Creative has unveiled the latest entry in its Sound Blaster E-Series, an external USB digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) which it claims offers audiophile-grade specifications.
The Sound Blaster E5 is based around a Cirrus Logic CS4398 120dB DAC chip, offering support for high-definition 24-bit 192KHz sampling rates and a Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 600Ω amplifier capable of driving high-end headphones without difficulty. Input is handled by a Cirrus Logic CS5361 114dB analogue-to-digital converter (ADC), again offering support for 24-bit 192KHz sampling. Naturally, the line-in and dual headphone output jacks are gold plated, while the unit also includes an optical input.
The Sound Blaster E5 isn't just designed for desktop use, however. An integrated 3,200mAh battery allows it to be used for up to eight hours per charge while away from a mains supply - great news for laptop users - and it supports both USB and Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy connectivity for iOS and Android devices, including AAC and aptX Low Latency codecs. A near-field communication (NFC) radio allows one-touch Bluetooth pairing on supported devices.
'We have always believed that everyone and anyone should have access to great audio quality and be able to share it, while supporting audio source from various devices - including iOS and Android devices, PC, and Mac,
' claimed Creative's Low Long Chye at the unveiling. 'While the video experience of many users today have greatly advanced from HD to 4K resolution, the audio experience on the other hand is still sub-optimum - if 4K TV is four times clearer than Full HD, CD-quality audio, which many listen to today, is at least six times poorer than what 24-bit/192kHz high-resolution audio can offer. This is why we have introduced a top-notch audio solution featuring only the best audio components to provide the "4K TV" experience of audio.
Creative has also packed some of its own hardware into the design, including a multi-core digital signal processor (DSP) supporting the company's SBX Pro Studio reprocessing system - designed, it claims, to improve the quality of audio compressed using a lossy algorithm and easily disabled when listening to lossless streams. The unit also includes built-in CrystalVoice beam-forming microphones, which can be used with a bundled desktop prop or mounted onto any standard microphone stand.
The Creative Sound Blaster E5 is due to go on sale in October, priced at £169.99. More details are available on the official product page