Review: Creative SXFI Theater Headphones

A third variation of Creative SXFI headphones is finally here, and that is the SXFI Theater. SXFI Theatre, to me, is best used for 3 purposes – movies, music, and gaming. Creative knows that and has made a product geared for those purposes.

Many times I would use my SXFI Air C for such content, but there are also times where I didn’t want to have wire dangling around especially because my MacBook is being docked at the back of my monitor.

So finally, with the SXFI Theater, I can now do all that but enjoy the freedom of being wireless. The SXFI Theatre feels like the upgrade of the SXFI Air C in a wireless way.

The SXFI Theater retails at S$299, a $100 more than the SXFI Air C.

Unboxing

Unboxing the SXFI Theater, you get the following items:

  • Creative SXFI Theater headphone
  • SXFI TX transmitter
  • USB Extension
  • USB-C cable
  • 3.5mm audio cable
  • Detachable microphone
  • User manual
  • Warranty leaflets

Build quality and design

The headphone is mainly made of plastic. Unlike the SXFI Air C, its ear cups are made from soft protein leather. The leather do make a difference in comfort as your ears don’t get warm so fast. Also, I might be overreacting but perhaps leather ear cups result in softer contact around your ears making it feel more comfortable.

The buttons on the SXFI Theater also differs slightly from the Air C. All the buttons are on the left ear cup.

SXFI Air C (left) vs SXFI Theater (right)

On the outer area, you have the SXFI button, volume scroller, and mute button. On the bottom, you have the 3.5mm AUX input and the USB-C port. And on the front area, you have the power button and the microphone jack (which is now covered but a thoughtful rubber plug).

The new changes are the inclusion of USB-C charging and a power button. And the microphone also includes a mic muff (again thoughtful!).

Connectivity

The big selling point of the SXFT Theatre is the super low latency audio. The super low latency is being achieved though the SXFI TX transmitter. You plug the transmitter into the USB dock included, then plug that into your PC.

Simply turn on the SXFI Theater and select audio playback through the SXFI TX, and you’re good to go. SXFI enjoyment in wireless liberation. And it is is really super low latency – YouTube playbacks are as if played through a wired connection, and so does your games.

The SXFI Theatre is rated at 30 hours of playback with the lights feature turned off.

You can connect through the 3.5mm to your phone (if they still have a 3.5mm input lol), but don’t expect SXFI to work

Even though Creative included a 3.5mm audio cable, the SXFI technology does not work if through a wired connection (even if your SXFI TX transmitter is connected). But hey, if you want to use the SXFI headphones on the go, at least you can use it through a wired connection.

SXFI sound

The SXFI mode can be simply toggled on/off via a click of the SXFI button. Yellow means SXFI is turned off, green means SXFI is turned on.

The SXFI sound can used for a variety of purposes – music, movies, podcasts, gaming, etc. Some works great, some does not. And also, it is also heavily reliant on personal preference. Generally for movies and games, SXFI generally provides a better experience. But for music, it really depends on the type of music being played.

Let me breakdown each scenario of use, and perhaps give my two cents on SXFI’s impact on each use case.

Music

One good use of SXFI technology is to listen to Live concert recordings. Seriously, the effect from hearing the Live concert playback through SXFI is mind-blowing-ly real. Try this out with SXFI if you have the chance:

But how do normal songs sound through SXFI?

For Chainsmoker’s “Don’t Let Me Down”, with the SXFI toggled on, you get a surround sound experience which is why you feel like you’re in a concert. Vocals aren’t shoved right in your ear but are instead kind of spread around the headphones cups. As for bass, they will sound deeper and reverberating instead of the punchier sharps beats.

Creative SXFI mode is particularly great when listening to audio that has many instruments playing at once and begs to have a wider soundstageto fully experience it. You have Alan Silvestri’s “Forge” from the Infinity War soundtrack for example. The sound feels more expansive and wholesome instead of just musical instruments sounds shoved into both your ears. It is really nice to have that wider soundstage for audio like this. Another example would be be those jazz music like the ones here.

However it is also important to note that songs which have more focus on vocals such as acoustic covers might not sound better with SXFI on. This is because the SXFI creates a more echoey feel to the vocals which make it sounds less detailed.

Movies

Movies sound like you’re in the cinema with the SXFI mode on. No joke.

I watched Spider-Man: Homecoming and John Wick. Conversations sounds like you’re in the cinema, again because the vocals aren’t firing right in your ear. Especially that fight scene in John Wick in the bar fighting, with SXFI the background music was nicely weaved into the background amidst the gun shots and action, instead of being blaring loud when SXFI was off. It just feels that the overall sounds in the movie are better distributed and more well-balanced.

If you do watch a lot of movies or TV shows, the SXFI sound is really a game changer when it comes to the experience.

Gaming

I have to concede I can’t really comment on this section as I don’t usually game. But I’ll share my experience with FIFA 19 and SXFI on. Turning the SXFI on makes you feel like you’re in the stadium, with the commentators voices being more surround sound. Whether I prefer gaming with SXFI on or off, I can’t really decide.

Podcasts

Now this is where SXFI might not be that useful. Turn the SXFI on when listening to podcasts and you can immediately feel a vast amount of difference. You do feel like you’re actually in the studio which is good but you start to feel that the voices are more “airy” and “echoey”. This echoey feels are stronger in vlogs where the YouTuber records in more enclosed spaces. Though I do enjoy that the vlogger’s voice is not screaming right into my ear, the echoes created does get a tad annoying. Again, it’s on the basis of personal preference.

SXFI App

I use a Mac and there is an app to allow to bring more customisation to your SXFI Theatre. The app is called SXFI Control, and it’s available on the Mac App Store. The app allows you to tune in your custom EQ settings, set lighting for your headphone, do some setup and also provide firmware updates.

Conclusion

To truly appreciate the SXFI technology you have to listen to whatever audio with the SXFI toggled on for an extended period of time. I don’t think you can just take 5 seconds of judgement to decide. Because we are so used to listening to the non-SXFI mode, we may subconsciously choose to prefer it initially.

But after listening to different audio with the SXFI mode, I do enjoy the natural and wider soundstage it provides (especially for movies). Creative has done something spectacular in the creation of a natural 3D sound. The holographic audio experience something I believe everyone should try and experience.

One thing about listening on regular headphones is that audio seems to be fired right in your ear canals which can lead to ear fatigue after long hours. I feel that the SXFI comes in to solve that issue for me. If you have always wanted your audio to be expanded and consumed as a whole instead it being constantly blared at your ears, I think the SXFI technology is helps with that.

SXFI Theater brings that audio experience in a wireless fashion and it is also super low latency so you can consumer your movies and play games lag free!

Where to buy

You can buy from Popular stores or online from the Creative Online Store. But before you click away, here’s how you can save $2 by being a member. First, sign up for a Creative Account. Next, subscribe to their newsletter to get 40 member points. And lastly, redeem those points at checkout for $2 discount.

If you liked this review, follow @techjioblog on Instagram, to get updates on great tech and lifestyle tips. Don’t say bojio!

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