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Creative's X-Fi: A New Age in Sound Card Power?

Virtual Audio Reality

The new features of X-Fi are too numerous to be detailed in this preliminary article (it still has yet to show up in a sound card), but we can cite a few of its more exciting capabilities. For gamers, the processing power (24 times that of the Audigy processor) will clearly transform the situation by offering speed, but also the capacity to manage a multitude of audio sources simultaneously in 3D with optimization for the speaker system. Creative's new EAX 5.0 should transform the sonic world for gamers - making it possible, for example, in multi-player situations, for a player to speak into the microphone and have his or her voice reproduced in conformity with the virtual acoustical environment where the player is.

Broadening And Deepening Sound

For leisure uses involving audio, X-Fi, thanks to its processing power and algorithms, will make it possible to turn any traditional audio source into high-definition multi-channel. This function, called "24 bit Crystalizer," will be available in future products to offer quality comparable to that of DVD-Audio from traditional CD Audio sources, and even from compressed music. X-Fi should also be able to create multi-channel sound in stereo headphones. Gamers who are particular about their sound environment but also want to maintain good relations with their neighbors will be happy.

Creating In 3D

Finally, for musical creation, beyond support for existing standards, X-Fi will see the emergence of a new standard - 3D MIDI - making it possible to create 3D multi-channel sound in MIDI as well as audio. Naturally the processing power will also come into play in this area, as will the high-quality sampling capabilities. SoundFonts, highly regarded by many musicians, will benefit from 24 bit quality. And all without drawing on the processing power of the CPU.

Needless to say, after our visit to Creative's Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in California, we're impatient to find out more.