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.

Creative Sound BlasterX Katana

Our verdict

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.
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

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Price: £ 2895

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.

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