Creative SXFI Amp Review 53

Creative SXFI Amp Review

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Introduction

Creative Logo

If I had to describe CES 2019 in one word, it would be audio. Indeed, the strongest impressions from the trade show this year, at least for me personally, are from the audio sector—be it EVGA getting into the sound card market, Sonarworks going mobile, or Sennheiser finally releasing their AMBEO soundbar for purchase. But, and arguably just as awaited as the Sennheiser soundbar, was Creative's Super X-Fi technology coming out of demo form. Indeed, it was at CES 2018 that I first got a glimpse into this with a private demo that made use of a rudimentary switching box, but the overall effect was astonishing to where I simply had to know more. It took longer than I wanted, and I am sure Creative would have rather had this out sooner too, but getting it right was key, and I had my first look at the finished version this year. At the risk of spoiling the review for you, I will just say that you owe it to yourself to read this review and look into the technology more. This review, however, is also of one of the key ingredients to that experience, and thanks again to Creative for providing samples for TechPowerUp to go over.


Creative's name for the experience is Super X-Fi Headphone Holography, and it may sound weird or even just marketing spiel at this point. All you need to know right now is that their goal is to provide an audio experience on your headphones that mimics surround sound better than ever before by implementing hardware and software signal processing alike. This technology is built into multiple products at launch already, but the SXFI amp is quite possibly the most important in terms of accessibility and effect. This review thus focuses on the SXFI amp, and we begin with a look at the specifications below.

Specifications

Creative SXFI Amp
Audio DAC:AKM AK4377, up to 120 dB SNR
Output Configuration:2.0/5.1/7.1 channel, 24 bit/96 kHz
THD + N/IMD/Crosstalk:Up to -110 dB (0.0003%)/< 0.0022%/< -75 dB
Headphone Amp:3x gain, up to 425 mW@16Ω, 370 mW@32Ω, 51 mW@300Ω, 26 mW@600Ω,
Connectivity:Win 10 (ver. 1703 and newer), macOS 10.13 and newer, High Sierra Linux for PCs, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Android devices on Android 7.0 or newer
Materials:Aluminium unibody with matte-black fine textured anodized finish and chrome ring
Dimensions:9.7 (D) x 17.5 (W) x 67 (H) mm
Weight:15 g (0.03 lb)
I/O:USB Type-C for input, 3.5 mm TRRS jack for output
Software:Not required for operation, mobile-app for setup
Interface:Low-jitter Asynchronous USB UAC2
Warranty:One year

Unboxing and Accessories


If you have read through the specifications table on the first page, you will have noticed how relatively tiny the Creative SXFI amp is. As such, the packaging for it is on the smaller side of things too, and yet it is packed very well as we will see. The box, a standard cardboard packaging with a wrap for aesthetics, actually does not have the Creative name or logo on the front at all. Instead, all real estate is used to market the SXFI brand, including a badge at the bottom to denote that the amp comes with built-in Super X-Fi hardware processing as well. It is on the sides and back where we see the Creative name and logo, as well as a to-scale render of the amp inside and some specifications for those chancing upon this in a retail store. There is a seal on the bottom to help keep the contents in place, and removing it makes opening the box quite easy.


Straightaway, you are greeted by a notice wanting to be read first, and this is absolutely important since it is best to be prepared with the Android app for the optimum amp setup and user experience. Oh, did I not say anything about iPhone/iOS users? Turns out iOS is not as friendly to the setup process as Android and requires more, which we will cover later. Underneath is a thin piece of foam and under that is a thicker foam piece shaped to fit the amp very well, thus ensuring the amp has foam on the top and sides alike. Indeed, there is even more foam on the bottom too, with a small cutout to access the accessory compartment underneath that is separated by a piece of cardboard. I absolutely love this packaging as it ensures the amp gets a good unboxing experience and arrives in top shape.


The accessories that come with the SXFI amp include a quick start guide and warranty notice, as well as cables for connectivity. Noting that the amp requires an Android device for setup and most of those come with USB Type-C ports now, at least for those targeted at customers who will also be interested in this, the native cable is a male-male USB Type-C short cable meant to directly connect the phone to the amp. For those with a micro-USB port, Creative includes an OTG adapter, which works well too.
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May 16th, 2022 02:23 EDT change timezone

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