Gaming soundbars are becoming a bit more commonplace among gaming setups and for good reason. They can offer a decent audio experience in a very small package that can easily sit under a monitor. Creative has got their Katana range, and while their Katana V2 soundbar was praised, they’ve decided to refresh the model with the Katana V2X. There’s not really a massive difference between them, but we’re going to be diving into it in this review.

So, what’s included in the box? Well, you get the soundbar and subwoofer, an included remote control, some power plugs for different countries, its power adapter, and a few bits of correspondence. The soundbar itself sits at 23 inches at its widest, around three inches at its tallest and a three-inch depth. Note I said at its widest and tallest. It sits slanted, so the speakers are aimed at you, and widens towards the back of the soundbar. The body is made from plastic, though the grill at the front and sides are metal. There’s a nice brushed grey metal finish on top which gives it an aura of premium, though trust me, it is plastic. There are two 19mm tweeters aiming upwards, combined with two 63mm mid-range drivers firing directly outwards. This paired with the 133mm driver in the subwoofer make it a pretty beefy soundbar. There’s a strip of RGB across the bottom to give it that gamery feel which is subtle enough not to look garish and offputting, and if combined with the PC software, you can customize these lights like I’ve done with the purple, teal and blue effect running across the bottom to match my PC. There are also microphones built-in, which are known as dual built-in beamforming microphones which can be used when making calls on Zoom or Teams. The sound quality here is alright, nothing great, but will get you through a meeting.

Around back you’ve got several inputs. The first, and one that I find quite impressive for a ‘gaming soundbar’ is the fact it has an HDMI Arc input, which is perfect for those plugging this into their TVs. It means all audio signals getting to the TV can run through the soundbar. You do have an optical port, a USB-C audio input and a headphone port on the front. You can also connect this to Bluetooth devices as it’s using Bluetooth 5.0.

The Creative Katana V2 was very highly praised for its functionality and most importantly, it’s audio quality, and it’s no different here. Playing action packed games, the Katana V2X can give off a very nice audio quality, that packs a punch when needed thanks to its separate sub, but also produce those subtle audio cues that could win you a round of Call of Duty. The sound separation here is also nice too, not just for gaming but for movies too. I watched a film called Sniper: Assassin’s End, and there was a nice mix of high treble whooshes when sniper fire was present, mixed with the rumblings of the soundtrack and thuds when the sniper bullets hit. It does have a virtual 5.1 surround sound element to it which is evident when playing certain games or watching movies. It has a Peak RMS output of 180 watts which is smaller than the 252-watt output of the original V2, though it does retain its 50-20,000Hz frequency response.

There’s not a huge amount of difference between the sound modes either, and during my testing, trying each one in different circumstances, I felt the gaming and movie sound modes were pretty much my go-to when it came to audio reproduction. The subwoofer, which connects to the back of the Katana V2X was set to -2. The cable that connects the two is only 1.2 meters long, so it’s not like the sub can sit too far away from you. I had the sub under my desk and I got enough feeling from the base at this level, without annoying my neighbours. I also didn’t really need the soundbar much past volume level 10. This thing is loud and I had it sitting under my monitor on my desk.

There is a partner app that you can use on either your PC or your phone to fine-tune some settings on the soundbar. Most notable is the chance to really customize your audio with a full equalizer. That is a great feature and one that shouldn’t be overlooked. The other audio-enhancing feature in the app is the Acoustic Engine, which allows you to customize your surround, includes a Crystaliser, and even a Dialogue+ button for enhanced voice audio. The Smart Volume feature does a great job of stabilizing your audio, so any sudden rise in volume in your audio is kept under control. It’s nice if you have neighbors or people in the house at night time.

The Katana V2X as mentioned earlier can take advantage of Creative’s SXFI technology, but there’s a caveat to that. You have to use headphones. There’s the headphone jack on the front of the soundbar itself, just left of the LCD screen, and I used my 512 Audio headphones to test this. For the most part, yes, SXFI does give you a better audio separation when playing certain games, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it could actually pinpoint enemy placement in a multiplayer shooter like Modern Warfare 2 for example. It added a bit more immersion when I was playing the new Resident Evil Village DLC though which was nice. As soon as SXFI kicks in though, you’re going to have to crank the volume of the soundbar. Everything got super quiet. Just remember to turn down the soundbar when you unplug your headphones. It does not remember the audio levels you have set on different modes. It does require the Creative SXFI app to fully set up the device which is available on both Android and iOS app stores. Just download the app to create your SXFI profile which includes taking measurements of your ears. Mine was already made as I had a demonstration with Creative at CES a few years ago.

The included remote is pretty baffling, and why Creative felt they needed so many buttons on such a small piece of equipment is beyond me. It’s nice the soundbar came with a remote, as there are gamers out there who could easily pair this with a TV for console gaming, but when you could easily have your inputs on one button to cycle through rather than all inputs having their own buttons, it just gets a little messy on the bottom half of the remote. One thing I did find that didn’t line up, was the fact that I could turn on SXFI using the remote, even if headphones were not plugged in. Pressing the HP button turned on headphones and auto-turned SXFI on, but then trying to return to another input meant I had to turn off and turn on the soundbar again to reset everything.

The Creative Katana V2X doesn’t exactly offer a huge upgrade compared to the original V2. The subwoofer is a little bit smaller by comparison, it has a smaller RMS output but that’s it. It’s still a fantastic soundbar and one that I think gamers would love to get their hands on. For more info, check out the Creative Katana V2X on the Creative website.