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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful.
Creative Sound Blaster E1: A Keeper
By Larry Silveira
Evaluation of the Creativelabs Sound Blaster E1
For several years I have bought many devices manufactured by Creativelabs. As a musician and computer tech guy I have also helped to set up several of their products for family, friends, and coworkers.
The Sound Blaster E1 is a must have device for several groups of users. The designers and support staff are to be commended for its versatility. My intention was to use it as a headphone amplifier to boost the volume of my volume hungry, low sensitivity AKG headphones. Initially I had my doubts but I WAS WRONG. This device offers many things for many different target groups. And the sound clarity of both the output and internal mic are exceptional. So read on!
Since I’m not a sales person I thought I would first tell you about what its minor issues have been for me and the work-arounds. Don’t be afraid of this device because there are 2 small issues. It’s actually a cool device with several features. No sense both of use dealing with the same problems when one of us already has (that would be me). I will provide you with the solutions.
Issue One: Following the “In Box” Instructions
The included “In Box” Sound Blaster E1 Guide can be confusing for some. (It doesn’t say “Quick Guide” but that’s really what it is.) There is a far better detailed guide online which I will direct you to a little later. Frequently a newly manufactured device requires drivers that are not yet available and require the included software to be installed first. The software that the included guide directs you to download and install will not install unless you first install the device. The guide does not specifically tell the user what the correct steps are to install this device so read on.
Solution One: This is the correct way to install the E1 device:
1. Out of box the device is turned off. Orient yourself to the power switch and where the power “On” position is located (forward towards the tiny LED light.) You are advised to plug the E1 into a USB port in order to charge the internal battery and its first full charge may take as long as 8 hours. I found it took far less than that.
2. Make sure your computer is connected to the internet because Windows will need to remotely find and install the updated driver.
3. Plug the E1 into your computers USB port (probably better that you avoid plugging the cable into a USB hub since problems can occur.)
4. Slide the power switch to the “On” position.
5. In Windows OS the driver will be found online and installed. Be patient, for me this took a couple of minutes.
6. Go to www.Creative.com/support , find the E1 under the Sound Blaster category. Then download to your hard drive the “Sound Blaster E1 Software Pack” for your OS.
7. I suggest you also scroll up to the top of the page and to the right of the picture of the E1, click on and download the “Quick Start User Guide.” With 49 pages this guide is very helpful and a lot more than a “Quick Start” User Guide. Remember once it loads to your browser you must then manually save it to your hard drive.
8. With the E1 connected and on, install the software. When completed you will need to restart your computer.
So there you go!
Issue Two: No separate volume control for each of the two headphone inputs
Solution for Problem Two:
Make sure that the two sets of headphones you use have the same input sensitivity which is a fancy word for use the same earbud type headphones or the same brand and model of headphones. In other words hook them up and test to see if they are both outputting the same volume.
Important observation # 1:
The software is pretty cool with several adjustments that can be made. Of course the only way you can benefit from the settings found in the E1 SBX Control Panel (the software you installed) is to connect the device to a USB port in your computer. The manual that I suggested you download explains all the features quite well. I listened to both a DVD of an action scene from the Hobbit and a live recording of a band I made with an HD camera at 24bit 96kHz audio. Under the SBX Studio Pro I liked the “Bass” boost and “Crystalizer” enhancements but not certain I like the “Surround” enhancement. Individual differences I guess. Also when you first install the software I noticed no sound and found that the volume was turned all the way down in the “Advanced Setting” section. It took me a few moments to troubleshoot that problem.
Important observation # 2: Phone differences
I’m not certain that the E1 meets the criteria for “hands free” and the manual does not state as such. This is probably because you can receive “hands free” calls but you cannot send “hands free” calls. The “Multifunction” button works differently on different phones. I have a Droid 4 while my wife has an iPhone. The Four-pole analog cable (included) works seamlessly with the iPhone. A call comes in; you press the “multi-function” button to answer the call and again to end the call.
But with my Droid the input accommodates a three-pole cable. However something wonderful happens with the Droid and the E1. Inserting the 4-pole cable in my 3-pole Droid jack (remember cable will not go in all the way so don’t force it) and pressing the “multifunction” button briefly will put the Droid in and out of mic “mute” mode and slightly longer (like one second) answers and ends calls like the IPhone. Winner...Droid!
Important observation # 3:
When connecting the E1 to your computer via the supplied USB cable. While watching a video AND simultaneously tweaking with the settings of the SBX panel there is a slight stuttering of the sound. This may be specific to your computer’s processor once you make you adjustment the stuttering goes away.
So what can you do with this device...really and practically? Actually it has several uses and I tried all of the below except the “gamer” features.
• Let’s say you’re on a plane and you and that special person are sitting close to each other (Is there any other way to sit when you ride coach?) You want to use your tablet or laptop to watch a movie together. You could get a stereo 1/8" splitter to listen to the sound but chances are the volume won’t be loud enough. The E1 will be able to boost the audio signal and you will both hear every word of that movie.
• If you’re like me and have a studio quality set of headphones you will need a headphone amp like this.
• You are doing an aerobic workout at the gym and use your iPhone to listen to tunes. You also need to answer whenever phone calls come in. With the push of the multifunction button, the music stops and the phone call begins until you push it again to end the call and the music resumes. Pretty nifty huh? Well it would be better if you could permit yourself to work out and get your calls afterwards but I guess next life.
• You are outside at Starbuck’s and talking to you mom on Skype (like that will happen.) You don’t want everyone to hear you or listen in on you and your mother’s conversion. Don’t worry, the E1 has you covered. The clarity is impressive even using the internal mic on the device.
• You are a musician laying a keyboard track and another musician has plugged in a different instrument so they can lay a second track on your multi track software like Cubase, Acid Pro, or several others. Both of you need a set of headphones. This will do it for you. Remember the headphones need to have the same sensitivity value.
• I’m not a “gamer,” but from what I can tell this device will work great if you are a “gamer.” You can hook up your mic/phones headset with some pretty cool settings for added sound enhancements.
• You want to be hands free to receive phone calls. The E1 can handle this too.
• Finally there are several other recording features that can be done but that’s someone else’s turn.
So, if any of the above features interest you, I would recommend this device.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful.
Good, but something went wrong. Edit: Firmware update fixed it
I bought this in March to power up my iPhone while using Audio Technica ATH M50x over-ear headphones (and sometimes my Sennheiser HD598s open-back head phones). I normally use a Fiio for the Sennies while connected to my MacBookPro.
The Sound Blaster improves the sound, but most notably, allows me to listen for hours without ear fatigue. It is the only one I found that will work with the iPhone/iPod voltage requirement. Battery life generally out-lasts my iPod or iPhone's batteries.
So, it worked fine up until about a month ago when it started to sound digitally-skippy. I would unplug the unit and re-plug and it would sound good again. Rinse, repeat. I thought it was my iPod at first, but after a while, it did the same thing with iPhone, eventually.
I am going to return it for a replacement today.
Edit -- I emailed the company. The tech got back to me and suggested it was a firmware issue. I went to the website and downloaded the current version (just one week old). Seems to be functioning fine again. I'll let you know.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful. See all 459 customer reviews...
Light weight power for good music on the go!
By M. Prather
This thing weighs next to nothing. And I find that amazing considering that it has a battery, Bluetooth hardware, and a headphone amplifier with a DAC.
I have tested this out with the Sennheiser 518 , Sennheiser G4ME Zero, and O-tus Helmet Speakers on the output. I have also used it via the included OTG cable on my Android phone and tablet, and via Bluetooth on both.
The USB connection sounds louder and clearer than Bluetooth. However all options sound better than the DAC/amp of my phone.
I used Velcro tape to attach this to the back of my helmet, and plugged my speakers into it. The buttons are easy to access blindly, but it takes a little bit of practice to learn where all of the buttons are and what they do. In this setup the volume control , play/pause, and track buttons control the music player on my phone as expected. It is more than powerful enough for these speakers.
The built-in microphone works very well, but it does not work very well when it is attached to the back of your head. This is not surprising.