by Anton Shilov
05/30/2012 | 07:56 PM
Creative Technology on Wednesday introduced its new external audio solution that is compatible with a wide variety of devices, including personal computers, smartphones and tablets. The SoundBlaster Axx is very easy to use and Creative promises decent quality, however, it looks like the device will sport a lot of compromises that may be not appreciated by those 400 million of users who acquired Sound Blaster audio cards over the last twenty three years.
"Today we face a whole new generation of users, who have busy and fast-paced lifestyles. They demand elegant, simple and hassle-free solutions. My ultimate challenge was how to design a whole new Sound Blaster for them. Sound BlasterAxx ushers in a whole new generation of Sound Blaster and marks a paradigm shift for the brand – for the first time ever, we have created a Sound Blaster that not only produces awesome audio, it actually listens to you and your audio environment," said Sim Wong Hoo, chairman and chief exec of Creative Technology as well as creator of the Sound Blaster.
The new SoundBlaster Axx is a one-piece elegantly designed hexagonal device (of 410mm*91mm size when it comes to SBX 20 version) with two speakers, two microphones and backlit capacitive touch controls that can connect to smartphones and tablets using Bluetooth wireless technology and to Windows or Macintosh PCs using USB interconnection. The Sound BlasterAxx utilizes so-called "stacked stereo" speaker design that incorporates two-speaker drivers angled to provide stereo separation. Creative promises that when combined with its SBX Pro Studio Surround technology, the Sound BlasterAxx delivers room-filling sound from a compact one-piece device.
The Sound BlasterAxx is powered by the new SB-Axx1 (Sound Blaster "Axxelerated" multi-core audio processor chip) which inherited all the desired features and technologies of the Sound Blaster series, and boosted by an array of additional technologies and features to tackle the challenges imposed by single-piece design as well as necessity to support connectivity to a wide array of devices. In particular, SB Axx can be used with various Apple iOS (iPad, iPod, iPhone), Apple Macintosh, Google Android (smartphones, tablets) and Microsoft Windows-based devices.
Thanks to high performance of SB-Axx1 system-on-chip, the Sound BlasterAxx leverages Creative's vast audio engineering expertise to provide "best-in-class" audio playback for music, movies, games and voice communications. In particular, the SB Axx is able to adapt quickly and seamlessly to any new audio scenario, which is useful given that it will be utilized with many devices at once.
Creative claims that the SB Axx devices have powered specialized power circuitry enables very low power consumption but large amplified power output from a PC or Mac USB connection. When used with mobile devices, Sound BlasterAxx can be powered by any certified simple USB power adapters.
The Creative Sound Blaster audio cards for PCs became popular because they could actually playback music and sounds better than other. While extreme PC audiophiles acquired professional audio cards for the best music listening experience or audio work, the vast majority enjoyed Sound Blasters.
But SoundBlaster audio cards did not improve audio quality by themselves, they needed high-quality speaker systems, sometimes even with sub-woofers. Unfortunately, proper speaker systems is something that is completely missed from the Sound BlasterAxx: two 8cm or 9cm speakers of SBX 20 are still two small speakers no matter how advanced audio processor that feeds them the audio is. Therefore, in many cases the new Sound BlasterAxx solution will hardly satisfy the traditional clients of Creative Labs. Knowing that, Creative Technology does not reveal any exact specs of SBX products, including such primary as wattage.
Still, for those who need inexpensive audio solutions for smartphones, tablets or office PCs, the Sound Blaster Axx may be just what the doctor ordered, provided that they will be indeed simple and hassle free to use.
The Sound BlasterAxx SBX 20, priced at $199.99, will be available in August 2012. The Sound BlasterAxx SBX 10, priced at $149.99, and the Sound BlasterAxx SBX 8, priced at $99.99 will be available in July 2012.