Creative BT-W3 and BT-W4 – add Qualcomm aptX and Hi-Def sound to your computer or smartphone (AV review)

The Creative BT-W3 and BT-W4 USB dongles add Qualcomm’s aptX codecs. Windows has the lossy SBC, Mac has the lossy AAC Bluetooth codec, and most non-Qualcomm Android phones only use lossy SBC.

The BT-W3 has SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency and aptX HD. The BT-W4 has SBC, aptX, and aptX Adaptive. Both have a nifty 3.5mm mic for voice chat.

Australian Review Creative BT-W3 and BT-W4 Qualcomm aptX USB dongles

WebsiteBT-W3 Product page and BT-W4 Product page
PriceBT-W3, $64.95 but online at $54.95
BT-W4, $74.95
FromCreative online and CE/IT resellers
Warranty12 months ACL
Country of OriginChina
CompanySingapore-based Creative Labs (Est 198it 1) make class-leading PC soundcards and, more recently, speakers and headsets. Its Super X-Fi launched in 2018, is just beginning to take hold to produce spatial sound from stereo technology.
MoreCyberShack Creative news and reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations) and Exceed (surpasses expectations or is the class leader) against many of the items below. We occasionally give a Pass(able) rating that is not as good as it should be and a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it is good but does not quite make it to Exceed. You can click on most images for an enlargement.

First Impression – Pass+

The concept for both is the same. Plug the USB-C dongle (both come with a USB-C to USB-A adapter) into the computer, and you instantly see come up as a speaker. Put your BT headphones/speaker/soundbar in pairing mode, and a few seconds later, you have a solid connection light. You can pair up to four devices to the dongle. Windows BT-W4 users can use the Creative App.

The key differences are BT 5.0 for BT-W3 and BT 5.2 for WT-W4.

BT-4 Creative App – Exceed

The App adds considerable value to the BT-W4 and makes this the one to get.

  • Sound mode: Gaming, Music, Movies, Adventure and Action and Apex Legends
  • 10-band Equaliser (something Windows needs): From 20Hz to 20kHz plus separate sliders for Preamp, Bass and Treble and can save pre-set to the dongle.
  • Mixer: You can adjust the volume of the playback and recording
  • Acoustic Engine: Can adjust for stereo headphones (no adjustment) or speakers, including
    • Surround – upscales to 4.0
    • Crystailser – brings out the artist’s intentions
    • Bass – expands <50Hz bass
    • Smart volume – auto adjusts a volume and has Nigh and Loud options
    • Dialogue – improves 1-4kHz detail at the expense of some bass and treble
  • Paring list – swap device pairing
  • Playback audio quality
    • 16-bit/44.1/48/96Hz
    • 24-bit/44.1/48/96Hz
    • Headphone or Speaker (desktop, bookshelf, tower and custom and fidelity selection
  • Microphone (16-bit/8/16/32/48kHz

How does it sound?

BT-W3 and BT-W4 have aptX, which is a significant step up to SBC and AAC. You can read more about that – What is a Bluetooth aptX codec, and should you care? (Sound guide).

BT-W3 – gamers appreciate its <40ms aptX low latency mode. Audiophiles appreciate its Lossless Hi-Res aptX HD.

BT-W4 – aptX Adaptive makes the best of whatever the BT environment adapting the bit-rate (up to 24-bit/48kHz) and uses smaller data packets for better energy efficiency. It may even revert to aptX or SBC if necessary.

Using a pair of Sennheiser Momentum 4 buds the difference between Codecs was palpable.

Device switching – Pass+

Both allow for device switching via the dongle push button, or the BT-W4 can use the App.

HFP Mode (Hands-frere profile) – Pass

Most BT headphones connect via A2DP, as does this. But you can double press the Bluetooth button to enter HFP mode and use voice chat with the built-in microphone on your headset.

3.5mm mic – Pass

You can use this instead of the Bluetooth headphone mic. It fits PS4/5/Nintendo Swith and any 3.5mm 4-pole equipped computer or smartphone.

Reliability – Pass+

It transmits at higher signal strengths and lower latency for superior reliability.

CyberShack’s view – Creative BT-W3 and BT-W4 are great investments in sound quality

I have used the BT-W3 for about a year to ensure that aptX (and variants) compatible headphones are correctly tested. I quietly shudder when using SBC or AAC on an older PC or Mac. I have also used it on non-Qualcomm smartphones (MediaTek and others that support Audio out via the USB-C connection).

Let’s say that it makes a perceptible difference to the sound quality and volume of the headphones.

The BT-W4 is later tech, and the App adds considerable value.

Rating Explanation – Creative BT-W3 and BT-W4

Both rate equally well, but the App puts the BT-W4 ahead.

Features: 90 – adds Qualcomm aptX and variants to smart devices. The 3.5mm mic has limited scenario use.

Value: 95 – cheap to be able to get better BT codec sound quality

Performance: 90 – swapping between SBC, AC and aptX variants exposes a new world of sound.

Ease of Use: 90 – Plug and play

Design: 90 – thoughtful with an indicator LED and multi-function button.




Creative BT-W3 and BT-W4 Qualcomm aptX dongles

BT-W3 $54.95 and BT-W4 $74.95







Ease of Use





  • Low-cost way to add Qualcomm aptX and variants
  • Windows, Mac, Android (iPhone not tested)
  • Plug and Play
  • Increased BT signal strength and reliability


  • None