(Pocket-lint) - The Creative SXFI Air Gamer is a hybrid wired and wireless gaming headset that upgrades the previous SXFI Gamer by adding Bluetooth convenience. With personalised tuned sound, impeccable spatial audio with SXFI Battle Mode, a high-quality microphone, plus more besides, does this headset deliver in all areas?
- Weight: 313.6g
- Over-ear design with a breathable design
- Oversized protein leather ear cups with memory foam cushioning
- Kevlar-reinforced USB-C cable
- Touch controls for calls and media
Slipping on the SXFI Air Gamer, the first thing we were struck by was the comfort. This is a nicely flexible headset with a large extendable headband rounded off with cleverly designed earcup hinges. The result of this design is not only a satisfying clamping force, but also a great fit over the ear - the earcups are also nice and deep, meaning there's no excess pressure on your ears from any angle.
The SXFI Air Gamer's earcups are oversized and protein leather coated, with memory foam cushioning. Those earpads offer the best of both worlds, with some passive noise-cancellation, alongside good breathability. More importantly, the padding is superbly comfortable - which makes the headset easy to wear for hours on end.
On the outside, the SXFI Air Gamer is interesting for other reasons. There are some RGB lighting rings around the outer edge of the earcup that can be tweaked in the software. There's also some clever touch controls instead of the usual buttons and dials. Swipe up and down on the left earcup and you can adjust the audio volume, left and right skips and rewinds tracks, and you can tap to answer calls too.
Otherwise, there are buttons to switch between sources, turn SXFI mode on and off, and turn the headset off. There's also a microSD port as another option for music files, and a 3.5mm jack for wired connectivity too.
There are two microphone options included in the box - the large CommanderMic, and the tiny NanoBoom if you prefer something more subtle. Both can be removed if you'd rather use a dedicated mic.
You also have a Kevlar coated USB-C connection to connect to PC, along with a USB-A adapter if you want to use the headset one PlayStation or another device.
That Creative sound & Battle Mode
- 50mm Neodymium magnetic drivers
- 20–20,000 Hz frequency response
- Super X-Fi, SXFI Battle Mode
The SXFI Air Gamer benefits from Creative's years of experience with Sound Blaster technology. This results in a headset that promises to deliver incredible sound, whatever the source.
Plugging in the USB-C cable to your PC and you can take advantage of the 32bit/96Khz sample rate for high-res audio. This, combined with the SXFI personalised sound, gives you potentially awesome audio that's also easy on the ears.
This headset is also designed to be a "hybrid" device - able to connect to your PC with the included cable, but also to any Bluetooth compatible device as well. This dual connectivity means you can listen to music on your phone, while also hearing game audio from your gaming machine. Sadly the volumes aren't independently adjustable, but it's nice to be able to access two audio sources at once.
With Bluetooth connected, you can also take advantage of GamerChat - a mode that lets you answer phone calls without interrupting your gaming sessions. This mode also lets you use voice chat on platforms you usually can't - such as Nintendo Switch.
The other highlight is Battle Mode. This is designed to help give you the edge in first-person shooters with accurate spatial audio that lets you hear enemy footsteps and pinpoint their location with ease. Alongside a virtual 7.1 surround sound, this Battle Mode offers a tuned sound that helps enhance your focus on important in-game sounds. It takes some getting used to and can seem quite hollow at first - but it really works to improve your gaming experience.
Super X-Fi personalised sound profiles
- Rechargeable lithium-ion Battery, up to 11 hours
- Bluetooth 5.0 & USB-C connection options
- SBC audio codec
Not content with offering an already brilliant set of features, the SXFI Air Gamer also wants to stand out by delivering a unique and personalised sound.
With the accompanying Android or iPhone app you can scan your head and your ears to adjust the soundscape accordingly. The software (that's also available on Windows) allows you to then sync your personal settings to your account and use it wherever you are.
Creative says this technology uses computational audio to tune the output based on the shape of your head and ears. Which luckily for the end-user simply involves snapping photos of your face from different directions. We found this part of the setup a bit fiddly, so it's worth getting someone else involved, but the results are satisfying.
You can also use that software to switch audio between stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. The highlight for us, however, is the Super X-Fi technology that creates a rich and realistic sound, as well as personalising the audio. We found this resulted in clear and impressive audio, especially for gaming, that's similar to more expensive hi-res headsets that we've tested.
The Super X-Fi tech certainly adds a warmth to the audio and makes it satisfying to listen to music, movies or games in equal measure. It's onboard too, so you get that audio on your phone and PC as well.
- CommanderMic with 100–16,000 Hz frequency response
- NanoBoom Mic with 100–8000 Hz frequency response
- Noise suppression
One of the other highlights of this headset is the chunky looking 'Commander' microphone - which captures excellent audio while blocking out the majority of external noise. This is one of the best microphones we've seen on a gaming headset. It's a real delight.
If you don't like the shape and size of it then you can also opt for the smaller NanoBoom mic instead, but the best capture quality certainly comes from the full-sized boom mic.
The Creative SXFI Air Gamer sounds great for gaming, music and movie viewing. It's also rich-sounding and wonderfully capable in terms of spatial audio too.
Sadly it's missing the true wireless option that many gamers would appreciate, but otherwise it certainly does tick a lot of boxes.
Perhaps most importantly is that it's comfortable to wear for hours on end. As such, it's a worthy purchase for a very fair price - and certainly a headset we'd recommend.
Nuraphone + Nuraphone gaming microphone
This set-up turns Nura's quirky headphones into a gaming headset. If you want personalised sound, there's nothing like it. But it's also an odd design to get used to - combining both in-ear and over-ear headphones into a headset.
Corsair Virtuoso RGB Wireless XT
If you like the idea of a hybrid headset, then this one is more appealing in our mind. It offers wired, wireless and Bluetooth options, plus it looks the business as well. It's not as comfortable as the Creative headset, but it's feature-rich, great sounding and a superb flagship.