Much has been said about Creative’s recent efforts. Ever since generic sound cards were made redundant by onboard audio ICs (integrated circuits), the company has dabbled in all sorts of endeavors but without any real success. At least not the kind they enjoyed in the early 90s with their Sound Blaster sound cards.
To turn around the company's fortunes, Creative recently announced their new Sound BlasterAXX wireless speakers, which Creative proudly proclaims as a "technological marvel". The Sound BlasterAxx speakers marks a new generation of products from Creative that their CEO Sim Wong Hoo promises to be, and we quote, "elegantly designed and easy to use". No longer will they make "kitchen sink" types of products with too many features and too difficult to use. Creative wants to streamline and give focus to their products.
As for the new Sound BlasterAxx wireless speakers, they will come in three differently-sized models - SBX 20, SBX 10 and SBX 8, with the SBX 8 being the smallest. The speakers are chock-full of new technologies and features. To begin, the 40cm tall flagship SBX 20 has a special high-efficiency intelligent amplifier that ensures it can be driven solely via power from a USB cable. In fact, in our short hands-on preview session with the speakers earlier at Creative’s HQ, we found that each of the speakers can be powered by a single USB battery pack, and they didn’t sound weak or breathless at all.
Also unique to the Sound BlasterAxx is that the speakers also boasts microphones. The SBX 20 and SBX 10 will have dual-array microphones, while the SBX 8 will only have a single microphone. These microphones lets users use the speaker to communicate as if its a hands-free kit. It also helps that the Sound BlasterAxx has their CrystalVoice suite of noise-canceling technologies to ensure the utmost voice call clarity.
How can a single wireless speaker pack so much feature? This is all possible thanks to the Sound BlasterAxx’s SB-Axx1 chip - a multi-core voice and audio effects processor. This processor boosts audio and voice quality and also handles the Sound BlasterAxx’s noise reduction technologies that enables voice calls that are, in Creative’s own words, “second to none”.
In all, the Sound BlasterAxx is one of the more interesting products we’ve seen in recent times, combining the functions and features of a wireless speaker as well as a hands-free kit. But while it sounds intriguing and promising on paper, how does it perform it the real world? Read on to find out.