Tech review: Creative Sxfi Trio headphones offer near-cinematic surround sound

Creative Sxfi Trio USB-C wired in-ear headphones.
Creative Sxfi Trio USB-C wired in-ear headphones.PHOTO: CREATIVE TECHNOLOGY

Two years ago, I reviewed the Creative Sxfi Amp, a USB-C dongle that recreates surround sound with a realistic sense of depth, space and detail through any regular headphones.

It features Creative's Super X-Fi headphone holography technology, which not only simulates surround sound, but also optimises audio based on each user's ears and head shape.

While the thumb-drive-sized dongle - which can be used with any headphones with a 3.5mm plug - was handy, there is now an even more convenient form. Creative has created the Sxfi Trio wired in-ear headphones.

This pair of headphones has a smaller version of the Sxfi Amp as an in-line control along its Kevlar USB-C cable. Called Sxfi Wire, the in-line control is 40 per cent smaller than the Amp and has a button to turn the Sxfi technology on and off, along with three other buttons for music playback controls.

The earbuds have a black semi-conical body and a round gold-plated magnetic cap. They come with Creative's AuraSeal Noise Isolation ear tips, touted to provide excellent passive noise cancellation.

I find this noise seal to be pretty good. Six pairs of ear tips of different sizes are included to ensure there is one pair that will suit you and give the best seal.

I also like that the earbuds can be connected magnetically together and that the cable does not easily tangle. However, the included silicone case to store the Trio is a dust magnet, not to mention this material usually disintegrates quickly in our humid climate.

Inside each earbud is a triple-driver system, which comprises a super tweeter, a mid-range driver and a bio-cellulose dynamic driver, said to reproduce the entire audio frequency range.

For those new to Sxfi, note that you have to download the Sxfi Android app and use it to "map" your head. Basically, you need to take photos of your ears and face, to get your own customised sound profile from the mapping.

As I have reviewed the Sxfi Amp before, I only need to log into my account on the Sxfi app and plug the Trio to my Android smartphone. The app will then detect the Trio and automatically load my Sxfi profile. It will also update the Trio's firmware to the latest one.

Once your profile has been loaded into the Trio, you can use the headphones on devices such as the Nintendo Switch as well as other USB-C devices to get the surround sound effect.

The Trio comes with a USB-C-to-USB-A adapter, so you can connect the Trio to most laptops. While the USB-C Trio cannot connect to iPhones, it works with USB-C MacBook Pro laptops.

Using the Trio to watch Netflix and Apple TV+ movies on my MacBook Pro is a joy. You are getting almost-cinematic quality surround sound when watching these movies. For example, watching Avengers: Endgame, I can sense where the explosions and dialogue are coming from.

Listening to music with Sxfi might not be the best experience though, as it might sound echoey. But for those who love the concert feel, this effect could be great.

I prefer to listen to music with Sxfi disabled, as I feel the music details come across richer that way. By itself, the headphones are able to deliver detailed highs, smooth mids, clean vocals and rich bass.

Considering the Sxfi Amp already costs $219, the Sxfi Trio is superb value for money at $199, as you get both the Sxfi Amp and a quality pair of in-ear headphones.

FOR

- Great audio quality

- Super X-Fi technology does not disappoint

- Great value for money

AGAINST

- Not for iPhone users

- Silicone case is a dust magnet

TECH SPECS

PRICE: $199

DRIVERS: Dual-balanced armature drivers and 10 mm bio-cellulose dynamic driver

CONNECTIVITY: USB-C

WEIGHT: 30g

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 4/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 4/5

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