Personal audio has never been so exciting since the dawn of the legendary (some may argue about this) iPod and the venerable Walkman. From mass consumer electronics to the niche audiophile components, the market has been hustling and bustling. This hustle (especially in the audiophile arena) caught the attention of these mass consumer manufacturers to join the bandwagon and Creative is one of them. Creative has been one of the forerunners of personal audio even from way back. I can still remember my first portable speaker for my Gen 1 iPod Nano. It was a Creative and it sounded good to my untrained ears back then.

The Sound Blaster E-series is Creative’s answer and they might be onto something here that can grab the audiophiliacs’ attention. The Sound Blaster E-series comprises of the E1, E3, and E5; which are all DAC/Amp combos. In this review, I will be talking about the E3.

Out of the Box

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The Sound Blaster E3 is a small device. You may have read MarcusD’s review of the E1 a few months back. They both share the same dimension, with the E3 just a bit wider. The body case is matte finished with both ends in a glossy finish. It also comes with a clip on its underside. This device is really made with portability in mind. You can also find a microphone grille on the top side, a Sound Blaster logo, and an NFC logo too (yes, this supports NFC). There’s nothing to write home about its build quality since its plastic all over, but a good type of polymer though. I have dropped this a few times in the month that I have it and it’s holding up quite well.

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It looks very similar to the E1, but with added buttons. It now has the Bluetooth/power button, play/pause/answer buttons on one side and forward/backward track and the volume up/down buttons on the opposite side. This button placement gives me problems when adjusting volume because I would always hit the pause button on the other side. It’s just minor though. On the top you can find two headphone out jacks with the other one supporting headphones with in-line microphone. The opposite end is the micro USB port and a line-in 3.5mm jack. Creative also included a USB-A to micro USB-B cable, an OTG cable, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm TRRS cable, and the usual documentation (user manual, warranty, etc.).

Click here for sound impressions…

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  • George Lai

    An interesting product. A silly question but when a phone call comes in, do I hear it on the headphones connected to the e3 (I hope) or on the speaker built into the e3 (I hope not). In fact does it have that said speaker? Thanks

    • Raoul Gerard

      Nope the E3 does not have a speaker. It’s a microphone built in. When a call comes in, you will be prompted from your phone as to which audio source you wanna use (HTC M7 works like that), but yes you will be able to hear from the IEM/Headphones connected to it (E3).

      • George Lai

        Thanks

  • George Lai

    Creative Tech is a Singapore company, which is where I live. Yet this product, according to their helpline, is only available from them – online and at their HQ here. Is it any wonder they fail to make bigger inroads into the personal head-fi space?

    • headfonics

      Perhaps they are being a bit cautious first in the distribution of the E1, E3 and maybe the E5. I hope the E5 is the breakthrough product, looks very interesting.

  • Pietro Bonanno

    Thanks for the review.
    I actually use with satisfaction a FiiO E07k with my Z1, but the wired USB connection is very uncomfortable, so I’m evaluating this Dac.
    What do you think about sound quality between these two products? I would miss the FiiO?
    Consider that I’m not a real audiophile.
    Thanks

  • Pingback: » The Sound Blaster E5 by Creative()

  • R6ex

    Question:
    Can the E3 be used as an external PC sound card to transmit bluetooth signal to a wireless headset?
    I heard that it can only act as a bluetooth receiver but not a transmitter i.e. once it is connected via USB, the bluetooth function ceases.

    • R6ex

      Update: Just clarified with Creative SG. E3 is just a bluetooth receiver, NOT a transmitter.

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