I love listening to music through headphones, but with the exception of binaural recordings, the experience always suffers from a feeling that the sound is trapped inside my head. And when it comes to movies and TV shows with surround-sound or 3D immersive audio, the limitations of headphone listening are such that I don’t even bother. At CES 2018, I stopped by the Creative Labs booth to see what the company was up to, and discovered that it’s been working on Super X-Fi technology that promises to deliver a realistic virtual surround-sound listening experience.
Check out this video of the full Creative Super X-Fi demo from CES 2018:
What makes this system different is it uses pictures of your ears and head to match you with a profile that comes close to a custom profile for your ears. At the show, I was able to compare a truly custom profile, generated using microphones placed in my ears, with the Super X-Fi profile the app chose based purely on image analysis—I was profile number seven (out of nine).
Here I am at CES 2018, about to take the Creative Super X-Fi demo. Time for a selfie.
Not to spoil the video, but the demo was good. The Atmos system used by Creative featured ELAC Uni-Fi speakers and physical height channels (not reflected sound) and it was well-tuned. So, getting the headphones experience to come close to real Atmos surround-sound with a system that is mass-marketable is a commendable feat, enough to justify a Best of CES 2018 award.
Part of the demo included switching from the truly custom profile to the preset profile that best matched my ears. The idea is the custom profile works best but the preset profile that is the closest match for me will sound good, too. Just not as good.
This switch box let me choose between Super X-Fi profiles.
VP of Engineering Teck Chee Lee accepts a Best of CES 2018 award on behalf of Creative for Super X-Fi.
Super X-Fi builds on past efforts to achieve holographic 3D sound using headphones by accounting for the greatest variable in the equation, human ears. Check out this video of the show demo; it’s a bit long (I present the demo uncut/unedited) but it shows exactly how Creative demonstrated the efficacy of this technology. And if you want to skip to hear Creative founder, CEO and Chairman Sim Wong Hoo offer his take on the tech, just skip to 15 minutes and 30 seconds.