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Sound Blaster E1
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Average Customer Review:
( 381 customer reviews )
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97 of 108 found the following review helpful:
Prepare (your ears) to be blown! Tested and compared.May 23, 2014
By Engr. Jay Mendoza
NOTE FOR AMAZON NEWBIES: This review was written SPECIFICALLY for the E1. This was written before the release of E3 and WAAAY before E5. For some reason, Amazon allowed all three products to be in ONE product page. Don't blame, blame Amazon. Now, on to my review...
TL;DR │ If you want to improve the clarity and acoustic volume of your smart device using a (wired) headset of your choice, then this might be for you. It makes listening to those cheap bundled earphones bearable, and I consider myself an audiophile. If you only want a USB solution for your PC, try the X-Fi Go! Pro (cheaper), or the Sound Blaster Recon3D (superior in every way). See bottom of review for ratings explanation.
UPDATE: Added a note on the audio port for the mic near the bottom of review.
The Creative Sound Blaster E1 is a decent sound processor for on the go. All other sound processors currently offered by Creative only uses the USB interface as input source, primarily for PC use (with the exception of Recon3D Sound Blaster, which works with PS3/PS4/XBOX360).
Where the E1 really shines is that you can use an analog source input to it. This means that it will process and amplify sound from virtually any source that can output to a 3.5mm audio jack, including tablets and other smart devices. The problem though, is that you cannot set precise control on the Crystalizer and 3D/Surround components of the sound processor. Also, by not putting a more powerful sound processor like the current SoundCore3d chip (used on Recon3D/Z-series), I think Creative may have made a good decision since these chips will theoretically drain the battery faster. The first time you use this product with your device, make sure the volume is set low, or you will BLOW your ear drums (yep, it's amplified alright).
WHAT I LIKE │ + │
+ Solid, ultra light build, matte finish. Looks professional.
+ Smaller than I thought it would be (thus, more concealable and mobile).
+ Makes stock audio sound like junk. Crystalizer works like it should.
+ Mic input doubles as a sound output - so you can use two sets of speakers.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE │ × │
× Not as good as I imagined it to be. SBX Pro is OK, not great. I say this as a PC user.
× I wish there were more than one set of cables, with different lengths.
× Non-removable belt clip
WHY NOT WAIT FOR THE E3 │ ? │
? SRP of $129. Not worth the Bluetooth addition, IMO.
? Worse battery life at 17 hours. With Bluetooth, it goes down to 8 hours.
? Bigger, wider, grayer.
? I am not a Bluetooth person, especially for audio.
PACKAGE │ ✓ ✗ │
✓ Sound Blaster E1 Unit
✓ USB 2.0 Cable (A Male to Micro B) ≈ 1m. / 3ft.
✓ 3.5mm audio cable - 4 pole jack (L,R, Mic, Ground) ≈ 1m. / 3ft.
✓ Instructions and warranty. That is all.
✗ No garbage, like a CD installer.
✗ Sadly, no freebies or spare parts too.
✗ No USB power adapter for those who want one.
Input│ PC USB Out (Full Software suite), PC Analog Stereo Out
Output │ Creative Aurvana In-Ear3, Creative D100, Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2500
Compared To │ Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D, Creative X-Fi Go!, Onboard audio (Intel H87 chipset)
COMPARISON TO USB SOUND CARDS
E1 compared to onboard audio │ E1 is obviously superior.
E1 compared to X-Fi Go! │ Difference is very subtle. E1 amplifies just a bit more.
E1 compared to Recon3D Sound Blaster │ Recon3D is superior in every way.
Conclusion │ With crystalizer turned off, all sources sound the same on the speaker. Turned on, the X-Fi and E1 showed significant improvement, and Recon3D, well, sounded way better. Using the in-ear headphones, all sound cards offered amplified volume without crystalizer. With crystalizer, sound was noticeably cleaner and more "crystal" clear. Recon3D was even more clear. The surround/3D is different though. X-Fi was inferior, followed by the E1, and finally, Recon3D. The E1 sounded subtly better compared to the X-Fi. The E1 sounded bad compared to Recon3D but it gets the job done (better than none).
Recommendation │ Get the X-Fi Go! Pro (X-Fi Sound Blaster + SBX Pro), which is cheaper. SBX Pro is the main processor of E1. Or, if money is no object, I would highly recommend getting the Sound Blaster Recon3D (or the Sound Blaster Recon3D Omega Wireless bundle).
ABOUT THE AUDIO PORT: All documentations made by Creative claim that the mic/stereo combo port could be used only by EITHER a microphone OR a stereo device, and never mentioned anything about headsets. This is true, for some odd reason. It could have supported a TRRS plug. However, the E1 has a built-in mic, and that may work for some people in some cases.
VERDICT: I highly recommend this product for those looking at a mobile audio solution.
★★★★☆ | 4 stars out of five. I know what I was getting when I ordered this product and it does not deserve a lower rating. However, there is also nothing extraordinary (no cool surprises).
Questions? Hit the comments!
This review is for the Creative Sound Blaster E1, NOT the E3, the NOT E5.
53 of 58 found the following review helpful:
Creative Sound Blaster E1: A KeeperAug 19, 2014
By Larry Silveira
Evaluation of the Creativelabs Sound Blaster E1
For several years I have bought many devices manufactured by Creativelabs. As a musician and computer tech guy I have also helped to set up several of their products for family, friends, and coworkers.
The Sound Blaster E1 is a must have device for several groups of users. The designers and support staff are to be commended for its versatility. My intention was to use it as a headphone amplifier to boost the volume of my volume hungry, low sensitivity AKG headphones. Initially I had my doubts but I WAS WRONG. This device offers many things for many different target groups. And the sound clarity of both the output and internal mic are exceptional. So read on!
Since I’m not a sales person I thought I would first tell you about what its minor issues have been for me and the work-arounds. Don’t be afraid of this device because there are 2 small issues. It’s actually a cool device with several features. No sense both of use dealing with the same problems when one of us already has (that would be me). I will provide you with the solutions.
Issue One: Following the “In Box” Instructions
The included “In Box” Sound Blaster E1 Guide can be confusing for some. (It doesn’t say “Quick Guide” but that’s really what it is.) There is a far better detailed guide online which I will direct you to a little later. Frequently a newly manufactured device requires drivers that are not yet available and require the included software to be installed first. The software that the included guide directs you to download and install will not install unless you first install the device. The guide does not specifically tell the user what the correct steps are to install this device so read on.
Solution One: This is the correct way to install the E1 device:
1. Out of box the device is turned off. Orient yourself to the power switch and where the power “On” position is located (forward towards the tiny LED light.) You are advised to plug the E1 into a USB port in order to charge the internal battery and its first full charge may take as long as 8 hours. I found it took far less than that.
2. Make sure your computer is connected to the internet because Windows will need to remotely find and install the updated driver.
3. Plug the E1 into your computers USB port (probably better that you avoid plugging the cable into a USB hub since problems can occur.)
4. Slide the power switch to the “On” position.
5. In Windows OS the driver will be found online and installed. Be patient, for me this took a couple of minutes.
6. Go to www.Creative.com/support , find the E1 under the Sound Blaster category. Then download to your hard drive the “Sound Blaster E1 Software Pack” for your OS.
7. I suggest you also scroll up to the top of the page and to the right of the picture of the E1, click on and download the “Quick Start User Guide.” With 49 pages this guide is very helpful and a lot more than a “Quick Start” User Guide. Remember once it loads to your browser you must then manually save it to your hard drive.
8. With the E1 connected and on, install the software. When completed you will need to restart your computer.
So there you go!
Issue Two: No separate volume control for each of the two headphone inputs
Solution for Problem Two:
Make sure that the two sets of headphones you use have the same input sensitivity which is a fancy word for use the same earbud type headphones or the same brand and model of headphones. In other words hook them up and test to see if they are both outputting the same volume.
Important observation # 1:
The software is pretty cool with several adjustments that can be made. Of course the only way you can benefit from the settings found in the E1 SBX Control Panel (the software you installed) is to connect the device to a USB port in your computer. The manual that I suggested you download explains all the features quite well. I listened to both a DVD of an action scene from the Hobbit and a live recording of a band I made with an HD camera at 24bit 96kHz audio. Under the SBX Studio Pro I liked the “Bass” boost and “Crystalizer” enhancements but not certain I like the “Surround” enhancement. Individual differences I guess. Also when you first install the software I noticed no sound and found that the volume was turned all the way down in the “Advanced Setting” section. It took me a few moments to troubleshoot that problem.
Important observation # 2: Phone differences
I’m not certain that the E1 meets the criteria for “hands free” and the manual does not state as such. This is probably because you can receive “hands free” calls but you cannot send “hands free” calls. The “Multifunction” button works differently on different phones. I have a Droid 4 while my wife has an iPhone. The Four-pole analog cable (included) works seamlessly with the iPhone. A call comes in; you press the “multi-function” button to answer the call and again to end the call.
But with my Droid the input accommodates a three-pole cable. However something wonderful happens with the Droid and the E1. Inserting the 4-pole cable in my 3-pole Droid jack (remember cable will not go in all the way so don’t force it) and pressing the “multifunction” button briefly will put the Droid in and out of mic “mute” mode and slightly longer (like one second) answers and ends calls like the IPhone. Winner...Droid!
Important observation # 3:
When connecting the E1 to your computer via the supplied USB cable. While watching a video AND simultaneously tweaking with the settings of the SBX panel there is a slight stuttering of the sound. This may be specific to your computer’s processor once you make you adjustment the stuttering goes away.
So what can you do with this device...really and practically? Actually it has several uses and I tried all of the below except the “gamer” features.
• Let’s say you’re on a plane and you and that special person are sitting close to each other (Is there any other way to sit when you ride coach?) You want to use your tablet or laptop to watch a movie together. You could get a stereo 1/8" splitter to listen to the sound but chances are the volume won’t be loud enough. The E1 will be able to boost the audio signal and you will both hear every word of that movie.
• If you’re like me and have a studio quality set of headphones you will need a headphone amp like this.
• You are doing an aerobic workout at the gym and use your iPhone to listen to tunes. You also need to answer whenever phone calls come in. With the push of the multifunction button, the music stops and the phone call begins until you push it again to end the call and the music resumes. Pretty nifty huh? Well it would be better if you could permit yourself to work out and get your calls afterwards but I guess next life.
• You are outside at Starbuck’s and talking to you mom on Skype (like that will happen.) You don’t want everyone to hear you or listen in on you and your mother’s conversion. Don’t worry, the E1 has you covered. The clarity is impressive even using the internal mic on the device.
• You are a musician laying a keyboard track and another musician has plugged in a different instrument so they can lay a second track on your multi track software like Cubase, Acid Pro, or several others. Both of you need a set of headphones. This will do it for you. Remember the headphones need to have the same sensitivity value.
• I’m not a “gamer,” but from what I can tell this device will work great if you are a “gamer.” You can hook up your mic/phones headset with some pretty cool settings for added sound enhancements.
• You want to be hands free to receive phone calls. The E1 can handle this too.
• Finally there are several other recording features that can be done but that’s someone else’s turn.
So, if any of the above features interest you, I would recommend this device.
25 of 27 found the following review helpful:
I'd give it a 10 stars! (a non-audiophile's review)Dec 12, 2014
By Dr. Kim
Just got it today, paired with Beyerdynamic DT 990 Pro 250 Ohm, Sennheiser HD 598, and some other lower impedance cans/IEMs. Tried two inputs, Bluetooth from iPhone 6+ and USB out from PC. I have Schiit Vali amp, but no other high end audio devices, so my comparison is only between Vali and E5.
For more thorough review for E5 itself, PC World already did a very thorough job:
For driver download and supports, go to Sound Blaster's home here:
[Sound quality] From my non-audiophile ears, E5 gives me crisper, more pronounced sound and with the SBX on, I got instantly increased soundstage, which is not available from Vali. For sure, Vali produces much smoother sound in general. So personally, with classical and new age music, I liked Vali better, and with all other genre, E5 gave me more detailed satisfaction, although it sounded little bit more artificial than Vali, especially with SBX on. If you want to measure it yourself, follow this tip:
[Driving IEMs] From Vali, I always had 'hissing' sound when paired with lower impedance cans or other sensitive IEMs, but no hissing from E5. Someone from Head-Fi was worrying about E5's internal impedance to be too high, like 10 Ohms, but I don't think its that high, I got zero hissing from very sensitive IEMs. Vali is 6.5 home, but it's a tube amp, so cannot directly compared with solid state amps.
[Construction & Accessories] Its very solidly built with metal-like hardened plastic casing, soft touch lighted buttons. The volume knob has very tiny initial dead zone where user turns more than infinitesimal angle to actually engage the volume change. Unlike four small round rubber sticker feet of Vali, E5 has its whole back/bottom surface rubberized, along with the angled stand's bottom as well. I particularly liked the angled stand since it gives me a show room like stance for E5 on my desk. E5 came with a very high quality USB B to mini USB red cable, two black rubber loops.
Overall, I think it does much more than other entry level DAC/AMP combos. I had Fiio E17 Alpen, and E12 Mont blanc, and this E5 performs much better IMO with incomparable versatility. I am completely satisfied with my buy.
9 of 9 found the following review helpful:
E5 Powers ANY 'Can' / More Features than any other Portable AMP/DAC!Mar 29, 2015
Try the Creative Sound Blaster E5.. It'll make any Headphone stand to attention! With lots of power in reserve for the most demanding "Cans". I've put it to good use with the Sennheiser HD800, AKG K812, K712, & K 701's, Sony Z7 & MK2's, Hifiman HE-500 & 560, Grado 325i & a host of other well known Audiophile "Cans" that I have. It has more to offer in the features Dept. than most other Portable Headphone Amp/DAC's Too. If you want to use it, Bluetooth 4.0 w/APT-X , Creative Control Panel (SBX Pro Studio), if desired (On or Off) switch right on the side, NICE.. A High & Low gain switch. Every input & output you'll ever need or want, just like the "Big Boy" Amps. And plenty More to please or Play with! Stunning sound. Plus the DAC supports up to 24-bit/192kHz HD files ;-) Updates were very simple & fast. Done in (minutes). Listening thru the DAC while hooked to the Puter was like "Being There". Alison Krauss / Joss Stone / Steely Dan / Frank Zappa / Supertramp / etc. (you get the idea) Try it, you will not be disappointed. This Audiophile highly recommends this great Amp/DAC.. No,, I do not work for ANY company or get paid for my impressions either. This simply sounds wonderful with both Fiio X5 & iBasso DX90 Too! And of course I used it with my Cowan J3! Don't say the word Awesome very often BUT this little 'machine' is Awesome. Making sweet Audio Nirvana to the Ears which turns into Eargasmic ;-) And the PRICE,, Yes the PRICE. (LOW) Do a comparison with others out there, there is no other choice, my thoughts anyway. And yes, It charges at the same time while using on a PC or Mac ;-) To pause the music, just push in the volume button, it's that easy ;-) Be warned, (1st. time hooking to your Computer using the DAC) the slightest turn of the Volume knob & your ears may get hurt. Keep the Headphones off till you have the Volume ADJUSTED on the PC. This can blow Eardrums! Plus you can use 2 headphones at once! Feature filled to the Max.. Audiophiles Dream Portable here! This is Quality thru & thru.. Enjoy the Music ;-)
8 of 8 found the following review helpful:
Good, but something went wrong. Edit: Firmware update fixed itMay 22, 2015
By Richard K DeStephens
I bought this in March to power up my iPhone while using Audio Technica ATH M50x over-ear headphones (and sometimes my Sennheiser HD598s open-back head phones). I normally use a Fiio for the Sennies while connected to my MacBookPro.
The Sound Blaster improves the sound, but most notably, allows me to listen for hours without ear fatigue. It is the only one I found that will work with the iPhone/iPod voltage requirement. Battery life generally out-lasts my iPod or iPhone's batteries.
So, it worked fine up until about a month ago when it started to sound digitally-skippy. I would unplug the unit and re-plug and it would sound good again. Rinse, repeat. I thought it was my iPod at first, but after a while, it did the same thing with iPhone, eventually.
I am going to return it for a replacement today.
Edit -- I emailed the company. The tech got back to me and suggested it was a firmware issue. I went to the website and downloaded the current version (just one week old). Seems to be functioning fine again. I'll let you know.
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