Home Audio Gear Reviews Sound BlasterX AE-5 PCIe DAC with AMP Sound Card Review - Do...

Several years ago, sound cards where a thing and most of the time a requirement, specially when a motherboard doesn’t have an on-board audio component. After a while, motherboards are now built with audio (in/out) components. But most of them doesn’t offer good or great sound quality; doesn’t support high resolution audio formats or multiple channel / surround systems. Then we see the rise of Sound Blaster sound cards (and other competing brands) that offers better audio quality than the built-in ones; and other features that were not available on the motherboard’s built-in component. However, as on-board audio components are getting better and motherboard integration are refined, we see less and less of these sound cards. More people, specially the audiophiles, would prefer an external DAC or DAC with AMP solution as it provides better and cleaner signal. Fast forward today, Creative released the Sound BlasterX AE-5, a PCIe DAC with discrete headphone amplifier. Creative is marketing the AE-5 as a high-resolution PCIe Gaming Sound Card with RGB Aurora Lightning System. Of course, what is a gaming system nowadays without RGB right? But the real questions are: does it sound (really) good compared to built-in audio components? And do you (really) need one? Whether you’re strictly a gamer, or a music lover, or both; please continue reading our Sound BlasterX AE-5 review below and let’s find out.

Sound BlasterX AE-5 PCIe Sound Card Review

Creative’s Sound BlasterX AE-5, just like most of the sound cards in the market, have two main components: the DAC section and the AMP section. The Sound BlasterX AE-5 features a 122dB Sabre-Class DAC chip that is capable of delivering up to 32-bit / 384kHz playback with a 122dB DNR, ultra-low distortion and jitter elimination. It also provides a very clean signal, eliminating unwanted background noise or distortion. Although this sound card is geared towards gamers, music lovers would also benefit from the AE-5 since the DAC chip supports high resolution audio; meaning it can support lossless audio formats like the popular FLAC or WAV.

- Advertisement -

The DAC section on the AE-5 is paired with Xamp – Creative’s custom-designed discrete headphone amplifier capable of driving a wide range of headphones up to 600 Ohms. Most headphones today, gaming or not, have an impedance of around 32 Ohms. But there are some professional or audiophile headphones, like the Sennheiser HD600 (300 Ohms) or Beyerdynamic DT series (600 Ohms), that come with a high impedance rating. These headphones are hard to drive due to their high impedance rating and would require an amplifier just to bring out their sound. The AE-5 should be able to handle these kind of headphones thanks to its Xamp. With the Xamp, each audio channel is individually amplified to deliver pristine audio in an unaltered lossless mode. Creative also used WIMA capacitors, a German-made high heat resistance capacitor, that greatly reduces noise and audio interference.

The Sound BlasterX AE-5 also features industry leading audio processing with its quad-core Sound Core3D audio DSP combined with Sound Blaster technologies. The Sound Core3D provides fully customizable DSP-powered audio enhancements, crystal-clear vocal reproduction, in-game voice communication enhancements, 7.1 virtual surround sound and other technologies that improves the music, movie and gaming experience.

And let’s not forget RGB, since it’s basically the craze nowadays. To add aesthetics to the AE-5, the sound card features Aurora Reactive Lightning system. The side of the AE-5 has RGB lighting and it includes an RGB strip that can be customized and sync with the system. Well, the RGB doesn’t improve your listening experience, but it does improve your system’s aesthetics and lighting.

Finally, aside from all the audio enhancement and customization, the AE-5 features an all new Scout 2.0. It’s basically an app used with your mobile device to give you a visual location of your enemies. In other words, it’s a radar for any first person shooter game. There’s also a Scout Mode that “let’s you hear your enemies before you see them”. Hmmm, that sounds like an unfair advantage if you ask me.

Below is the rest of the specification of the Sound BlasterX AE-5 and on the next page let’s take a closer look on the sound card itself.

Sound BlasterX AE-5 Specifications

Audio/DSP ProcessorSound Core3D
Channels5.1 discrete speaker out
7.1 virtual headphone surround
InterfacePCIe
DACESS ES9016K2M SABRE32 Ultra DAC
Max. Playback Resolution32-bit/384kHz
DNR122 dB
THD+N0.00032%
Sampling Rate (DSP Playback)16-bit / 16.0, 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0kHz
24-bit / 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0kHz
32-bit / 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0kHz
Sampling Rate (Direct Mode Playback)16-bit / 48.0, 96.0, 192, 384kHz
24-bit / 48.0, 96.0, 192, 384kHz
32-bit / 48.0, 96.0, 192, 384kHz
ADCSound Core3D
Max. Recording Resolution24-bit/96kHz
Sampling Rate (Recording)16-bit / 16.0, 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0kHz
24-bit / 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0kHz
Headphone Amp600 Ohms
Custom-designed discrete headphome amp (Xamp)
SNR116dB
THD+N0.0009%
Output Impedance1 Ohm
Headphone Impedance Rage16-600 Ohms
Connectivity1x 3.5mm Mic In/Line In (Software selectable, default as Mic In)
1x 3.5mm Headphone/Headset Out (default as Headphone)
1x 3.5mm Front Out
1x 3.5mm Rear Out
1x 3.5mm Center/Sub Out
1x TOSLINK Optical Out
1x Front Panel Header
1x RGB LED Header (support 5V RGB strips)
PowerPCIe bus power
+5V for Aurora lighting (requires 4-pin molex peripheral connector from PC power supply)
Product Dimensions145mm x 20mm x 128mm (LxWxH)
Product Weight215 grams

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 latest pricing and availability:
For US: B&H Photo here
For UK: available at Amazon UK here
Peter Paul
I love computers since I was a kid. I’m always fascinated with new technology, especially in the PC world. Many years ago, I was curious if the reviews I read were true and real. So, why not test them myself and share my first-hand experience? And thus, here we are. Thanks for reading!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

What's New

Best SSD (SATA and M.2 NVMe) to Buy this Black Friday and Cyber Monday (Updated 2019)

It's that time of the year again when prices are expected to go down and people are expected to buy stuff. For us PC...

Apple 16-Inch MacBook Pro Released – See Features, Specs, Price and Availability

Apple has just announced the new 16-inch MacBook Pro; dubbed as “the world’s best pro notebook” by Apple. It features a 16-inch Retina display,...

Lenovo Deals and Coupon November 2019 – Black Friday Deals Coming

Lenovo doesn't stop giving out sweet deals and coupons every month. Here you will find all the available best Lenovo deals and discounts that...

List of FreeSync Monitors that are Compatible with G-Sync (UPDATED)

Back at CES 2019, when NVIDIA announced the new RTX 2060 graphics card, NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang also announced support for "G-Sync compatible monitors"....

The Best RTX 2070 Super Graphics Cards Available – The Must Have Today

Today we are going to explore the best RTX 2070 Super graphics cards that are currently available in the market. In this article, we’ll...
- Advertisment -

Hardware Reviews

GALAX GeForce RTX 2070 Super EX Graphics Card Review

The GeForce RTX 2070 Super graphics card seems to be the popular GPU in the current RTX Super lineup. It offers better performance per...

Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 PCIe Sound Card Review – A Better Hi-Res DAC with AMP?

Sound cards are still a thing nowadays and there are not a lot of them, especially the hi-end or hi-res ones that can really...

Gigabyte RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC 8G Review – Better Value Card?

Today we are going to look at and review the Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming OC 8G. This is the second RTX 2070...

MSI GeForce RTX 2070 Super Gaming X Review – The Best RTX 2070 Super?

We previously reviewed the RTX 2060 Super and the RTX 2080 Super; now it's time to review the RTX 2070 Super. What I have...

MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT EVOKE OC Review – Looks Refreshingly Gold!

Mid this year AMD released their latest Radeon RX 5700 series graphics card that would compete with NVIDIA's mid-range RTX graphics cards. When the...

Audio Gear and Reviews

Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 PCIe Sound Card Review – A Better Hi-Res DAC with AMP?

Sound cards are still a thing nowadays and there are not a lot of them, especially the hi-end or hi-res ones that can really...

Corsair VOID RGB ELITE Wireless Gaming Headset Review

Today we are going to review one of Corsair’s latest (gaming) peripheral – the Corsair Void RGB Elite Wireless gaming headset. That’s quite a...

Audeze LCD-1 Compact Reference Planar Headphone Released – See Features, Specs and Price

Audeze recently released a new reference planar magnetic headphone – the Audeze LCD-1. Not to be confused with the first Audeze LCD-1 head-phone released...

Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless (SE) Gaming Headsets Released – See Features, Price and Availability

Corsair recently released a new series of premium gaming headset – the Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless and Virtuoso RGB Wireless SE. Unlike the other...

HyperX Cloud Orbit and Orbit S Gaming Headsets Now Available – See Features, Specs and Price

HyperX recently released their latest top of the line gaming headsets, the HyperX Cloud Orbit and Orbit S. If the headphone looks familiar to...