A Really Idiotic Diagram

OK. Now I’ve found something that tops even the Steorn bozos’ concepts for sheer technical daftness. Or downright thievery – you decide.

Over at Creative we find this offering for those who don’t have two brain cells to rub together (but plenty of excess cash, I guess) – the ‘Xmod X-Fi Module’ for your PC that actually ‘improves’ your lousy computer sound to an ‘experience beyond studio quality’.

Let me just rephrase that for the slow learners: you stick this gadget in between your mp3s and your speakers and the sound comes out better than the studio recording of the original track!

Shit, I’m going to buy twenty of these and give them to all my Pro Sound buddies. If it can make mp3 sound better than studio recording, then it follows that it can make studio recordings sound better than angels singing the glories of God and His Creation!*

Consider this assertion on the website:

•Restore the details and vibrance that your music lost during MP3 compression

Disregarding first of all that ‘vibrance’ is not actually a real word, let’s examine this claim. First of all, a simplified technical lesson: mp3, or MPEG Audio Layer 3, is a format which is known in the business as a ‘lossy’ form of compression. What this means is that some clever technical hocus-pocus is used to take an audio file and compress it in such a way that some of the less important original data can be thrown away to make the file smaller but (hopefully) without a listener being able to notice too much of a reduction in fidelity.

The key term here is thrown away. To get an audio file (say a CD quality file) down to a much smaller sized mp3, savage and ugly chopping has to be done and the unwanted data is irretrievably blitzed. Chucked. Trashed. Flushed. Things from the original audio file no longer exist in the mp3 file.

Our friends from Creative are claiming that they can somehow reconstitute this no-longer-extant data – raise it from the dead, so to speak – and set it walking among the living once more. Not only that, they are saying that the mp3 will not only sound as good as the CD you ripped it from, but better than that.

There’s a highly technical term for this kind of thing, and that term is CRAP!

In order that they might convince you of their highly dubious hyperbole, Creative offer you the chance to actually hear X-Fi in action. Going on the provided example I might make the suggestion that they should abandon the waffly try-hard ‘X-Fi’ moniker and go for the much more accurate ExcrementSoundâ„¢ label. Using a breathtakingly cliched Flash presentation, the Creative people show us how their X-Fi system can take a perfectly ordinary and dull piece of music and sound like a perfectly ordinary, dull, and sibilant piece of music. Huzzah! They’ve discovered the treble control. Now instead of that fuzzy futzing aliasing of the high frequencies in an mp3 you can have nicely fizzy, ear-scouring futzing aliasing. Wow. Better than studio sound! I know – I try every day to get my sound to be this unpleasant, but fail comprehensively.

Oh, I just can’t go on. The only thing that’s creative about Creative is their ability to effectively recycle that old saw: Never give a sucker an even break.


*This is a colourful image for comic effect. I do not believe in Creation, angels or God.