Nov 1, 20181958 views

Has anyone been watching the Super X-Fi?

This is a hasty preview in order to get some opinions from the community. I've already ordered one of these, but still want to hear your thoughts and praise for my impulsive purchase.

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Photo credit: CNET
While I'm not a True Believer™ audiophile, I do enjoy great sound (and get a smug satisfaction from getting close without breaking the bank). To that end I have been a pretty consistent fan of Creative Sound-Blaster headphone amps: E5, G5 and X7 all get regular use. Lo-and-behold, this morning I get an e-mail from to announce the start of US sales for the Super X-Fi headphone amp. It was chock full of glowing reviews and a claim of 99% customer satisfaction from the Singapore launch. Creative claims that they have cracked some mythic wall between our expensive headphones and natural surround sound, the word "magic" appears seventeen times on us.sxfi.com between quoted review and Creative's own copy. ("Holy Grail" appears six) . Their approach, according to them, involves personally calibrating your device to your ears using an app and letting the device create a custom sound map, according to them AI plays a major role. The end state seems to be a transparent experience that makes your headphones disappear and allow for a truly immersive experience.
https://www.sxfi.com/
CNET's reviews of the technology are very positive and I won't restate their words:
https://www.cnet.com/news/creatives-new-super-x-fi-audio-tech-is-frigging-mind-blowing/
https://www.cnet.com/reviews/creative-sxfi-amp-preview/
https://www.cnet.com/news/creatives-super-x-fi-amp-heads-to-the-us/

My one reservation (right now) is that Creative's calibration app relies on a list of "certified" headphones, and their business model seems to revolve around manufacturers paying for such an accolade. I'm not a huge fan of controlled ecosystems, and it would bother the hell out of me if a Beats branded PoS got better support than my Oppo PM-3s, but I have a feeling that I'm overstating a problem that may not exist.



Thoughts?
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As someone who has really loved Creative’s processing in the past (the amps have been hit or miss, typically leaning towards a bit bright and hard sound), I’m interested in this! But I haven’t heard it yet. I HAVE heard the Uber-expensive Smyth Realiser A16, the epitome of what I’ve heard so far in surround DSPs. The magic sauce for that (and this Super X-Fi, to some extent) comes from two ingredients (measurements): the way sound from a particular direction interacts with your head and shoulders, and then the way your headphone interacts with your ears. Smyth does this with microphones placed in your ears, then you listen to a sine-sweep to record how each frequency interacts with your head, and then another sine sweep through headphones. It processes “out” the influence of the headphone with an EQ, and then adds “in” the effect from each speaker at each speaker position. The Creative does a quick version of both. They don’t measure the exact sound response for your head, but they do take measurements of your head and ears size and shape with the app, and use that to make a pretty close compensation for how a sound would be affected coming from a direction. Then, by telling the app which headphone you are using, it loads up the General frequency response of that model (though not your specific unit), and makes an educated guess how to cancel out the headphone’s colorations. From all reports, it does a good job. Haven’t heard it myself yet. Kinda wish it had a line-out or digital-out feature, because there aren’t really any products inbetween the Super X-Fi and the $4000 Smyth realizer on the market right now that customize the processing to your measurements, and I’d like to use it with a bit better amp than I usually get from Creative (X7 was my fav, because you could swap opamps, but the G series also gave optical outputs to pass along the processes sound, and I liked that option too).
It was amazing when I first listened to it. Indeed, I had to take off my headphones to make sure the sound was not from my cell phone speakers. However, I think the wow effect also wears off. I think now I still prefers my other amp/dac's. I would put Creative's own SBX G6 above SXFi. To really enjoy music, I still use the SONY TA-ZH1ES with balanced output. SXFi Amp is good for mobile phones on the go, especially when most mobiles phones lack a headphone jack. I will need some sort of dongle anyway. Also, nobody has really mentioned this fact: it supports a microphone too, which makes it a really nice companion for mobile phones.
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With... music? sorry to hear you didn’t like the sound
Evshrug
It might be the headphone profiles, as there is not one for the Audeze. I might have set it to the generic IEM. I usually use the SXFi with my phone and a pair of Sony IEMs. For the comparison, it happened that I have a pair of Sines at hand. Anyways, it turns out that I actually have been using the SXFi the most because of its convenience. My current setup for critical listening is the Sony Amp and a pair of Audeze MX4s. It could be that I already assume the sound from this combination is the "ground truth".
I've had mine for about a week now, and it's fantastic on Windows10 ...set to 7.1 Been using it with all sorts of IEMs especially my TRN V80s. Also with my HD595s open-backs and my ATM -M50Xs. Fun lisening to sound tests of other headphones/amps on YouTube reviews channels. I'm not an audiophile so I can't judge down to the micro sound, I just very much enjoy the opening up of the sound stage. With a button you can compare with or without enhancement. I look forward to a good SIFI movie evening sometime soon. Your purchase was a correct one....great tech ..I have some Massdrop HD58Xs arriving soon here in Denmark, look forward to that also. I don't think the headphone profile "certified" hurts, only the free Creative headphones they sent with the purchase were *certified*, none of my other headphones and IEM's I use with the SXFI are *certified*. I put the creative headphones on the shelf and just use an approximate Sennhieser headphone for my HD595s (not on their app list) and I doubt any of the ChiFi IEMs will ever make the list, so I use generic IEM settings in the app........Good luck
(Edited)
I'm LOVING the SXFI Amp with my Massdrop FOCAL Elex (using Creative's SXFI AUDIO-TECHNICA AD700 audio profile), FOSTEX TR-X00 Purplehearts & E-MU Ebony (both headsets using the E-MU Teak audio profile), SENNHEISER HD 6XX (650 audio profile), AKG K7XX (K701 profile), HIFIMAN HE-4XX (HE-400S profile) & MONOPRICE Monolith M1060C Planar Magnetics (AUDIO-TECHNICA AD700 profile), BEYERDYNAMIC DT 770 Pro (oddly, the AUDIO-TECHNICA AD700 profile sounds better with these than Creative's BEYERDYNAMIC DT 800 profile), SENNHEISER HD 598Cs (598 profile), SONY MDR-7506, AUDIO-TECHNICA ATH-M40x (M50x profile), KOSS KPH30i & KSC75X (Porta Pro profile), and also with my CREATIVE Aurvana Live! & Aurvana SE (both Super X-Fi Certified). I'm excited to see how the SXFI Amp sounds with the SONY WH-1000XM3 bluetooth headphones (I'll activate them using a HAGIBIS Bluetooth 5.0 aptX HD [Model X2] wireless transmitter that I bought for the SXFI Amp at AliExpress.com) & FOSTEX MOD HOUSE AUDIO Argon Planar Magnetics which I've custom-ordered (I may later purchase, too, the Aurvana Trio earphones and stand-alone SXFI AIR headphones). Also, when I can afford them, I'd love to see how the SXFI technology impacts the SENNHEISER HD 820 experience (if anyone's tried this combo, please let me know! :). For those who may own the MEZE 99 Classics, I've found what works best for them is the SXFI sound profile for the AUDIO-TECHNICA AD700 headphones (my second-choice profile picks for the Classics would be three audio profiles posted in Creative's SXFI mobile app and within its Sound Control dashboard for PC -- those for the SENNHEISER HD 598, BEYERDYNAMIC DT 800, or AKG K701, in that order). For SXFI Amp use with my laptop, I downloaded the SXFI Control Panel (dashboard) for Windows 10 here: SXFI Dashboard for PC. Do make sure, though, when configuring your PC, that you set your Windows Control Panel Sound Controls to 7.1 Surround Sound and also disable any conflicting Spatial Sound settings, such as Dolby Atmos, under the Spatial Sound tab. Believe me, SXFI sounds MUCH better than anything Dolby has yet produced for PC spatial sound. Having installed the SXFI dashboard, it's with this that I toggle between Creative's different headphone audio profiles, to test which profiles work best for the various headsets I own. If you're using moderately high-end headphones, or, alternatively, if in doubt (or if you simply don't like the sound of Creative's generically labeled 'Unknown' headphones profile), I find that I opt most often for the AUDIO-TECHNICA AD700 profile, which seems, for me, to work best across the broadest range of different headphone makes and types.  Though clearly not the optimal solution, adopting these 'makeshift' SXFI profiles still creates an astonishing audio soundstage that sounds dimensions better than the closed-in 'cans' nature of the lows-mids-highs we're traditionally used to, even as we sport our most 'open' audiophile incarnations. The current makeshift profile situation will gradually disappear as more and more sound signatures are mapped to augment the SXFI database. Even as it now stands, I'm extremely impressed with the strides Creative has made with its new technology. The SXFI Amp compatibility reference for the HAGIBIS aptX HD Bluetooth 5.0 (X2 transmitter) is an online article I came across: 'SXFI Amp Goes Wireless with Hagibis X2 Wireless Audio Adapter Bluetooth 5.0 aptX Receiver Transmitter'. To aid in testing the SXFI audio profiles, here's a playlist link to 100 sound-test tracks for audio quality': SOUND ~ Test tracks for Audio Quality. Cheers!
(Edited)
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Unfortunately, the article about the Hagibis adapter is not accurate— at least per the manufacturer’s instructions for its “transmit” mode, because it simply didn’t work. Wasn’t that expensive, and maybe I got a “dud” — but maybe Creative can get “creative” and come up with their own wireless adapter that actually works. 😎
I have and it works great! Amazing sound thru Bluetooth!
I demo'd the super x-fi at the 2018 CES show, and it blew me away. A year later, bought the damn thing, and configured my PC for 7.1 and it's just "meh". Didn't really feel the sound separation as clean as it did than the CES trade show. I even had a friend take a picture of my ear and everything. It also didn't help when I have an iphone, and the super x-fi doesn't support iPhones.
Maduhbee
Oh shoot! So you can’t even calibrate the surround profile?
Here is my take on it. Don't worry about the certified, they will continue to add different models and if your headphone isn't listed there, just try every headphone settings and see which one fits your taste best or closest to your headphone sound signature. Btw if you want to find the best settings for SXFI on windows using MPC https://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/117011181-post3214.html Super XFi has been for me personally, maybe one of the best inventions of my generation.  Personally, i love music, i love playing games on my PS4 and on my computer and I love watching movies and i love to pick the best seats in a movie theatre so that i can enjoy a movie with the best audio. Since space is limited where i am living in, i can only get headphones. I've got a Sennheiser HD598, then HD650 and now Emu-Teak (thanks to this thread). What Super XFi brought to the table is that it changed the playing field from 2D world where i was searching for the end game like maybe STAX or HD820 or Focal Utopia and Tube Amp to 3D world where all the terms like timbre, clarity, resolution, resolving, soundstage, airy, attack, dynamic range, etc are now being moved to 7.1. What makes Super XFi great is that when i am not using it, i am thinking of it and when i am listening to music or watching a movie etc without it, i am thinking how would it sound on my SXFI amp and Emu-Teak setup. Then i listen to it or watch a movie with SXFI and it exceeds my expectations and then some. (5.1/7.1 with SXFI is surreal)  Normal audio no longer satisfied my hunger, SXFI has now created a hole where i hope it could continue to improve and fill because I am too still looking for more clarity, more resolution, more more more but in this new playing field. I would really want to be able to change to other HTS setups using the SXFI as like different headphone is used for different situations. Like how i use HD650 for concert music and Emu-Teak for movies and pop music.  With SXFI, watching movies like Lord of the Rings Trilogy reminded me of the time when i saw the movie in the theatres, the thumping bass is unbelievable. Listening to recordings makes me feel like i am in the recording studio with the singer, singing right in front of me. Listening to live shows or concerts makes me feel like i am there in the audience. Btw totally changed the way Netflix shows and movies sound even if some of the content is not in 5.1. Most games are fantastic with SXFI. Even watching home videos with SXFI makes me feel like i am once again brought back in time to the location. (Try and test it and see how much better it is with SXFI on) Personally, one more added benefit, all my listening fatigue is gone. I can't wait for more advancement in this technology and I hope they can create a better desktop amp to combo with SXFI like X7.