered up with a standard USB cable (5VDC), but DOES NOT COME WITH AN AC ADAPTER! Sure you can just plug it into your old iPhone or Android cell phone charger that has a USB output if you've got a spare one handy, but how can you really ship a product without all the things you might need in order to turn it on? Will a $2 adapter really kill your margins, Creative?
Once I get over that aspect of it, I am actually pretty impressed with the design. Sleek-looking, feels solid, and nice that it stands vertically as to create a small footprint on your desk/table/nightstand. The capacitive touch panel is nice too, in line with the user interfaces of this generation's mobile devices.
Back to the power issue. Per the manual, I give the thing a standard 5V 1 Amp USB power supply. But when I listen to music at moderate volumes, the lights on the display panel actually DIM with each hit of bass! I'm not blasting music, the song is not super bass-heavy, and the output of the speakers really doesn't lead me to believe that it should be trying very hard. But this is a classic case of not enough current being supplied to drive the load. Even as a mechanical engineer, I am somewhat appalled that Creative's electrical engineers wouldn't have thought to use either a bigger power supply, or add some capacitors to the power regulation inside the speaker to help with this. Pretty pathetic.
As I said before, the D200 is a great Bluetooth speaker and is case-in-point that small, portable systems don't have to necessarily sound that way. Having said that, I have not heard anything that costs $50 or more that wouldn't blow the BlasterAxx SBX20 out of the water. The highs are muffled, bass response is pitiful, and when you turn the "SBX" feature on, it just distorts the pitiful amount of mid-bass that it does manage to produce. I tinkered for about 30 minutes, hoping that it just needed some TLC to get it set up properly. Alas, no amount of playing with settings or EQ on my audio output device was able to make this setup sound any better.
I will say that the Bluetooth paired perfectly on my first try, and every subsequent try after that. This is important to me for Bluetooth speakers, as they are all about convenience. I tried to take one call with it, and it worked just fine, so kudos for incorporating a mic into this as well. Personally, I would never need to use this feature but it's a nice-to-have.
If you are seriously considering the BlasterAxx bluetooth speakers, RUN the other way. The D200 sounds way better, and at a fraction of the price. Heck, even the battery-powered D100 sounds better than this thing in my opinion. Sorry, Creative - you blew it on this one.
2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
so-so sound quality; speakerphone calling option is good!Mar 23, 2013
By Hedera Femme
This is the second "Creative" brand wireless bluetooth speaker with microphone, and so far, the sound quality has not been very good. The first, "Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX10 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Microphone" was $127.04 (list price $149.99), and this one currently has a list price of $199.99. I cannot hear any discernable difference in sound quality, though this speaker is larger than the other. They are both OK for being usb powered, but there are better-sounding products out there for the same price if you are willing to sacrifice the speaker option.
I ran the same tests on this speaker as the other and got identical results:
This one gets a mixed review for the overall sound quality, but it does have some features that make it very useful. I will be reviewing its various features individually so you can better assess if this meets your needs or not. I used a decibel measuring app on my phone to determine when the speakers began to distort some of what I played.
Playing audio with Bluetooth or via USB with a computer:
-There is no noticeable difference with playback using Bluetooth versus USB connection to a computer, and it has a Very long range (I walked about 25ft away and it was still doing fine)
75 DECIBELS AND UNDER:
Almost all audio was fine: clear, undistorted, and with pretty good clarity (don't expect GREAT quality or clarity. Just Good.) Some types of music fared poorly even at this relatively soft volume. I used "Fortuna from Carmina Burana" to test the system's limits. (YouTube the piece if you want to know which song I refer to--you'll recognize it immediately) The chorus of singers sounded distorted. At higher volumes, even as lot as 85db, it was awful. Other types of music were fine (orchestra music, pop, hip hop, electronica), but sometimes the treble was a bit fuzzy.
This is the maximum volume the speakers can reach with the USB connection, so it can get loud enough for a small-medium party, but not Very loud.
It's hit and miss here. The treble and bass have some problems, especially treble. The clarity diminishes and any nuances in your music will generally get a bit lost or muffled. Choral music, music with higher pitched percussive elements, and some types of rock and orchestra music don't sound very good.
The voice of the person you are calling sounds a bit muffled--definitely not as good as headphones or the phone, but about on par with other Bluetooth systems I've tried.
The voice of the speaker (i.e. You) is actually clear! This part gets a solid review. With my built-in car Bluetooth system, as well as detachable ones I've reviewed, usually the person you are calling has trouble hearing you and can experience interference. Maybe that is because it is in the car and there's road noise, but in any case, the fact this one does, actually, sound clear to the recipient of your phone call is a BIG plus.
Overall, this is a good product when you compare it to other desktop laptop speakers. If you are comparing it to products specifically meant for enjoying audio, however, I would recommend the Pioneer Electronics Audition Series for a relatively inexpensive but high quality experience, or Bose if you are looking for something higher-end. The price of the Pioneer product is almost the same, and while it doesn't have Bluetooth unless you buy the attachment separately (about $70) and it only docks with the older iPhone and iPods, the sound quality of that one is stunning. If you want extra features like FREE Bluetooth and speakerphone capability, this one is ok for the price. Not great. Just ok.
Because this is basically the same as the "Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX10 Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Microphone", and the other is about $70 cheaper, I would recommend getting the SBX10 and saving your money. They are basically the same thing, so either pay more and get better sound quality with another product entirely, or pay less for the same thing.
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Terrible sound quality, requires an app to use correctly. Terrible value.Feb 15, 2013
By Doc Stew
I really wanted to like this speaker! I LOVE Creative products, and for a $200 speaker, I had very high hopes. According to the specs, this thing does it all - plays music via bluetooth or 3.5 mm aux in, and you can use it for phone calls. But the old adage "jack of all trades, master of none" applies here.
First and foremost, this is a speaker, so sound quality is most important. And sadly, this speaker disappoints immensely on that front. This speakers is lacking so much in bass that I thought it was defective. Turns out I'm not the only one that thinks that. There is ZERO BASS or low end worth mentioning. The speaker is tinny and distorts at normal volumes. The Creative SBX feature (which supposedly creates a soundstage) makes the music so unpleasant that I can't listen for more than a minute. The other EQ settings are worse. I simply could not fiddle with any setting to get a good sound out of this thing.
You MUST download a app in order to control the speaker with your phone (e.g. volume, skip songs, etc). It's a cumbersome app at best, and just totally unnecessary. My phone is already littered with apps - I don't need more of them. But trying to control volume or skip tracks without the app is impossible - you just can't do it.
The bluetooth functions are OK. However, the person I was talking to said my voice sounded terrible (tons of static) and made me stop using it. This has happened repeatedly. Their voice clarity was pretty good, however.
The touch controls are very clunky. They're slow and unresponsive at times. Would buttons have been a terrible idea if they worked better?
One odd thing is that there is no ON/OFF button. You have to either unplug the unit or disconnect it via BT from your phone. There are also no "skip forward" or "skip back" buttons - you must use your phone. But you can use the touch buttons to answer a call or change the EQ or mute the speaker. It's just too random.
The speaker has a small footprint and isn't that tall, so I guess it would be a good option if you're really limited on space. The fabric is a dirt/hair magnet though. We have a lot of animals, and it shows by looking at this speaker.
I honestly can't recommend this speaker. For $200, there are FAR better options (the Soundfreaq SFQ-01 Sound Platform Bluetooth Wireless Speaker (Black)is amazing). Sure, those better speakers don't offer a microphone for BT phone calls, but since that feature isn't all that useful to 99% of the population, does it really matter? Sound quality and convenience are most important to most people, and this one fails miserably on both accounts.
Creative really dropped the ball on this one. Their previous D200 BT speaker was phenomenal. This one is just terrible. Here's hoping they keep it simpler next time and just produce a good sounding speaker.
I loathe this speaker. Even my wife, who absolutely cannot tell the difference between good sound and bad sound, said she can't stand to listen to music through this thing. This is the worst BT speaker I've ever owned, and I own a $30 fist sized no-name BT speaker.
The sound is so muddy and tinny that it's ear-piercing. I can't stand to listen to music for more than 10 minutes before I want to unplug it (because there's no on/off button of course).
Overall, this is a hunk of junk and WAY overpriced for its feature set. What was Creative thinking??!!
The best sound quality I can muster from this speaker is to completely turn of the SBX audio option. That option supposedly "enhances" the music, but all it does is compress it to ear splitting levels. It's much more natural to keep it off. Still not a great sounding speaker for $200 though...
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
A small footprint on your desk put a lot of different functionsOct 02, 2014
By Jim Howard
[[VIDEOID:mo2QUN6HK7QN1P2]]I have used a lot of Sound Blaster audio devices for my computers over the years. I always like their software.
I have owned a number of their speakers. So I had to check out the Creative Sound Blaster Axx SBX 20 Sound Blaster with Blue tooth Wireless and a Dual-Array microphone.
I have had hearing lost and problems since I was in school. But the speaker sounds OK to me. It sounds good, to me, when I use Netflix, Hulu Plus and when I play Civ V.
I installed the Android app but I could not get the SBX 20 to link via Bluetooth to my cell phone. I don't blame the SBX 20. I think the problem is my cell phone. I will work on the problem. Update 10/05/2014 I got the Bluetooth app working on my cell phone now. Pretty neat. I have no idea what I did to get it working but it is working now.
The single tower for the SBX 20 saves space on the desk. But it is so tall it is hard to see the controls on top of the device. I also did not like that the headphone plugin is on the back of the SBX 20..
The sound from the speakers is strong enough for me. But I think a lot of young people, I am 73, want their speakers blasting so loud it will give them hearing loss.
I love the software. The drives installed fast and without a problem on my Windows 7 (64 bit) software.
The speaker and microphone works in Ubutnu but with no real controls. But you will have the speaker working and you can use the built in microphone.
I like the microphone array and the controls for the microphone.
In the video with this review you will hear the microphone array being used.
Mediocre Sound, Good SpeakerphoneMay 16, 2013
I wanted to like this thing. I'll admit I entered this review period with a bit of a bias: I like actual stereo, with two speakers, considerably more than this sort of a set up. But I had an open mind and thought that this might be really good.
Sadly, it didn't meet my hopes. First of all, sound quality for music is only mediocre. I don't find it as terrible as some have claimed here, but it certainly wasn't great. Overall balance is poor, with the upper-mids and high end ill-defined and bass is lacking depth and definition (as others have said - though it certainly isn't "non-existent"). So for music, it's not my bag.
For gaming, it's not bad (or so my 12-year-old tells me), though again there's no true stereo here - just two speakers that fire in different directions stacked one on top of the other. Phasing tricks help provide what Sound Blaster calls "stunning 3d" - um, that's a bit of an exaggeration.
Where I do find it useful is as a BT speakerphone or Skype (or other chat) interface. In this setting, it's just fine. Voices sound dandy, and it pairs quickly and easily with any phone I've tried it with. The voice focus thing seems to work ok, though it's not a mind-blower.
One other negative that I find relevant is that due to the fact the SBX20 is exclusively USB-powered, you need to either plug it into your computer or use the included adapter to plug it into the wall. Do the former, and as long as your computer is on you're good. But if you use the aux-in port for, say, a PS3, you'll need to either unplug it from your computer and plug it into the wall, or turn on your computer just to feed it power. Bogus. Of course since you can only control individual inputs or make source select changes via the software control panel, you may have your computer on anyway. Either way I'm not a fan of this implementation.
So - for speakerphone it's fine. For games it's OK. For music, not so much. Is that worth almost $200? For me, no: I'd be very disappointed with this at that price.
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