Creative are an exciting brand, one that has time and again broken existing ‘tried-and-tested’ norms. With the Super X-Fi Headphone Amp [first showcased at CES 2018, and again at CES 2019, all set for retail], Creative is asking a rather brave question: “Do you know headphone audio has been deceiving you all this while?”
The logic they apply is how the majority of audio tracks created today are meant for external speakers. Meaning sound is pumped directly into our ears, creating a claustrophobic audio soundstage, where sound seems unnaturally trapped in our heads.
Cue the Creative Super X-Fi Headphone Amp, and the promise is of a true gamechanger, one that could alter the way headphone amps are perceived.
This amp,which comes in a very portable form factor, uses a complex inverse computation on the headphone audio signal to reverse the claustrophobic effect, bringing the source of the sound outside again – so that it sounds natural, just like in the real world.
A key aspect here is the computational audio and how it uses complex algorithms and computationally intensive techniques to custom fit audio, for every individual, through a sophisticated Head and Ear-Mapping process. To start off, three photos of your face and ears are taken with your phone. Advanced head and ear mapping extracts unique physical traits that determine how you perceive sound. With the hundreds of anthropometric parameters extracted, an artificial intelligence engine then uses these parameters along with the dynamics of the targeted headphones, and synthesizes them with a multidimensional map of the desired room acoustics.
From a hardware perspective, the device has the SXFI chip which packs 5x the computing power of Creative’s most powerful Sound Blaster chip, while consuming less than half the power. This SoC is a highly integrated chip, includes a large cache of fast memory to decode and process up to 8 channels of high-resolution 24-bit 96KHz audio simultaneously. It even has audiophile quality DACs built-in.
A natural expansive audio soundstage via your humble headphone? Creative are on to something!
The Super X-Fi Headphone Amp will retail at $149, with early adopters getting the Aurvana Super X-Fi-certfied headphones as well. The device is compatible with Android Phones, Windows PC, macOS, PS4 and Nintendo Switch.