Review: Creative Sound BlasterX Katana

For gamers

Creative’s soundbar is for gamers and the only one in the test with USB inputs that replaces the sound card in PCs and Macs.

Karakter
Creative Sound BlasterX Katana
We think
The soundscape gets an okay feel of surround on film and games, and the subwoofer hangs well together with the sound from the soundbar. A straightforward display simplifies its use.
The overtones are rather taciturn, the dialogues in film sound somewhat woolly, and the music lacks a little spark. The subwoofer is not wireless, HDMI is missing as is support for DTS.
Specs

Matches screen size: 26” and up
HDMI: 1 out (ARC)
Digital in: Optical, USB-A, USB-B
Wireless: Bluetooth
Analogue in: 3.5 mm AUX, microphone input
Website: creative.com

Annons
Annons
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Creative is best known as the inventor of the Sound Blaster soundcard, which dominated the PC market in the 90’s. Fittingly, the soundbar Katana can also work as a PC sound card via USB. A straightforward display makes the soundbar easy to use. Unfortunately, it lacks an HDMI input. You can solve this by connecting the TV to the optical digital input, and hope that the sound is synchronised with the image, so the dialogue is synced with lip movement (lip sync). This works OK with the Sony TV that we tested it with. The sound has a tiny delay, bu we think it’s acceptable.

Sound quality

The soundbar sounds really good when your driving skills are put to the test with the driving game Forza Horizon 3 on the Xbox One S. The sub-woofer slams really well when you crash, and the engine sounds solid enough. Somewhat rounder than the Panasonic, but Creative still feels more powerful.
We are not so sure the blue light on the underside of the bar during Gaming sound mode is a good thing, or that the entire underside lights up in the colours of the rainbow when the music is on Concert mode.
Film engages well and the subwoofer follows. It is wired and thus less placement-friendly. Nevertheless, we think that the Creative soundbar works quite well.
Music on the other hand is a rather tame experience with woolly vocals due to low energy on the treble, which is where the overtones and music clarity lie. But Bluetooth actually works here, much better than with Panasonic.

Conclusion

The Creative Sound BlasterX Katana is an OK attempt at a soundbar. It is by no means a powerhouse, but it has enough muscles to be used for gaming, and it also works well for movies and TV.
There is lack of resolution in the treble, which makes the music experience less tempting. Without an HDMI input, we have to turn to an optical input from the TV, in which case perfect lip sync is not guaranteed.

Also in this test

Klipsch RSB-6

Does not follow up

A masculine expression and rugged sound does not have the power to follow up, and Klipsch lands at the bottom.

If you like the PA sound you know from concert halls and nightlife venues, you'll nod approvingly.
The soundbar does not have the power to keep up with the “tough” soundscape. It all sounds fairly flat, and Bluetooth sounds discouragingly bad.

JBL Bar 3.1

Powerhouse

No one in the class provide this sense of home cinema. JBL crushes everyone on sheer force, and the sound quality is good enough for it to take the lead.

No one in this class come close to this level of power. The subwoofer at 10 inches is especially impressive. In addition, it sounds good, and the soundbar is user-friendly.
There are those with higher resolution and even better cohesion in the tones. Does not support DTS

LG SJ8

Let the sound flow

The soundbar from LG is one of the most affordable with built-in network features and streaming of music services. It also sounds good.

The sound is crisp, with a clear dialogue on movies. The soundscape is huge, and we give a thumbs up for the network and streaming services.
It lacks power, and it can sound a little slim.

Samsung HW-N660

Perfect balance

The soundbar from Samsung has a beautiful coherence in the tones, which makes both movies and music a pleasant experience.

The soundscape is great, and it works extraordinarily well on film and games. The soundbar has a very well adjusted timbre balance.
We would like more power, and the narrow display can hold way too little text, which is why it appears in a rolling manner.

Panasonic SC-HTB250

Small and half-hearted

The small soundbar from Panasonic sounds bigger and more powerful than you might think. But it has a few issues.

The sound is powerful, with more oomph than we had anticipated. Quite a huge soundscape on film.
Bluetooth sounds miserable, and with the absent analogue input, you can therefore not enjoy music from a mobile phone.

Yamaha YAS-207

Surprisingly huge sound

Yamaha was first on the market with active soundbars. This is their first with DTS Virtual:X surround sound.

The soundscape is folded outward and upward. This soundbar does an excellent job in simulating true surround sound.
We miss a display, since LEDs provide limited visibility from a distance. The overtone area could be more airy.

Philips Fidelio B1/12

Better on TV than music

This is one of the smallest soundbars on the market. It sounds bigger than it looks, but has its shortcomings.

Very compact dimensions makes for a discreet soundbar, and it is also very easy to use. The sound is more powerful than you might think.
Does not sound as good on music as film, the bass is somewhat uncontrolled and the midrange could have had more energy. HDMI does not support HDCP 2.2 and thereby does not support 4K Blu-ray.

Sony HT-XF9000

Extra dimension in height

Sony’s soundbar simulates both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X in height, thus giving an extra dimension to the soundscape. Yes, it works.

The soundscape is huge on film, and the dialogue is crystal clear. The subwoofer has also tolerable power.
It can sometimes sound a little crass in the overtones, and the subwoofer has a lot of energy in its upper range and less in the deep bass. Music in stereo is not great.
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