Audio/Video, Gaming, Hardware, Reviews, VR World

You Need a USB Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Omni Surround 5.1 USB Reviewed

Sound Blaster Omni 5.1 - VRW Front

Performance and Software

The Omni quite frankly was impressive for something that goes for $60.54 and improves my gaming experience on my MSI GT60 gaming notebook.

Having a sound experience that was as good as my desktop when gaming was a new experience for me. I had previously used a Fiio DAC/AMP combo with my notebook and that sounded great for music and gaming, but lacked the 3D surround experience.  The first thing I did was hop into the TeamSpeak server that I frequent and test out the mic and the noise reduction.

The other people on the server said that I sounded clear and that the quality of my transmission was decent.  There are some tuning options that are in the application such as CrystalVoice, noise reduction, smart volume, and focus ( which tunes the microphone array from narrow to wide).  There is also some effects that you can apply to your voice to make it a bit more neutral or just to annoy your friends on TS.  The audio options are quite large, with the SBX Pro Studio options are the most important.  The options in here are Surround, Crystalizer, and Bass which are all on sliders. The Surround slider will make the effect more or less, while the Crystalizer helps to bring back some of the fullness in audio that is lost to compression in audio files.  There is also Smart Volume which normalizes the volume, and actually has proven helpful in gaming to hear the enemies coming from further away.

Creative’s Scout mode is in the application as a selection as well, which is like a more selective and robust smart volume option.  It will allow you to hear people coming from a long ways away, but it doesn’t work equally in all games.  In Battlefield 4 it is helpful but you hear a lot of stuff that is not helpful and from all over which sometimes can throw you off.  For watching some movies there is the inclusion of Dolby Digital live which helps to recreate a surround sound environment and is better for media than games.  There are also mixer options and equalizer options in the app that are pretty standard fare.  As an added bonus users can create profiles so that they can have their settings easily loaded for games and media or recording from the line in.

The real surprise was how well the USB power fed amp is at powering headphones.  I have some SoundMagic HP200 over the ear headphones and they played quite loud when the volume was topped out.  The sound quality was good when playing FLAC files but it wasn’t stellar and for the price it was definitely a good performance.  I really don’t suggest using in-ear headphones as there will be little volume control and risk blasting out your eardrums.  Overall the experience with this device was pleasurable and I plan to use it more.

Conclusion

This is definitely a good buy for the $60.54 that it goes for on Amazon,  and for notebook gamers it is amazing.  There are some issues I have with it, such as it could have been a bit heavier to help keep it seated still.  The ability to now have a gaming experience that is as full as my gaming rig has to offer is very nice, with a full audio and visual experience.  I would recommend this to any gamer who has a notebook and wants to have a 3D surround audio gaming experience wherever they go.  This will be able to power most headphones out there other than high-end sets that would be better off with a dedicated amp.  If you mainly listen to music and movies then I suggest a better use of your money would be a DAC/AMP combo.

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