Creative Sound Blaster PLAY! 4 is a very affordable USB-C DAC

Back in the day, computer builders would often buy sound cards for their rigs. This was because on-board audio used to be terrible. Going even further back, some motherboards did not even offer integrated sound, making a sound card a must.

Nowadays, however, most computers have on-board audio that isn't just passable, but quite good. Sure, there are still dedicated sound cards on the market, but they are usually reserved for audiophiles and/or gamers. These days, most computer users would be better served by a USB DAC -- a digital to analog converter. These offer superior audio for both laptops and desktops, and can reduce electrical interference and noise too.

Today, Creative launches its newest USB DAC. Called "Sound Blaster PLAY! 4," this model is notable for using USB-C. If your computer doesn't have USB-C, don't panic -- it comes with a USB-A adapter in the box. What's particularly cool is, when you connect a headset, there is a mute button on the DAC to cut all audio to the microphone -- a useful feature for conference calls.

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"Despite its tiny size, the Sound Blaster PLAY! 4 packs a mighty audio punch that is expected of a Sound Blaster, with 24-bit / 192 kHz resolution at 110 dB to deliver an instant audio upgrade that is clearer and richer than the default audio inherent in devices. Users can also further enhance the audio quality of their music, movie and gaming content with Bass Boost and Dynamic EQs via the conveniently-located EQ button," explains Creative.

The Sound Blaster-maker further says, "The latest VoiceDetect feature allows users to speak freely without disruption as the mute status switches based on voice detection. On the other hand, a nifty two-way noise cancellation feature works to reduce unwanted background noises during online calls at both ends -- NoiseClean-in for incoming audio and NoiseClean-out for outgoing audio."

Creative shares specifications below.

Weight

USB-C to USB-A Converter: 4g / 0.1 oz, Main Unit: 8.3g / 0.29 oz

Dimensions

Main Unit : 138 x 16 x 8.2 mm / 5.43 x 0.63 x 0.32 inches, USB-C to USB-A Converter : 23.5 x 13.5 x 6.0 mm / 0.93 x 0.53 x 0.24 inches

Playback Resolution

PCM 16-bit, 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0. 192.0 kHz, PCM 24-bit, 44.1, 48.0, 88.2, 96.0. 192.0 kHz

Recording Resolution

Mic-in: Mono, 16-bit, 44.1, 48.0 kHz
Mic-in: Mono, 24-bit, 44.1, 48.0 kHz

Platform

USB 2.0, USB 3.0, USB-C

Connectivity Options (Main)

1 x ⅛″ Headphone-out Jack (4-pole, CTIA)

Headphone Amp

Supported Headphone Impedance: 16–150Ω

Supported Operating Systems

Windows 10, macOS X 10.14 and above

DAC

Dynamic Range (Stereo): 110 dB

Power

USB Bus Powered, USB-C

The Creative Sound Blaster PLAY! 4 is available immediately here for a shockingly low price -- $29.99. Yes, folks, for a penny less than 30 bucks, you can score a high-end USB-C DAC from one of the best makers of computer audio hardware. This purchase is a no-brainer.

Please note: While it is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android, PS4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch, the optional software is limited to computers running Microsoft's operating system.

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