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Super X-Fi - Magic On Your Headphones



Pushing beyond the critically-acclaimed breakthrough technologies that have been proven on the X-Fi Sonic Carrier, we’re forging a new frontier in miniaturizing and enhancing the experience for headphones.

Imagine capturing the listening experience of a high-end multi-speaker system in a studio and actually re-creating that same expansive experience – the same depth, detail, soundstage, three dimensionality, immersiveness, realism and more. It’s like the magic of 3D holography, but in audio – for the headphones. Meet Super X-Fi… a computationally intensive and algorithmically complex technology that involves massive real-time data analysis of room acoustics, human anthropometry and headphone dynamics. Get ready to be mesmerized by this magical technology. It’s as good as the real thing and more!

Experience the magic for yourself at CES 2018 and get a FREE SX-Fi Holography-Enabled Headphones *While stocks last.

Visit CREATIVE @ CES 2018 The Venetian Las Vegas, Level 2, Bassano 2701 - 2703 & Veronese 2504
 

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Super X-Fi Headphone Processor Review

Following my attending the Sonic Carrier demo at CES, I moved to the Super X-Fi headphone demo next door. Even the presenter at the Sonic Carrier demo said, "This device is like WOW!, but that one is like WHAT?! I don't even believe this!" I totally agree, this demo was almost unbelievable.

The concept behind the Super X-Fi processing is similar to the binaural recordings made using an artificial head to simulate the acoustic response of the human ears, head, and torso. In this case it consists of a similar type of processing applied in reverse to simulate the perception of a multi loudspeaker surround sound system using two channel headphone playback. Initially I had thought that it included custom built headphones, similar to custom IEMs, but it is much simpler an more ingenious than that. Here is my understanding of how it works and my impressions.

The process begins by taking photographs of both of the listener's ears and of the face. These photos are scanned by the Super X-Fi app, and reference points are created and matched to one of a number of pre-defined processing templates. The processing then creates a sound field that encompasses the effects that the individual listener's anatomy has on the audio. The results are stunning.

At the beginning of the demo, the participants were subjected to the measurement process. It was completely painless (just three picture snaps) and was completed in a few seconds. We were each assigned a profile which was used to process our individual audio feeds. Before the start of the demo, we were each fitted temporarily with miniature microphones in our ears, which were used to measure the response of a series of sweep tones from various loudspeaker locations. Apparently this was not a part of the actual demonstration, but was rather a way of gathering information to expand and refine the user profile database. The demo consisted of several clips played through both the speakers and the headphones for comparison. The speaker array was a 7.1 Atmos setup, using small Elac speakers for the fronts and small Klipsch speakers for the rears. The headphones were high-end E-mu semi open back models.

The presentation started with the standard Atmos demo clips played through the speaker array. It then switched to the headphones, and the reaction in the room was universal. We all had surprised looks on our faces as we looked around at each other. We non-verbally asked each other, "Are you hearing the same thing I am hearing? Did they forget to turn the speakers off?" Then we tentatively lifted the headphone cups from our ears and realized that the speakers were totally silent. The surround sound effect was amazingly lifelike and practically identical to the sound of the speakers. The jungle insects buzzing around our heads and the thunderstorms in the distance were perfectly recreated, including sounds from above and behind.

Over the many years I have been an audio professional, I have experienced numerous attempts at creating surround sound via headphones. These have included software processing designed by companies such as Creative Labs, Dolby, and others, as well as hardware solutions incorporating multiple drivers into the headphones. My personal hearing apparatus is particularly sensitive to phase discrepancies, and these attempts for me have ranged from dismal to barely, vaguely similar to the real thing. The Super X-Fi processing was a nearly imperceptible illusion of exactly what the 7.1 loudspeaker array sounded like. It was a truly impressive experience.

Following the Atmos clips, some music clips were played that had been processed for surround sound. Again, the headphone rendition was a nearly exact duplicate of the loudspeakers. Here, however, I did spot a small chink in the Super X-Fi's armor. The front center of the soundstage exhibited some of that "in the middle of your head" headphone feel, but to me it was still better than most of the artificially induced ambience systems I have heard which try to remedy this.

The super X-Fi headphone processor is still in development, and it is designed to work with any headphone. It will be interesting to see how it works with various headphones and with IEMs. It was stated that the price of the processor dongle will be around $150. A limited version of the processing is available now by downloading the app.

This appears to be a game changing breakthrough in psycho-acoustic technology.
 

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Following my attending the Sonic Carrier demo at CES, I moved to the Super X-Fi headphone demo next door. Even the presenter at the Sonic Carrier demo said, "This device is like WOW!, but that one is like WHAT?! I don't even believe this!" I totally agree, this demo was almost unbelievable.

The concept behind the Super X-Fi processing is similar to the binaural recordings made using an artificial head to simulate the acoustic response of the human ears, head, and torso. In this case it consists of a similar type of processing applied in reverse to simulate the perception of a multi loudspeaker surround sound system using two channel headphone playback. Initially I had thought that it included custom built headphones, similar to custom IEMs, but it is much simpler an more ingenious than that. Here is my understanding of how it works and my impressions.

The process begins by taking photographs of both of the listener's ears and of the face. These photos are scanned by the Super X-Fi app, and reference points are created and matched to one of a number of pre-defined processing templates. The processing then creates a sound field that encompasses the effects that the individual listener's anatomy has on the audio. The results are stunning.

At the beginning of the demo, the participants were subjected to the measurement process. It was completely painless (just three picture snaps) and was completed in a few seconds. We were each assigned a profile which was used to process our individual audio feeds. Before the start of the demo, we were each fitted temporarily with miniature microphones in our ears, which were used to measure the response of a series of sweep tones from various loudspeaker locations. Apparently this was not a part of the actual demonstration, but was rather a way of gathering information to expand and refine the user profile database. The demo consisted of several clips played through both the speakers and the headphones for comparison. The speaker array was a 7.1 Atmos setup, using small Elac speakers for the fronts and small Klipsch speakers for the rears. The headphones were high-end E-mu semi open back models.

The presentation started with the standard Atmos demo clips played through the speaker array. It then switched to the headphones, and the reaction in the room was universal. We all had surprised looks on our faces as we looked around at each other. We non-verbally asked each other, "Are you hearing the same thing I am hearing? Did they forget to turn the speakers off?" Then we tentatively lifted the headphone cups from our ears and realized that the speakers were totally silent. The surround sound effect was amazingly lifelike and practically identical to the sound of the speakers. The jungle insects buzzing around our heads and the thunderstorms in the distance were perfectly recreated, including sounds from above and behind.

Over the many years I have been an audio professional, I have experienced numerous attempts at creating surround sound via headphones. These have included software processing designed by companies such as Creative Labs, Dolby, and others, as well as hardware solutions incorporating multiple drivers into the headphones. My personal hearing apparatus is particularly sensitive to phase discrepancies, and these attempts for me have ranged from dismal to barely, vaguely similar to the real thing. The Super X-Fi processing was a nearly imperceptible illusion of exactly what the 7.1 loudspeaker array sounded like. It was a truly impressive experience.

Following the Atmos clips, some music clips were played that had been processed for surround sound. Again, the headphone rendition was a nearly exact duplicate of the loudspeakers. Here, however, I did spot a small chink in the Super X-Fi's armor. The front center of the soundstage exhibited some of that "in the middle of your head" headphone feel, but to me it was still better than most of the artificially induced ambience systems I have heard which try to remedy this.

The super X-Fi headphone processor is still in development, and it is designed to work with any headphone. It will be interesting to see how it works with various headphones and with IEMs. It was stated that the price of the processor dongle will be around $150. A limited version of the processing is available now by downloading the app.

This appears to be a game changing breakthrough in psycho-acoustic technology.
Thank you for your impressions.

This seems to be a very impressive technology. It has my full attention.

I have been using for the last 3 years the Sony MDR-HW700DS 9.1 as a substitute for a dedicated surround speakers system. While it's a very good experience, it's not the same as the real thing.

CtznKane, have you ever tried this Sony headphones? If so, how this new tech compares to it?
 

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Sorry, jpbonadio, I am not familiar with that headset. While I have always liked Sony headphones, I gave up on getting any sort of decent surround sound from headphones a long time ago. I just sort of wrote them all off. In fact, I did not plan, nor would have planned, to attend the Super X-Fi demo. It just came up while I was there for the Sonic Carrier demo, and it blew me away. It will be interesting to see how it works out in the real world once it is released.
 

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Smyth has been doing this for a while with their Realiser A8. Their Realiser A16 should be shipping sometime this spring to Kickstarter backers and should be commercially available by then as well. Obviously, it is in a whole different price tier than this. Very excited to see more established companies getting into this niche.
 

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Sorry, jpbonadio, I am not familiar with that headset. While I have always liked Sony headphones, I gave up on getting any sort of decent surround sound from headphones a long time ago. I just sort of wrote them all off. In fact, I did not plan, nor would have planned, to attend the Super X-Fi demo. It just came up while I was there for the Sonic Carrier demo, and it blew me away. It will be interesting to see how it works out in the real world once it is released.
Thank you for the answer CtznKane.

Those Sony headphones, although expensive ($500 MSRP) are actually very good, and a lot superior than other surround headphones that I had owned before. But, even delivering a great surround experience, they are not as good as a high end speakers system. That's why I was waiting for Sony keep improving their technology, but seems Sony just gave up.

If these new tech really is able of delivering the same level of experience of a high end setup, than this will be a big step from the Sony legacy, and exactly the product I was waiting for.
 

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Thank you for the answer CtznKane.

Those Sony headphones, although expensive ($500 MSRP) are actually very good, and a lot superior than other surround headphones that I had owned before. But, even delivering a great surround experience, they are not as good as a high end speakers system. That's why I was waiting for Sony keep improving their technology, but seems Sony just gave up.

If these new tech really is able of delivering the same level of experience of a high end setup, than this will be a big step from the Sony legacy, and exactly the product I was waiting for.
Creative Labs stated that this processor will be on Kickstarter soon, and that the target retail price is $150, so you may get a chance to try it for yourself before long. The scuttlebutt is that Creative is trying to come up with more license-able technology so they can increase their revenue without huge investments. Otherwise, if they can't end their slide, they may go under. I hate it when companies have to abandon really good technology because of market pressures. I was a huge supporter of Microsoft phones, bought three of them and loved them all. But, about a year ago I saw the writing on the wall and switched to Android. I never liked it much, still don't, but Microsoft completely caved. I wanted an iPhone, but their prices are ridiculous, and NO HEADPHONE JACK??! Maybe there will be a time when this makes sense, but it is certainly not now, and I will not participate in Apple's trying to mold the marketplace at their customers' expense!
 

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Smyth has been doing this for a while with their Realiser A8. Their Realiser A16 should be shipping sometime this spring to Kickstarter backers and should be commercially available by then as well. Obviously, it is in a whole different price tier than this. Very excited to see more established companies getting into this niche.
I was not aware of Smyth before. It's interesting to see that others are pursuing the same approach. I have reached a point in my life where my hearing has started to decline, and surround is just not that important to me. I am now much more concerned with correcting frequency response (compensating for hearing loss), analyzing in-ear harmonic distortion, and combating tinnitus.
 

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Smyth has been doing this for a while with their Realiser A8. Their Realiser A16 should be shipping sometime this spring to Kickstarter backers and should be commercially available by then as well. Obviously, it is in a whole different price tier than this. Very excited to see more established companies getting into this niche.
Thank you for this information. I never heard of this product, even when I was researching about surround headphones some years ago.

This new A16 will be on my radar together with the Super X-Fi.
 
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