A Closer Look at the Sound Enhancing Creative Xmod

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.
This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

Just a few days word broke that Creative was about to release onto the world the Creative Xmod, small device that supposedly makes MP3s (and other formats of lossy digital music compression) sound better. Laptop magazine got a chance to play around with it and reports that it's not a complete piece of garbage, going so far as to say "[i]t could change the way we listen to music." How's that for bombast?

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The Xmod works by upconverting the digital music using Creative's X-Fi CMSS-3D technology. Here's the kicker: the Xmod "restores" part of the audio information that was originally stripped in order to make the lossy music file. So we're led to believe that the Xmod generates missing information on its own. Laptop seems to think it does, everything from Lauren Hill to Queen. Quite an eclectic bunch they've got over there.

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The Xmod is still scheduled to be released later this month for $80.The urge to call "shenanigans" on this product is so immense right now.

Creative Introduces the Xmod [Laptop Magazine]

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DISCUSSION

So, it sounds like people have listened to music played back through this device and it sounds better than it does without it. What they do not say is that they are comparing sound through the X-Fi to the original music recording (CD, or whatever) to see if it sounds more like the original than the MP3.

I am willing to bet that it does NOT sound like the original recording, and has absolutely nothing to do with supposedly filling in the missing pieces that the lossy format does not pick up. I have to tell you that if you record a CD at MP3 192K or better, you would have an amazing ear to tell the difference.