Any links to online stores should be assumed to be affiliates. The company or PR agency provides all or most review samples. They have no control over my content, and I provide my honest opinion.

The Creative Zen Hybrid Pro is the latest wireless headphone from Creative. It comes in three versions:

  • Zen Hybrid Pro (standalone): Features 40mm drivers, Bluetooth 5.3, and is LE Audio ready. Up to 100 hours battery life.
  • Zen Hybrid Pro Classic: Adds Creative BT-L3 transmitter to unlock LE Audio. Comes with detachable boom mic.
  • Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI: Bundles Creative BT-L4 transmitter with Super X-Fi UltraDSP chip and SXFI BATTLE Mode for gaming. Also includes boom mic.

The key specs are otherwise the same across the models in terms of driver size, battery life, Bluetooth connectivity etc. The bundles add functionality through the transmitters.

Creative Zen Hybrid Pro vs Classic vs SXFI Specification

Headphone ModelCreative Zen Hybrid ProCreative Zen Hybrid ProClassicCreative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI
Total Battery LifeUp to 100 HoursUp to 100 HoursUp to 100 Hours
ConnectivityBluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.3Bluetooth 5.3
Audio CodecLC3+, LC3, AAC, SBCLC3+, LC3, AAC, SBCLC3+, LC3, AAC, SBC
Microphone5 mics5 mics5 mics
DNN
Noise ControlHybrid ANC, Ambient ModeHybrid ANC, Ambient ModeHybrid ANC, Ambient Mode
Ultra Low Latency Mode
ControlsButton PressButton PressButton Press
Software Super X‐Fi® / Super X‐Fi READY
Super X‐Fi Technology
Siri / Google Assistant
Driver40 mm full‐range titanium‐coated dynamic drivers40 mm full‐range titanium‐coated dynamic drivers40 mm full‐range titanium‐coated dynamic drivers
AccessoriesUSB‐C Charging CableBT‐L3 Audio Transmitter, Detachable Boom Mic, USB‐C Charging CableBT‐L4 SXFI Audio Transmitter, Detachable Boom Mic, USB‐C Charging Cable
ColorBlackBlackBlack

Design

The Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI features a sleek and modern design that is both visually appealing and comfortable to wear. The headphones are constructed with high-quality materials, with the adjustable headband providing a secure fit for users of all head sizes. The earcups are designed to swivel and fold, making them easy to store and transport.

The earcups also have a customisable RGB ring with up to

The Zen Hybrid Pro headphones are lightweight and durable, with a plastic construction that ensures they can withstand daily use. The ear pads are made of pleather, which provides a comfortable cushioning for extended listening sessions.

The control buttons are conveniently located on the ear cups. The left ear cup houses the power button, mic mute button, and digital volume wheel, while the right ear cup features ANC, play, forward, and backward buttons. Pairing the headphones is a breeze, simply press and hold the power button for 4 seconds, even when the power is on. To power off, press and release after 2 seconds. The power button also functions as a mode switcher, enabling users to switch to broadcast mode with a double-click.

There is no 3.5mm headphone jack with these headphones and they don’t seem to work in wired mode with USB-C. With them being Bluetooth 5.3, you don’t have to use the BT‑L4 SXFI audio transmitter, you can pair the headphones directly with phones.

BT‑L4 SXFI Audio Transmitter

The BT-L4 transmitter that comes with the Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI bundle allows the headphones to unlock the Super X-Fi audio processing. This aims to create a more immersive listening experience by mapping the user’s ear profile and mimicking a multi-speaker system. The SXFI BATTLE Mode is tuned for gaming with positional audio cues to help gain a competitive edge.

The BT‑L4 SXFI dongle also works with other devices, such as mobile phones. However, if you use the dongle, you can’t use the Creative Android app, you need to connect directly to the phone with Bluetooth.

SXFI Audio & Head Mapping

The Super X-Fi technology requires mapping your head and ears using Creative’s app and camera to personalise the audio experience. The customised profile aims to make music sound more spacious and three-dimensional. However, the effects are subtle, and some may find it makes the audio more diffuse. It also only works when listening via the Creative app.

LC3+ Codec

The Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI utilizes the LC3+ codec, an advanced audio codec that offers higher quality audio in a lower bitrate. This codec, combined with Bluetooth LE Audio technology, delivers improved wireless audio performance at significantly lower power consumption. With LC3+, users can enjoy high-quality audio without compromising on battery life.

Benefits of Bluetooth Low Energy (LE)

Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) Audio, a new audio standard that brings several benefits to users. LE Audio consumes lower energy, extending the battery life of the headphones. It also supports more efficient bitrate, allowing for improved audio quality at lower data rates. With LE Audio, users can enjoy wireless audio streaming with ultra-low latency, providing a seamless and lag-free audio experience.

One of the standout features of LE Audio is its ability to broadcast audio to multiple devices simultaneously. This feature is particularly useful for situations where multiple people want to listen to the same audio content without disturbing others. Imagine watching a movie or listening to streaming music with your spouse without disturbing your family members or housemates. LE Audio enables this kind of shared listening experience, making it ideal for silent parties, open-space listening events, and more.

Creative App & SXFI

This app, available for Windows, allows users to access a range of features and settings to enhance their audio experience. With the Creative App, users can adjust the Acoustic Engine, EQ, SXFI, and Mixer settings to suit their preferences. The playback page enables users to select their desired resolution for audio playback, while the recording quality can be adjusted for optimal results.

The Creative App also offers on-board DSP audio chip functionality, allowing users to apply audio effects such as Surround and Crystallizer. Super X-Fi can be enabled to recreate a professional, multi-speaker system experience in your headphones.

With the headphones paired, the app will have a toggle for headphones and speakers. The headphones work with both of these settings, but you need the headphones option toggled on if you want to use SXFI.

Within the app, if you go to Bluetooth devices, you can toggle between LE audio and ULL audio.

Sound Quality

When it comes to sound quality, the Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI does not disappoint. The headphones are equipped with custom-tuned 40 mm full-range, titanium-coated dynamic drivers that deliver a powerful and cinematic sound experience. The bass is deep and impactful, while the treble offers clarity and detail. The sound staging is immersive, creating a sense of space and depth in the audio.

The SXFI mode takes the audio you have two options, the standard SXFI and SXFI BATTLE Mode.

The SXFI BATTLE Mode aims to give gamers more spatial and positional audio cues for competitive gaming. It works reasonably well for gaming, giving a much more expansive soundstage and a better sense of direction from sounds. For other audio, it sounds very echoey.

The default SXFI works well and, the sound is less echoey, making it suitable for things like movies, giving a more immersive experience. It works OK with music, too, but I prefer to leave it off.

With SXFI on, you don’t have access to some of the other audio that is within the acoustic engine.  

Active Noise Cancelling

For ANC, you can toggle the modes using the button on the right earcup with options for having it off, ambient mode and ANC on. There are no advanced ANC controls allowing you to customise the ANC level as you find with competing brands.

To test the ANC, I paired the headphones with my Pixel 8 Pro and then played airplane cabin noise at 80% on my Edifier S3000 Pro speakers.

The ANC performance is OK, there is a substantial reduction in noise, but they do seem to leave quite a bit of noise across all frequencies. In comparison, more expensive headphones such as the Edifier WH950NB or the similarly priced Anker Soundcore Space Q45, both do a better job at reducing noise with them both eliminating most of the low end hum but leaving some of the high end.

Latency / Gaming

The Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI is perfect for gamers, thanks to its ultra-low latency audio experience. With latency as low as ~20 ms in Ultra-Low Latency (ULL) mode, gamers can enjoy a seamless and lag-free gaming experience. The headphones deliver audio in sync with the on-screen action, ensuring that you don’t miss a beat during intense gaming sessions.

Microphone

The detachable boom mics included with the Classic and SXFI bundles allow for clearer voice pickup and communication. Call quality is decent in quiet environments but struggles in noisier backgrounds. The noise cancellation tends to suppress the voice volume when trying to cut out ambient noise.

Unlike some of the other Creative products that use the Creative App, this doesn’t have the CrystalVoice features, which I have found quite useful in the past.

Battery

Battery life is a highlight, with up to 100 hours of listening on a single charge with ANC off or 80 hours with it on. This is thanks to the improved efficiency of LE Audio.

I can’t say I have timed the battery life, but I would say I have gone at least 20 hours without charging the headphones.

The headphones are then charged via the USB-C port, and you can get 5 hours of usage from a 5-minute charge.

Price and Alternative Options

The Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI is priced at £134.99, making it a worthwhile investment for audiophiles, gamers, and anyone seeking an immersive audio experience. With its impressive features, including LE Audio support, SXFI technology, Hybrid ANC, and Ambient Mode, the headphones offer exceptional value for the price.

If you’re looking for alternative options, consider the Creative Zen Hybrid Pro Classic and Creative Zen Hybrid Pro. The Classic variant, priced at £119.99, includes the BT-L3 audio transmitter and a detachable boom mic, providing an all-encompassing audio experience. The standard Zen Hybrid Pro, priced at £89.99, is perfect for users who want a standalone pair of headphones that support LE Audio and offer RGB lighting customisation.

Overall

The Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI are excellent versatile headphones that can transition easily between a low-latency gaming headset and ANC Bluetooth headphones for media consumption and use with mobile devices.

Perhaps one minor criticism is that the SXFI model incurs a £45 premium vs the standard pro model, which adds the BT-L4 transmitter and microphone.  However, if you are not fussed about SXFI, the classic model will work just as well and save you £15.  

Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI Review

Summary

The Creative Zen Hybrid Pro SXFI are excellent versatile headphones that can transition easily between a low-latency gaming headset and ANC Bluetooth headphones for media consumption and use with mobile devices.

Overall
85%
85%
  • Overall - 85%
    85%

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *