The Sound BlasterX Katana from Creative Labs is a sound bar made to fit under your monitor, with a slimline design featuring multiple channel inputs, 5 drivers and led lighting. While made mainly for desktop use, I tested the Katana in my living room hooked up to the TV, and connected my phone via bluetooth.
First impressions of the Katana are great, I like the slim-line design that enables it to be a little more discreet than a ‘standard’ Sound bar, sitting nicely on the mantle without taking up too much room. I did intend to connect the Katana directly to my Xbox One, however there’s no Optical Cable supplied, and the one I have is the incorrect type (needs to be Toslink both ends). So I settled for using a 3.5mm audio connector from the TV to the Katana via its AUX input.
This obviously presents a bit of a problem, as Xbox One audio output is only via optical, where as PCs and PS4s can utilise USB for audio out. There’s no mention of Xbox One compatibility with the Katana, though purchasing a Toslink Optical cable for around £10 would solve the issue. Back to the audio, and while I was only connected via standard audio cable the Katana was nevertheless still impressive.
The audio is much more clear than what is produced by my TV’s own speakers with much more noticable sounds throughout the range. The speakers hold up extremely well when turning up the volume, with no distortion or sound breaks. the Subwoofer provides excellent bass, and can be turned up and down depending on your preference. There’s also preset equalizer settings that can be switched between, these can also be modified on a PC with the use of the Sound Blaster Connect Software downloadable for free. You can also program the LED lights with the same software too if you’re not keen on the pre-programmed ones. Audio is produced in Dolby 5.1 if connected via USB and in virtual 7.1 on PC
Build Quality wise, it looks the part and seems sturdy enough, with both plastic and metal parts used in the bar, while the subwoofer is in what is described as a CARB-compliant MDF box, as previously stated there’s no audible distortion or vibration from the unit. While it’s not overly powerful at 150 Watts, it still packs a punch and the speaker arrangement gives great, crystal clear audio. The unit also comes with a small remote that lets you switch between different audio settings, inputs, volume etc.
I also tested the sounbars bluetooth connectivity, it was simple enough to set up. Holding the power button on top of the bar enables the device to be found by devices with an audible voice telling you that the device is ready and when a device is connected. Great for playing your favorite playlist directly from your phone or tablet.