Sound BlasterX G6 Sound Card: Accessibility Review


The product featured in this review was supplied by the manufacturer at no additional cost


Sound Blaster and Creative Labs are names I've been familiar with for several years, though I've never really had a significant reason to engage with their products given that most of my gaming has been on consoles.

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.


Find the two adhesive circles at opposing ends of the box, one near the hanger and one at the bottom edge. Remove these with a fingernail or slicing with a blade and the top of the box should come away.

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.

Setting up the card

When reviewing products, as much as it's sometimes interesting to set up the device as you go without any instruction (in order to test the intuitiveness of the setup process), I am all too aware of how convoluted and frustrating sound devices can be to work with. This is particularly of note since, having no sight, sound is an important part of operating technology in the first place.

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.

The setup process

Facing the card so that the Sound Blaster writing is upwards and the USB port is to your left, the headphone port is the nearest one to you, on the same side as the volume knob. Plugging headphones in to this, whilst not wearing them so as not to damage your hearing if the audio is too loud and plugging the card in via USB allowed me to use the card without issue once the audio had switched from my speakers to that device. After that, I thought I'd upgrade the firmware.

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.

Software Accessibility

Just to clarify, the software, at present, isn't actually accessible with screen readers, though it could be easily achieved by making elements like the tabs render as standard Windows controls. This is a common theme among inaccessible software, where images are usually used or keyboard navigation isn't considered. If the current situation improves though, I will update this review. The default settings have served me well through my testing of the device and I haven't needed to adjust anything in order to use the card the way I was hoping to.

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.

Using the optical connection

The optical connector was actually really easy to set up as well, needing to just be plugged in to the console and the card to start working. Neglagable audio latency meant that during Halo 5 matches, I could use my PC to talk via a party and the console to play the game. However, in Killer Instinct on an Xbox One S, I did feel some lag, though it's unclear as to whether the card was causing this issue or not.

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.



  • Easy plug and play setup with no audio rooting issues (at least if you have headphones connected)
  • Lag, if any, is unnoticeable regardless of PC or optical audio source
  • Straightforward to use with basic functionality
  • Audio is crisp and clear
  • Cons

  • Volume knob wraps around on both sides instead of having a defined stopping point at 0 or 100%, though this is only a small point of preference and may not matter to some
  • No direct support for surround sound speaker systems if you wanted to run audio through a 5.1 setup
  • Website has accessibility issues with CAPTCHA style challenges that don't render in an accessible manner to screen readers, limiting access to downloadable resources
  • Software is currently inaccessible without sighted assistance
  • No differentiation between hardware buttons for ease-of-use without sight and combined with the inaccessible software this limits the device's utility
  • Conclusions

    The G6 is a solidly constructed device that certainly does what you'd expect from a sound card - it relays audio to the connected devices, allowing the use of multiple sources as well which is definitely a plus. In terms of accessibility of additional functionality, I cannot currently recommend this device, though opefully this scenario improves in the future.

    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.

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