Creative debuts ‘Xmod’ external X-Fi device said to improve digital music ‘beyond CD quality’

Creative today announced the Creative Xmod, a device based upon its X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio platform that improves music playback quality for MP3, WMA, iTunes or AAC songs to beyond the original CD quality. The Creative Xmod is a small device just about the size of a candy bar. It connects between stereo speakers or headphones and either a PC, Mac, iPod, ZEN or any MP3 player, and it dramatically improves the listening experience by upconverting the music during playback to the X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity standard – very high-quality 24-bit surround audio, according to Creative.

According to Creative, the Xmod enhances the low and high frequencies while improving audio dynamics for cleaner, richer sound that surpasses the original audio CD. Without requiring software it connects to a PC or Mac and allows users to “instantly improve the playback quality of their music to the X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity experience.” For connecting iPod, ZEN or any MP3 players to the Creative Xmod, an optional AC power adaptor is required.

“There are more than 100 million people who listen to MP3, WMA or AAC music on their PCs, Macs or iPod or ZEN players, but the quality of these compressed music are highly compromised. The Creative Xmod enables them to listen to their music with audio that sounds even better than CDs.” said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and CEO of Creative, in the press release. “Now with Creative Xmod, all your music is instantly upconverted to Xtreme Fidelity standard in realtime through a simple and compact device!”

There is no need to re-purchase music in a new format to experience X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity. Just connecting the Creative Xmod enables Mac users to experience award-winning X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio for the first time, and PC users can now enjoy it for the first time on the notebook. The Creative Xmod does not require any conversion of files.

According to Creative, X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity provides two audio functions, X-Fi Crystalizer and X-Fi CMSS-3D, which improve and enhance music listening experiences. The X-Fi Crystalizer upconverts MP3 music by analyzing and identifying which parts of the audio stream have been truncated or damaged during compression. It intelligently and selectively restores the highs and lows such as the snare drums, basses, cymbals crashes and guitar plucking that are damaged during the compression of MP3s.

X-Fi CMSS-3D creates virtual surround sound through speakers or headphones. According to Creative, it expands audio for superior headphone listening so music completely surrounds the listener like a multi-channel speaker system instead of sounding like it is stuck between the headphones. X-Fi CMSS-3D also uses techniques to place specific audio elements, such as the voice of a movie character, in the virtual center channel while ambiance is played through virtual surround channels.

The Creative Xmod will be available in October at a suggested retail price of US$79.99.

More information about the Creative Xmod and X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity here.

Related articles:
Creative does Apple’s dirty work by immediately attacking Microsoft’s Zune – September 17, 2006
Creative Tech: we will pursue all MP3 player- and cellphone-makers that infringe on ‘Zen patent’ – August 30, 2006
Apple investors cheer as Jobs wins again by getting Creative – August 24, 2006
Apple and Creative settle – the bigger picture – August 24, 2006
Analyst: Apple’s relatively small settlement with Creative removes threat hanging over iPod – August 23, 2006
Apple & Creative settle: Apple pays $100M for ‘Zen’ patent, Creative plans iPod accessories – August 23, 2006

51 Comments

  1. I’m not convinced a little device like that has the processing power to digitally repair a lossy format to beyond the lossless original. Better yet, I don’t think it’s possible.

    This is no more than an equalizer.

  2. Yeah, right. There’s an old saying in the audio biz, “You can’t fix what ain’t there.” If the quality isn’t there to begin with on a recording, there is no way to make suddenly magically appear. Also, think about it this way, “Can a $79 device suddenly convert a crappy recording into a super-high-quality recording?
    This nothing more then some audio smoke and mirrors. (Otherwise known as cheap EQ and compression.)

  3. <i>Beyond CD quality<i>

    So, they can reconstruct exactly what was thrown away by the various lossy codecs, and even produce “quality” that wasn’t there in the studio from the original raw sample stream. They’d make more money selling lottery number picking devices if they can do that with digital audio.

  4. For connecting iPod, ZEN or any MP3 players to the Creative Xmod, an optional AC power adaptor is required.

    So it’s not portable.

    So when would you want use it with your portable player.

    Beleaguered Creative, indeed.

  5. This whole ‘beyond CD quality’ thing is…ummm…interesting to say the least…since it’s kind of hard to ‘upconvert’ lossy formats to anything even close to lossless.

    Fortunately for Creative, tons of people don’t have a clue about differences between lossy/lossless, and will think, “Oh, cool, so now all of my 92kbps mp3s will sound better than the original cd! And it’s only $79! I’ve got to get one of these!”

  6. …and in other news Creative Technology announce the X-Livealotter a new device based on the public’s naiveity and gullibility to extend life to 700 years.
    In a press release Creative’s spokesman Hav Won-Ova said “Through extensive research we have discovered that public really are that stupid.”

  7. I’d like to hear this thing. I’ll certainly concede that most compressed music doesn’t sound so hot. Yeah, yeah I know .. we’re not supposed to care about that anymore, and I don’t. But I also don’t like the pervasive lie that it all sounds just great when in actual fact it doesn’t sound really great at all.

  8. Its a $79 EQ with a 3D sound delay circut when you peer through the marketing hype.

    “analyzing and identifying which parts of the audio stream have been truncated or damaged during compression”
    My Ass. Like it has some reference copy of your music to compare to. How could it possibly know….Answer, it can’t.

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