Earlier this year we reviewed the new Super X-Fi Amp from Creative, and since then it’s continued to amaze me and the people I demo it for. Now Creative has taken the same amazing audio processing technology and jammed it into a pair of over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones called the Super X-Fi Air. Unfortunately the headphones themselves are not as amazing as the tech they contain, but they still offer some great features for the price.

Creative SXFI Air Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Super X-Fi technology

To recap what Super X-Fi is, it’s audio software processing that simulates a surround-sound speaker setup, and accurately reflects that setup with just a pair of stereo headphones. It does this by taking scans of your ears and face and pairing it with positional audio algorithms—a special mixture that has not been done before in the consumer audio space.

Thanks to this technology, which was years in the making, Super X-Fi is easily the best implimentation of ‘virtual’ surround sound I’ve ever used. Not only does the positional audio work great with PC gaming and movies, it works wonders for simple mono and stereo sound sources that contain depth information in the recordings. Under the right circumstances it can bring out the best of whatever you are listening to and present it to you in a beautiful and realistic way, like listening to high-end speakers.

Creative SXFI Air

Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The original way to use Super X-Fi was with a USB-C based dongle that plugged into a device on one side, and to any headphones featuring a 3.5mm headphone jack on the other (officially supported headphones worked best). The SXFI Air headphones are the first wireless option to come from Creative.

SXFI Air hardware

While the Super X-Fi technology contained within the SXFI Air headphones is a ground-breaking feature, the headphones themselves are not as impressive. They do have some great features like thick earpads, customizable RGB lighting rings, and an option to play music off a built-in SD card slot, a feature I particularly like. Battery life is pretty great as well, and the overall build quality feels sturdy. But the headphones are a bit heavier than I would’ve liked, and there is very little padding at the top of the head, resulting in quicker fatigue.

Creative SXFI Air Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The SXFI Air also doesn’t have the same fit and finish as the SXFI Amp, which had a premium look and feel with its dongle design. I actually think the Sony WH-1000XM3 noise-cancelling headphones have more design language in common than these two Creative products. And while style isn’t the only important factor when considering buying headphones, it does matter, especially when people wear them while out and about. 

Luckily the large, flat plastic sides were very conducive to using swipe and tap controls, a function I don’t use all the time but is nice to have. Besides the basic power and pairing buttons, the SXFI Air also has a dedicated button for turning on and off the Super X-Fi processing quickly, similar to the SXFI Amp.

Creative SXFI Air Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Bluetooth functionality is primarily used for phones and tablets and syncs up with the same Super X-Fi app as the dongle. There you can swap profiles, adjust EQ, and turn off processing easily. Unfortunately, there’s a whole separate SXFI Air app that needs to be loaded in order to change the lighting—I wish that feature were included in the main app.

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