The price of this unit is a lot, there’s no getting past that, but it is on par with similar offerings from a few rivals, such as the EB range from Silverstone. However, the X7’s feature set can be found across a range of other competing products, but this is the first time I’ve seen them together in a single, small and stylish unit. The X7 can be picked up from most major retailers for around £330, although I’ve seen some go as high as £440. At the time of writing there was a fantastic deal for just £283 at Scan.co.uk.
This product couldn’t be hitting the market at a better time. There’s already a well-established enthusiast market for audio, but the custom PC market is also booming right now. People are spending £500-1000 on graphics cards setups for their systems, often SLI/Crossfire, which is great for gaming, but bad news for audio. Having a few graphics cards in your system often means you’re limited on PCI slots. A lack of PCI slots means no room for a really good soundcard and even if you do have space, you don’t want to hamper the airflow to your GPUs. The X7 removes this problem by putting the unit up on your desktop, while at the same time, offering more features than you could likely ever fit into a single PCI card.
You’ve got more terminals at the back than you would get on a soundcard, or with on-board audio, especially the wired terminals. You’ve got dual headphones jacks, a microphone port, a built-in microphone (and a damn good one at that), NFC pairing, audiophile grade AMD/DAC, swappable op-amps, a built-in headphone stand, a host USB port for charging devices, the list goes on! Yes this unit is expensive, but high-end audio hardware, just like high-end graphics hardware, always has been. You get a huge amount of features for your money, you get excellent performance and if you’re spending £100+ on speakers and/or headphones and want to realise their full potential, then this is the way to get it; you wouldn’t spend £1000 on a Titan X and hook it up to a 800×600 monitor, would you?
In terms of design, the unit looks stunning, it’s not overly imposing on your desk, has nice build quality and everything you need is within easy reach and designed to be user-friendly. The addition of a headphone stand is a welcome bonus too, as it means you can keep all your favourite audio hardware within easy reach on your desktop at all times.
- Exceptional sound processing
- Powerful AMP/DAC combo
- Bluetooth pairing
- Built-in microphone
- Optical pass-through
- Wired terminals for 4/8Ohm
- 600Ohm headphone amp
- Extensive selection of cables included in the box
- Headphone stand
- Great aesthetics
- Upgradable op-amps
- USB charging port
- The price is high, but you do get what you pay for in terms of features and performance
- The additional cost of buying good speakers and/or headphones may further add to your budget worries
“We normally reserve our Extreme Performance award for internal hardware components, but the X7 has no rivals with this level of features, in this form factor and at this price; a solid all-round performer for those who want to get the best audio experience they can from their desktop PC, mobile or any other connected device.”
Thank you Creative for providing us with this sample.