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Creative packed a multi-speaker system into this dongle

The audio company has developed Super X-Fi, a technology it says allows you to carry 3D sound around in your pocket.


Multi-speaker sound systems are great -- too bad you can't take them with you on the commute to work. Audio company Creative thinks it has the next best thing, a dongle that gives headphones the power to create acoustic, 3D sound in your ears. 

Creative calls it Super X-Fi, unveiling the tech on Monday at CES 2018. It comes mainly in the form of a dongle that plugs into your phone or computer. You plug your headphones into the other side to experience its musical superpowers. The headphones then map out your ears in real time, and use artificial intelligence to create different room acoustics -- all within your ears. Creative calls this SXFI map "audio holography." 

In other words, it's Coachella Tupac, but for your ears.   

Creative isn't just releasing the dongle. It'll be bringing out a flagship set of headphones, which will be designed to work with the tech and somehow also integrate VR. No explanation of that VR integration was given, but the company said all will be explained in time. A tier below are a set of over-the-ear and in-ear headphones that come with Super X-Fi mapping-equipped dongles. Finally, you can also buy the dongle on its own to use with your own headphones. 

This isn't done with headphones alone, as Creative says you'll need to take photos of your head and ears with your phone. From there, you select headphone type, plug in those headphones and then ride the lightning.

There are other headphones and earphones out there that map your ears to give more personalised sound. Even's H2 headphones, for instance, as well as HTC's USonic earbuds. How Super X-Fi weighs up against that remains to be seen, although containing that tech in a portable dongle is different. 

There's something of a catch here, though. The Super X-Fi range will be rolled out through a crowdfunding project after CES. It's not yet known which platforms this will come to, or how much it'll cost to back your way into Super X-Fi magic. As always, please note that CNET's reporting on crowdfunding campaigns is not an endorsement of the project or its creators. Before contributing to any campaign, read the crowdfunding site's policies to find out your rights (and refund policies, or the lack thereof) before and after a campaign ends.

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