Wait, what? I thought they retired the X-Fi branding by now; guess not.
The notion of having a personalized HRTF just by snapping photos of your face and ears sounds pretty interesting, but I'm still more than a bit upset at Creative for turning "X-Fi" into a buzzword instead of a clear indication that something has the proper EMU20K1/CA20K1 DSP that set apart all the original X-Fi cards a decade ago. (And, yes, I still fire up the classics from back then now and again, so I'm not giving up my Titanium HD.)
Still, if I can get my hands on this Super X-Fi Amp thing for the right price, it ought to be fun to put up against the Sennheiser GSX 1000, which currently holds my top spot for a mostly plug-and-play, HRTF-based USB sound card, albeit with a high price tag and not the best sound quality. Having even better sound quality and sense of positioning, on top of their support for more platforms, might just give Creative an edge with this thing.
MDR-MA900, perchance? I loved that set when I still had it, but had to sell it at one point when Head-Fi was hitting my wallet too hard.#metoo lol... I'm still on my ancient Ti HD with some Sony cans.
Yeah, that's ridiculous. If that's the kind of estimated lead time they have, they should make it clear it's a pre-order and not act like it's an in-stock product like everything else in the store.Yeah "shipping" was like 8-10 weeks or something absurd. No returns or refunds.
I think they are basically running their own little Kickstarter for this product. I hope they do not go bankrupt in the next couple months...
Too bad my computer room and my wallet aren't exactly conducive to all the speakers needed for an Atmos setup, and I'm sure I'm not alone there. Putting on a pair of headphones with HRTF mixing is much easier.Once I went HDMI out + Dolby Atmos I haven't wanted for much in the way of a dedicated sound card. I will probably grab one of these eventually just to muck around with it.
People can talk crap about the HD800 as much as they want, but there is no doubt their soundstage capabilities are truly remarkable. Loving mine for that reason. I'd love to give this product a go now. I'm glad to see they have a preset for it!I gave it a whirl tonight. A few observations:
- It is very small. About the size of a small cigarette. This is not going to be an issue sticking out of your phone.
- Setup was surprisingly easy (unless you have an iPhone. I don't think they have an iPhone app yet). Whoever Creative put on their app team for this did a good job; I have been less than impressed with numerous Creative software applications but this was well done. You take a picture of your right ear, your left ear, and your face, and select your headphones, and you are off to the races. The headphone selection is currently limited but there are a number of popular ones there; e.g. AKG K701's, DT880 and DT990's, all of Creative's headphones, Sennheiser 598 and 800, and others. There is also a generic option.
- In typical Creative head-scratching marketing-fashion, they push you into perhaps the least likely avenue that the 3D holographic effect is really going to be worth it: Music on your phone. I enjoy listening to normal, stereo sound for music on my headphones. If you want a realistic creation of two stereo speakers in a room for music on your headphones, this will definitely synthesize that for you, but I feel like you lose some audio fidelity with that. Also I was getting 10 seconds of weird audio static in everything I listened to around the beginning of every video. It would go away but it was annoying and seemed to be an issue with the Android USB audio as it happened on every app.
- And as far as finding surround content an Android phone, this is hit or miss; I had trouble finding 5.1 or 7.1 audio content on Netflix on android, for example, where I could confirm I was getting a surround feed. Multi-channel test .wav files on Chrome browser would crash. Youtube is always a bad idea for surround tests as I don't believe Youtube passes accurate channel information. BUT, even in stereo sound only, you get a very very realistic "out of your head" effect with this device. I would characterize it more as a room speaker simulation than your typical headphone virtual surround sound, if that makes any sense. Sort of like the Realiser A16. I first tried it with the free Aurvana SE headphones they gave me for ordering day 1, and it was very noticeable and realistic. More so than almost any other VSS DSP I have tried thus far.
- But, forget your phone. The real use for this in my opinion is surround virtualization for movies and games. This is where the device can really show itself off as I explain below.
- To really put it through its paces, I tried it on Windows with 7.1 enabled. You can select 7.1 channels with this as a USB soundcard! Awesome. I fired up some bots in Black Ops 3. I tried it with the Aurvana SE, Audioquest Nighthawks, and Sennheiser HD800S. (The Nighthawks were the closest 3.5mm headphones I had lying around other than the Aurvana's, and I wanted to try something not on their list.) With the Aurvana's and the Nighthawks, there was definitely directionality, and as I said the 3D out of your head sound was very convincing. For closed headphones the Aurvana's did well, which is a testament to the DSP I would say more than the cans. The Nighthawks opened things up quite a bit and improved directionality even though I did not even set the app to "generic." But when I tried the HD800 (which is included in the app)..... HOLY SHIT. It was incredible. Directionality was very, very convincing. Rear cues were super accurate--this was the best thing I have heard since the Out of Your Head preset and was better as far as audio fidelity. I don't know if this was because the app has a preset for the HD800 (I have an HD800S but whatever) or because the HD800S are just amazing imaging cans with a superb stage, or some combo thereof. But it was incredible and I highly, highly recommend you try this if you like DSP's for virtual surround in video games. And it got them plenty loud! It is cheaper than almost all the other options out there too.
Also, this has a mic, so no need for a mic input.
- I cannot really speak to how good this is for just music listening yet. As I said there was a little hitch in the audio on Android that would be a deal breaker for me if I could not figure it out, but I don't really plan on using these on my phone much anyway so I don't care, really. In my hour or so of testing though, I did not really notice anything sounding "bad." The 3D holographic effect is not overly "reverby" but with headphones it always is a little weird at first if you are not used to it. I would not say it sounded any worse than my X7 connected to a iFi Black Label. Sounds were crisp, bass was fine, there was no distortion I could hear, there was no hiss at all and they were completely silent when nothing was playing. But as I said, this sounds more like you are surrounded by speakers in a room than a headphone simulating a game's surround field. It is just different, but I like the effect. It is very good for pinpointing directional cues.
People can talk crap about the HD800 as much as they want, but there is no doubt their soundstage capabilities are truly remarkable. Loving mine for that reason. I'd love to give this product a go now. I'm glad to see they have a preset for it!
It didn't start too well for me. First it didn't come with a way to plug it into standard USB. Luckily I had a USB-C to USB adapter that came with my other usb DAC (Sabaj DA3) Second.. the software wasn't compatible with my Note4 but compatible with my Shield Tablet and S6? Kinda of a bummer since I planned on using my spare Note4 as a PMP. Lastly when I first plugged it into the usb port... it hard rebooted my computer. Not sure if it were a surge or what but once rebooted it did install the drivers, etc. I'm going to try gaming tonight and see if I have better luck.
I wish I could try Blackout on the XFI but I only have that on the Xbox. The XFI can't decide DD+. (So even if I converted it's optical out to USB it wouldn't work.)
It seems the personalization is pretty important and some users are even reporting that they needed to redo the pictures to get it right.
Seems like one of those things that depends on the person. It might work great or just be meh to your ears?
but I'm still more than a bit upset at Creative for turning "X-Fi" into a buzzword instead of a clear indication that something has the proper EMU20K1/CA20K1 DSP that set apart all the original X-Fi cards a decade ago
Got mine a couple of days ago and I have to say I'm pretty damn impressed with this piece of kit. This is going to be a bit of a word salad, sorry in advance.
Even as a straight up headphone amp it has no problem powering my Sennheiser HD800s and 650s, or the Denon D7000s and it sounds really good. I've also been using it as the primary sound source on my laptop/computer without any problems.
My initial impressions when I first plugged it in could be summarized by the following statement: ??????!!!????!??!??!??!??. At first I wasn't sure I liked the sound when SuperXFI was turned on. But after listening to a metric ton of movies, music and gaming I have to say that I don't think I'll be turning it off save for a couple of bits of music that have their own spatial qualities already encoded. I've read a lot of people don't like the Aurvana SE headphones but I find I've really warmed up to them and they make a great portable set.
Like I said music can be a mixed bag. The overall effect makes it feel like you're actually in a room with musicians on a stage in front of you. It gives it a slightly "live" feel. When you initially turn on the the SuperXFI it sounds strange for all of 30 seconds and then something inside your brain kicks in and it starts sounding very natural. So much so that when you turn it off, you immediately want to turn it back on. I tend to listen to a lot of metal (death, sludge, doom, regular metal, etc , etc), electronic (trance, techno, etc) and classical.
Movies though. Holy crap. They create a VERY impressive and deep sound stage. Think taking the soundstage that is usually floating somewhere around the middle of your head and directly to the left and right of it and pulling it forward a good 2 feet, and then expanding it across the entire X, Y, and Z axis in every direction. As someone who has a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos setup (or 7.1) this amp really comes close to making it feel like you're surrounding by speakers with a subwoofer add in for good measure. You feel like you're in the middle of every scene and the result is incredibly immersive. Can't watch movies without this now.