A few months back, I reviewed Creative’s SoundBlasterX H5 gaming headset (with considerable assistance from my 13-year-old gamer twins). That is still the favorite headset in the house for the Xbox One and it’s worth noting it has survived several months in the games room, and many situations where that room was full of teenagers—all fighting over who gets the best gear. That alone in no small feat. Creative recently sent me the SoundBlasterX H7 Professional USB 7.1 Gaming Headset, the top of the line model that sits above the H5. Needless to say, it also offers an excellent experience. But what’s the difference between the two headsets and is the H7 worth the additional $30?
Visually, it’s tough to tell the two headsets apart. Both have large and comfortable black leatherette-covered memory foam-cushioned earcups attached to a well padded and extremely durable steel band. The primary clue is that the H5s have a prominent red “X” on the cup, while the H7’s “X” is clear. At least until you plug them into a USB port, at which point they glow a pulsing red, revealing LED backlighting—an effect that can be customized.
Speaking of customization, when used with a Windows PC the SoundBlasterX gaming series can take advantage of Creative’s BlasterX Acoustic Engine software. However, the H7s get access to the “Pro” version of the software that includes extras like “Scout Mode” that lets you hear approaching enemies before you see them. They also get X-Plus software that includes audio profiles that are specially tuned for popular PC game titles.
Both headphones feature big, 50mm FullSpectrum drivers with ported, closed headphone design. So you get deep, rumbling bass. As I mentioned in my original review, while playing Fallout 4 (I only get an hour or so a week on the Xbox, so I’ll still be playing that well into next year) the explosions, storms, and distant gunfire are particularly effective when wearing the H5s and the experience with the SoundBlasterX H7s is just as good. They also share an excellent, detachable noise-reduction microphone.
However, if you have your Xbox sound output set up to support it and play a game that also supports it, the SoundBlasterX H7s up the audio ante with 7.1 Surround Sound capability.
The X H7 headphones also offer USB Audio connectivity for PC and Mac gaming, featuring a built-in USB DAC.
And that’s ultimately what it comes down to if you’re trying to choose between the Creative SoundBlasterX H5 gaming headset and SoundBlasterX H7. The extra $30 basically gets you access to an LED light show (at least when used with a PC), the ability to take advantage of more immersive 7.1 Surround Sound, and additional pro gaming features for PC titles. If you play on a PC, the upgrade to the H7s is probably a no-brainer; if you’re on an Xbox or Playstation, the case is a bit tougher to make as the H5s already provide an excellent experience.
At time of publication, the Creative SoundBlasterX H7 Professional USB 7.1 Gaming Headset was on sale directly from Creative for $129.99 ($30 off the MSRP) and it’s also available for that price on Amazon.
Disclosure: Creative supplied SoundBlasterX H7 headphones for review purposes.