Creative is back again with a brand new gaming headset and we’ve spent the last two weeks putting it through its paced. On the bench today is the Sound BlasterX H6 USB Gaming Headset with 7.1 Surround Sound. It’s compatible with just about everything and looks darn good but for $79.99, does it blast away the competition? Join us as we find out!
- MSRP: $79.99
- Drivers: 50mm FullSpectrum
- Headset Frequency Response: 20Hz - 20kHz
- Cushions: Replaceable Memory Foam
- Interface: USB, 3.5mm Stereo Input
- Frequency Response: 50Hz ~ 15kHz
- Sensitivity: -42dB
- Microphone Type: ClearComms Unidirectional Condenser Microphone
- Detachable: Yes
- Impedance: <2.2k ohms
- Breathable and Replaceable High Density Memory Foam Cushions
- 3 Professionally Tuned Hardware EQ Profiles
- Customizable Aurora RGB Lighting
- On-Ear Volume, Mic & Multifunction Contreols
- Ambient Monitoring Lets You Hear the Outside World When Activated
- Complete Sound Blaster Connect Customization
First things first, I love the look of this headset. Creative has just nailed the mix of materials to make the H6 look sleek and luxurious. The RGB is also tastefully done but eye catching enough to look genuinely cool - and not just in a gamery way. It’s been quite a while since I’ve looked at a headset less than $100 and said, “man, I’ve got to try that” but the H6 actually had me rushing through my other reviews to finally try it out.
When I did, I was struck by how comfortable it is. A good headset almost feels like it’s giving your head a hug, not too tight, not too loose, and comfortably warm instead of hot and sweaty. Creative has been at this a while, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they’ve delivered a headset that almost seems to disappear while you’re wearing it, but that’s exactly what happens. It’s lightweight, which is hugely important for a sensitive domed fella’ like me, but the breathable memory foam ear cushions also make sure your ears are comfortable and don’t build up too much heat. Your ears will get a little warm but I almost found it pleasant in my somewhat chilly upstairs office.
It’s obvious that there’s been a lot of care in their construction. The headband is metal and offers a lot of flex and the yokes feel solid. I would try not to drop them but if you slip up, they look like they’ll hold up just fine. I also like the use of fabric on the earpads and along the underside of the headband to sit lightly on your head. You won’t notice it so much on the top of your head (that’s more about what you’re not noticing), but it does feel nice against your skin.
The downside is that washable fabric sleeves are porous and aren’t the best for sound isolation. The memory foam helps with this but it’s not a complete solution. This is the tradeoff and every headset is making it unless they go for a dual material covering. But then they probably won’t be easily washable like these are. Catch-22.
Along the left earcup, you have controls for you volume, microphone monitoring/mute, ambient monitoring, and selecting your EQ profile. This is also the side where you’ll connect your USB or 3.5mm cables. Other companies could learn a thing or two about keeping your controls on a single side, which I find much more intuitive than having buttons and knobs on each ear. Creative has even go so far as to add a different texture to the ambient monitoring button to make it stand out from the mic buttons. I was worried having the EQ button above the mic on the front of the headset would be awkward to press without bumping the mic but in practice it works just fine.
The sound quality of the box is only so-so. I found the default setting to sound a little muddy and the three built-in presets really didn’t help things. Thankfully, you can customize your own EQ profile inside the Sound Blaster Connect software. You will definitely want this program. With a little tweaking, I was able to bring craft an equalizer profile I was happy with and then get into the fun of Creative’s Acoustic Engine/BlasterX effects (SBX).
I say this in every Sound Blaster review, but this is really where the magic happens: SBX is the H6’s magic bullet. You can adjust settings for Surround to widen the sound stage, tweak up or down the Bass presence, apply Smart Volume leveling, or even pull out your voice comms with the Dialog+ setting. My favorite is Crystalizer, which promises to bring out the nuances in your music and games so you can hear it the way the audio engineer intended. This works surprisingly well, even making lossy and compressed YouTube videos sound very good! When it succeeds in games, it’s as if you’ve put on a pair of HiFi headphones, though it depends on the amount of chaos currently taking place in the audioscope of your game.
To put a pin in this section of the review: for $79.99, I do think the out of the box audio experience should have been a little clearer than what it was but if you’re willing to tweak it, the H6s can sound very good.
The big unique feature they bring, however, is the ability to monitor your environment with Ambient Monitoring. By pressing the “Monitor” button, a small microphone hidden inside the right earcup turns on and mixes that signal right into your audio feed. If you have kids or are waiting for the doorbell, this system will make sure you don’t miss what’s going on around you. It’s an innovative feature and a genuinely neat idea… that’s just not needed on this headset.
Creative is onto something with the idea, but the truth is that the H6s really don’t block out enough sound to really make this necessary without running them at full blast. That breathable memory foam lets in enough sound that I never found myself unable to hear my kids when they needed (or were trying to avoid) my attention. There are cases where this might be necessary, like if the thing you’re trying to hear is quiet in the first place, but since it also adds extra white noise into your audio feed, I found myself leaving it off more often than not.
Finally, we come to the mic. It’s decent. Inside the software, you can adjust the amount of noise cancelling that’s applied, which is a nice touch, but out of the box it has a bit of compression that makes vocal capture sound a bit nasally. On the other hand, it has a bit of extra low end that many gaming mics lack. For communicating with your teammates, it’s going to work just fine and even for some hobbyist streaming and podcasting, but it falls just about where you would expect it to for this price.
With the Sound BlasterX H6, Creative has delivered a budget conscious headset that takes a little tweaking but can ultimately wind up sounding quite good. I really enjoy the look with those tasteful RGB rings on each earcup and the mix of materials looks sleek and comfortable all at once. Ambient monitoring is a neat feature that I could see genuine use for on a headset with better sound isolation but here it turns out to be a novelty more than a real useful feature. Still, for $79.99, there’s some good value here and you’ll be able to turn that saved money right back around into a new game. Who says we don’t have priorities?
- Sleek and comfortable looking, RGB is eye-catching
- Comfortable to wear over long periods
- With tweaking, can sound very good
- Sound Blaster Connect is a game changer - don’t go without it
- Affordable pricing
- Ambient monitoring is a bit of a bust
- Out of the box EQs aren’t great
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.