Here, ladies and gentlemen, are the first carriers of technology that will (according to Creative) replace all conventional hi-fi products in the home. Hmmm. Either this hyperbole signals the creation of something really quite impressive, or Creative feels it has something to make up for.
All the PC sound cards feature the 24bit X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity processing chip, which totes 51million transistors and is apparently 24x as powerful as Creative’s excellent Audigy chip. This means it can take digital music (CD, WMA, MP3) and output sound superior to the original studio recording. Erm…
Creative’s touting the X-Fi output as an audio format comparable in quality to DVD Audio and SACD that (crucially) doesn’t require the purchase of new discs. Assuming it works, that’s got to be a nice thing.
There are 4 models at launch, ranging from the £250 X-Fi Elite Pro with its external I/O module, pre-amp (with high impedance inputs for electric guitars) and 64MB of sound processing RAM, to the £100 X-Fi XtremeMusic, which merely sounds very good. All cards feature CMSS-3D spatialiser technology for accurate recreation of a surround soundstage from 2 speakers or headphones.
All this is intriguing – we look forward to having a listen and relaying our thoughts to you. One thing's for certain: even if the hi-fi bods like the sound X-Fi makes, they won't want to keep the name. Ex-Fi is so much more sensible and British.