I’ve heard some grand technology claims but the latest offering from Creative has me wondering just how their new audio-enhancement system is possible. They claim that their latest Xmod device, based on their X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio platform, can improve the quality of MP3 and other compressed audio files to beyond the original CD audio quality.
The size of a candy bar, the Creative Xmod plugs between headphones or speakers and the PC/Mac and then acts as an audio enhancer, improving dynamics, and giving cleaner, richer sound that they claim surpasses the original CD. It does this by utilising two audio functions: X-Fi Crystalizer and X-Fi CMSS-3D. The first analyses and identifies which parts of an audio file have been truncated or damaged during compression, and then intelligently and selectively restores the highs and lows missing from instruments such as snare drums, basses, cymbal crashes, guitar plucking, etc. The second technology creates virtual surround sound and uses advanced techniques to place audio elements.
Of course, this all comes from Creative. I’ve used software audio enhancers that, on the surface, do similar things, but they’ve never claimed to reach CD quality sound or beyond. After all, the whole point of MP3 and other compressed formats is that they are lossy – data is permanently lost and can’t simply be recreated as per the original. This will at best be a very good audio guesser, and it probably works better on minimally compressed MP3 tracks.
It can be used direct from a PC. If used with a portable music player it requires an additional power pack, so it’s not much good for on-the-road music.
If you want to try out its claims for yourself, it’ll be available later this month for £59.99.