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Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1
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Average Customer Review:
( 272 customer reviews )
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46 of 49 found the following review helpful:
An excellent option for those looking for a USB sound solution, especially for gaming.Dec 28, 2013
By G. Bassi
I tested a number of USB products (this was for a laptop, thus no internal options) looking for something that would satisfy my need for good sound quality. Gaming with headphones, thus something with good surround sound headphone emulation was the top priority.
The first solution tried was the ASUS Xonar U3. Sound quality was good, a noticeable if not large improvement in sound quality over my motherboard built in sound with an amp to pump a little more power into my headphones. However, its surround sound headphone solution was Dolby surround. While good for pinpointing sound it had a reverb (echo) to all sound, this was to emulate sound as if it was in a theater. Maybe an okay idea for movies but unacceptable for gaming. If you don't need surround sound gaming, get this card, its a good product for the price
Next up was the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Go! Pro. Where do I start with this piece of crap... First of all there was a CONSTANT buzz, especially noticeable during quite moments. This is a noted problem, without any real solution, creative says to "turn off hyperthreading". Yeah Creative, I'll turn off a cpu feature to get your SOUND card to give BASIC SOUND. Other than the buzz sound quality was OK, a slight increase over built in sound. For surround gaming it used THX surround, this solution just sucks, especially in comparison to Creatives cmss 3d, which is no longer being used despite it STILL being the best solution.
Now to the current product, and the end of my search. The Omni surround is not as portable as the other solutions and is more expensive, but is a large improvement over built in sound. A decent amp pumps quite a bit of power to the headphones. The built in "beam" mic is something I didn't think Id use, but sound quality is on par with my current mic except with the plus of not having to deal with a mic by my face. Creatives software, noise cancel and ability to change the size of the "beam" work very well. As for surround gaming, it uses SBX surround. Though not quite as good as the old cmss 3d when it comes to positioning, it seems have less of a negative impact on sound quality and is FAR better than THX sound. I'd still prefer cmss 3d, but I don't believe any current Creative product uses it. Sbx surround is probably the best current solution for headphone surround sound emulation. The Omni has the ability to output to dolby digital, which I have not used yet. Overall an excellent product, with a good feature set.
17 of 18 found the following review helpful:
4 and 1/2 starsJun 28, 2014
By TV McGuirk
I am a cheap audiophile. You will never see me wearing those wooden Audio Technica headphones, but I do not like cheap earbuds either. Just to mention my set up: I have a pair of $50 Logitech speakers, a $60 pair of headphones from Audio Technica (ATH-M30), and a Turtle Beach XP 500 headset that I have used extensively for 3 years. The speakers and the heaphones use 3.5mm and the headset uses optical. My motherboard can't handle all of these devices being plugged in at once. Windows craps itself when I have 2 3.5mm devices plugged in at once. Plus, I do not have SPDIF on my motherboard and I have been wanting to use my XP 500 headset for a while on here. So I had 2 choices. I could either get an internal sound card or an external sound card.
I looked at the Z series from Soundblaster and they looked nice, but the problem is that I do not know if I can physically fit anything on my motherboard because my video card heatsink almost hits the 3rd PCI-e slot. So I looked around and came across this. I actually didn't know Soundblaster made an external sound card until I just Googled "USB sound card." I heard that PCI-e sound cards sound better, but I honestly don't think my ears are so sensitive that they would be able to tell a difference.
Specs: The front of the unit has a beamforming mic that lets you talk to people while typing but doesn't register your typing unless you manually adjust the beamforming settings via the control panel software. The front has 3 inputs: headphones, mic, and audio in. Those take priority over the back. If you have your headphones plugged in, your speakers will go off. Then when you unplug your headphones, the speakers will come back automatically with no delay. (note, any optical connection will not prioritize like this because you must select it in Playback Devices. If it is selected then it will be used no matter what else is plugged in.) There is obviously some hardware on the circuit board controlling that because if it were simply software controlling it through Windows, you would have to wait a half hour for it to register the change (burn against Windows). On the back there is an RCA output that you plug your 3.5mm speaker connector to via an included adapter. They did this to increase connectivity options. Then on the back there are 2 3.5mm rear and center outputs as well as an optical out. And the entire thing is connected to the PC via micro USB. So, onto my review. I will start with the bad and end on a good note.
Cons: 2 cons. First, the optical device must be selected in Windows via Playback Devices. I was actually hoping to be able to skip ever messing with Playback Devices. When you select the optical device (called SPDIF-OUT), you have to stop all processes that are making sound and then restart them. If you are on Youtube, you have to reload the video. If you are in a game, you have to restart the game. I think the included software, which is amazing, should take care of this automatically. Second gripe, The volume knob only controls the sound through Windows. I would have liked to see the volume knob control the volume through the device itself. It is like if you use the volume control on your speakers. You expect your knob to control the sound through the device and not through Windows. This is only a problem because it might take a few seconds for the volume control to register. You will be turning the knob up and down for a few seconds and then Windows will adjust the volume accordingly, with a long delay. But this only happens the first time you adjust the volume after turning on the PC or waking it from sleep. After that, the volume control is immediate.
Now that I got the gripes out of the way, onto the pros.
Pros: I will get to the sound quality in a minute, but I want to start small and end big. This thing is very convenient. It is a one stop hub for all of your sound devices. All of those connectivity options I mentioned are nice to have when you have multiple devices, and the fact that they all play nice with each other is another plus. These things are easy to overlook, but Creative should be given credit for it. I think Creative put a lot of thought into the convenience of their device. It also has rubber pads on the bottom to keep it on the desk which adds to the convenience because all of those wires will pull against it. I've had USB hubs that would fall to the floor because the wires were stiff and would pull them. Not so with this device.
The beamforming mic is nice. Of course you must set it up in the control panel, and that brings me to the next point. I paid $70 for this. If you were to tell me that half of the cost of this was on the software, I would be OK with that. The software has ALMOST everything you need. I say almost because I still use Razer's surround software for my Audio Technica M30s. I am not the most technical guy when it comes to sound, but if you are very technical, this thing has many options in it for you.
Finally, onto the sound quality. When I used the headphones with the on board audio, they would hit the highest volume and still be too quiet and still become distorted as if I had it blasting the sound. I could not tell different drums apart in certain songs or I wouldn't be able to tell different guitars apart, ect. There was not enough of the spectrum. All mids basically (My motherboard has Realtek 887 I believe so if you have a motherboard with Realtek 887, you know what I mean). I turn the Omni on 1/4 of the way high with my speakers and I turn war tapes mode on in Battlefield 4 and I am blown away. Games sound amazing, music sounds amazing, and I assume movies will sound amazing but I do not use my PC for movies so I don't know. I like to emphasize mids when listening to music, but I also like the highs and lows to come in at a reasonable level because I am a normal human and I do things the correct way. I am able to easily do that with the equalizer. With the headphones on, I am able to listen to things louder and every different sound is distinct.
With my Turtle Beach XP 500, I am able to finally use these on my PC. In order to use these in 5.1 mode, I have to enable Dolby Digital Live in the Omni control panel and make sure the light on the XP 500 receiver is on above the D symbol. I do not have to use Razer's surround software on this, only on the 3.5mm headphones if I want them to act as virtual surrouns headphones.
And that is it. This thing was well worth the money. Realtek seems to spend 5 cents and a used cigarette on the on board audio and it shows.
Oh, and this works on your laptop too.
4 and 1/2 stars for an amazing product. Minus half a star for the volume control being through Windows and not through the device. The optical device needing to be selected in Playback Devices is the other concern. It would have been nice for there to be a small button on this near each plug for the different output devices so the Omni could control them directly instead of channeling the unholy Playback Devices demon in Windows.
18 of 21 found the following review helpful:
Amazing for headphonesOct 17, 2013
I bought this solely for the highly quality DAC's and headphone amp as the headphones I use while at home are greatly benefited from extra power that my laptop can't deliver. I've had this for about a week and half now. I've solely been using a pair of Shure SRH440 but now have switched to a pair of Shure SRH750DJ.
The " Crystallizer" in the SBX Pro Studio section really makes MP3's/AAC shine. I used to be able to pin point a song's bitrate in seconds now I have trouble even recognizing the whether I'm listening to a 128kb/s or 320kb/s song.
Also the surround setting (both of these are on by default) really makes the soundstage seem that much larger. It really does makes you feel like you're in the music.
Like I said I bought this solely for headphone usage at home. I have no travel plans for this. I use a pair of creative WP-350 when traveling.
The sound quality is amazing! It can be bits harsh on low bit-rate high end treble, mainly treble snares, but that's more of a problem with mp3's then the equipment. I can't find any of my 24bit audio DVD's but I imagine they must sound insane.
I listen to a lot of electronic music.
With a sprinkling of "rock" such as panic at the disco.
This card has performed great and makes a great way to end your day. Plug in your headphones, crank up the volume and just become lost in the sound.
It's heavy enough that it stays on your desk where you leavea it and isn't getting dragged all over the place: a fear I had ordering it.
I imagine it would be very portable in a workstation sort of way. IE getting your laptop and everything else, moving to point B and then hooking everything up again but I would really recommend it for say use you on your lap on the couch where you just spur of the moment decided to sit down.
20 of 24 found the following review helpful:
Great program except you can't edit the balance of your speakers.Nov 23, 2014
I really wanted to be excited about this product, it has ONE major fault that is so mundane that there is no reason for it to not work.
No matter how hard I have tried, googled, searched there is no way to change the balance of your speakers. Winamp of all programs can change the balance of the Left and Right speaker, why in the world would creative not give you the option of changing the balance of your two speakers.
12 of 14 found the following review helpful:
really good music playback on macNov 07, 2013
By Vladimir Molodnyakov
In Mac world there's not that much of choice to make even if all you need is some decent card for clear music playback at home.
Pretty much all of the good cards are external.
Well, since it's outside of your noisy computer parts, it should be working better after all: no need to put that screening shields, distort your music while dumping some frequencies.
But these are pros for any external card.
I bought this one to do the simple job: clean and smooth playback on mac to my akg and monster headphones.
After a couple days of listening I found myself really enjoying my monster beats pros, suddenly the music became much cleaner, I don't need to dump 4-8khz freq and I don't need any equalizer now.
There's one thing: that big volume wheel doesn't work on my mac for some reason: you could click it or rotate it, nothing happens. This could be by design and mac-only like if you want to record 5.1 with this device on mac, but you can't.
Some driver (kext) limitations, probably. I've created a ticket with Creative support regarding this yesterday, no answer so far.
So I'll recommend this one for those who need really good music playback on mac. You won't be disappointed if you need to buy a card doing just that.
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