Ever want to game in front of a giant soundbar that blows you away with 100% pure sound pressure? Investing into a tiny one doesn’t always compare to having a full speaker system, but the Creative Katana SE Multi-channel Super X-Fi Gaming Soundbar might have what you are looking for.
Of course, it isn’t just for gaming (even though it is called a gaming soundbar). It can be paired with any TV or even used to play your favorite music over Bluetooth. But thanks to its mostly compact design (I say mostly as it will have a noticeable footprint compared to a small speaker solution) and LED effects, it is clearly targeting the gaming community more than anything else (and the fact that it is in the name).
This soundbar is 25.5 inches in length and comes with two 54 mm tweeters and two 109 mm mid-range drivers. Along with a few ports on the back that help produce some incredible low-end so that you don’t have to worry about attaching a subwoofer to the mix.
It actually has quite the footprint, but the effect is worth it if you have a big desk and prefer to enjoy that full immersion. To give you a good example, it is about the length of your average 32-inch monitor and sticks out nearly 4 inches (front to back).
Although it looks like most any other soundbar out there, the LED effects and inclusion of SXFI set it apart from the rest. This is where it really shines as a gaming soundbar. Well, the latter of the two at least. I’ll cover both of these in a little more detail in a moment.
The LED display on the front makes it easy to see what mode you have everything in and there is two beamforming mics built-in so that you can use this speaker with conference calls as well. Once again, making it more suited for computers than TVs, but can still be used with any setup that warrants a strong sound presence.
There is also a headphone port on the front with SXFI (or Super X-Fi) support. This feature alone is like gaining a $100 value.
That being said, it doesn’t exactly have any limitations when it comes to connectivity. The only thing it is missing is RCA and you can easily solve that with an RCA to 3.5mm aux adapter thanks to its aux input. It can also take HDMI ARC, USB (in), and optical.
When using it in an ARC configuration, you’d likely have it connected to a receiver or TV that supports ARC. This will allow you to take advantage of surround sound, as well as optical for situations where HDMI ARC is not supported. Aux-in is obviously just stereo sound.
USB-C would open the option of connecting to a PC digitally, offering you surround effects as well, but this limits you to devices that support sound over USB-C. Connecting it to a computer/laptop, you’ll see the Katana show up as a speaker source. This is also where you can start playing with the SXFI app, but that is optional and recommended if you want to dial in that headphone port for whatever pair of headphones you are using.
The USB-A port is there in case you have a valid SXFI USB adapter you want to make use of (for compatible headphone models).
So the soundbar can be connected to and used for virtually anything thanks to the many input/output options it has available. Including gaming consoles, computers, TVs, mobile devices, and more.
The top of the speaker contains many of the controls you’d need access to. From switching modes, controlling volume, or enabling SXFI for connected headphones. You can trigger Bluetooth pairing and it is also used for pairing to the Creative app.
It comes with a remote so you can control some of the settings even easier with plenty more options than the buttons on the speaker as well as the option to create shortcuts. You can also control it via the Creative app I just mentioned.
The Creative app gains you deeper control of the settings, including the ability to quickly and easily adjust the EQ, lighting effects (i.e., rainbow, pulsate, solid colors, etc.), decoder, crystalizer, dialog lift, SXFI mode, and more.
You can adjust the LEDs to scroll through the colors, select your favorite color, or have them pulsate to the sound if you are listening to music. Unfortunately, they don’t support any external solutions like Razer Chroma, so you can’t sync them to the rest of your LED setup. But they can at least be dialed in to match your theme a little.
You can also enable special SXFI modes (headphones) like Battle Mode and Scout Mode, which gives users a bit of an upper hand by allowing you to hear where things are coming from in games a little more clearly. Including how far something is coming from (not just the direction).
It even comes with multiple adapters so you can make use of it (virtually) no matter where you are in the world. This prevents you from having to adapt if you ever move or vacation somewhere (and for some reason you like to take your soundbar with you on vacation?). It’s really so that the company doesn’t have to box and ship multiple variations of the same model throughout the world.
It never hurts to have options though and this opens up the purchase of this speaker to almost any part of the world.
It also comes with almost everything you need. The only thing you are missing is an HDMI cable if you want to use it through ARC or a 3.5mm aux solution for analog connections. You do, however, get an optical cable and USB-C to USB-A cable. So you can easily use it with most consoles or computers right out of the box. As well as TVs and receivers if they support optical.
Along with brackets so you can mount the speaker on the wall if you prefer not to have it lying flat on a surface.
We have been connecting this speaker to so many things to verify its ability to support various setups. Including PS5, Xbox Series X, multiple computers/laptops, and mobile devices (Bluetooth or USB-C). Not to mention we paired it with a number of headphones, including Creative’s own Aurvana SE.
This speaker can be used in so many situations and it comes with the sound presence to deliver. From crisp highs to pounding lows that can be quite surprising for the space it has to create them. The low-end is absolutely terrific when it comes to gaming, movies, or just listening to music.
For music, we did find ourselves playing with the EQ from time to time to get the best results depending on the genre we are listening to. This might be because we are audibly picky when it comes to good sound and it is such an obsessive need. However, nothing needed adjustment when we started playing hi-res tracks as our source. The amount and range of sound that came out of this soundbar was quite impressive.
Using it for video games and movies brings out quite the impression as well. It does offer a certain degree of surround sound to what you are listening to assuming you connected via a way of getting surround (HDMI ARC, optical, or USB-C).
Connecting headphones and playing with SXFI effects changes everything when you have the right headphones. We are big fans of Creative’s SXFI as it can create such a large and detailed sound stage, allowing you to really dial in on which direction everything is coming from.
So although the soundbar itself is loud and offers a lot of range, its surround effects do come better with headphones since the speaker itself only has four drivers. If you absolutely need a noticeable surround effect from a soundbar, we’d recommend looking into the company’s Creative Carrier. It’s expensive, but it sounds good if you have the space for the sound to bounce all over within. Leading to a Dolby Atmos experience (not just virtual 5.1). That being said, this one still can absolutely fill a decent-sized room noticeably when it comes to volume and stage.
We did expect a little more out of the surround effects of the speaker based on our experience with the company’s Atmos-supported soundbar. But I guess you can only have so much for the price you are paying.
It does take a little time to boot up when you turn it on each time. Most soundbars are on within a second or two, but this one takes upward to about 7 to 10 seconds to get past its “welcome” display. It isn’t a deal breaker in any way but it is worth pointing out.
The ability to control it in so many ways and dial it in like any other SXFI amp is nice and adds a lot of value to the speaker. Without the latter feature, you’d probably find this speaker only costing $200 or so. However, with the SXFI features included, it is no wonder that the MSRP of this model is $299.
Since it does have a controller, you should be able to integrate it with some of your smart home automation efforts or other remotes that support combing devices (i.e., a Fire TV Stick remote).
This speaker is large and in charge when it comes to sound, but not as big (in physical size) as your average soundbar for what it delivers. Despite this, it still has a large footprint, so gaming setups may be hit-and-miss depending on how much of a footprint you want on your desk. However, with the amount of sound it has to offer and the features it brings, you may find yourself happy to make exceptions.
It works great as a soundbar solution for gaming consoles and TV setups and can provide a lot of sound for any size of living room (or similar) space. You can connect virtually anything to this soundbar and it does a great job filling in even large spacious rooms (we tested it in one of our demo theater spaces which is about 25 ft x 25 ft).
You get plenty of control via its own buttons, remote, and app. Allowing you to give into a long list of features. Including the built-in SXFI, which again, adds a great deal of value to this soundbar just in itself. The LED effects are fun, have a decent amount of customization, and can even be turned off if you want. However, it would have been a killer feature if it could sync with certain control solutions like Razer Chroma.
The virtual surround effects when using the soundbar itself (no headphones) are subtle and in many cases might just sound like an enhanced stereo experience with a large sound stage. It could have been nice to experience a little more on the virtual front of things, but I guess that’s more so what the company’s Carrier model is for. For what it is, it still sounds incredible and is packed with options.
- Dimensions Soundbar: 650 x 109 x 78 mm / 25.6 x?4.3 x?3.1 inches
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, HDMI ARC, Optical-in, AUX-in, USB-C, SXFI-Out
- 2 x 109 mm (4.3”) mid-range drivers
- 2 x 54 mm (2.1”) tweeters
- Power Output: Up to 90W RMS (180W Peak)
- Frequency Range: 55–20,000 Hz
- Super X-Fi: Yes
- Customizable Buttons (via Remote)
- Built-in Microphone
- 1 x Remote Control
- 1 x Power Adapter
- 1 x Optical Cable
- 1 x USB-C to USB-A Cable
- 2 x Wall Mount Brackets
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