E3 2011 – Creative Labs

Creative Labs is looking to make sweet love to your ears later this year with two new products and one massive new technology.

The Tactic3D are powerful wireless headphones, with a microphone for cross-communication. USB-charged, these headphones can be used with either the PS3 or Xbox 360 (though the latter still requires a hard wire for microphone use, a limitation of the system, not the headphones). Creative Labs promises comfortable headphones with truly rich sound, though they were not available for testing at the time of my meeting.

The second product on display was the Recon3D, a device that allows for the experience of Creative Labs SoundBlaster technology on the consoles, a feat never before achieved due to the core chip’s size. In development for several years this chip has finally been miniaturized enough to fit in the USB device. Once plugged in, consoles are capable of achieving sound only previously available to high-end gaming computers. But the only way to get the true experience is by pairing the devices together.

Using both the Tactic3D and Recon3D, players can experience what is being called 3D surround. Rather than simulating 5.1, where a sound travels from one speaker to the next, Creative Labs is pushing for a true “sphere of sound” in which a bullet is heard to pass seamlessly from one point to the next. What has me really interested, though, is the ability to create compelling sound both above and below the player. We’ve all experienced left, right, and even behind, but I can’t recall a time where I actually felt that there was sound in all directions.

The technology behind these devices is already garnering a lot of attention as several companies are in talks to license the chip for their own products. Hopefully Creative Labs will see enough initial success to motivate Sound Designers to take full advantage of the technology. We’ll just to wait and see when the Tactic3D ship for $150 and the Recon3D retails at $130 (or both for $250) later this year.

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