Creative SXFI Air Review

Creative has recently produced a few products that get people talking (in a good way). First is the SXFI Amp. It is a small device that transforms simple earphones to better ones and it produces Holographic Audio that, in my opinion, is a game-changer. However, the one that I wished I could have it immediately is the Creative SXFI Air, a wireless over-ear headphone, with Super X-FI sound or Holographic Audio.

Nevertheless, It took a while for SXFI Air to be available. While waiting, Creative introduces the SXFI Air C which is similar to SXFI Air except that it is wired instead of wireless.

Finally, in early January 2019, Creative started to accept pre-orders for SXFI Air. I immediately pre-ordered it at S$219.

After months of waiting, it was finally shipped out at the end of February 2019 and I got it in early March 2019.

Here is my review on the SXFI Air but first, my first impression video.

Packaging

There is this thing about Creative Labs’ packaging. So far, all their latest products that I had purchased has mediocre packaging. If it is to save cost for the consumers, I welcome that because eventually, I will have to throw away the box. Back on the packaging.

Inside the box, there are two cables – a 1.5m cable for the 3.5mm audio jack and a 2m USB-C cable for charging and PC connection. The rest of the items are just manuals and a safety regulatory information brochure.

Design

The headphones is bulky. It has all the controls on one side (left) and the other side is clean.

As you can see below, it has a MicroSD Card Slot, a source button (to switch between Bluetooth, MicroSD Card or USB), a 3.5mm audio jack port, a USB-C port, a noise canceling microphone and a NanoBoom mic.

Here is a close up of the NanoBoom Mic. Above the mic is the ON/OFF button.

FYI, you can unplug the NanoBoom Mic by pulling it out.

Here is a close up of the NanoBoom Mic.

One of the features of the SXFI Air is that the pad can be easily removed. Just give it a twist and it will come off. I find that this feature is very convenient if you intend to wash them regularly.

Usage

There are three ways that you can enjoy music on the SXFI Air. They are via: –

  • Bluetooth
  • 3.5mm cable
  • USB-C Cable

In my opinion, SXFI Air is best used as a Bluetooth headphone. However, if you intend to watch movies in 5.1/7.1 channel surround sound on the PC with it, you will need to use the cable.

Bluetooth

Pairing it for the first time is slightly complex. In my experience, I am using an Android phone to pair it for the first time.

Here are the simplified steps as I am not going to go into details (boring stuff).

  • Download the SXFI App on Google Play Store (or Apple App Store if you are an iOS user)
  • Register an account with Creative
  • Use the app to perform a Head Map on you (To personalize your Super X-FI profile).
  • In the same app, go to Wireless Setup and Creative SXFI Air will appear.
  • Turn on your SXFI Air and press the Bluetooth (source) button for 2 secs. The app will connect to the SXFI Air and proceed to load your profile on it. It takes a while for loading.
  • Once completed, you can connect the SXFI Air to your device by selecting it on the Bluetooth list (make sure that you press the Bluetooth (source) button for 2 secs to activate the Bluetooth scan mode).

That is it. Your SXFI Air is paired.

Do take note of compatibility issue with some phones. Here are a list of phones that are not compatible with SXFI Air (taken from Creative Website).

FOR ANDROID PHONES

  • Ver. 7.0 and later
    Many popular Android phones from Google, LG, Samsung, Xiaomi, and others are compatible with Creative SXFI AIR.

However, the follow devices exhibit compatibility issues with SXFI AIR, and are not supported.

  • Huawei Honor 9 Lite/P8, P20, P20 Pro, and others in the same series
  • OPPO R9
  • Sony Xperia XA series and XA1 series

USB-C Cable

The SXFI Air works perfectly in Bluetooth mode on a PC. However, if you want to enjoy the 7.1 channel audio, you will need this cable.

Like the SXFI Amp, you will need to configure the sound on your PC to 7.1 channel sound and adjust the sampling bitrate to a higher one.

And you should download the SXFI App for PC or Mac. It can download your profile to the SXFI Air after you signed in.

I enjoyed watching movies using the SXFI Air with the USB-C cable. Thankfully, Creative provided a 2m long cable for it.

3.5mm Audio Jack Cable

Just connect the cable to the port and you should be able to listen to the music.

In my opinion, try not to use this connection at all. The sound quality is not good and if you toggle between the sources, the sound quality also changes. For example, when it is in the SD card source, the sound becomes very soft.

When I tried the SXFI Air using the 3.5mm jack with my Samsung Galaxy S9+ while it is charging, it produces an electrical noise (humming sound). I thought that it was my cable. I changed it to a better one and the sound is still there.

Therefore, it is basically not an option to use it while the device is charging.

Gesture Controls

On the same side as the control buttons, the SXFI Air can be controlled using gestures.

A swipe upwards means increasing the volume. Tapping on it means to pause or play the song.

Some might wonder why you need gesture controls when you can just go directly to the phone. The first reason is convenient. You don’t need to go to the phone to control volume or skip a track. A swipe or tap can do the trick.

The second reason, which I think is most important, is that the gesture controls are much needed when SXFI Air is in the SD Card mode. You will need these gestures to play or pause a track and etc.

Click Here to Check Out Gesture Controls for SXFI Air

Making a call

This is one of the best features on the SXFI Air. You can make or receive a call, and in SXFI mode. That means you can listen to the person on the other line in holographic audio.

However, the actual experience falls short on my expectation. Once the holographic audio is turned on, the sound becomes softer. I cannot comfortably talk to the person. I strained my ears to listen to what he/she is saying. Once it is turned off, it sounds “normal”. Maybe I will get used to it, or maybe not.

Listening to Music

Music is subjective and sometimes, I think it sounds nicer without the SXFI feature turned on.

In my opinion, live concert, or unplugged music tends to work best with SXFI turned on. And if you love oldies, you will love the SXFI feature. It can really transform a mono track to a holographic audio track making it a lot more enjoyable.

If you are used to listening to music on your earphones, the SXFI feature might not be something you are expecting. With holographic audio, it gives you the impression that the music or the sound comes from the front (or around you) and not directly into your ears.

If you enjoy music with surround speakers in an enclosed environment, the SXFI feature might appeal to you more.

If you have tried it, do let me know your comments.

Companion Apps

There are three apps that you can download when using the SXFI Air.

For Android and iOS, you can download these: –

SXFI App – It is the basic app for the SXFI range of products. Basically, the app allows you to do the Head Mapping and choose the headsets.

SXFI Air Control App – This is specifically for SXFI Air. With it, you can: –

  • Turn on/off the SXFI Feature
  • Customize the Equalizer
  • Change the Ring Lighting
  • Select the source (Bluetooth, SD Card, USB Audio)

SXFI App on PC/Mac – This is the app that you can install on your computer. It has similar features but you must connect the SXFI Air with the USB-C cable for it to be detected.

Summary

Once you setup the SXFI Air, it is a breeze to use. The Super X-FI has become my benchmark in listening to music. With wireless, it has become more convenient as compared to the SXFI Amp.

Love that the pad can be removed for maintenance and the NanoBoom Mic is working well (and also can be removed).

However, I wish that the SXFI Air could be a little slimmer and lighter, and I wish that the product can come with a pouch to store it.

Overall, I think the price is attractive for consumers. Holographic Audio is very subjective. Some likes it, some hates it. Beneath all these, the SXFI Air is still a great amplifier to listen to music.

Creative has provided a cheap option for amateur like me to enjoy music more. Now, I cannot listen to music without my Creative SXFI products.

Click Here to Check Out More about Creative SXFI Air