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Creative Zen Hybrid Wireless Over-ear Headphones Review

To get good audio quality on our smartphones or laptops, we almost always need to use an external audio device. We’ll be putting the Creative Zen Hybrid, a wireless headset with active noise cancellation, to the test here. We previously tested the Creative SXFI Gamer gaming headset and the Creative SXFI Air, both of which performed admirably; let’s see what this model has in store for us in everyday life.

The Creative Zen Hybrid, recent true wireless earbuds have had great success, such as the Outlier Air V3 and Outlier Pro.

The contents of the box:

  • 1 Creative Zen Hybrid
  • 1 carrying pouch
  • 1 3.5mm AUX-in cable
  • 1 USB-C to USB-A cable (for charging)
  • Quick Start Guides
PROSCONS
Good sound quality and ANCSXFI only works for local files
Foldable design for storageComes with only white color
Wired listening optionWeak bass response
Well-balanced tuning
Excellent battery life

Design

The Creative Zen Hybrid is a foldable headset that is very small. It is all white, with the exception of the pads, which are grey, and the writing, which are pink or brown. This is done on both the outside and the inside of the headphones.

More specifically, we find the logo of the “Creative” brand, as well as certain characteristics of the headphones, which we will discuss in greater detail later. Furthermore, two microphones are arranged on either side of the headphones in the form of a small grid made up of holes of varying sizes.

There isn’t much to say about the interior of the headphones, except for the presence of the letters L and R embroidered on the leatherette pad to indicate which is the left and right earphone.

The sides of these headphones are then provided. Several buttons can be found on the right earpiece. First, we have the On/Off button, which I believe is quite small. It’s sandwiched between the volume control button and the 3.5 mm jack, which is sandwiched between a microphone and an LED indicator. Then there’s the ANC button, which we’ll talk about later. The only difference between the right and left earphones is the presence of a USB-C port and a microphone. Finally, the headphones can be rotated by 90 degrees.

Let’s get to the arch now. To be honest, the first impression I had was not favourable. The structure is indeed plastic, which does not make the product very appealing. However, the top of the headband has a leatherette covering that is quite nice and fits very well.

The branches are, of course, height adjustable thanks to a mechanism with notches. The inner core of the helmet is reinforced with steel, allowing it to perfectly fit different head shapes and sizes. In addition, they are graduated to ensure symmetrical adjustment between the right and left sides.

One of the most significant advantages of the Creative Zen Hybrid is the ability to fold it up to make it very compact and thus easily transportable in bags of all sizes. We also have a pouch that comes with it that is very useful.

Comfort

The first impression is positive when you put the headphones on your ears. The pads are excellent. During the first few minutes, we feel a slight arch on the top of our heads, but the effect fades. And that is the most important factor: comfort over time. In any case, one thing is certain: the noise reduction works extremely well. Even in the absence of music, ambient noises are greatly reduced.

The headphones are very small (40 mm) and generate quite a bit of pressure on the ears, but this allows the headphones to be very well maintained, but most importantly, to optimise the noise reduction, which is, as you will have guessed, the main advantage of this headset.

Otherwise, the leatherette pads are very comfortable, but they produce a noticeable heating sensation during long listening sessions. It is unlikely to be bothersome in the winter, but under 30°C at the time of writing, it can be.

Connectivity

Bluetooth 5.0 is built into the Creative Zen Hybrid. When turned on, the headphones enter pairing mode automatically, and connecting to previously remembered devices takes about 4-5 seconds. In terms of latency, there is no audio video lag when watching YouTube videos on my iPhone 11.

Physical button controls are used in the Creative Zen Hybrid. The power button, volume rocker, and ANC button are all located on the right ear cup. The power button also serves as a play/pause button. The complete controls are listed below:

SXFI App

The application isn’t designed for listening, but it does allow you to customize the Super X-Fi technology. Super X-Fi technology recreates the experience of a professional multi-speaker system, allowing you to hear sound as it should be heard.

To configure it, I recommend enlisting the assistance of another person because the application must detect your ears and face one by one in order to personalise the sound as much as possible. You will first be prompted to create an account and connect the headphones to your smartphone. You will then be given a tutorial on how to configure the X-Fi technology.

The sound becomes more immersive as a result of this technology, but the quality suffers as a result. The bass is less powerful. Please keep in mind that it only works with local audio files that have been downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, you won’t be able to use it on services like Prime Video, Spotify, or YouTube.

This is very unfortunate because few people have the audio files locally, limiting the benefits of this technology.

Sound quality

After comfort, audio quality is an important consideration when selecting headphones. As a result, the sound on this Creative Zen Hybrid is very good, and the Super X-Fi technology allows for true immersion. As a result, we have very good clarity. The highs are similarly clear and crisp.

I also notice that the maximum volume is not very high, which can be a good point to avoid damaging your eardrums, especially if, like me, you have the bad habit of regularly setting the volume to maximum. As a result, even at maximum volume, it is possible to obtain a sound that is always of very high quality.

Furthermore, the Creative Zen Hybrid has a 3.5 mm jack port, allowing you to enjoy the best audio quality possible. We like the wireless, but we must admit that the sound quality suffers slightly.

Finally, the previously mentioned ANC button allows you to activate or deactivate active noise reduction. When activated, four dedicated ANC (Hybrid Active Noise Cancellation) microphones can eliminate up to 95 percent of ambient noise. When this is deactivated, the ambient mode takes over and allows external sounds to pass through to make the user more aware of their surroundings. This is almost always necessary in some situations, especially when listening to music in the streets of a city.

Microphone quality

Despite the fact that the Creative Zen Hybrid is not a gaming headset, it does have a microphone that can pick up your voice above the noise. Your interlocutors will be even more audible when combined with the activated ANC.

Battery life

A wireless headset, by definition, will need to be recharged from time to time. You can’t have it all; every advantage comes with a minor drawback. To limit the latter, Creative claims a battery life of 27 hours (with the ANC function activated), which is quite high when compared to the Creative SXFI Air’s 10 hours. And, once again, thanks to the 3.5mm jack, you’ll be able to use your headset even if the battery has died.

I’d like to point out that the higher the volume of the sound, the less autonomy there will be.

Conclusion!

The Creative Zen Hybrid is a great compact headset that will please even the most nomadic of you. Indeed, due to its small size and ability to fold on itself, it will be ideal for your trips. Its very effective active noise reduction will also be a real asset when listening to music on public transportation, for example. Finally, the sound quality remains excellent, allowing you to listen to your favourite music in the best possible conditions.

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