The SXFI Air Gamer, Creative is sending a successor to the SXFI Air released more than two years ago. The manufacturer wants to have audibly improved the sound. The new touchpad operation should also convince. When it comes to the SXFI surround sound, however, opinions are likely to continue to differ greatly.
The SXFI Gamer, Creative headset, including the second generation of its surround sound technology. Nevertheless, it is still on shaky legs, and its effect heavily depends on the quality of the content. On the other hand, there is a significant improvement in the microphone.
|Creative SXFI Air||Creative SXFI|
|Improved sound compared to Creative SXFI||Convincing virtual surround-sound|
|Good range of connectivity options||Controls on the headset|
|Two microphones||good microphone quality|
|Holographic audio is interesting||Occasional app frustrations|
|Mainly plastic as the material||low bass foundation|
|Creative SXFI Air||Creative SXFI|
|$||CHECK PRICE||CHECK PRICE|
|Battery life||24 Hours||8 hours|
|Connectivity||Wireless, Bluetooth||Wireless, Bluetooth|
|Driver Type||Neodymium, 50 mm||Neodymium, 50 mm|
In terms of design, the new SXFI Air Gamer from Creative fits in almost seamlessly with the series of previous models SXFI Gamer and SXFI Air C. This is the headset available in this country at an 168 USD well made, but the external appearance remains quite sober. Once again, plastic is the material of choice for the new representative, only the headband is made of metal and usually ensures a secure fit. Sudden movements quickly show that it could still have been a bit tighter. The Air Gamer, which weighs around 314 g, can often barely hold on to its head.
The auricles of the new headset are firmly connected to the bracket and do not have a suspension, as is usually the case. Can move only the cushion and driver behind them. This somewhat restricts the adaptation to the ears and head, which to a certain extent also takes place via the upholstery.
Creative once again uses synthetic leather-like the normal Gamer version and not fabric like the Air C., Even if the covers of the auricles are provided with many small holes. Therefore, they should be more breathable; sweating ears cannot be prevented, especially at the currently prevailing higher temperatures. On the other hand, headsets with leather covers should be easier to clean than their fabric counterparts. One solution would have been to give the user a choice and include both versions. As with the previous models, it is also possible to change the upholstery in the new generation by turning the cushions slightly. The earpads themselves could have been a bit stronger but still ensure a comfortable fit. However, their elasticity is likely to decrease over time.
The external design of the new SXFI Gamer is based on the Creative SXFI Air. This time, too, the visual implementation is more sober than spectacular. This is not least due to the choice of materials because the company also primarily uses plastic for the SXFI Gamer. Only the headband is made of metal. Although the new headset leaves a good quality impression, other manufacturers offer 150 USD.
The headband of the 349 g heavy headset is covered with synthetic leather and is poorly padded, and can press on the head after a while. Compared to the Air (C), the SXFI Gamer is a little more difficult to adjust to the head, which, however, also makes it a little more stable and with a little more pressure to sit on it. This also has a more positive effect on fast and sudden movements.
In contrast to the Air version, the ear cups of the SXFI Gamer do not have the fabric but artificial leather covers. These can easily make your ears sweaty, especially in warmer temperatures. Like the Air, the upholstery can be easily loosened with a slight twist and thus changed quickly. You yourself would have liked to have been a bit firmer. While ensuring a more comfortable fit over a longer period of time, they are likely to become softer faster in the course of your life, which would no longer guarantee a comfortable fit. The suspensions of the auricles allow only a small amount of freedom of movement so that adaptation to the respective ears and the shape of the head takes place mainly via the padding.
|Frequency Response||20–20,000 Hz||20–20,000 Hz|
Creative SXFI Air- There are no changes to the cables included. The headset comes with an approximately 1.8 m long connection with a USB-C connector on each side. The headset can also be connected to a corresponding mobile device by cable. A small adapter to USB-B is also included for connection to the home PC.
In addition, it can operate the headset in analog mode. Still, Creative has included a significantly shorter 1.5 m analog cable with a four-pole 3.5 mm jack connector – for a corresponding adapter to connect the headset to a sound card with a separate Connecting the headphone output and microphone input is the responsibility of the buyer. Furthermore, the headset can be controlled wirelessly via Bluetooth, but there is no wireless connection.
Creative SXFI- The SXFI Gamer does not have a wired remote control, but this has the advantage of connecting a normal USB-C cable to the headset at any time. For this, Creative gives the user all the necessary functions directly on the headset itself, housed in the left auricle. In addition to the USB-C, jack, and microphone connection, there are the volume controls, the mute function for the microphone, the selector switch for the SXFI function, and the activation of the LED rings on the outside of the ear cups. The latter offers the only color accent on the new Creative headset with a display of 16.7 million colors.
The supplied 1.80 m long USB-C cable is provided with a Kevlar jacket and an aluminum and copper shield, giving it a high degree of flexibility and resistance. However, the small thickness of the cable raises doubts that it is really well protected against cable breaks. The cable has a USB-C connector on both ends and is connected to the home computer using an adapter.
|Battery Life||Up to 11 hours||Up to 11 hours|
|Capacity||55 mAh||50 mAh|
|Charging Time||2 hours||2 hours|
|Connector Type||USB, Bluetooth 5.0, 3.5 mm Stereo Input||USB, 3.5 mm Stereo Input|
|Bluetooth||Yes 5.0 v||Yes 5.0 v|
|Range||15 m||15 m|
In addition to the connection options mentioned, the Air Gamer offers two microphones, both of which are plugged into the jack input provided for this purpose: The 1 cm microphone, known as the “NanoBoom Mic,” is the more discreet option for recording voice when on the move, but with a clear voice Compromises in sound quality. For the four walls at home, it is better to use the larger “CommanderMic,” which can also be better placed over a gooseneck. There is more about both microphones at the appropriate point.
In addition, the SXFI Air Gamer has a card slot in microSD format, with which it can play content regardless of a source on the go. However, one should exercise caution with the spring mechanism: In contrast to the solutions in other devices, this has a significantly greater spring force, which means that the memory card can fly through the room and disappear in a corner if it slips off your finger. This is just a warning.
With the new and still detachable “CommanderMic,” Creative presents some changes. The frequency response of 100 Hz to 16 kHz has shifted slightly compared to its predecessor. The new construction with an integrated pop filter, which should significantly reduce plosive sounds, should influence the sound quality. At the same time, the manufacturer has equipped the system with SXFI-in-person technology, which is intended to recognize and effectively improve the voice. In contrast, according to the manufacturer, interference is effectively eliminated.
Overall, the new measures actually improve the voice displayed, even if the high frequencies could have been more pronounced due to the wide frequency response. Nevertheless, the voice is reproduced well and understandably, while background noise is initially effectively suppressed.
The SXFI Air Gamer from Creative offers both light and dark sides. Equipping the headset with Bluetooth 5.0 to be used wirelessly on mobile devices can be an advantage for one or the other user and contribute to the purchase decision. During a game, it is possible to speak to other participants via voice chat or to take phone calls. It is also an interesting idea that two different microphones are available for different scenarios. So the user does not walk around with a large sound pick-up but can use a smaller and more discreet one. It is just as gratifying that Creative, contrary to the usual “habit,” sets the frequency range of the microphones significantly lower in the technical data.
The headset doesn’t like that if too much is added in the low end, it starts pumping very quickly. Unfortunately, Creative still fails to give its headsets the same sound settings in the software.
The microphones behave as expected with headsets in the price range. They don’t disappoint, but they don’t cause cheers either. In addition, higher quality materials should have been used for the required price. The small radius of movement of the ear cups is also a point of criticism; other headsets offer significantly better adjustments to the respective ear and head shape.
Creative does without haptic control elements in many places in the Air Gamer and replaces them with an integrated touchpad on the left auricle. However, this works more badly in practice: significantly more swiping gestures are required to adjust the volume than with a small wheel or at least corresponding buttons. Gestures are also not always recognized correctly, which was particularly evident when using the SD card. A good example is that proven operating concepts do not have to be desperately replaced by new technologies just because it is possible.
Opinions are likely to differ about Super X-Fi in the future as well. It provides a significantly reinforced bass foundation in games, but the necessary spatial representation falls by the wayside. That may sound interesting for building games, but the technology can quickly harm shooters – at the latest when the quiet steps can be heard but no longer located. The “battle mode” doesn’t help either. A similar picture emerges with films, although the spatial positioning is not that important here. Technology is hardly useful for music. In the case of a pure output in mono, as with old films or audiobooks, SXFI can also have advantages.
The question remains, why should technology be used that suggests to the user to sit in front of an output device (regardless of whether it is a television or loudspeaker) without headphones – is it then no more effective to have the feeling of being right in the middle of it?
In the end, the Creative SXFI Air Gamer is a sound-proof headset, the quality of which other manufacturers without SXFI with a lot of advertising already offer at significantly lower prices – but with functioning controls on the headset.
The SXFI Gamer cannot eliminate the mixed feeling already felt in the first test of Creative’s SXFI technology. As before, the function is neither fish nor meat and certainly not vegetables. This is not least due to the dependency on the strength of the effect on the respective source – and this does not mean the technical starting point, but the actual content. The quality of music playback can vary audibly from piece to piece and even within an album.
In general, SXFI benefits from a significantly increased bass foundation, which can offer a tonal advantage, especially in films and epic battles. Still, the headset cannot use as a pure stereo unit. On the other hand, it has a better location in such scenarios, making the difference between victory and defeat, especially in shooters. It is often the better choice for music as well. Then the SXFI Gamer is clearly too weak on the chest, the bass range is too low, and the highs are sometimes excessive. Even with a full bass reinforcement in the equalizer, the SXFI Gamer rises above the normal sound output of good headsets, such as the custom game from the Beyerdynamic approach.
In contrast, a clear increase can be attested in terms of microphone quality, in which Creative was able to greatly improve the reproduction of the voice, especially in the high frequencies – but which also leaves room for improvement. However, the active voice enhancement and noise suppression when using the USB connection quickly reach their limits. If the headset is also or primarily intended for analog use, another model should be used – in this scenario, the sound quality decreases audibly, and the noise increases significantly.
In terms of design, the SXFI Gamer is on a good level, although other manufacturers often offer higher quality materials at the same price. Nevertheless, the headset is very stable; only the supplied cables could have been thicker and longer.
For SXFI, it isn’t easy to give a final assessment at the end of the day. Every interested user has to find out for himself whether the function has a positive effect on him. The statements here are likely to be very different.
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