Creative SXFI Air full review
Creative’s SXFI Air headphones stand out from the crowd, boasting not only a unique, studio-quality audio experience but a sleek design, a variety of connection methods and customisable RGB ring lights (because why not?). The audio is customised via an app for iOS and Android, tailoring the experience to the unique shape of your head and ears for maximum immersion. It makes other headphones sound a little boring, right?
We’re really impressed by what Creative has produced with the SXFI Air headphones – carry on reading to find out why.
How much does it cost?
The Creative SXFI Air headphones cost £149.99 in the UK and $169.99 in the US, a rather reasonable price-tag when you consider not only the unique audio experience provided, but the wide range of devices the headphones are compatible with too.
If you’re interested in picking up a pair, you can do so exclusively from the Creative website, but be sure to take a look at our selection of the best wireless headphones before you make your final choice.
Super X-Fi is super cool
The main draw of Creative’s SXFI Air headphones is the personalised holographic audio it produces, providing a surprisingly immersive experience similar to that of a high-end multi-speaker system in a recording studio. Intrigued? You should be – it’s not something we’ve seen from audio companies before, and the tech behind it is pretty impressive.
We hear the world differently, with the shape of our head and ears dictating how we perceive sound. To get around this, Creative created the SXFI app for the SXFI Air headphones that takes three snaps of you (face, left and right ears) and customises the output for a realistic listening experience. It’s something that takes no more than 30 seconds on your smartphone, and is very easy to do.
What is it like? In a word, amazing. While most headphones are rather claustrophobic with sound pumped directly into your ears, the soundscape provided by Creative’s Super X-Fi tech is nothing short of phenomenal.
It’s wide, open and more comfortable on your ears, especially over long listening periods, providing an unparalleled audio experience. It’s powered by Creative’s own 50mm Neodymium drivers tuned specifically to work in conjunction with the Super X-Fi tech, providing immersive, crisp and clear audio whether you’re listening to music or gaming.
You can turn off the SXFI mode if you like, but the output is much more claustrophobic and doesn’t really show off what the headphones can do. You can also switch between multiple profiles via the SXFI app for iOS and Android (ideal for showing friends and family), though you can’t rename each profile right now, making it hard to remember which is which – we hope this changes in future.
The SXFI Air app, which is a separate app to the one mentioned above, provides various sound profiles for you to switch between, allowing you to get the best experience whether you’re listening to your best feel-good tunes or playing your favourite games. You can also customise the EQ yourself and save multiple profiles. We like our music a little bassy, so we cranked up the bass for when we’re listening to music.
But while we’re impressed by the audio experience on offer, we’re not huge fans of the fact we have to have two apps installed to use the headphones properly – we’d much prefer for the SXFI app to be bundled into the Air app, so you can set up profiles and customise your music experience without switching apps. Let’s hope that’s something Creative offers in future!
Hey, good lookin’
The SXFI Air is an incredibly comfortable headset to wear over long periods. The clamping force of the headphones seem to strike the perfect balance between being tight enough to stay secure on the head and being loose enough to be comfortable, and this is further enhanced by the use of fabric earcups. The fabric is breathable, allowing heat from your ears to dissipate, and the memory foam filling conforms to the shape of your head to aid that secure, comfortable fit.
The headset sports a rather clean look, and that’s largely down to the lack of buttons. You’ll find a button to change source/connect to Bluetooth, one to turn the headset on and another to disable the SXFI mode, but that’s about it. That’s because the SXFI Air headphones offer touch input, and while this isn’t a new feature, it’s much more reliable than other headphones we’ve tested. A simple swipe of the left earcup can control audio and media playback, and a double-tap will pause the music altogether.
Of course, there are times where it doesn’t recognise it the first time around, but these are few and far between.
While the headphones are only available in all-black or all-white, you can spice up the look by customising the RGB ring that surrounds both earcups. The RGBs are dual purpose – they can be used to indicate the various connection modes of the headset, while also providing a unique look for those that want it. Want your headphones to match your black and blue trainers? Go right ahead.
The Creative SXFI Air features a ‘NanoBoom’ microphone that the company claims produces similar results to a traditional gaming headset boom microphone, but in our experience, this is a bit hit-and-miss depending on background noise. It works well when gaming in a quiet environment, but people on the other end of the phone struggle to hear what we say when using the headset in public.
The good news for gamers is that the NanoBoom is removable, and can be replaced with a traditional boom mic if required (sold separately), though this is no solace for those that want to use the headset to take calls when out and about.
One headset to connect to them all
The Creative SXFI Air boasts a number of connection methods, making the headphones compatible not only with smartphones and PCs but some consoles too. The headphones primary method of connection is via Bluetooth 4.2, but it also sports a standard 3.5mm headphone jack for the wired experience. All fairly standard so far.
But this is where it gets interesting; the headphones also sport a microSD card slot, allowing you to listen to your favourite tunes without aid from any other device. This allows you to do things like use the headphones at the gym without having your phone on you, though this does require you to own your digital library, something fewer and fewer people do since the rise of streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify.
Of course, the latency provided by Bluetooth isn’t ideal for gaming, which is why the headphones are bundled with a USB cable. The wired connection provides the high quality, low-latency experience required by gamers, and the good news is that it’s compatible with the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, as well as PC and Mac.
The Creative Super X-Fi headphones are one-of-a-kind; no other headphones produce an audio experience close to what’s on offer here. It’s a different kind of immersion, providing a tailored experience that can only be likened to listening to music in a professional recording studio. The audio is clear and crisp, with the wide soundscape making the headphones ideal for gaming as well as jamming to your favourite tunes.
The headphones are also compatible with a wide range of devices, from smartphones to PC and Mac to consoles including the PS4 and Nintendo Switch, allowing you to have one headset for all tasks. It’s good-looking too, with intuitive swipe controls and a customisable RGB strip for that unique look. All that for £149.99/$169.99 – what’s not to like?