SXFI Air Gamer Wireless Headset Review
As of this writing, Creative is about to launch the SXFI Air Gamer Wireless Headset. The latest device powered by Super X-Fi, this new upgrade hopes to improve the SXFI lineup with more than just generational tweaks, and we’ve had a few weeks to find out if that’s possible.
In 2019, Creative took helmets to a new dimension. Super X-Fi holographic audio made an early appearance in the SXFI AMP and the SXFI Air 2019 headset. At the heart of both of these designs is a proprietary audio system that aimed to change the way we hear. By using a personalized sound profile, specific to each user, Super X-FI delivers a spatial sound experience that is seemingly octaves outside of Windows Sonic. After an impressive start with the original SXFI Air, I couldn’t wait to see what had changed for the introduction of the SXFI Air Gamer wireless headset.
Out of the box
Freeing the SXFI Air Gamer from its cardboard airframe isn’t particularly hard work, and the out-of-the-box layout immediately highlights some of the updates Creative’s latest has to offer. As you will see in our unboxing, the SXFI Air Gamer comes in an all black configuration. A set of perforated protein leather ear cushions, filled with memory foam, sit atop a plastic casing that at first glance seems almost indistinguishable from previous versions of the SXFI series. Taking inspiration from the newer SXFI Gamer C, the Air Gamer, however, features an external RGB dual ring that aims to appease anyone looking for a lot of visual volume from this device. Beyond the obvious RGB options, an array of buttons and ports are scattered across the left ear. Power, function, and SXFI mode buttons sit alongside a trio of input ports, providing USB-C, 2.5mm jack, and SD card inputs in this headset.
Running between the two ears is the same headband design we’ve seen before from Creative. The protein leather cover features a subtle creative logo imprinted on the top, while a steel and plastic core aims to provide plenty of strength without unnecessary weight. While this might not be my first choice to take outdoors, thanks to the bulky design of the headphones and the ‘SUPER X-FI HEADPHONE HOLOGRAPHY’ stamped around the circumference of the ears, it is far from being garish and manages to strike an acceptable balance that would make it easily accompany my Nintendo Switch when I’m finally back for the morning commute.
- Audio processing: Super X-Fi, SXFI BATTLE mode
- Interface: 3.5mm stereo input, Bluetooth 5.0, microSD card: up to 32GB, FAT32 file system, USB-C
- Weight: 338g (with NanoBoom microphone)
- Black color
- Frequency response: 20–20,000 Hz
- Speaker: 50mm (1.97 inch) neodymium magnet
- Battery type and life: rechargeable lithium-ion battery, up to 11 hours
- Bluetooth operating frequency: 2402-2480 MHz
- RF power: Bluetooth – 1.70 mW, Bluetooth Low Energy – 1.71 mW
- Audio codec: SBC
- Operating range: up to 10m / 33ft
- Frequency response: 100–16000 Hz (CommanderMic)
- Frequency response: 100–8000 Hz (NanoBoom Mic)
- Sensitivity: at 1 kHz: -42 dB (CommanderMic)
- Sensitivity: @ 1 kHz: -38 dB (NanoBoom Mic)
- Technology: SXFI InPerson®
Plug & play
Thanks to Creative’s custom audio solution, these new headphones are barely plugged in and turned on. A multitude of button and port mappings are crammed around the left earbud, making powering up, Bluetooth pairing, connecting USB cables, and controlling the loaded SXFI button less than intuitive for beginners. This is not the only obstacle when setting up, however. The Super X-FI audio enhancements at the heart of this luminous headset are personalized and individually loaded using an associated SXFI mobile app. After downloading the app, creating an account, and pairing with SXFI Air Gamer, you will need help taking pictures of your ears and face. Make no mistake, this is not a solo mission. Once the process is complete, as with other SXFI devices, the game can begin. Lucky for me, my mappings from our review of the SXFI AMP were already available here.
Comfort and style
Reassuringly, my first impressions of the SXFI Air Gamer have improved over previous iterations of the Air series. Slipping on the headset for the first time, the combined 338g audio is still more comfortable than the original SXFI Air. Large memory foam pads cushion most of the weight, feeling cool and breathable against the skin, while a generously sized pair of headphones provide plenty of room and distribute most of the weight. clamping force. For anyone with larger pods, that means a lot more room than you might think, and the multi-directional pivot of these cups means the stiff core of this helmet doesn’t have to sacrifice strength for flexibility. Compared to the lightweight approach of a Steelseries Ski Goggle Band construction, the SXFI Air Gamer has a definite presence. While that makes a very welcome foam slide in the middle, the Creative SXFI Air Gamer still handles hours of action on PC, console, and mobile before the battery nearly runs out.
While I’ve managed extremely variable battery life based on SXFI mode usage and RGB lighting, around 10 hours of wireless gaming is achievable. Even after the bluetooth battery is defeated, there are an overwhelming number of other connectivity options. The aforementioned Bluetooth 5.0 offers incredible clarity when connected to mobiles, while the ability to simultaneously plug into PC and console via USB C allows gamers to take calls or chat in mobile apps while on the go. blowing up whatever their console throws at them. It’s a neat addition we’ve seen in more expensive headsets, and it’s proving useful in getting around Nintendo’s apparent insistence on avoiding voice communications on the Switch. It’s certainly a more appreciated addition than the odd Micro SDCard slot behind the left ear cup. With this arsenal of options, Creative aims to conquer your playtime, and the SXFI audio system simply adds some serious ammo to this onslaught.
This myriad of built-in options is backed up by a solid set of customization features. While RGB isn’t overwhelming, it can be easily accessed and changed through the phone or through desktop apps. This is equally true for the EQ features, SXFI mode and every element of the SXFI Air Gamer. If you’re on the go and really prefer not to glow a hot pink, thankfully this is an option.
How it sounds
Despite the multitude of plugs, ports, and potential uses, the Creative SXFi Air gamer looks fantastic in most situations. Without any further enhancements or EQ settings, the SXFI Air Gamer handles great audio clarity whatever I threw at it. The 50mm drivers deliver plenty of power without distorting the bass, while the highs are nice and the dynamic response delivers immediate presence. Overall, the unedited audio is loud, responsive, and broadcast over a wide stage, giving owners a solid platform to tweak settings for almost any media consumption or to activate more elaborate enhancements.
The included desktop and mobile apps allow for efficient EQ changes and various headphone setups, but the SXFI modes are a game-changer here. Activate the Super X-Fi audio experience, and the SXFI Air Gamer will get you right into the action. Super X-FI adds a unique depth to any audio. Where the clean studio cuts of Spotify’s best can seem supernatural, activating SXFI immerses audiences in a live recording where the call and response of individual instruments seem to come from across an orchestra.
During the tests, I exchanged the call and the answer of the Guild Wars 2 Living World Soundtrack for something a little more visceral and immersed in the middle of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. The film’s protagonists could open this saga by moving along an unwanted waterfront, but all I had to do was close my eyes and hit the SXFI button to join them. The level of immersion was strange, with the lapping of the waves rising and falling under the gunshots crossing the stage. The sound not only has a direction with the SXFI mode activated, it manages to have a noticeable depth. Given a range of media, the SXFI only really struggles when presented with the higher tones of the human voice, sometimes making them feel distant due to the transformed soundstage. It’s something SXFI technology has always had issues with, but Creative’s latest iteration avoids washing away the worst with a good EQ and manages a good measure of clarity this time around.
Finally, throwing in the game, the SXFI Air Gamer has yet another trick up its sleeve. While the SXFI mode makes great RPG adventures and MMOs richer and more engaging, first-person shooters like Apex Legends benefit from the SXFI battle mode. Creative introduced Battle Mode as a custom setup that takes the already excellent immersion of SXFI audio and tweaks it to give even more visibility. The footsteps of the incoming enemies and the crack of the gunshots move in three dimensions and the change is completely transformative. This option is especially effective for locating individual opponents during stalemates or locating the crack of mid and long range automatic weapons. While this button is an improvement on an already immersive audio system, FPS games sound almost two-dimensional without it.
The SXFI Air Gamer’s microphone comes in two distinct flavors. The already established micro nano boom is a wonderfully discreet plugin for anyone on the go. The vocals are clear and the noise cancellation is above par, b coming miles before the built-in pinholes that are carved into many on-the-go props.
Switch to the included boom arm mic and the difference is audible. The Commander Mic, as Creative calls it, brings richer sound to vocals. Clarity is great where other microphones can make you look a little cold to your competition online. This natural tone has some impact on audio suppression, and it seems Creative is fighting by keeping the detection range relatively narrow, so you’ll need to keep the Commander Mic close to your mouth. That said, the built-in pop filter is a nice addition not to overwhelm the Commander Mic.
Out of the box, the SXFI Air Gamer delivers a clean, well-balanced audio experience that most headsets in the $ 100 and up price range would be proud of. But this is not the end of things. Start pushing the buttons and the SXFI Air Gamer is suddenly one of the most innovative gaming headsets I’ve had on my mind. Super X-FI is totally transformative, fleshing out your on-screen experience in ways you probably didn’t expect. With a fantastic array of sound options, a surprisingly good microphone setup, and connectivity for days on end, I can’t think of many more compelling options than wading through Kings Canyon with a pair of these. The Creative SXFI Air Gamer is now available at major retailers and the Creative website.