When it comes to listening to music, there's really nothing better than being there. But since most of us don't have our favorite bands at our beck and call, we rely on recordings, which by their very nature aren't as rich as the original performance -- and each successive encoding (from studio master to CD to MP3/AAC/WMA/whatever) loses a bit more fidelity.
Generally, music fans have dealt with this by balancing their ears' sensitivity with their purchasing power. (Or, in the case of ripping CDs, with their hard drive capacity.) Creative's US$79 Xmod -- what they call an "X-Fi" module -- aims to cure this problem by sitting between your audio device and the speakers or headphones and sweetening the sound by enhancing the highs and lows. The result, they claim, is 24-bit ambient audio that's just like being there -- in fact, if you're listening through headphones, they say it's like being surrounded by nine virtual speakers. Look for the Xmod later this month.