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Summary:

Today, Creative announced yet another addition to their venerable Sound Blaster line of products. The device had its debut not at Macworld, but at CES, which, I might remind some of those with Apple tunnel vision, is going on right now in Las Vegas. While desert […]

Today, Creative announced yet another addition to their venerable Sound Blaster line of products. The device had its debut not at Macworld, but at CES, which, I might remind some of those with Apple tunnel vision, is going on right now in Las Vegas. While desert grit isn’t normally great for electronics, CES is, and the new Sound Blaster for iTunes might have some Apple hi-fi fanatics excited.

Like the X-Fi (xtreme fidelity, in case you were wondering) external audio card whose technology it uses, the Sound Blaster for iTunes is an external, USB peripheral. It’s main purpose is to enhance the quality of your iTunes music library, and anything else you may use iTunes for, including internet radio streams and movie audio. Curiously, it also claims to improve the quality of things like Pandora, and basically any sound your computer makes, so I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between this and, say, the X-Fi Go.

Upon closer inspection, the Sound Blaster for iTunes does boast the somewhat ambiguous quality of “enabl[ing] you to use the iTunes interface.” Also, it works as a transmitter for Sound Blaster’s wireless stereo system components, including regular speakers connected to their Creative Wireless Receivers, and directly to the Creative T20W Series II speakers, which have a receiver built in. I actually have a pair of the Creative T20 Series II speakers (the non-wireless ones), and I’m more than happy with them, so the prospect of wireless ones is intriguing.

When it’s released later this year (target is Spring 2008), Sound Blaster for iTunes will retail for $99.99. Considering the Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook is the only current option for laptops that comes with the wireless transmitter built in, and requires an ExpressCard slot, all for $89.99, it’s not too bad a price.

  1. Not to be too much of a downer, but I don’t understand this product. It sounds like a scam to me. The sound output of your computer is what it is, information can be taken away from that output like interference or noise, but it cannot be added. Given that the average Mac has an excellent output signal with no or minimal noise I don’t see how an audio dongle can do anything that would change the basic facts. This product reminds me of those cell-phone “signal enhancers” that are actually just vinyl stickers.

    It could boost the signal if it was low, but that only makes sense if this is a wireless device that is just acting as a repeater. If that’s the case, then the Apple branded version of the same thing would be a better bet.

    On re-reading the article, I notice that the author has actually failed to say *what* the device is beyond merely naming it, so perhaps my assumption that it’s some kind of dongle is off kilter. Overall, very confusing article about a confusing product that seems to do nothing at all.

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  2. I miss the Volume Logic plug-in.

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  3. I’m guessing that the combined ‘Creative’ system does the same thing as Airfoil + Airport Express + powered speakers. Sends a digital signal from an audio source on your computer (e.g., iTunes, Pandora, etc.) wirelessly to speakers, so the sound is ‘enhanced’ in the sense that there is no error in the signal until you get to the D-to-A in the speakers. Might be worth it– might not.

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  4. Sound Blaster Wireless for itunes is liste don the manufacturer’s website now: http://www.soundblaster.com/products/product.asp?category=1&subcategory=873&product=18739

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