The growing trend in phones and devices is bluetooth. More accurately, a lack of a headphone jack forcing you into using bluetooth, or a dongle of some sort. This is not an option for some who have invested some time and money into getting a good set of wired headphones, and a dongle is… well, a dongle. I do not want to have to carry one around, and/or risk losing it and not having any playback capabilities.
Enter a bluetooth receiver. I researched around the market to find something to let me use my wired headphones wirelessly, and found quite a few options. However, most were just a way to get the sound from the phone into the headphones with no real concern of the quality of sound being passed through. Some had all the good buzzwords as far as formats that they supported, but in the end had no power to actually drive a good set of headphones.
With all the research, I only found a few receivers that had the power to drive bigger headphones, and be functional in several ways. The one I settled on is the subject of this review, the Sound Blaster E5.
The E5 has a few other siblings from Creative Labs, the E1, E3, and the E5. All have roughly the same basic features, but power, flexibility, and other features left me thinking the E5 would be the best fit. It has a very large battery that can also be used as a battery backup for your devices. It can work as a wired headphone amplifier, a USB DAC for your computer or laptop, a microphone for phone calls or internet telephony, and of course a bluetooth receiver. It supports bluetooth 4.0 for wireless transmission, and also NFC for easy pairing with your devices. Playback can be handled through aptX Low Latency, AAC and SBC codecs. It also features two headphone jacks, so that you can share your audio with someone else. It has two different gain modes to drive even the largest and hardest to drive headphones with ease. Size wise, it is not super small like some (the E1 is miniscule, the E3 is pretty small). I would put it at around the size of a deck of playing cards…. still pocketable, but maybe not in the same pocket as your audio device.
My use with the device has gone glitch free so far. I paired my phone with the E5 with a simple tap (after installing the two different apps from Sound Blaster), and it has been working flawlessly since. I get about 1-2 weeks of commuting listening per charge, and the quality of the transmission is near wired. I really can’t hardly tell the difference between a physical wired connection and this device wirelessly.
It does carry a bit of a price tag because of all the things it can do… but if you have a great set of headphones, and don’t want the wire connecting to your device any more, or don’t want a dongle inbetween them… the E5 is a great choice.