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View Full Discussion Heyo,
It's rare these days that a product comes in and really impresses me, but I think the X7 is a fantastic swiss army knife that gives you so many options. When I started in the hobby, I got myself an O2/ODAC combo. It was a noticeable improvement and I was pretty satisfied for a while.
But then I went deeper down the audio hole and picked up a pair of active speakers, then a pair of passive speakers. I bought some Bluetooth headphones. I wanted to play with USB Host and plug my phone/tablet in to a system. I wanted to try EQ settings to see what I liked and disliked.
Here's where the X7 kills it. Right now, you might not need some of the features that the X7 has. You may never use some of the features. But it's such a good feeling of security knowing that if you do buy something new, you don't have to buy anything crazy to make it work. The Sound Blaster's got you.
I tried a couple headphones out of the X7 - Senn PC350 SE, AKG K7XX, Senn HD 800. So long as you're not expecting Schiit Rag/Yggy level performance, you'll be impressed. Yes, I would recommend this as a pairing with the K7XX. Even more so if you have any of the other use cases - pick it up with an Antlion Modmic and it accepts mic-in, if you've got speakers to plug in, etc.
At the lowest price point, I give this one a really big two thumbs up. Also, I don't care what anyone says - the headphone stand is a stroke of genius.
Earfonia's got a crazy detailed review on Head-Fi, check it out: http://www.head-fi.org/t/756102/creative-sound-blaster-x7-detailed-review-impressions
Danny...I would most certainly not be expecting Schiit Rag/Yggy level performance out of this product. But how would you compare it to Asgard 2/Bitfrost or DACmini? I own the DACmini (extremely happy with it), have been considering the Schiit stack for years, and yet for some reason the X7 interests me. At this price point, is it fair to say that the sound won't quite be on the same level as the aforementioned products? I mean considering the features that this guy has, there has to be a trade-off somewhere. I don't care about measurements and graphs. If you *listened* to the X7 alongside the other products, how would it compare?
Based on what I've read, I think it's an attractive option (especially at the $299 price point) and this jack of all trades should serve many people well. But I don't want to waste my money if it's a noticeable step down from what I currently have. I'll probably never use the passive speaker amp section, so I'd be evaluating this from a headphone/DAC/active speaker standpoint only.
Thanks for the thoughtful question. The DACmini is another good choice for an all-in-one unit, and you can't really go wrong with a Schiit stack from a price to performance perspective either.
Although I've heard all 3 units, I haven't compared them side-by-side so I can't give a valid opinion. I don't think you'll be disappointed at how the X7 fares, but it really comes down to a value perspective considering you already own the DACmini.
"Do I need another amp/DAC combo?" If you're looking to pick up another one for office use or work, I think the X7 is a pretty safe bet at the price. But if you're looking at replacing your current unit, if you're not going to be using a lot of the features the X7 has then I don't think you'll find a substantial enough improvement to justify the purchase.
I've never heard an Asgard 2, but the differences between my Bifrost Uber and X7 are IMO small. I wouldn't say you need both... the X7 replaced so many devices for me. If you aren't a gamer/headphone surround doesn't interest you, if a hardwired external DAC for iPhone iOS 7+ or newer android devices doesn't interest you, op amp rolling and EQ tweaking on the fly don't interest you, then you probably don't need the X7.
Would you say that the X7 is a noticeable/worthwhile upgrade over the Schiit Magni 2/Modi 2 stack? I'm considering getting this and selling my stack if so. I'm a gamer and besides the stack, I have an Audio Technica ATH-ADG1 headset, Audio Technica ATH-IM02 IEMS, and Samsung Galaxy S5. Also, any information on hardware latency for these?
I haven't heard the Magnis, nor the Modi 2, but the X7 is a clear upgrade from the first Modi (optical). The X7's amping section is like a cleaner FiiO E09k and creative managed to massage the TI amp chip to close it's theoretical max performance, and actually outspec-ing it's suggested output impedance (so it ought to do well even with sensitive IEMs, except for the most extreme cases).
I'm honestly not sure what the hardware latency is on this... but I can tell you I detect no lipsync issues with movies on my monitor (fast refresh no image processing).
I think it's a good pairing for your headphones, Galaxy S5, and gaming, but the biggest things you'll benefit from are headphone surround processing and USB Host mode for your phone, and the Android app to adjust settings. With the ADG1, I'd recommend turning off Crystalizer, maybe EQ-ing down the treble a bit or eventually explore op-amp rolling, Creative's amps have a house sound I'd describe as a smidge bright (possibly to balance the darker sound of their full size headphones?). I often use my X7 with my AKG K612 with no EQ/flat, so I wouldn't say it's a problem area, but for long sessions with the ADG1 you might be more comfortable taking advantage of a little EQ.
Sounds good to me, thanks for the reply. Just one last thing - when you used it for gaming there are no issues with game sounds and talking to people over voice chat using the mic input on the X7 right?
Yeah, the X7 is no problem using the mic for PC, though there is no way to use the Beamforming mic with PS4. I put up PS4 mic workarounds in my head-Fi review (I wrote the first one), but basically I prefer using a Blue Microphones Snowball.