19 years later, X-Fi is still kicking — Creative announces Super X-Fi Gen4 audio profile, leverages AI for head and ear mapping

Creative Technology with the latest Super-X Fi Gen 4
(Image credit: Creative)

On this date, 19 years ago, Creative introduced the X-Fi brand to the world. Today, the company unleashed its latest Super X-Fi Gen 4 audio profile for its compatible audio headphones, speakers, and wireless audio ecosystem. The new profiles provide better dynamic range, clarity, and spatial awareness. They will be rolled out worldwide in June and will be available via its SXFI app. 

Since it requires an app, it will work with its USB audio range, which includes the Creative SXFI Air C and Gamer USB headphones, SXFI Trio USB Earbuds, Sounds Blaster X3 USB DAC and amp, and Outlier Gold wireless earbuds.

The company explains that it can do so by recreating an 'immersive soundstage' and further personalized by using artificial intelligence. However, it doesn't mention if it uses currently available artificial intelligence (AI) or its propriety tech. The company advertises that with this update, users enjoy an expanded dynamic range with richer, improved clarity and more detailed audio reproduction. Though initially designed for headphones, it will also be used in its speakers, earbuds, and premium headphone ranges. 

How does this AI engine work?

As multiple companies constantly use AI as a new buzzword, anyone will be curious about this process. AI technology drives interest and sales for many hardware systems, provided it uses components that work with existing LLM engines and apps. Creative Technology mentions that it uses a sophisticated head and ear mapping process. While it doesn't mention the mapping process, it does say it uses hundreds of anthropometric parameters extracted from the features of the head by using real-time image detection and analysis. 

However, this isn't the first time Creative had something similar for its USB audio devices. The Creative SXFI Air Gamer we reviewed a few years ago had a similar app that scanned the user's ear with the help of a smartphone. The earlier system created a different and noticeable sound stage, though it is clear the perception of this difference would vary among other users. While it may not be a feature that would encourage people to buy its Super X-Fi Gen 4 range of products, one would still be tempted to try to see if it brings an improvement. 

Any improvement, whether it uses an AI engine or simply an optimized version, is good. But using such words when it doesn't have any LLM technology does make it sound gimmicky. We'll only know for sure once the app is updated next month. There's also the part where this optimization might be discernible with its earbuds and headphone lineups over speakers. Audio experience is subjective depending on the user, the device, and the settings they use.

Freelance News Writer
  • Neilbob
    I have a sneaking suspicion that slapping on some AI buffoonery and marketing won't return Creative Labs to the prominence they once enjoyed.
    Reply
  • 35below0
    Neilbob said:
    I have a sneaking suspicion that slapping on some AI buffoonery and marketing won't return Creative Labs to the prominence they once enjoyed.
    Maybe releasing drivers for their older cards like the X-Fi Elite would help a little. /s

    There is no way. id Software could not return to their own prominence. Blizzard can't.
    It's gone. New gems and new garbage have taken over.

    The only thing that lasted forever and stayed on top... Photoshop?
    Reply
  • brandonjclark
    Lately I hooked up an old Logitech z5500 system, in which I've replaced all the speakers (except the integrated and required 10" sub) with Pioneer Andrew Jones Edition Surround Sound speaker system (Gen1).

    I'm happy with my sound quality, but I DO miss the idea of Creative's XFi "Crystallizer", even if the sound improvement was only a trick.

    So, I looked into what the modern equivalent would be since all research shows that internal sounds cards are just not worth it anymore.

    What I came up with was a list of reasonably-priced external DAC's, which typically are used by streamers.

    Is this what you guys have found as well?

    Are external DAC's really the BEST thing to be plugging my Z5500 into, or does it's internal amplifier more than suffice?
    Reply
  • thestryker
    I've used this with my planar headphones and it's actually a decent bit of technology if you can jump through all the hoops to get it working right. I'm used to 5.1 on my gaming setup and while it's not going to be an equivalent it does a better job than pure stereo.
    brandonjclark said:
    Lately I hooked up an old Logitech z5500 system, in which I've replaced all the speakers (except the integrated and required 10" sub) with Pioneer Andrew Jones Edition Surround Sound speaker system (Gen1).

    I'm happy with my sound quality, but I DO miss the idea of Creative's XFi "Crystallizer", even if the sound improvement was only a trick.

    So, I looked into what the modern equivalent would be since all research shows that internal sounds cards are just not worth it anymore.

    What I came up with was a list of reasonably-priced external DAC's, which typically are used by streamers.

    Is this what you guys have found as well?

    Are external DAC's really the BEST thing to be plugging my Z5500 into, or does it's internal amplifier more than suffice?
    Do they support 5.1? It's been a couple of years but when I was looking for external options for my Z5500s there was nothing remotely affordable that did. Hopefully things have changed, but personally ended up getting a Sound Blaster X4 and it has been as good as my old Audigy Platinum from way back was.
    Reply
  • eichwana
    I still have the x-fi sound core 3D sound card, I picked it up second hand more then 10 years ago and it’s still better than anything I’ve heard in my price range. It’s actually spoiled me: Bluetooth audio sounds flat and lifeless next to it to the point where I can’t enjoy a wireless headset anymore.

    Could I find something comparable or better? Probably, but I spent £30 on this.
    Reply