When it comes to tech accessories, few are as important as headphones — whether you’re using them to spice up your morning commute or drown out distractions in the office, they’re probably the most essential part of your setup besides your phone.
Despite advancements made in headphone technology over the years, however, there’s still a limit to how good they can sound. Blasting audio directly into your ears inherently creates a claustrophobic soundscape, and their quality can never beat a the likes of a home theatre system.
The folks at Creative Technology, however, are looking to change that with their Super X-Fi technology, and that change might be coming in something as small as your finger.
A Game Changer
If the term Super X-Fi sounds familiar, it’s probably because Minister of Finance Heng Swee Keat gave it a shoutout in his Singapore Budget 2019 speech last month.
Mr Heng said that Creative was on “the cusp of a major breakthrough”, and he’s not the only one who thinks so — the technology won a whopping 14 awards at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 in January, including numerous “Best Of CES” awards from leading audio enthusiast websites like SoundGuys and AVSForum.
So how exactly does Super X-Fi work? Well, there’s a lot of algorithm-based magic going on behind the scenes, but all you need to know is that it uses a measurement of your head and ears to create a surround sound effect in your headphones. This means that the sound profile is tailored specifically for your ears, calibrated for maximum immersion.
You could buy Creative’s SXFI C bluetooth headphones, but the more intriguing piece of tech here is the SXFI Amp, which allows you to turn any pair of wired headphones into a Super-X Fi-enabled one.
A Few Hiccups
Setting up an audio profile on the Super X-Fi app is easy enough (just take a few photos and you’re good to go), but connecting the amp itself can be a rather convoluted process.
The amp connects to devices via USB-C, which — while smart from a future-proofing perspective — isn’t available on a lot of devices. If your device doesn’t have a USB-C port you’re going to have to get an additional cable, which can be a little inconvenient and cumbersome.
On top of that, when it comes to phones the amp only works with Android devices, which is strange when you consider how ubiquitous iPhones are. A Creative representative did tell me that a software update to include the iPhone is in the works, so I’m hoping that this is just a temporary issue.
When everything does come together, however, the results are nothing short of groundbreaking. Audio suddenly sounds legitimately cinema-esque, with sound coming from all directions and the bass being much, much deeper.
There’s a certain distance to the sound as well, and the first time I used it I legitimately thought that the audio was coming from an external speaker across the room.
Super X-Fi is best used with videos (the more action-packed, the better), but it also works with gaming devices like the Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch as well. It gives large scale games like Uncharted and The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild a much more epic feel, and is worth the extra effort of adding a dongle to your headphones.
If you don’t want to go through that hassle, the aforementioned SXFI headphones are comparatively easier to use (and works with iPhones too). With Super X-Fi technology already built into the speakers all you have to do is set your profile through the app, and you’re good to go.
Considering that Creative’s been in the speaker business for more than 20 years, it’s no surprise that these headphones are well built, comfortable, and sound crisp even without Super X-Fi technology turned on. Whichever choice you go with, you can’t really go wrong with either.
It’s hard to explain just how revolutionary Super X-Fi technology is in words alone, and this is something you have to try for yourself to fully understand. Its execution might not be perfect, but if you are willing to put in a little effort, you will be rewarded with a truly unique experience.
Considering that there’s literally nothing else like this on the market, audiophiles should definitely check this out to take a glimpse into what the future of audio could be.
VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion into our Facebook page.