With the ever-expanding budgets of modern video games, it’s little surprise to find that our gaming soundtracks have become ever-more expansive as well, and if you’re going to experience them as their composers intended, you’ll want the best audio output possible. Step in the EPOS GSX 1000 2nd Edition, an external soundcard that is more than happy to sort out your PC’s audio in one tidy, attractive package.
The GSX 1000 2nd Edition – we’ll call it the GSX 1000 from here on out for the sake of my fingers – is one hell of an eye-catching device. Thanks to the glowing red ring set within its square black body, it looks like it’s been taken straight out of the Death Star’s control panel, but while there’s plenty of Sith vibes to its looks this is a device designed to produce divine audio.
The top surfaces play host to a series of touch inputs, and they’re clear and easy to understand without reaching for the manual or hoping that you can work out which EQ setting is which just by listening to it. Each setting is represented by an easily identifiable icon, so you can tell that the EQ is set to Movie thanks to the little clapperboard beside it. You can also make in-the-moment alterations to everything you’d want to, hopping between stereo sound and EPOS’ virtual 7.1 surround option, changing your microphone’s passthrough, and of course, swapping between those all-important EQ presets.
There’s four touch-sensitive glowing lines around the outside of the GSX 1000, and they each play host to your personal audio profiles. Play a lot of games like PUBG? You’ll likely want to opt for 7.1 surround, shooter EQ, and maybe a touch of microphone passthrough so you can whisper to your teammates about some guy running straight past the building you’re holed up in. Want a profile for listening to music? Well, you can turn everything else off, stick it in 2.0 channel stereo and opt for the bass-heavy music EQ to bring the listening experience up a notch. The inclusion of physical preset inputs does make access to a specific profile easier, but when everything else is so accessible as standard it’s only a small time saver.
Alongside the touch controls the central black ring serves as the volume control and, like the rest of the device, it’s astoundingly smooth and responsive. Chat audio is then handled separately by a dial on the right-hand side of the unit, and it’s great that it has its own control. However, it’s a little too recessed, and feels oddly cheap next to the rest of the package, though it’s not something you’ll be constantly messing with. The GSX 1000 does however make your microphone sound even better, with an upgraded 16-bit/48KHz sound path designed to ensure your voice is a clear as it possibly can be. In a few rounds of Exoprimal party chat, it certainly seemed to be doing the trick.
Let’s talk outputs and inputs. The GSX 1000 connects via USB-C for connecting to the PC, and then a trio of 3.5mm jacks for headset, microphone and speakers. In essence this means you can connect pretty much anything to it, though of course they’ll be hoping your headset is something like the EPOS H6Pro to make the most of it. In the interests of fairness, I used both an EPOS H6Pro and a Turtle Beach Elite Pro. They’re both great sounding headsets, but when combined with the GSX 1000 they become something truly spectacular.
To say that the audio output from the GSX 1000 is phenomenal would be an understatement. The quality and clarity that it offers are unlike anything else; this is audio so good that it steals the words from your mouth. I simply sat at my computer with a stupid grin on my face, thoroughly absorbed in the music that was being pumped into my ears.
Starting off with Hot Milk’s new single Party On My Deathbed, I selected the music EQ, 2.0 stereo sound and chose the highest bitrate I could to ensure that I squeezed every iota of performance out of the GSX 1000. The full-bodied guitar tones came through with pure aggression and attack, putting the performance at the centre of your aural world. I followed it up with the thumping Welcome to My House by Yonaka, the deep bass tones writhing from the headset with a distinctness that was almost violent. I loved listening to music via the GSX 1000.
Clearly gaming was next on the agenda, and the crunchy guitars and old-school effects of Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun were delivered with clarity and detail, the thudding space marine footsteps a weighty counterpoint to the repetitive percussive blasts of gunfire. Thanks to the wide soundstage and staggering definition, the techno-metal soundtrack was able to deliver the adrenalin rush that the developers intended.
As a counterpoint, the modern blasting action of Exoprimal was equally well represented, the virtual 7.1 surround sound helping to create a sense of place as vicious dinosaurs poured out of portals in the sky. Shifting from setting to setting with the GSX 1000 was a breeze, and far easier to deal with that many other external DACs and soundcards.
At £180, the GSX 1000 is far from a cheap option to upgrade your audio – especially since you’ll want to pair it with high-end headphones or headsets – but if you’re serious about your PC’s audio output and want the best experience, I genuinely can’t think of any better way to spend the money.