Creative Zen Air Review Super X-Fi Earbuds With ANC

Friday, February 24, 2023

Find your creativity zen in the chaos of everyday life with Creative's new Zen Air true wireless spatial sound earbuds!


The Zen Air earbuds feature a thick stem and short oval nozzle, making the fit comfortable and perfect for sensitive ear canals. The Zen Air earbuds weigh 5 grams, while the charging case weighs 36 grams, bringing the total combined weight to 46 grams. The weight is similar to the Outlier Air V2

The Zen Air charging case integrates an inductive charging coil on the bottom of the case, which allows you to recharge the case wirelessly via a Qi wireless charger (not included). Charging time for the case is 2 hours via cable and 2 hours via a standard Qi charger. There is quick charge support via cable. Fast wireless charging is not supported.

The Zen Air charging case has a glossy finish, rear facing USB-C port and flat base so, you can set the case upright on a surface. The Zen Air case lid closes securely magnetically but has a weak hinge, which makes the lid wobbly. The Creative Zen Air earbuds are easy to remove from the case and have the same glossy plastic finish as the case.
The Zen Air case has the following dimensions: 6cm long x 5cm wide x 3cm high. It is small and compact like a pebble - easy to slip in and out of a trouser pocket. The Zen Air case also has a single led to check battery level for the case and earbuds, which is useful, although not as intuitive as the 4-led battery indicator you get with some earbud cases. 

Pairing is easy and, you can pair/connect the Zen Air earbuds whilst inside the case. You can switch between earbuds seamlessly from stereo to mono and viceversa. Like most modern earbuds, the Zen Air comes with touch sensitive panels built-in to the faceplate for controlling various functions via tap gestures. Controls include play/pause, voice assistant, volume up/down, track skip (next), power on/off and calls (answer/end/reject/volume).
Zen Air comes with mobile app support via the SXFI app, which gives you access to Zen Air's main feature SXFI Ready - a spatial sound mode that only works via the app. SXFI Ready spatial sound works similar to 7.1 surround sound, delivering a 3D audio like experience similar to SXFI AMP driven headphones such as CMSS 3D. 
The SXFI app has a built-in 9-band EQ for tweaking a sound. Unfortunately, the spatial sound (and EQ) only work with local files downloaded on your phone. You cannot use SX-FI Ready Spatial sound when gaming or watching online streaming apps like Netflix, Tidal or YouTube. The SXFI app is also limited, lacking earbud support features such as EQ, button remapping and firmware upgrade function; hence you cannot natively tweak the sound, change tap gesture functions or update earbud functionality. 

As far as calls, the mic quality is natural sounding but the noise suppression isn't very high, which means background noise gets leaked int calls. The ANC performance is a lot better, attenuating most ambient noises. Ambient mode works well too for situational awareness.
When listening to audio, the sound quality is clear with plenty of dynamic bass sound. The max volume level isn't the loudest.You can choose from AAC or SBC bluetooth audio, which is less power hungry. Speaking of power, you can achieve 5 hours of battery life at 50% volume with ANC ON and SBC codec and 6 hours with ANC OFF. The Zen Air charging case provides 2 full charges (~18 hours of power).
Potential deal breakers
  • Not quite the same as CMSS 3D
  • Old bluetooth chipset (bluetooth 5.0)
  • IPX4 (below the standard IPX5)
  • Weak hinge lid
  • Prominent branding
  • Doesn't support streaming content (e.g., Spotify, YouTube, and Netflix)
  • Single battery led indicator 
  • No low latency
  • No multipoint
  • They aren't SXFI AMP driven earbuds
  • No skip to previous control
  • No mobile app support
  • Non-adjustable ANC/Ambient mode
  • No button remapping
  • Built-in EQ only works with SXFI Ready spatial sound
  • Weak noise cancellation microphone
  • Only available in white
Selling points
  • Super X-Fi (spatial surround sound)
  • AAC & SBC
  • Wireless charging case 
  • Voice prompts
  • Decent ANC performance
  • No blinking bluetooth status led
  • Responsive touch controls
  • ANC with Ambient Mode
  • ANC works in mono mode (one earbud only)
  • Short nozzle - ideal for sensitive ears
  • Anchoring stem (2cm long)
  • No delay - instant re-connection
  • Quick charge support
Accessories included are a charging cable and silicone ear tips. You can buy the Zen Air earbuds from Creative and amazon. Check out the review of the Creative Outlier Free Pro

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