EVALUATION

Creative SoundBlaster GC7 USB DAC/AMP Review: Gamers, You Need This If You Want to Win

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Creative Sound Blaster GC7

8.75 / 10

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You'd be forgiven for forgetting about Creative. But here they are, decades on, still launching new products, and still very much living up to their legendary status.

Specifications

  • Brand: Creative
  • Supported Formats: 24-bit / 192 kHz PCM
  • Connector: USB-C, Line In/Out, Optical In/Out, 3.5mm jack
Pros

  • Extremely easy to use
  • Excellent range of audio processors
  • Looks good, small profile
  • Lots of input and output options
Cons

  • Customizable buttons sometimes don't respond
  • Might not suit professionals
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As a legendary gaming audio hardware manufacturer, Creative SoundBlaster products always meet certain expectations: quality, precision, and craft.

The Creative SoundBlaster GC7 USB DAC/Amp fits the bill in all areas, and while Creative is pushing the DAC as a tool for gamers, it works well for music, films, and other media. With the GC7 on your desk and the Creative App on your computer, gone are the days of fiddling with applications and figuring out how to change your in-game microphone volume.

With support for PC gamers, PS4/PS5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, and even mobile gaming, the compact GC7 USB DAC/AMP is an excellent option for gamers, streamers, and creatives alike.

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The Creative GC7 Is Compact and Looks Like a Miniature Mixer

True to form, the Creative SoundBlaster GC7 is a lightweight DAC/AMP that will fit anywhere on your desktop without taking up space. It is around 170mm wide and 114mm deep, standing just 43mm high—hardly a behemoth of gaming audio equipment.

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The GC7 looks a lot like a basic mixer that you might find in the home of a beginner DJ, looking to learn how to mix without spending a fortune. The two main dials control the overall device volume on the left, and on the right, you can switch between game audio and voice volume. The second dial, known as the GameVoice Mix Control Knob, is actually quite a handy way to quickly adjust volume levels while you're in-game.

creative gc7 dac close dials

Instead of having to ALT + Tab to your desktop and adjust Discord manually, you can tinker with the GameVoice Mix Control to find the sweet spot between your friends chatting and your in-game audio.

The four customizable colored quick switch buttons are a nice addition to the mixer vibe, too. Just as if you were cueing up a sound effect or the next track, you can tap the buttons to switch to the next audio mode, open a specific program, play or pause your music, and much more. Using the Creative Desktop App, you can customize the GC7 just how you want it.

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Image Gallery (3 Images)

In the middle of the two audio dials is a third knob surrounded by five buttons, providing easy access controls for surround sound, bass, treble, and microphone gain. Furthermore, you can use the SXFI button to toggle between the GC7s integrated audio holography modes—but more on these in a moment. The knob and its button surround house a small digital display indicating your current output levels.

The GC7 Has Lots of Input and Output Options

Owing to its connection options for PC, consoles, and smartphones, you can use the GC7 USB DAC/AMP as your central audio control hub. You can connect up to four different output audio devices to the GC7, which is impressive considering its size.

During testing, I had one set of speakers hooked up via its USB-C port, another set of speakers connected via the line out, and my headphones connected via the 3.5mm jack port at the front of the GC7. With every audio output (bar the optical out, but that is another handy option) filled, you can switch between them using PC/Console/Mobile switch, found at the back of the DAC.

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creative gc7 dac wide desk

It's a painless process. The GC7 makes managing various audio inputs and outputs simple. However, it won't suit all gamers and streamers, especially those using very specialized recording equipment, as there is no RCA phono or XLR support.

But for a relatively cheap desktop USB DAC/AMP for gamers, the GC7 is a great shout and makes it a tool you'll use for way more than just streaming.

A Plug and Play "Audiophile-Class" Desktop DAC For Gamers and Streamers

Creative touts the GC7 as an "audiophile-class DAC." What they mean is that the GC7 has a very low noise floor of -120dB, which should reduce any interference from your hardware while streaming, listening to music, or otherwise. Furthermore, the GC7 can stream audio at rates up to 24-bit/192kHz, delivering high-resolution audio to supported devices with a maximum dynamic range of 114dB.

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Integrated into the GC7 is dual digital signal processors (DSPs), with Creative's UltraDSP chip powering the GC7s audio enhancement suite.

creative gc7 dac creative app home

Audio features include:

  • Crystalizer: Real-time analysis of audio streams, especially music, to control and boost the dynamic range to deliver "a more realistic and impactful audio experience."
  • Acoustic Engine: The acoustic engine tunes your in-game sound in an attempt to add more depth and realism to the audio you hear.
  • Super X-Fi: One of Creative's most recent innovations, SFXI creates a custom audio profile using a scan taken via the companion SXFI App (available for iOS and Android).
  • Smart Volume: The GC7 Smart Volume works to keep your audio output at a consistent level. You'll still hear the big explosions as a big noise, but other sounds will normalize to a standard level. When you're gaming, it can help you detect audio cues that you might otherwise miss.

The GC7 also comes with support for 7.1 virtual surround sound on headphones and speakers, using Dolby Audio decoding to deliver the full surround sound experience. As you might expect, the output here is near flawless and Dolby's virtual surround sound experience is excellent when delivered through the GC7 DAC.

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creative gc7 dac creative app playback options

Even with all of the features and audio processing technologies available to the GC7, it's an incredibly simple bit of kit to use. You put it on your desk, plug your audio hardware into the various inputs and outputs, and away you go. The simplicity of a desktop USB DAC of this nature shouldn't be overlooked.

GC7 SFXI Battle Mode Is Excellent for Gamers

Creative has filled the GC7 DAC with gaming features, from Sound Blaster's renowned Scout Mode to quick change buttons that change your audio mode, through to the aforementioned GameVoice Mix Control.

creative gc7 dac pc console mobile

To get the best out of the GC7, you need to spend a little time playing with its gaming options and figure out what works best for you.

The key audio options for gamers come in the form of SXFI Battle Mode and Creative's Scout Mode. Scout Mode has been around for a little while now, but in short, it is an audio mode that highlights specific audio cues and details throughout the game in an attempt to give you the edge over your opponents.

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For example, in Battlefield V, you'll hear exactly where your opponent is approaching from, their footsteps delivering that tell-tale sign of an imminent attack, or you'll hear a guard talking nearby, belaying their position before you move into place. It has a limited effect in other types of games, though. In something like Factorio, where environmental audio and positional awareness are unimportant, Scout Mode doesn't deliver the same audio advantage.

SFXI Battle Mode Feels Like Cheating

But while Scout Mode boosts and clarifies ambient noise, Creative's other audio boost straight up feels like cheating, pinpointing enemy gunfire with such precision that you're always at least half a step ahead.

creative gc7 dac dark

If you're already good at first-person shooters (FPS), SXFI Battle Mode really is a significant advantage. Combined with existing prowess, knowledge of maps, weapon drops, and so on, knowing exactly where your opponent is moments before they appear is everything.

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And even if you suck at online FPS games, like me, you can still take some extra solace in getting the drop on your competitors every once in a while. Honestly, it made fast-paced FPS online games a more enjoyable experience for me, a type of environment I typically avoid or attempt to find co-op modes for.

One thing to note is that you cannot use SXFI Battle Mode and Scout Mode simultaneously. Although the GC7 has a dual DSP, Battle Mode and Scout Mode use different and incompatible processing technologies.

The GC7 USB Gives You Gaming Edge, But Is It Worth the Money?

The Creative GC7 is great. It blends high-performance audio output with gaming flourishes, and better yet, it is supremely easy to use. Creative have even made uploading the SXFI head scan profile easier, another plus.

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But you should note that the GC7 DAC isn't the evolution of the supremely popular Sound BlasterX G6 DAC. This conversation doesn't involve GC7 vs. G6, because simply put, they're built for different markets. The G6 is an outstanding DAC in its own right and delivers exceptional 32bit/384kHz audio, but you won't find the same attention to gaming as with the GC7.

So, the next big question is cost. How much does the GC7 DAC cost, and is it worth the money?

At $170, you can consider the Creative Sound Blaster GC7 DAC/AMP an excellent purchase.

Still, you'll be hard pushed to find quality like the GC7 elsewhere, not least because of the additional audio processing tools and options the DAC delivers. You can absolutely find cheaper USB desktop DACs. There is no doubting that. But for a sublime audio experience, the edge in your favorite games, and for the general ease of use across multiple devices, look no further than the Creative GC7 DAC.

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