Repeat after me: You don’t have to spend a fortune to get good audio.
Gaming headsets nowadays can cost an arm and leg, even though most of the models you’ll find at your favorite retailer will hit a sweet spot of around $100. While the audiophiles out there, myself included, look for a fantastic headset right out of the gate, the bottom line is that not everyone can afford those big beautiful $300+ headsets. If you’ve made the choice to go with a budget headset, there is still a great way to get beautiful audio and some cool little perks while we’re at it. Creative Labs has come up with the SoundBlaster G3 USB sound card, and I’m here to tell you that it can pack quite a punch.
The G3 is a USB-C sound card that comes with an adapter for standard USB-A, meaning it has versatility for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. The only ones that get left in the cold on this are Xbox players as it is not compatible. You’ll also find an optical cable in the box to give the needed boost for the audio. Simply put, you have to have that digital optical connection to truly bring your headset to life.
On the G3 you’ll find wheels to control your microphone volume and headset volume, so those with simplistic headsets can now do a quick adjustment on the fly without having to go into settings either on their console or PC. It’s a game changer to have it available with a simple move of the finger. The downside to it is that the wheels themselves do not have a start and stop point so you’ll have to find a sweet spot on your own just by trial and error. The good news is that it’s not overly sensitive and finding the right level doesn’t take more than a few seconds. The microphone mute button below the volume is a quick flip of a switch to mute yourself for any reason needed.
The best part of this little card is the GameVoice Mix. This option provides superior ability to alter your game audio and chat audio level to your liking. A tap of the center button will change the mode and allow customization that a standard headset simply cannot provide. You can also take it a step further and download the Sound Blaster Command App either for your desktop or smartphone that provides an equalizer. There’s so much to like in such a little package.
There are two downsides to the design of the card, however. I get why USB-C is being used, but for a product that is directly marketing itself to console gamers, I would have preferred to have it be a standard USB-A connection and then provide an A-to-C adapter if you want to use it with a laptop, whether it be PC or Mac. This is a minor annoyance and I can get over this quickly, so long as I don’t lose that adapter.
The second issue is a bit more problematic. My PlayStation 4 is usually in my living room a solid 15 feet away from where I’m sitting. The G3 is not Bluetooth capable, which means it’s hardwired or nothing. The optical cable has to connect to the PS4 and the USB in the front. Your only option is to connect a very long 3.5mm cable from the end of the G3 to your headset all the way across the room. I do not own a cable like this, so for testing purposes, I had to move my PS4 into my office and connect it to my gaming monitor. Long 3.5mm cables aren’t overly expensive, but if you’re gaming in the living room, be prepared to buy a long cable.
The G3 packs a hell of a punch for such a small unit. The audio quality is quite noticeable and I ran it through the ringer on several of my favorite games with a Sennheiser GSP 600 headset. I stuck with titles that had fantastic soundtracks such as Destiny 2 and Final Fantasy 7 Remake, the latter of which got the bulk of testing on this card. There’s a richness added to the sound that’s tough to describe other than you can practically feel the music around you. While this might be a standard experience for an audiophile who regularly uses optical connections, the standard gamer will sit up and take notice of the boost in sound quality. The equalizer included in the app is just another perk to doing a full setup to get maximum sound quality out of your purchase.
Price wise, the G3 comes in at a wallet-friendly $59.99, though at the time of the review it was currently $10 off on Creative’s website. That’s an absolute steal to boost your audio to new heights. The unit can also be purchased on Amazon for the $49.99 price point currently and is eligible for Amazon Prime.
Wrapping it up, I loved what the G3 brought to the table in such a small package. My biggest gripe is the cable management part because there’s no other way to say it: This is meant for someone who is playing everything at a desk. If you’re going to use this in the living room, you only have two options: Either connect it as normal and get a very long 3.5mm cable; but this eliminates the ability to use the controls on the fly, or you get a very long USB extension cord and an equally long optical cable and sit with that in your lap. Neither is ideal unless you pre-set your levels and are okay with that. For those who are sitting at a desk and playing games? This is a great option that I wholeheartedly recommend.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been writing about games and entertainment since 2006 after starting out at Xbox Ohio. Since then, I have made the jump to Gaming Nexus and have enjoyed my time here. I am an avid gamer that has a solid old school game collection that includes the likes of Final Fantasy games, Earthbound, Gitaroo-Man, MvC2, and a whole slew of others. I have a primary focus on Xbox/PC games and PC peripherals and accessories. If you ever want to game against me, you can look me up on XBL with the gamertag GN Punk. View Profile