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I used the Creative SoundBlaster Katana for years. That soundbar was very good for its price. And I loved it for its formfactor, which made it ideal to fit under most monitors. Recently, I’ve replaced the Katana with a few different speaker systems, but I wasn’t satisfied with anything until SoundBlaster’s own Katana V2. This thing is incredible, and for most people, it will make a bigger improvement to the quality of your gaming and media consumption than almost anything else you could do.

The Creative SoundBlaster Katana V2 is available now for $330. For that, you get two 63mm mid-range drivers, two 19mm tweeters, and one 165mm subwoofer driver with a mean power of 126W. That is a significant increase from the 75W mean power of the previous Katana. You also get support for Bluetooth 5.0, HDMI ARC, and SXFI-out in addition to the familiar optical-in, AUX-in, and USB connection. Oh, and it comes with a handy remote.

All of that connectivity only matters because you will want to use the Katana V2 with everything. Its sound quality consistently blows me away.

SoundBlaster Katana V2 makes games and music sound the way they’re supposed to

The best way to describe the Katana V2 is both loud and clear. It can plaster you to the back of your chair with decibels, but it is its strong definition between frequencies that makes it such a phenomenal experience.

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Compared to the previous Katana and other speaker systems you can get for your PC for $330, the Katana V2 is in its own league. Bass, treble, and mids all come through with precision and power. They can all standout next to each other without any muddling or overzealous blending. And when a musician wants to surprise you with a sudden swelling from quiet to a wall of sound, the Katana V2 will make you feel it in your bones.

That might sound like hyperbole, but the reality is that you probably just haven’t heard music or played games through quality speakers before. The chasm between built-in solutions or cheap desktop speakers and what Creative is doing with the SoundBlaster Katana V2 is massive.

That difference enables you to hear the resonance of a gun shot echoing through an environment even as the world rumbles around you from explosions. And in Steely Dan’s “Hey Nineteen,” the Katana V2 separates the high hat percussion more from the bass guitar, which actually enables you to hear better how they complement one another.

I regularly get chills when listening to music with Katana V2, and that’s not something I can say about even the most impressive visuals in a game anymore.

The right device for every situation

One of the best parts of the device is that it is also versatile in terms of its capabilities and connectivity. At my desk, I never really turn up the volume on the Katana V2 above 20 (of a max of 50). I simply do not need it any louder that with it sitting right in front of me. But that power, combined with support for HDMI ARC, means you can use this soundbar and subwoofer combo with a TV without losing anything. This system could even serve as the centerpiece for a large party.

A lot of the credit for that needs to go to Creative’s audio processing. It is among the best in the gaming space at getting the most from its DSPs (digital signal processors) using clever algorithms that cater to the way humans hear. That is especially noticeable in the Katana V2’s front-facing SXFI audio output.

Creative powered the headphone jack with a fantastic DAC (digital-to-analog converter) that easily keeps up with many standalone DACs. But then you also get Creative’s incredible SXFI processing that makes audio feel bigger and like it’s coming from speakers all around you.

The most significant upgrade you can make

Every time I sit down at my computer, the Katana V2 impresses me all over again. Games have looked incredible for a while with consoles and GPUs that you can get for around $300 to $400. You can get a solid monitor for the same price. Now, it feels like Creative is finally bringing an audio experience to match both in terms of quality and price tag.

If you are looking to improve your audio-video experience, I think the Creative SoundBlaster Katana V2 is the best bang-for-your-buck purchase you can make. This is even more the case if work, game, and consume video content all in the same space or even on a single desktop PC.

The Creative SoundBlaster Katana V2 is available now for $330. Creative provided GamesBeat with a sample unit for the purpose of this review.

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