The surround effect, along with a number of other audio properties, is configured from a new and improved Windows-based control panel. Here you can also configure Creative’s Crystallizer (which enhances the low- and high-end frequencies typically lost in audio compression), a manual bass boost with adjustable crossover frequency, and a smart volume level which normalises the audio’s volume.
Click to enlarge - The new Recon3D control Panel (left) and the input switch allowing you to use a PC, Xbox 360 or PS3 with the Recon3D
There’s also support for Dolby Pro Logic surround sound decoding and further dynamic range controls, as well as microphone manipulation suite CrystalVoice, should you want to make yourself sound like Darth Vader, a Munchkin or an old geezer over voice comms. These settings are then saved to the unit, so you’re able to use almost all these settings (the consoles handle voice-comms separately) from whatever audio source is plugged into the Recon 3D.
As well as the expected audio controls and mute button, the Recon3D itself also holds an extra feature in the form of Scout Mode. This analyses the audio and enhances certain frequencies, with the claim that it allows you to more easily hear footsteps, gun shots and other game-critical noises. Sadly, we found Scout Mode to create an audible hiss, as well as prove largely useless in games; it’s not the unfair advantage Creative might have you believe.
Click to enlarge - A switch on the alternate side enables you to manually adjust the microphone levels
Another odd feature of the Recon 3D is its wireless connection module, which enables it to supply wireless audio to Creative’s Tactic3D Omega Wireless headphones via a wireless module fitted into a cartridge slot between the USB and optical inputs. Creative is selling a bundle of the Recon3D, the Tactic 3D Omega headset and the wireless module for £210, but for the rest of us it’s a useless feature that you’re paying for regardless.
Despite some questionable features, we’re impressed by the Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D, not least because it brings highly configurable audio to consoles and not just the PC. Matching most high-end sound cards with a 24-bit resolution and a maximum output sample rate of 48KHz, the Recon3D produces excellent audio.
However, it’s not for everyone. Those with fancy multi-speaker setups need look elsewhere, as the Recon3D doesn’t supplant a functional X-Fi or Xonar sound card. At £90, it’s also considerably more expensive than current PCI-E sound cards such as the excellent Asus Xonar DX.
For gamers who play over multiple formats using headphones, though, the Recon3D is a great option. While that’s certainly a tight niche in which to launch a product, it’s one the Recon3D fills admirably, and as such is worthy of an Approved award.