Bottom line: If you want to have high-end audio in your headphones without the massive price tag, this is a great alternative.
- Game/Chat mixer built-in
- Optical input gives impressive sound quality
- The footstep enhancer works surprisingly well
- Mic monitoring available through an app
- Needs the adapter to work on the PS4
I'll be honest; prior to this review, I hadn't used a Sound Blaster product since the '90s when I used to use the sound cards in my PC. I have fond memories of games like Monkey Island and Commander Keen, and those memories all start with choosing which Sound Blaster to use.
Creative Labs — the makers of Sound Blaster — never went away though. It's been making audio products this whole time, just in a different way. The Sound Blaster G3 is an external sound card that works with your PS4 to add a whole host of advanced audio features to any set of headphones you own. If you are looking to elevate your audio experience, it may be worth having a look.
What you'll like about the Sound Blaster G3
Now that I have moved my PlayStation gaming over to a monitor, I found my audio experience has been somewhat lacking. I used to have an optical cable plugged into my 5.1 system to feel all the sound coming from the game. Since moving, I've only had the stereo sound that's available from the input of my controller.
The Sound Blaster G3 allows me to plug my optical cable and my headphones into the little box and experience a far richer audio experience than I had before. When playing the remake of Final Fantasy 7, you can instantly tell the difference between having the optical cable and using it regularly.
Having an audio mixer on the G3 is another huge bonus. When playing games like Call of Duty, there are times when you need to be able to hear your team and other times where you want to listen to the world around you. I really enjoy being able to use this on my cheap pair of headphones on-the-fly without having to go into the system settings — which brings you out of the game — and change it from there.
Speaking of Call of Duty, a nice feature of the G3 is the footprint enhancer. With just a press of the center button, the G3 will drop the bass away almost entirely and boost the treble noises. The idea is that it will make footsteps more audible, and I was surprised to find it does work! Of course, it makes all the other noises sound like trash, but if you are camping or sniping, then it's worth having the footprint enhancer turned on now and then.
What you'll dislike about the Sound Blaster G3
I have only the smallest annoyance with the Sound Blaster G3. As a product that is marketed for the PS4, it's weird to me that it uses USB-C with an adapter, rather than USB-A that the PlayStation accepts. It also uses a separate mic and speaker set up like you would get on a PC rather than the single 3.5mm jack you plug your headphones into on a PlayStation controller.
Now the Sound Blaster does come with an adapter for the USB, which is ok until you lose it, and plenty of people use PC headphones with their PlayStation 4. The Sound Blaster does feel like it's been designed for a PC though, and the PlayStation 4 part is an afterthought.
On the plus side, it does work well on the PC, PlayStation 4, and the Switch to boost your audio on all the platforms.
Should you buy the Sound Blaster G3?
Overall I was impressed with the Sound Blaster G3 from Creative Labs. The sound quality when playing any game through the optical lead was significantly enhanced, sometimes with enough difference to really surprise me. Tomb Raider, in particular, blew me away when using the optical cable.
The other enhancements, like the mixer and the footstep enhancer, were undoubtedly helpful in multiplayer games. There is even an app (opens in new tab) that allows you to control your microphone output level that includes monitoring, which can make a lot of difference if you are streaming with a group of people.
4 out of 5
For $60, this is an excellent addition to your gaming experience, especially if you have cheaper headphones, or, if you are like me, you play your games through a monitor with terrible speakers. If you are a fan of gaming audio but don't have the best setup right now, it's worth your time to pick one of these up today.
Boost the noise
If you are serious about your audio, the optical input on the Sound Blaster G3 and the chat mixer make this a worthwhile investment. Having voice monitoring is also extremely helpful if you are streaming with a team to make sure you're loud enough.
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