Here’s a head-snapper: Creative just announced a $5000 audiophile sound bar that streams music and video
The X-Fi Sonic Carrier packs 15 drivers, a wireless subwoofer, Dolby Atmos support, and an 800-watt amplifier.
Creative has made very good bang-for-the-buck audio products in its long history, but it’s not a brand that springs to mind when you think of audiophile equipment. It seems the company is intent on changing that perception with today’s announcement of the X-Fi Sonic Carrier, a high-end sound bar with mouth-watering features and specs—and an eye-watering price tag.
The X-Fi Sonic Carrier is a high-end, all-in-one, 11.2.4-channel Dolby Atmos-compatible home-theater audio system with a video playback system that supports up to 4K/UHD (60fps) video. 11.2.4 channels? That’s 11 front, center, and surround channels; two subwoofers for low-frequency effects; and four height speakers.
“The X-Fi Sonic Carrier is the epitome of high-end home theatre and high-end audio systems, made for people who appreciate the finer things in life,” said Creative Technology Ltd. CEO Sim Wong Hoo. “It redefines the boundaries of the state of the art in the category. It is truly a work of art.”
But why would Creative build something like this? “We embarked on this mammoth project after being approached by many to design a super high-end audio system and the latest and greatest home theater, loaded with all the bells and whistles you could imagine,” Sim said. “There are only a few companies that possess the breadth of technology and know-how to qualify to attempt such a project. However, one must have the audacity and patience to undertake this challenge as it is a super high-risk endeavor. And given that it is a very unique and ambitious project, besides our normal marketing programs, we are also exploring to use crowdfunding to reach out to bold kindred spirits who embrace the same vision of riding with us in this new frontier.”
15 speakers, 800 watts of power
The X-Fi Sonic Carrier has 15 drivers in its main chassis, a wireless dual-driver subwoofer (more on that below), and 800 watts RMS of amplification. The high frequencies are handled by five, 0.75-inch, wide-dispersion titanium-dome tweeters that Creative says are capable of delivering frequency response of up to 40kHz—well beyond the realm of human hearing, but encompassing the range of recorded material in true high-resolution audio recordings.
There are 11, 2.75-inch, aluminum-cone midbass front- and side-firing drivers to handle front, center, and surround channels; plus four up-firing drivers to handle Dolby Atmos height information. Creative says that every driver in the system features low distortion motors and perfect pistonic behavior within its operating range. Every driver in the array is individually driven by a DSP-controlled amplifier.
The Sonic Carrier won’t cheap out on the bass; you need a real sub to handle low-frequency effects, and Creative augments the smaller speakers in the sound bar with a wireless subwoofer with twin aluminum-diaphragm drivers in a push-push configuration. And you won’t be limited to just one sub. The Sonic Carrier can support up to four wireless subs.
It’s a media streamer, too
Creative says the Sonic Carrier will be powered by seven dual-core microprocessors, and that it will be capable of playing audio files with up to 24-bit resolution and 192kHz sampling rates from network storage (a DLNA server) and from popular music-streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora. Creative is promising support for Apple’s AirPlay, Google Cast, Chromecast, and Miracast, too.
Want to stream video? Creative says the Android-powered Sonic Carrier has you covered on that score, too. It will be capable of streaming up to 4K video and will be compatible with streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go. Interestingly, Creative makes a specific note that the Sonic Carrier is VPN-compatible, so that users can watch content from across the globe.
In addition to gigabit ethernet, the Sonic Carrier will have an integrated 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter. Bluetooth? Check. HDMI inputs? Check—times four. There’s four microSD card slots, too, not to mention two analog audio inputs and two digital optical inputs.
The list of features Creative is promising to deliver with this speaker—we didn’t list all of them here—border on the unbelievable, $5000 price tag or not. But Creative says you can pre-order one of a limited quantity for just $1,750—if you act before March 31. We have an appointment to see the X-Fi Sonic Center tomorrow night. It won’t be in a venue where we can listen to it, but we’ll let you know what we see.