Monday, January 13th 2020

Creative at CES 2020: Super X-Fi Everything!

Creative had a positive impact on us at TechPowerUp who attended CES last year, with their retail demonstration of Super X-Fi headphone holography arguably being the most impressive product announcement at the trade show. Yours truly was especially taken aback with the hardware implementation of Super X-Fi, with the first product implementing it, the SXFI Amp, earning a well-deserved recommendation too. Naturally, we were eager to see what the company was up to next, and met them at CES this year too where it was evident they were going all aboard the Super X-Fi train, and inviting everyone along for the ride.

There were definitely a lot of hardware products with the SXFI DSP built in, but the main announcement was in the form of the new Super X-Fi Gen 2 audio profile. Gen 1, from last year, garnered a lot of positive reviews, but also had mixed reception from the general populace who had to rely on head mapping and not also the microphone-based measurements the press got in person. Indeed, my own experience with higher end headphones was not as positive, with music losing detail in favor of a surround sound speaker setup experience that perhaps was not necessary. The worse the audio source was, the worse this discrepancy was as well. Creative had gathered tens of thousands of ear profiles and feedback this past year, and used it to train their Super X-Fi AI engine to develop a more accurate, personalized audio profile as part of Super X-Fi Gen 2. The company claims this free update to all existing Gen 1 profiles will improve also the preservation of audio detail, as well as better positional accuracy as well. We will put this to the test soon enough, but read past the break on more new announcements from Creative, including all the new hardware with this technology built in.
Our tour began with a live demo of Super X-Fi Gen 2 which was, as with Gen 1, extremely impressive. Indeed, there are now two more audio channels supported aside from the 7.1 before, in the form of a wide left and wide right. There is also more personalization allowed for dedicated profiles, be it for gaming or movies, which in turn have resulted in some tuned hardware shown off as well which we will see below. Lastly, Creative claims Gen 2 is more efficient in power consumption as well, with an example given of their SXFI AIR wireless headphones now gaining over 10% higher battery life than before. These are bold claims no doubt, but then they teased us with a mention of Super X-Fi Gen 3 already in the works for even more improvements, and one that we will likely see at CES 20201.
Our hardware tour began with a look at the recently launched Sound Blaster X3 sound card with hardware Super X-Fi. This came out in Q4 last year, and allowed the hardware-based SXFI DSP to work with all supported headphones, along with the better Amp/DAC here compared to the SXFI Amp, as covered before. The first new-to-CES 2020 product came in the form of the Creative SXFI GAMER headset, which has a custom gaming Gen 2 profile pre-configured in the integrated SXFI DSP. This is an analogous product to their SXFI Theater wireless headphones, which is meant to target movies and the living room experience, but uses USB connectivity to power and drive the headphones, as well as the RGB LEDs surrounding the earcups. The microphone has a pop filter for noise isolation, and Creative aims to launch the SXFI GAMER in Q2 2020 for a price point under $150 (not finalized yet, but they said they were looking at a number closer to $125 at the moment).
Targeting the audiophiles was a concept over-the-ears headphones using large planar magnetic drivers. Aptly called SXFI PLANAR, this was definitely the best sounding new product they had, but is also too early to really discuss more than what you see in the images above. There is an in-line smaller and lighter version of the SXFI AMP in the cable called SXFI WIRE, and Creative is seeking input from our readers on what the output connection should be, as well as the type of sound signature they should aim for. This was next to a more ready audio solution, also targeting the higher-end relative to the others, the all-new SXFI TRIO in-ear headphones with a hybrid triple driver system. These also have an in-line SXFI WIRE, and terminate in a USB Type-C connector to use with mobile devices for people on the go.
Continuing their support of in-ear headphones was the new Aurvana Trio Wireless, which is a wireless neckband-style headphones with software-based Super X-Fi only. This means that the Aurava Trio Wireless will be on the compatible list in the SXFI app, but will need the SXFI Amp to make the most of it, including the DSP and playback of all audio and not just those on your device via the app. Rounding off the demo, in a whole separate room again, was the other end of the SXFI ecosystem with the SXFI CARRIER sound bar. This is not meant to replace Creative's flagship sound bar, the X-Fi SONIC CARRIER, but targets a sub-$1000 price point and offers, as you guessed by now, hardware Super X-Fi support. The SXFI CARRIER was developed in collaboration with Dolby, and has Atmos 7.1 surround sound technology combined with Super X-Fi for headphones. The soundbar itself is impressive sounding and powerful for its 34.6" length, and is paired with a 10" subwoofer that completes the 7.1 experience with 7 speakers in the soundbar and a total of 450 W output. I/O comes in the form of an HDMI eARC port, two HDMI 2.1 ports, a 3.5 mm analog jack for headphones to use Super X-Fi for when the soundbar is too loud, Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity to use with wireless headphones in general, and USB Type-C connectivity to use with some of the SXFI headphones that terminate in a Type-C connector.
Creative also showed off the more budget-oriented OUTLIER ONE V2 wireless in-ear headphones for active users on the go, a prototype CLEVO laptop that integrates and SFXI DSP, a face-lifted SXFI AIR wireless headphones, as well as the recently released OUTLIER AIR and OUTLIER GOLD true wireless earbuds that boast best-in-class rated battery life on a single use cycle. We have some of these in hand for more testing, especially as a demonstration of Super X-Fi Gen 2, so look out for more on this subject coming your way.
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37 Comments on Creative at CES 2020: Super X-Fi Everything!

#1
TheGuruStud
Yawn My overpriced titanium HD card died recently for no reason. No thanks, creative. Garbage drivers, garbage company, no more money for you.

Sennheiser will be what I buy for a new headset.
Posted on Reply
#2
Ferrum Master
TheGuruStud
Yawn My overpriced titanium HD card died recently for no reason
It was like 10 years old? Really a point arguing about that?
Posted on Reply
#3
TheGuruStud
Ferrum Master
It was like 10 years old? Really a point arguing about that?
And? If I hadn't thrown it away eventually, I could fire up my athlon 64 machine. Expensive shit shouldn't fail and it doesn't if it's not made like shit. Xonar d2 still works fine.

Even cheapo pci cards from the 20 yrs ago work lol
Posted on Reply
#4
Ferrum Master
TheGuruStud
And? If I hadn't thrown it away eventually, I could fire up my athlon 64 machine. Expensive shit shouldn't fail and it doesn't if it's not made like shit.
Get a life dude... the life span is limited for certain things... especially semiconductors.
Posted on Reply
#5
TheGuruStud
Ferrum Master
Get a life dude... the life span is limited for certain things... especially semiconductors.
Bzzzzt. When boards with electrolytic caps are over twice the age work...do the math.
Posted on Reply
#6
FordGT90Concept
"I go fast!1!11!1!"
...someone needs to Old Yeller "Super."

If you want to market superior or opulence, use a thesaurus to find better adjectives. Words like "exceptional", "gold", "platinum", "premium" or "surpassing." "Super" is terrible.
Posted on Reply
#7
Ferrum Master
TheGuruStud
Bzzzzt. When boards with electrolytic caps are over twice the age work...do the math.
How semiconductor corelates with a passive element in my argument?

Arguing about a 10yo piece of tech kicking the bucket is infantile. Get a grip. It is not designed to last.
Posted on Reply
#8
ZoneDymo
Ferrum Master
How semiconductor corelates with a passive element in my argument?

Arguing about a 10yo piece of tech kicking the bucket is infantile. Get a grip. It is not designed to last.
"get a life"
"get a grip"
"infantile"

idk what is wrong with you, but this is no way of having any kind of conversation.

as for the topic at hand: yawn, wake me when they invent Ultra X-Fi, I bet that will sound reaaaally good.
Posted on Reply
#9
Ferrum Master
ZoneDymo
"get a life"
"get a grip"
"infantile"

idk what is wrong with you, but this is no way of having any kind of conversation.

as for the topic at hand: yawn, wake me when they invent Ultra X-Fi, I bet that will sound reaaaally good.
Arguing about things that that are normal isn't very reasonable. Bashing the maker for nothing is kind also?
Posted on Reply
#10
ZoneDymo
Ferrum Master
Arguing about things that that are normal isn't very reasonable. Bashing the maker for nothing is kind also?
Do you have any facts to back up that its normal for computer hardware to die after 10 years of use?
Because if not, it really is just your opinion of how long something should last vs theirs.
Bashing the maker is completely related to that opinion.

Personally I have a lot of PC hardware perfectly functional after 10 years, heck I still have a working Creative X-Fi Extreme Music.
But just like Logitech, Creative kinda went downhill at some point with how their products were constructed and yeah then its up to whoever to choose whether that level of reliability is acceptable or not.

They even supported this unreliability claim with some context (10 years) so its up to everyone else to decide for themselves wether or not they agree.

If you want to argue against it though, thats fine, but refrain from the remarks in the previous posts pls.
Posted on Reply
#11
remixedcat
a @BumbleBee would buzz in here and sting creative prolly.. hahaha
Posted on Reply
#12
Ferrum Master
ZoneDymo
Do you have any facts to back up that its normal for computer hardware to die after 10 years of use?
Because if not, it really is just your opinion of how long something should last vs theirs.
Bashing the maker is completely related to that opinion.

Personally I have a lot of PC hardware perfectly functional after 10 years, heck I still have a working Creative X-Fi Extreme Music.
But just like Logitech, Creative kinda went downhill at some point with how their products were constructed and yeah then its up to whoever to choose whether that level of reliability is acceptable or not.

They even supported this unreliability claim with some context (10 years) so its up to everyone else to decide for themselves wether or not they agree.

If you want to argue against it though, thats fine, but refrain from the remarks in the previous posts pls.
First thing to moan in a news post, that his 10yo card died?

It is normal for any HW to die. This particular is most problably stress migration failure due to being a passive component with rather high power consumption.

If a GPU starts to artifact after 3 years, HDD develops bad sectors nobody bats an eye. Here some drama occurs.

Be reasonable.
Posted on Reply
#13
Vayra86
Age notwithstanding, at least Creative can make earcups that don't break while they're being displayed at CES ;)
Posted on Reply
#14
Concealed Sentinel
TheGuruStud
Yawn My overpriced titanium HD card died recently for no reason. No thanks, creative. Garbage drivers, garbage company, no more money for you.

Sennheiser will be what I buy for a new headset.
Regarding the bad drivers, Daniel Kawakami repaired them a long time ago after the Windows Vista scandal when they stopped working adequately.

Modified drivers for Windows XP - Windows 10:
[ISPOILER]https://danielkawakami.blogspot.com/[/ISPOILER]

All Creative audio cards that I have (5 different models) and have been working for at least 10 years without complaints.

The most advanced audio card I have at the moment is Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro series in collaboration with Johnathan "Fatality" Wendel.

Even compared to the integrated audio controllers in high-end motherboards, dedicated sound cards provide significantly better sound quality.

They also have Audio Stream Input / Output (ASIO) technology for demanding tasks.
[ISPOILER]https://xylio.com/wiki/index.php?title=Windows:_should_you_use_DirectSound(default),_WASAPI_or_ASIO[/ISPOILER]

Moreover, many older games support Environmental Audio Extensions (EAX) and use this API.
[ISPOILER]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_games_with_EAX_support[/ISPOILER]
Posted on Reply
#15
spectatorx
TheGuruStud
Yawn My overpriced titanium HD card died recently for no reason. No thanks, creative. Garbage drivers, garbage company, no more money for you.

Sennheiser will be what I buy for a new headset.
Creative x-fi titanium (non-hd), purchased in 2009, still working flawlessly here and my pc is running a lot of time.


Concealed Sentinel
Regarding the bad drivers, Daniel Kawakami repaired them a long time ago after the Windows Vista scandal when they stopped working adequately.

....
Since his last release creative released few more driver updates for my card, the product which officially is EOL(!!!), i wish Daniel would update his packs with latest release. I used his packages mostly because of ease of installation as, to me, it basically is all-in-one installer which saves time and clicks.
Posted on Reply
#16
bug
ZoneDymo
Do you have any facts to back up that its normal for computer hardware to die after 10 years of use?
Luckily it's not normal, but none of the components comes with a 10 years warranty. Typically components do not fail right after the warranty expires and many things go on for years after that. But that is no ground for bashing components for failing after their warranty expires.
Posted on Reply
#17
remixedcat
Yawn...just get a real DAC like schiit or Fiio... not this "soundcard" shit that even picks up neighbors cordless phones..
Posted on Reply
#18
sepheronx
ZoneDymo
"get a life"
"get a grip"
"infantile"

idk what is wrong with you, but this is no way of having any kind of conversation.

as for the topic at hand: yawn, wake me when they invent Ultra X-Fi, I bet that will sound reaaaally good.
A common theme in this forums - attack the users with ad hominem. I got barred from a thread because someone else started to attack me personally for having a different opinion.

I myself am looking for a DAC. I of course am open to using creative or any brand that offers best price to performance. Hearing sucks though so I dont know if I will notice too much of a difference from something like the XFI vs some el cheapo brand.
Posted on Reply
#19
bug
remixedcat
Yawn...just get a real DAC like schiit or Fiio... not this "soundcard" shit that even picks up neighbors cordless phones..
Hehe, already got a Dragonfly Red ;)
Pricey, but then you look at Schiit and suddenly it looks like a steal :P
Posted on Reply
#20
sepheronx
bug
Hehe, already got a Dragonfly Red ;)
Pricey, but then you look at Schiit and suddenly it looks like a steal :p
That thing is $250CAD here!

They must be really good. Please share experience.
Posted on Reply
#21
bug
sepheronx
That thing is $250CAD here!

They must be really good. Please share experience.
Kinda hard to do since I have no baseline for a comparison. It sounds great (to me) and it will drive my Beyerdynamic DT880 (250ohms). Plus, it's really portable, which was a big deal to me. No volume control, but the supposedly "bit perfect" digital volume seems to be working as advertised. And since it doesn't need drivers, it works on Linux as well. But you can only update the firmware from Windows (probably macOS, too).
Posted on Reply
#22
Fergutor
remixedcat
Yawn...just get a real DAC like schiit or Fiio... not this "soundcard" shit that even picks up neighbors cordless phones..
1-How good is the surround virtualization in those? Ah, they don't have? So you can't take a surround sound source, like movies or games and use them properly with headphones...you end up having either terrible attempt of surround from media players or the most preferred by the "buy dac or a receiver" parrots: all channels mixed in stereo without any differenciation between front and back and the delusion that somehow pristine sound quality can make you somehow differentiate between untreated front and back channels and assure it is true (talk about delusion!!!), the pathetic stsereo version from games (except CS:GO, although if I remember correctly it didn't have an elevation filter)...but at least have a surround sound separated output..? Ah, neither...cool,cool. So it's simply not a proper solution for PC unless you don't use surround sound sources, don't care the bad solutions implemented by games or media players, or you have a good software solution, probably something like HeSuVi.

2-Sound cards don't pick up noise like that, that's another of the "buy a dac or a receiver" parroting myths...Heck, I had a X-Fi Xtreme Music, which I used above and below many different video cards: 6800GS, 8800GTS640, HD5850 and GTX660Ti, never had an issue with noise coming from that card. On the other hand I have now an Audigy SE wich is always noisy (probably it is defective) but is a constant noise, it never changes, no matter what. I had it with the 660Ti and a GTX970 Strix OC with a C2Q and a Ryzen, both OC. Dude I even have a big (around 10 meters high) stupid radio aficionado (ham?) antenna, that interferes my electronic projects, at about 15 meters from my computer...still nothing (both sound cards)!

VSG, see if Edifier has something interesting (I really like that brand).
Posted on Reply
#23
bug
@Fergutor
1. DACs don't do pseudo 5.1, true. But not everyone takes fake surround over sound quality. There are different audiences.

2. Noise is not a binary affair (i.e. you either have it or you don't). You can have no components interfering, you can have one or several that do. While in your case the interference was somewhat constant, you deemed it acceptable. In my case, the interference came from a HDD: I could tell in my headphones when it was operating and when it wasn't.
If you use a digital out, you're interference free guaranteed. Of course, it depends on the total cost which option is better for you (you may already own some of the components needed by a digital out).
Posted on Reply
#24
VSG
Editor, Reviews & News
Fergutor
VSG, see if Edifier has something interesting (I really like that brand).
They had a new true wireless noise cancelling earbuds at CES, but I did not have time to actually meet them. Their website also has next to no way to contact them for media inquiries, so not much that we can do.
Posted on Reply
#25
bug
VSG
They had a new true wireless noise cancelling earbuds at CES, but I did not have time to actually meet them. Their website also has next to no way to contact them for media inquiries, so not much that we can do.
Can you do noise cancelling on wireless earbuds without killing the battery life?
Posted on Reply
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