Creative Labs Announces Sound Blaster E1 and E3

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | May 15, 2014 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: Sound Blaster E3, Sound Blaster E1, Creative

Okay, so these products (SoundBlaster E1 and SoundBlaster E3) are confusing because they have several roles. Both are billed as "headphone amplifiers" with battery power. These types of products are somewhat rare and niche on the whole. Probably the main reason for using the amplifier portion is if you had high impedance headphones. Creative claims to support 600 Ohm headphones with both of these models.

And this is where Creative started tossing other features in.

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Both the E1 and E3 can be used as an external sound adapter for PCs and Macs. While features, such as EAX, have gone by the wayside due to modern audio APIs, there is still room for sound devices to differentiate in terms of signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), and so forth, especially when compared to some on-board solutions. Speaking of SNR, the E1 advertises 106dB while the E3, 110dB. Also, sometimes you just want another sound card and USB is convenient. Both include ASIO drivers which is especially useful, although not too uncommon, for professional recording software.

The E3 then goes off on a tangent. Its USB hookup can attach not just to PCs and Mac, but also Android and iOS mobile devices. While it also has Bluetooth for iOS 5+ and Android 3.1+, it can be used as a wired, external sound card over USB on Android 4.2+ (using USB Streaming over Android Open Accessory Protocol 2.0) and iOS 7+ (using a Lightning USB adapter). This allows users to bypass the built-in amplifiers of their smartphones and tablets without Bluetooth compression. I would be interested to see reviews of this unit compared with the 3.5mm jack quality of typical mobile devices.

The Sound Blaster E1 is available now for $69 and the E3 will follow "soon", for $169.

Source: Creative

May 15, 2014 | 08:58 AM - Posted by YTech

I have been looking for compact headphone amplifier for a while. I first saw them in 1999 as a friend of mine had one for his MP3 Disc-Man (yes, Portable CD-Players). At the time, I wanted one, but didn't have the budget for it.

Now, I have been to multiple electronic stores (Source, RadioShack, FutureShop, etc.) and they all have no idea what I'm talking about. I read that I could build myself one, however finding the parts, time and the proper tools is another story.

It seems this one ain't what I'm looking for :(

Sounds interesting for mobile devices, and may be ideal to convert your wired headset to wireless, but the price tag is still expensively high.

Scott Michaud > I agree with you, reviews will be interesting!

May 15, 2014 | 09:33 AM - Posted by SirRoderick (not verified)

Why not get a Fiio E10 or equivalent product? Small, cheap, clean and plenty powerful for higher impedances.

May 15, 2014 | 11:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I bought my first gaming headset not but a few months ago. I always thought the sound was tiny compared to what I thought I'd get. Happened to upgrade my speakers to the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1's which coincidently had a headphone amp built-in, and holy crap my mind was blown.

Sound came alive! I am considering testing a external headphone amp to see if it differs. Can't wait for the reviews. Just know it's 100% true when people say that if you aren't amplifying your headphones you are missing out on so much. It'll turn even a cheap $69 headset like mine into something that can only be explained as a shit eating grin across your face for the first time.

May 16, 2014 | 03:38 PM - Posted by YTech

Fiio E10 ($74.99) - USB bus-powered (What about battery powered?)

Reviews seems decent for that piece.

May 15, 2014 | 11:11 AM - Posted by lzaffuto (not verified)

"modern audio APIs"

Bah! I remember real innovation in audio. Aureal's A3D, EAX when it used to actually mean something... the last real innovation in PC audio was the original nForce SoundStorm more than a decade ago. Modern audio APIs have made PC Audio stagnant and boring.

May 15, 2014 | 03:21 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Not really. We now have access to the raw buffer data for direct computation, even in web browsers (WebAudio API). Combined with OpenCL -- could be interesting.

May 15, 2014 | 03:23 PM - Posted by mtrush (not verified)

what's so modern these new audio apis? wheres the 3d sound at?
5.1 audio is horrible in fps games these days.

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