Creative announced the Sound Blaster Katana SE in June, which sits between the Katana V2 and V2X in pricing. Unlike the other Katana soundbars, Creative have condensed all the speakers into the soundbar itself, omitting the need for a dedicated subwoofer and increasing the driver size and power to allow this soundbar to achieve impressive bass levels.
I am a big believer in using a dedicated subwoofer for audio; my 50 kg Monoprice Monolith V2 is a testament to that, but subwoofers are big and ugly, and they can be inconvenient to use in confined spaces. This soundbar aims to be the perfect alternative.
Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE vs Katana V2X vs Katana V2 Specification
The Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE is an all-in-one audio solution that comes with a myriad of features. It boasts a power output of 90W RMS, with each tweeter capable of delivering 20W RMS and the mid-bass drivers handling 25W RMS each. It is equipped with an HDMI ARC port, a Toslink optical-in, a 3.5mm AUX-in, and a USB-C input. Additionally, it supports Bluetooth 5.0 and comes with a built-in SXFI-out for Super X-FI holographic audio capabilities.
Creative then has two other soundbars priced just above and below this. The big difference is that these both have subwoofers, which may be off-putting if you don’t have room for a big black box on your floor.
Due to this difference, the Sound Blaster Katana SE is a physically larger soundbar. It matches the power output of the Katana V2X, and it does this by using much larger mid-range drivers and tweeters.
|Sound Blaster||Katana SE||Katana V2X||Katana V2|
|Dimensions||Soundbar: 650 x 109 x 78 mm / 25.6 x 4.3 x 3.1 inches||Soundbar: 600 x 95 x 62 mm (23.6 x 3.74 x 2.44 inches)|
Subwoofer: 116 x 250 x 423 mm (4.6 x 9.8 x 16.7 inches)
|Soundbar: 600 x 95 x 62 mm (23.6 x 3.74 x 2.44 inches)
Subwoofer: 150 x 367 x 367 mm (5.9 x 14.4 x 14.4 inches)
|Connectivity||Bluetooth 5.0, HDMI ARC, Optical-in, AUX-in, USB-C, SXFI-Out||Bluetooth 5.0, HDMI ARC, Optical-in, AUX-in, USB-C, SXFI-Out||Bluetooth 5.0, HDMI ARC, Optical-in, AUX-in, USB-C, SXFI-Out|
2 x 109 mm (4.3”) mid-range drivers
2 x 54 mm (2.1”) tweeters
|2 x 63 mm (2.5″) mid-range drivers|
2 x 19 mm (0.75″) tweeters
1 x 133 mm (5.25″) subwoofer driver
|2 x 63 mm (2.5″) mid-range drivers
2 x 19 mm (0.75″) tweeters
1 x 165 mm (6.5″) subwoofer driver
|Power Output||Up to 90W RMS (180W Peak)||Up to 90W RMS (180W Peak)||Up to 126W RMS (252W Peak)|
|Frequency Range||55–20,000 Hz||Yes||Yes|
|Sound Blaster Acoustic Engine||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|SXFI BATTLE Mode||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Customizable Buttons on Remote||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Design / Features
The Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE boasts a sleek and modern design. Its compact dimensions make it a good fit for limited spaces, and its understated aesthetic allows it to blend seamlessly with any room decor. The chassis, made of sturdy metal, exudes a sense of durability.
Feature-wise, the Katana SE is laden with functionalities aimed at enhancing user convenience and audio experience. The RGB lighting at the base adds a touch of personalisation, while the included remote control and comprehensive on-unit controls offer easy operability.
Connectivity is superb. You have USB-C, allowing you to connect it directly to your PC, which allows higher quality audio going up to high-resolution 24-bit / 96 kHz
You then have legacy inputs for optical and aux and, finally, Bluetooth, which is limited to SBC.
The single HDMI Arc port allows you to get Dolby Audio 5.1 playback (Dolby Digital) if you use it with a TV. If you are using a console, you would want to connect the console to one of the HDMI ports on your PC, and then the soundbar to the HDMI Arc port on the TV; this will then allow you to get the best quality audio possible from your console.
I’d have liked an additional HDMI in port, but this would have cannibalised the sales of the Creative Stage speakers.
On the front of the soundbar is a headphone jack, and this can be used in conjunction with the SXFI app to provide superior-quality virtual surround sound on any SXFI-certified headphones.
The Creative app enhances the usability of the Katana SE by providing a user-friendly interface to customise sound profiles. With the app, tweaking the EQ settings or selecting different sound modes is a breeze. It also allows for easy management of the RGB lighting to match your mood or decor.
Some of the options that the Creative App has include:
- Acoustic Engine
- Scout Mode
- Dolby Digital Decoder
- Customise the remote buttons
In use – PC Speakers / Console / Home Theatre
The big selling point about the Katana soundbars is the inclusion of both a USB port to connect to your PC and an HDMI Arc port. This makes the soundbars more versatile for gamers compared to most competing products.
I mainly used this soundbar in my office, located on my desk under my monitor, which is likely the most common scenario.
One thing I immediately noticed is that the bass is surprisingly good for a relatively small soundbar with no dedicated subwoofer. As all the bass comes from the soundbar itself, you can feel the bass on your table, which I think is quite good for gaming, making it a bit more immersive.
Its virtualised 5.1 surround sound provides a reasonably effective soundstage thanks to a good left and right separation, though it isn’t really capable of producing rear sound. However, it does a good job of improving the gaming experience.
It is worth noting that this soundbar lacks Dolby Atmos, whereas the more affordable Stage 360 included it. Personally, I don’t mind this omission, as I find that many soundbars fail to replicate the surround sound properly unless you buy a premium soundbar with a large number of drivers such as the SXFI Carrier or the Sennheiser Ambeo.
The overall sound quality is excellent for a soundbar of this size. I’d say it provides a good balance with good clarity in the mids, and the bass doesn’t muddy up the frequencies. The treble doesn’t get too bright, which avoids the harshness you can get with smaller speakers.
I haven’t used them, but I imagine the Katana V2X and V2 will provide superior bass with a warmer sound due to the subwoofer.
It goes pretty loud, especially if you are using it on a desk with it quite close to you. It was too loud for me to leave it on max volume for longer than a few seconds. The soundbar starts to sound a bit harsher at higher volumes as the bass can’t quite keep up, but it doesn’t appear to bottom out like some small speakers.
When hooked up to a console or used as a home theatre soundbar, the Katana SE proves to be a good small soundbar. While it may not deliver the thunderous lows of a full-fledged home theatre system, it more than makes up for it with its crisp and detailed mid-range and high-frequency output.
For gaming, both on the PC and console, the scout mode is a valuable feature within the Creative App, allowing you to improve the clarity of certain noises such as footsteps and steps, which, in theory, should help enhance your gaming performance.
With these being aimed at gamers, it is no surprise that there is RGB. It is reasonably subtle as far as RGB goes, with just one strip running along the bottom of the soundbar that reflects off the surface.
You can control the RGB within the Creative App with a variety of motion settings such as wave, pulsate and morph.
It is also possible to set the RBG to be reactive to music. This doesn’t react to just music but whatever audio is coming out of the speakers, so you have some basic dynamic RGB based on movies or gaming.
However, this is much more limited than things like Razer Chroma RGB, which is used on some of the Razer soundbars.
Having a microphone built into a soundbar isn’t a feature I’d specifically look for when buying a soundbar, but it has proved to be much more helpful than expected.
The microphone itself won’t compete with a good-quality dedicated USB or XLR microphone or a decent headset. However, I find it really convenient to have.
The Creative App makes a big difference. I have previously praised the CrystalVoice features in previous reviews, and it continues to work well here.
You have four options:
- Noise Reduction – Reduces static background noise on outgoing calls
- Smart Volume – Be heard clearly without having to shout or whisper
- Microphone Equaliser – Microphone EQ which can be set to reduce base and improve clarity
- Focus – Allowing you to create a pick up angle to reduce environmental noise from outside the angle.
I didn’t personally find the microphone equaliser had much benefit, and the focus was a bit hit-and-miss.
Smart volume is excellent; it does add some echoey-ness to my voice, so it is not something I’d recommend using if you want high-quality recordings, but it works well on things like Zoom calls where you want to make sure you are heard.
Noise reduction works very well. I played some white noise while recording my voice, and it was very effective in reducing the background hum and improving my vocal clarity.
I don’t do online gaming with voice chat, but I would definitely use this as my main microphone for Zoom/video calls because it is much more convenient than having a dedicated microphone.
Price and Alternative Options
The Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE has an RRP of £299 and is available from Creative for £259.99.
The Creative Sound Blaster Katana V2 has an RRP of £319.99 but is available for £299.99. Or the more affordable V2X is £259.99 RRP discounted to
Razer has some PC-focused soundbars with RGB. These all have a USB input but no HDMI Arc or microphone:
- Razer Leviathan V2 Pro
- 5 full range 2” drivers + subwoofer
- Features: THX Spatial Audio, AI head tracking, 98dB SPL
- Price: £399
- Razer Leviathan V2
- 6 drivers + subwoofer
- THX Spatial Audio
Looking at normal soundbars, Richer sounds shows that for under £300 you can get:
- Sonos Ray for £279 – This is likely inferior by itself for regular use, but obviously benefits from being Sonos and upgradable with other Sonos speakers.
- Samsung HW-B550 for £250, which is louder at 410W, has Virtual DTS:X, but only has HDMI Arc in, optical and Bluetooth. There is also no microphone, RGB or companion app.
I think the Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE is a compelling choice for those seeking an all-around sound solution for PC and console gaming. It is a superior alternative to 2.0 or 2.1 active computer speakers, which have fallen out of fashion in recent years.
The speaker’s overall feature set and versatility, with its extensive connectivity options, is the main reason I would buy this soundbar. I think the connectivity makes the Katana soundbars a superior option to the Razer Leviathan soundbars.
Even though I have not tested them, If you have the space for a subwoofer, I’d be inclined to say either the V2 or V2X would be better soundbars. The subwoofer will give you more bang for your buck. A counterargument may be that the Katana SE is better suited to living arrangements where you don’t want the intrusive noise of thumping bass from a subwoofer penetrating a floor.
Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE Soundbar Review
The Creative Sound Blaster Katana SE is a compelling choice for those seeking an all-around sound solution for PC and console gaming. The speaker’s overall feature set and versatility, with its extensive connectivity options, is the main reason I would buy this soundbar.
- All in one soundbar suitable for compact spaces
- Extensive connectivity options make this more versatile than competing options
- Microphone with CrystalVoice is a helpful addition
- Bass levels won’t compete with the Katana V2/V2X which have a dedicated subwoofer
I am James, a UK-based tech enthusiast and the creative mind behind Mighty Gadget, which I’ve proudly run since 2007. Passionate about all things technology, my expertise spans from computers and networking, to mobile, wearables, and smart home devices.
As a fitness fanatic who loves running and cycling, I also have a keen interest in fitness-related technology, and I take every opportunity to cover this niche on my blog. My diverse interests allow me to bring a unique perspective to tech blogging, merging lifestyle, fitness, and the latest tech trends.
In my academic pursuits, I earned a BSc in Information Systems Design from UCLAN, before advancing my learning with a Master’s Degree in Computing. This advanced study also included Cisco CCNA accreditation, further demonstrating my commitment to understanding and staying ahead of the technology curve.
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