Convergence has its success stories, but it also has its fair share of victims. The desperation to fold as much functionality as possible into a single product can often be done at the expense of core competency. Not that we'd expect such a mistake to be made by an audio veteran like Creative, would we? Would we...
The Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 20 is the flagship model in Creative's new Sound BlasterAxx range of multifunctional tower speakers which aims to be all things to all people. It comes with a rather premium £180 price tag and promises to reinvent (semi) portable audio with a next generation quad core SB-AXX1 sound processing chip, dual microphones with noise cancellation and Bluetooth for wireless streaming. The semi-portable part comes from the fact that the SBX 20 takes its power from a single USB port - no power brick required.
Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 20 Features
Breaking the Creative Sound BlasterAxx SBX 20s down and on the audio front Creative claims the incorporated SB-AXX1 chip is its most advanced multi-core voice and audio effects processor to date, and one which powers two vertically aligned drivers which keep the speakers desktop footprint to a minimum. Creative also says key to the SB-AXXI is low power consumption and efficient circuitry, hence its ability to operate over USB, though it feels like a lost opportunity to fit a battery.
Being Creative, the ability to tinker with your audio is central too and this comes via the Sound Blaster Control Panel - available for PC and Mac as well as an app for the iPhone and Android smartphones. This offers a raft of effects enhancements for music, films and gaming with an array of presets and proprietary sound technologies including the 'SBX Crystalizer' (high and low frequency enhancement), 'SBX Surround' (pseudo-surround sound) and 'SBX Smart Volume' (automatic adjustment of volume for consistent listening levels with a night mode to reduce the impact of explosions and bursts of sound, reducing disturbance to others after hours).
The list goes on with 'SBX Dialog Plus' (enhancement of human voices in movies and games) and 'SBX Bass' (low frequency compensation for extra punch).
The SB-AXXI doesn't only plan to replace your speakers, however, it also wants to be your defacto device for hands-free calls. Its dual, omni-directional microphone array performs active noise cancelling and 'SBX CrystalVoice' is a smart spoken voice enhancement technology which also tracks the speaker, automatically adjusting the loudness of their voice if they move closer to or further away from the unit. Lastly 'VoiceFX' is a voice manipulation software which lets the user change their voice to sound like a robot, monster or even switch sexes.