Creative Launches Super X-Fi Amp

Paladin21

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Store just went live. I put in an order, but their designer should be smacked a couple of times. They have the Apt/Suite blank marked as mandatory in the address...I guess they don't realize that US customers may live in a house? The layout of the site is kind of janky too.
 

Archaea

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the free headphones are the incentive for me. I can resell them on ebay for $50 bucks or something probably - knocking my price down to about $100 for the device. I'm in.

Early adopter bonus includes free headphones
upload_2018-10-31_23-43-6.png


Link to headphone page: https://us.sxfi.com/pages/aurvana-se

Order shows headphones included
upload_2018-10-31_23-49-45.png
 
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AlphaAtlas

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I am pretty disappointed though in the lack of processing for anything other than PCM. (No AC-3, DD+, DTS, etc.) And how limited its in/out is.
That is kinda suprising for a $150 device. But it isn't deal-breaker either, since Windows 10 and the PS4 can just decode things to multichannel PCM, afaik.

Might be an issue for Android boxes though. I think MPV could decode without downmixing to 2.0 with the appropriate configs, but I'm not sure about anything else.
 

next-Jin

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Wasn’t the issue Microsoft pulling the plug on access to the sound subsystem?

I remember soundcards actually sounding awesome but they just died out.
 

Darunion

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Wasn’t the issue Microsoft pulling the plug on access to the sound subsystem?

I remember soundcards actually sounding awesome but they just died out.
They still do sound really nice. I have a soundblaster in my rig and enjoy it. The bigger thing is that motherboard sound achieved that good enough area that is great sound for the masses so the market for sound cards fell. And many just output digital to their receiver or dac if they want better sound so again the need for onboard D/A processing is needed less. Just my opinion of the situation.
 

GoodBoy

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Wasn’t the issue Microsoft pulling the plug on access to the sound subsystem?

I remember soundcards actually sounding awesome but they just died out.
I remember playing Half-Life 1 with an Aureal I think it was Soundcard, and it was amazing. A few years later, the nVidia Nforce2 chipset came with amazing built in audio on a motherboard. Then something happened, I think Intel stopped licensing out other companies to make "chipsets" for Intel CPU's... onboard audio went back down in quality. And the A3D Aureal also kind of died off, I think Creative bought them and killed support/drivers.

The X-Fi soundcards with "Crystallizer" wasn't too bad, but ti wasn't positional audio like the Aureal was, it was some other sort of processing.

I had signed up to be notified as well, and did get an email last night. But the link isn't working. Replied to them, they said for US based customers to use https://us.sxfi.com/
 
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Zarathustra[H]

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I've been searching and coming up short.

Has anyone found any actual performance specs for this thing?

You know, like output wattage into different impedance levels, overall THD, etc. etc?

It feels like they are hiding this shit and hoping people will just accept how "magical" their DSP tech is and ignore actual performance specs.
 

Archaea

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I've been searching and coming up short.

Has anyone found any actual performance specs for this thing?

You know, like output wattage into different impedance levels, overall THD, etc. etc?

It feels like they are hiding this shit and hoping people will just accept how "magical" their DSP tech is and ignore actual performance specs.
and Darunion

Hiding in plain sight, on their single info/seller's page. Scroll down... https://us.sxfi.com/products/sxfi-amp
upload_2018-11-1_11-3-52.png
 
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Zarathustra[H]

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Darunion

It's right there, hiding in plain sight, on their single info/seller's page. Scroll down... https://us.sxfi.com/products/sxfi-amp
View attachment 116686
Ah, I was on my phone. Couldn't find this on the mobile site.

That's not very much power, but probably to be expected. It should work on low impedance headphones, but 51mw@300Ω is not very much.

My urrent amp is able to put out 900mw/channel at 300Ω, and I listen at about half volume most of the time... And that's using a 2.0V DAC as the source.

It's tough to compare separates to an all-in-one but I doubt the amp stage in this stick is being provided 2V, or even 1.5V (which is more typical for consumer sources) from it's DAC section.

It seems to me that unless you have very low impedance headphones (read, cheap consumer junk designed for use on mobile devices without real amplification) this thing is damned near useless.

I'm still curious (but skeptical) about the DSP surround effects, but I would be unwilling to give up using good transducers, DAC's and amps in order to do so.

I'm curious about that 1% product they are talking about, but if it is just a higher end DAC/amp I'm still out. It would have to be a DSP only solution that can provide output to my own DAC and amp, and can be disabled for music listening (I don't want a DSP molesting the source packets for music) in order to get me interested. There is no way I'll use a DAC or amp provided by creative.
 

capnstabn

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Just ordered and your order confirmation states that all sales are final and there are no returns. It also says please allow 10 weeks for shipping. May not see your orders until next year. Going to be running this with Mr. Speaker Ether Flows which it should drive adequately.
 

Archaea

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Ah, I was on my phone. Couldn't find this on the mobile site.

That's not very much power, but probably to be expected. It should work on low impedance headphones, but 51mw@300Ω is not very much.

My urrent amp is able to put out 900mw/channel at 300Ω, and I listen at about half volume most of the time... And that's using a 2.0V DAC as the source.

It's tough to compare separates to an all-in-one but I doubt the amp stage in this stick is being provided 2V, or even 1.5V (which is more typical for consumer sources) from it's DAC section.

It seems to me that unless you have very low impedance headphones (read, cheap consumer junk designed for use on mobile devices without real amplification) this thing is damned near useless.

I'm still curious (but skeptical) about the DSP surround effects, but I would be unwilling to give up using good transducers, DAC's and amps in order to do so.

I'm curious about that 1% product they are talking about, but if it is just a higher end DAC/amp I'm still out. It would have to be a DSP only solution that can provide output to my own DAC and amp, and can be disabled for music listening (I don't want a DSP molesting the source packets for music) in order to get me interested. There is no way I'll use a DAC or amp provided by creative.
you keep throwing shade...let me quote my previous post.

http://www.apexhifi.com/specs.html

Keep in mind when using this tool that 105dB is THX reference volume (commercial movie theater calibrated volume). To get to 105dB, the calculator in that link says a difficult to drive pair of headphones, like the Sennheiser HD600 (600 Ohm) uses 6 milliwatts.
On the HD600 - a popular lower priced audiophile 600 Ohm pair of headphones, 26mw will hit over 111dB.

(Doubling the power should get you 3dB more. So 12mw = 108dB, and 24mw = 111dB.)

How loud do you need?

http://www.industrialnoisecontrol.com/comparative-noise-examples.htm


They call out specifically in the marketing text on the page that it will drive 600ohm headphones.

upload_2018-11-1_12-25-36.png



Why do you keep dissing what you haven't even given a modicum of attention to learn about?
 
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illram

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There are a ton of "hi-fi" (audiophile, whatever) headphones with low impedance. Counting ohms is not the be all end all signifier for whether a pair of headphones is good or not.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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you keep throwing shade...let me quote my previous post.



On the HD600 - a popular lower priced audiophile 600 Ohm pair of headphones, 26mw will hit over 111dB.

(Doubling the power should get you 3dB more. So 12mw = 108dB, and 24mw = 111dB.)

How loud do you need?

http://www.industrialnoisecontrol.com/comparative-noise-examples.htm


They call out specifically in the marketing text on the page that it will drive 600ohm headphones.

View attachment 116700


Why do you keep dissing what you haven't even given a modicum of attention to learn about?

These numbers are wrong.

1.) There is no way in hell you get 111db on a 600 ohm pair of headphones with 26mw

2.) The HD600's are 300 ohm, not 600.

3.) My HD650's have the same impedance, and I'm getting probably 90db (guesstimate based on comparison to other systems I know the output of) at ~450mw per channel (guesstimate based on knowing that my amp has a max output of 900mw per channel in balanced mode, and I am listening at about 50%)

I don't know who came up with these numbers, but they are more than an order of magnitude from being realistic.
 

Zarathustra[H]

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you keep throwing shade...let me quote my previous post.



On the HD600 - a popular lower priced audiophile 600 Ohm pair of headphones, 26mw will hit over 111dB.

(Doubling the power should get you 3dB more. So 12mw = 108dB, and 24mw = 111dB.)

How loud do you need?

http://www.industrialnoisecontrol.com/comparative-noise-examples.htm


They call out specifically in the marketing text on the page that it will drive 600ohm headphones.

View attachment 116700


Why do you keep dissing what you haven't even given a modicum of attention to learn about?
These numbers are wrong.

1.) There is no way in hell you get 111db on a 600 ohm pair of headphones with 26mw

2.) The HD600's are 300 ohm, not 600.

3.) My HD650's have the same impedance, and I'm getting probably 90db (guesstimate based on comparison to other systems I know the output of) at ~450mw per channel (guesstimate based on knowing that my amp has a max output of 900mw per channel in balanced mode, and I am listening at about 50%)

I don't know who came up with these numbers, but they are more than an order of magnitude from being realistic.

Alright, so my guesstimates were off somewhat, probably because I didn't know if my amps ratings were with the switch in the high gain or low gain position, and because I must be rather poor at guesstimating SPL. Here is some actual testing data:

HD600: (300ohm nominal) 94dB @ 220mw
HD650: (300ohm nominal) 94dB @ 225mw
HD800: (300ohm nominal) 94dB @ 246mw

I agree that doubling the power tends to add about 3DB, so we are talking 97dB at 440-492mw. This must be approximately the level I listen at.

So, maybe this thing can drive 600ohm headphones, but if that is the case, it eithe rdrives them very very softly, or the published performance specs are WAY off.
 

IdiotInCharge

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There are a ton of "hi-fi" (audiophile, whatever) headphones with low impedance. Counting ohms is not the be all end all signifier for whether a pair of headphones is good or not.
Yup, but impedance isn't all there is too it either; need to pay attention to sensitivity a la planars. One example being my HD4XX, which at a tenth the impedance of my HD600 run about the same volume.

Still, we should consider that a great many might be using headsets and some of those are actually decent, while almost all headsets are relatively low impedance and easily driven.
 

Archaea

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Zarathustra[H]
Touche on the HD600 having a 300 Ohm impendance. I recalled that wrong when I said 600 Ohm.

But, even using your own website here:
https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/report/hp/sennheiser-hd-600.php

Sennheiser HD600 play at > 98dB per 1mW measured...

So:
1mW 98dB
2mW 101dB
4mW 104dB
8mW 107dB
16mW 110dB
32mW 113dB
64mW 116dB

Therefore, the website you referenced is even more optimistic about how easily something like the Sennheiser HD600 will be driven by this Creative device. Creative claims 51mW at 300 Ohm. That's between 113dB and 116dB on the Sennheiser HD600. Absolutely plenty of volume.



upload_2018-11-1_13-54-5.png
 

illram

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Yup, but impedance isn't all there is too it either; need to pay attention to sensitivity a la planars. One example being my HD4XX, which at a tenth the impedance of my HD600 run about the same volume.

Still, we should consider that a great many might be using headsets and some of those are actually decent, while almost all headsets are relatively low impedance and easily driven.
Yeah I have the HE-400i and HE-560 and ohm's do not tell the story for these cans at all.

I basically hardly ever look at impedance anymore.
 

spaceman

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I ran a hd600 out of a tiny Cowan mp3 player years ago. It sounded fine. I looked stupid walking around with hd 600s as a portable but that's another story.

So 10 weeks? Yeah. Wait and see. Not early adopting this one.
 

quiktake

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I have to say that it is pretty stupid that there is no iOS app to set this up, nor is it supported on iphones, Ipads. Those are basically deal killers for me. I am not getting an android phone just to take a photo of my ear....
 

GoodBoy

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I have to say that it is pretty stupid that there is no iOS app to set this up, nor is it supported on iphones, Ipads. Those are basically deal killers for me. I am not getting an android phone just to take a photo of my ear....
Just as a friend, it looks like a pretty simple process. 1 time step. Hell, just go to a mobile phone store and use one of the demo units. Install app, create an account (probably), take 3 pictures, done.
 

mjz_5

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I have to say that it is pretty stupid that there is no iOS app to set this up, nor is it supported on iphones, Ipads. Those are basically deal killers for me. I am not getting an android phone just to take a photo of my ear....
Can you use a computer to setup the headphones?
 

James Robinson

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...The bigger thing is that motherboard sound achieved that good enough area that is great sound for the masses so the market for sound cards fell.....
Not even a little. On-board sound has the ability to do 7.1, and all the other codec and specs... but when compared to an actual dedicated sound card the differences are night and day :(.. the problem is most people don't actually DO that comparison, and so they settle for what they are TOLD is 'great audio' without having the slightest notion of what they are missing out on.
 

M76

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Not even a little. On-board sound has the ability to do 7.1, and all the other codec and specs... but when compared to an actual dedicated sound card the differences are night and day :(.. the problem is most people don't actually DO that comparison, and so they settle for what they are TOLD is 'great audio' without having the slightest notion of what they are missing out on.
That's exactly what you'd call good enough. Good enough that people don't care to look for alternatives.
 

capnstabn

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I think Creative would be more successful if they released less point solutions, and more of a swiss army knife PC audio solution. Something that included:

  • Multitude of inputs/outputs for speaker setups.
  • Headphone DAC/amp with 6.5mm/3.5mm outputs. Maybe even double down on the outputs for podcasters.
  • XLR and 3.5mm microphone inputs. Possibly double down on this as well for podcasters.
  • Dedicated hardware processing for things like Super X-FI.
  • Open up the software so the community can support it, since Creative typically doesn't care to.
  • Easy to use mixer features for podcasters/streamers.
  • Console compatibility.
 

RPGWiZaRD

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Not even a little. On-board sound has the ability to do 7.1, and all the other codec and specs... but when compared to an actual dedicated sound card the differences are night and day :(.. the problem is most people don't actually DO that comparison, and so they settle for what they are TOLD is 'great audio' without having the slightest notion of what they are missing out on.
What if your onboard soundcard sounds better (subjectively percieved) than several 3rd party soundcards? I've got a Soundblaster ZxR, ASUS Essence STX II and SoundBlaster G5 (and many older ones in the past) but I prefer the onboard soundchip on the ASRock motherboards (since the ALC1150 and now 1220). ^^ Doesn't mean I prefer every onboard sound config from all manufacturers but I've heard a few and thought the ASRock sounded best at least with my equipment. (I want a 7.1 supported device on my PC why I'm not opting for USB DACs from audiophile companies.)

I always find it fun to point out this. ;)
 

Meeho

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What if your onboard soundcard sounds better (subjectively percieved) than several 3rd party soundcards? I've got a Soundblaster ZxR, ASUS Essence STX II and SoundBlaster G5 (and many older ones in the past) but I prefer the onboard soundchip on the ASRock motherboards (since the ALC1150 and now 1220). ^^ Doesn't mean I prefer every onboard sound config from all manufacturers but I've heard a few and thought the ASRock sounded best at least with my equipment. (I want a 7.1 supported device on my PC why I'm not opting for USB DACs from audiophile companies.)

I always find it fun to point out this. ;)
What exactly do you find preferable?
 

RPGWiZaRD

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What exactly do you find preferable?
For me it has the best bass response of the 4, the best punch vs tightness & control, similar impact to ZxR's but without the bloat. Essence STX II has the "leanest" sound, in some way it almost sounds like lacking dynamicness, perhaps because of the somewhat poor bass impact with the default pre-amp, the highs are pretty similar to the onboard and both sounds good in that regard, the highs on ZxR sounds a bit boosted in comparison. The highs on G5 for example is somewhat lacking, it's overly smooth sounding making most headphones sound a bit warm, it even sounds like it's distorting at times when listening to loudly mastered EDM tracks (I wonder if Creative even shuts down the SBX processing entirely on a driver level, it sounds a bit like something is activated the entire time making it not work well with brickwalled recordings making it clip easier). G5 overall sounded like lacking resolution too.

The only thing I'd say where STX II beats it slightly and it's a bit of a tie with ZxR (but because if different reaons) is the midrange, the STX II has slightly more fullier midrange and the ZxR as well although it sounds a bit colored like overly romantic, difficult to explain, it just makes for example piano notes appear more fullbodied.

I also think it comes down a lot with synergy with the gear too, the ASRock config pairs better with neutral or slightly bit on the warm side of neutral headphones, my headphone depending on source/amp sounds either warm or slightly bright but with the onboard + analog amp I use the balance becomes just right. Brighter sounding headphones comes off as a bit overly shrill for my tastes on this onboard chip. Have tried expensier headphones like up to ~750'ish pricerange but I keep coming back to the discontinued M-Audio Q40, works so well with this particularly onboard chip + amp and I love it's very punchy but tight bass response that seems unmatched in this and a bit above pricerange.

Finally the soundstage slightly changes with Realtek if opting for 5.1 or 7.1 speaker setting (even with headphones) even when listening to stereo music which I like about it, it becomes wider and moves a bit slightly more around your head, it's similar to G5 using the virtual 5.1 or 7.1 surround option (just a glorified renaming of 5.1/7.1 speaker setting in windows that is). ZxR couldn't offer the same open soundstage and sounded more "in-your-head" as you had to use Creative's "headphone" HRTF preset which overrules the windows speaker config one. To get this effect you cannot enable "disable audio enhancements (Realtek)" / Stereo Direct / "Hifi Mode" (STX II) as this changes the way the 5.1/7.1 setting is handled, ie. to be working the same as using stereo speaker setting. I just like the natural & wide sounding soundstage that brings, works very great with the Realtek chip and also with games in particular it seems to bring better surround cues in comparison to just using "stereo speaker" speaker config or ticking the box "disable audio enhancements".

The Realtek onboard sound varies mostly on based on what pre-amps the manufacturer opted for and perhaps what kind of caps configuration. To mention one onboard chip's sound I didn't like at all, was the ASUS Maximus Gene Z170 (I think), was some ALC1150 chip in that one but it was the bassiest default sound I've heard of any source, it was even bassier than ZxR which I found funny coming from a onboard. But it also had very smooth highs, similar to G5 so it was a very coloring sound....
 
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IdiotInCharge

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So... you like the coloring of your DAC/Amp combos?

I'll say first that since this is entirely subjective for the end user, very good!

However, generally speaking, you should be able to achieve the desired result with a proper EQ on any decent system.
 

RPGWiZaRD

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So... you like the coloring of your DAC/Amp combos?

I'll say first that since this is entirely subjective for the end user, very good!

However, generally speaking, you should be able to achieve the desired result with a proper EQ on any decent system.
If that's so then all sources I mentioned are colored in one way or another. The STX II I'd say is the least colored except for the below average bass impact of all sources I've tested. (maybe around 20). The ZxR (V-shaped) and G5 (downwards tilt from bass to highs) sounds more colored to me than the Realtek on the ASRock motherboards. Based on subjective listening of course.

I am a hobby mastering engineer I will add so I'm not quite noob when it comes to interpreting sound.
 
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IdiotInCharge

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If that's so then all sources I mentioned are colored in one way or another. The STX II I'd say is the least colored except for the below average bass impact of all sources I've tested.
Probably? Ideally you'd want an optical DAC, neutral amp, and decent studio cans/monitors that can then be EQ'd to liking.

That's a lot of work and expense though. I've done it, personal education and edification and all that, and the cost is... considerable. And you know what? I don't mind cheaper, more colored stuff. So really, good on you for enjoying what your onboard stuff puts out. I can say that I don't mind the audio on my Z170 board, when I used it, didn't sound all that bad even with higher impedance cans.
 

RPGWiZaRD

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Probably? Ideally you'd want an optical DAC, neutral amp, and decent studio cans/monitors that can then be EQ'd to liking.

That's a lot of work and expense though. I've done it, personal education and edification and all that, and the cost is... considerable. And you know what? I don't mind cheaper, more colored stuff. So really, good on you for enjoying what your onboard stuff puts out. I can say that I don't mind the audio on my Z170 board, when I used it, didn't sound all that bad even with higher impedance cans.
The current setup doesn't need EQing, it sounds just right with the source+amp based on testing a lot of different headphones and doing EQ'ing in the past on headphones I've used before. I prefer avoid using EQs if I can mostly because there's no good options out there right now and software EQs distort the sound too much. The only decent option is Schiit Loki but the problem is only 4 dials. I'd at least want like 12-band or parametric EQ capabilities in a hardware EQ in a format/connectivity targeted for headphone use.

But enough of that, this is getting too off-topic now. I do want to test out Super X-Fi's surround processing though so that's why I follow this thread. :)
 

mjz_5

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Nice. Can’t wait to hear from you guys. They are not shipping to Canada yet unfortunately
 

magnetik

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Waiting on the arrival of mine too... but damn the reviews sound super shilly. No doubt caused by the referral circle jerk.
 

Archaea

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Mine arrived tonight and I gave them a try just now...
Let me start by saying this will OBVIOUSLY be subjective, and unique to each person's ear mapping, face, matching the Creative algorithms - so I don't expect my experience to be indicative of anyone else's - it's only my experience.

First 10 minute impression using the included closed cans and a couple songs and a couple 7.1 Dolby Atmos tracks on the computer using J-River.

meh

Setup was easy using my wife's android phone. Take three pictures, pick your headphones, and that's it.

buttttt

It sounds like a sound effect "room" dsp - sort of like picking concert hall or bathroom on your run of the mill soundcard - adding reverb, echo, size -- at least as my first impression goes with the bundled Creative headphones. I'm trying not to be disappointed, frankly. And to my subjective experience, it's NOTHING, not even close to the Smyth Analyzer A16 I heard at Axpona 2016.

I haven't tried redoing the photos, I guess I could try that, and next I'll try my Sennheiser HD-600 instead of these cheapo Creative cans it came with. Frankly the HD600 cans alone are so much better than the Creative headphones w/ SFXI combo that I'd never pick this over a standalone set of HD600.

Sounds bigger, extended from your head, but not necessarily better...

We'll see if my impressions change after more use, and upgrading the headphones.

Maybe it's my big fat head... :p
 
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