There are myriad headset manufacturers putting out new gaming cans in 2019 (and most have passed through our office) but one of the most exciting and resurgent makers of this year is one of the oldest: Creative. Like many older PC players, I’ve had a few of Creative’s products over the years, but not for a long while, so I was intrigued to see the Sound BlastX H6 gaming land on my desk for review. It’s a mid-range (USB-connected) headset priced at the $80/£70 mark, so finds itself among a heap of competition. But can Creative stand out from the crowd in 2019, as it did before?
The design of the headset is immediately sleek stylish and pleasing. It’s mostly black plastic and metal and looks like an understated gaming headset; no garish colors or angular design tweaks. The whole unit feels sturdy and has a good weight to it (just under 1.3lbs/600 grams according to Creative) so it feels like it could handle the occasional accident or slip from the head. The cushioning on the cups and the headband is great for comfort and stability simultaneously, and the high-density foam of the earcups does a great job of cutting out outside noise without any designated noise-cancelling tech. It also makes it comfy on the ears and you can feel it moulding to your ear and head shape. The earcups themselves house 50mm neodymium drivers which are plenty big enough for loud, bassy booms, and perfect for a gaming headset. On the outside, you also get some subtle and cool-looking LED bands that can be customised through your PC. The H6’s microphone is detachable enabling you to seamlessly change it from a designated gaming headset to a regular pair of headphones for your commute or long journeys. And, if the look of headsets is a concern for you, the detachable mic also turns the headset into a normal-looking pair of headphones. The only thing to raise my eyebrow design-wise was the headband sizing mechanism: while as a whole it feels solid, the band easily slides between notches. However, this is nit picking as it didn't slip to change the size when wearing them for normal use.
Out of the box it's a typical affair with the headset accompanied by the detachable mic, USB cable, audio jack cable, and warranty / set up guides. The wires mean that while it’ll just go straight into one of your PC’s USB ports, it can also be used with PlayStation 4 and Switch with the same connection, while the jack is for use with Xbox and mobile devices. One thing that can befall headsets that are compatible with all devices is that of overly long cables, leading to a constant fight with the excess. The H6 has no such problems as its cables are all of near-ideal length (somehow) for PC and console gaming setups, and mobile devices, that I tested it with.
The left ear cup hosts all the on-board controls and, at first glance, it feels like there’s a lot, but actually there’s a good mix here and one easily gets used to them. There’s a volume dial, mic on/off button and ambient noise button bunched together on the back. At the front there’s an EQ profiles button that you can use to cycle through some of the pro-tuned game, movie and music settings (or leave it all off). These are available without the need for the companion software that you can download for the PC so are useful to have and provide options for when using it with other devices. It’s worth noting that the volume dial only worked when the headset was receiving power through the USB connection. Overall the buttons are serviceable and genuinely useful with nice presets as standard—more extensive customization and choice can be enjoyed through the feature of the companion software on PC. I was sceptical at first over the software but it is actually a decent companion to the headset and allows so much more customization than I predicted: beyond an enormous range of presets that you can choose from designed by the Creative team, you can tinker to your heart's content based on preference and game; this was excellent when changing between multiple games (such as going between Metro Exodus to Apex Legends). You’ll also get plenty of flexibility for the RGB lights on the outside of the headset here too, which is a bit of fun despite not being visible to you while wearing the cans.
The quality of those features, and the software, becomes apparent when tested with a multitude of medias and, of course, games. DOOM always gives any headset a good run for its money, particularly at the bottom end with its heavy basses and crunchy weapon noises. The H6 kept up every step of the way and provided clear and blisteringly good audio at all times, even in the most frantic of gunfights. A game for testing out an entirely different type of audio that I’m playing currently is Divinity Original Sin 2. It’s vastly different from Doom, obviously, but very much so in its audio as sound is mostly in the mid-to-upper regions with its dialogue-focussed and medieval-esque music heavy soundtrack. Here, the headset was equally as good and turned its hand adeptly to such a different audio set up. Perhaps the dialogue was a little hollow sounding, lacking a bit of richness, but overall it was clear and sounded great while the music was lovely, each note carrying to my listening holes beautifully.
In modern gaming headsets the surround sound has to be nigh-on excellent. From single player titles to the plethora of battle royale shooters, you need to know exactly where people, shots and explosions are coming from with every minute sound or audio cue they give off. So I jumped into Apex Legends which allowed me to explore the surround sound of the H6 as well as the microphone. Straight from the off the H6 proved it was excellent—even the epic drop music at the start was so good it served as an early indicator of the headset’s versatility. In game, I felt totally at ease relying on its surround sound, being able to hear all the audio cues, pings, and movement and weapon noises that you have to in battle royale games. Never once did it miss a beat and everything was served up clearly. Elsewhere the mic was tremendous too. My teammates confirmed all sound was clear and coherent, though the range or richness of sound in my voice wasn’t as high as it has been with other headsets, but, still, overall a good result mic-wise. Also, maybe a bit predictably, its pertinent to get that flexible mic in the right place early on as any adjustments or manipulations you perform will send a series of booms down the line to your pals. So, overall the H6 was just a great, solid and consistent performer in any game I tested it with (the above being the main players but not the total extent) and I was very impressed.
I hinted at it above, but the H6 continued to impress when testing it out with other media; it proved incredibly versatile and could turn its hand competently to any task that it was presented with. With a range of music and spoken word audio books, it was always clear and the earcups helped to stop almost all of the noises of the world from reaching me during my commute and walks. Perhaps it performed most strongly with rock and metal and anything with a decent bottom-end-focus, but there was nothing to really detract from its presentation of any music genre. It also performed equally well with TV and movies, though perhaps with some lack of richness in dialogue again. Nothing that would ever put you off or drastically disappoint. It’s also worth noting that the presets in the headsets are all successes too. Across all the medias I tested it with the presets are all solid enough (it has three: gaming; movie; and music), and different enough, to be worthy of using—they aren’t just gimmicks or hollow features that tick a box.
This makes the Creative Sound BlasterX H6 one of the best headsets we’ve ever tested at the price range. In fact, it seriously pushes those in the price ‘band’ above—such as the Turtle Beach Elite Atlas or the Razer Nari, which sits at the top of our best gaming headset list—such is its quality, performance, versatility and overall value.
If you’re looking for the best of the best in a headset that is purely for games, then something like the HyperX Cloud Alpha or Turtle Beach Elite Atlas may be better for you. However, if you’re looking for a great gaming headset, that won’t miss an audio-beat, and excels with all other media, then the Creative Sound BlasterX H6 is a safe and strong choice that won’t let you down.