However, I was contacted by the company recently and they expressed interest in having me review some of their products from an accessibility standpoint. Consequently, here's my first sound card review, for the Sound BlasterX G6.
Let's start where pretty much all of my hardware reviews start, with the unboxing.
Lifting the top of the box away reveals the soundcard itself underneath, with two convenient areas at the sides for your fingers to pull it from the packaging.
Doing this allows you to find the circular whole in the middle of the area where the card was and pull that free. This provides access to the cables needed to use the card, namely an optical to 3.5mm cable and a USB lead, wrapped in separate packaging. A small bag of silica gel can be thrown away, but you'll also find a declaration of conformity for radio equipment, warranty information, information on "gamers for life" and the instructions, all in print.
As a result, I tried to find some instructions as to how to set the card up and found, somewhat bemusedly, very little. What I did find seemed to be locked behind a verification wall, asking for the total of a sum that didn't actually render correctly to my screen reader (this is the case with other elements of the site covered later in this review as well).
Consequently, I needed a small amount of sighted assistance to set the device up though as you will soon discover, not really that much at all.
Updating the firmware, in fact, proved to be the most complicated part of the operation, given that the quick start guide was so large that I couldn't physically read through it without having my computer perform poorly even with Adobe Reader DC being set to "read only the currently visible pages"". As a result, I downloaded what I could (the Sound Blaster Connect 2 software and the firmware) from the website and tried installing things myself.
Installing the software was simpple enough, with the use of standard installer controls being key to accessibility here. However, the fact that one of the items in the custom install field is simply called "addon" did have me slightly concerned as there was no accompanying description.
After the install had finished, it seemed like we were home and dry. That was not the case unfortunately as, after starting the software up, not only were there no standard controls in the window, but the software told me my sound card wasn't detected even though it was, apparently, working without issue.
As a result, I resolved to try installing the firmware manually, given that my ability to update that part of the card was hindered by the software itself.
Downloading necessary files from the Sound Blaster site was again complicated by the aforementioned verification sum, but once that was overcome, I could try and update my card manually.
After having sighted assistance to double check the screen though, the aforementioned error presented by my screen reader appeared to either be a glitch or just an unusual occurrance as it did not appear visually and the card worked without issue as previously stated.
I hope that the experience within the software can be improved so that errors like this are only rendered when they actually occur, thus reducing frustration for screen reader users.
With that out of the way, let's continue on to a key part of the hardware that allows you to use a console with the device.
Playing Gears Of War 4, in addition to using the PC for my microphone and Xbox party chat functionality allowed me to successfully complete sections of the campaign in the same manner as I would on console. Streaming was also no problem, with audio being clear and synchronised without any latency on my end whilst listening to the games I tested with.
Even without adjusting any settings, the fact that the G6 is not only an optical converter, but a sound card for PC use as well was definitely a great plus for my setup.
If you're looking for an external alternative to your existing motherboard sound card experience and are willing to put down some cash, this might just be the solution for you given the addition of being an optical to analogue converter.
Back to the main Reviews/Guides page