The first time I felt the magic of headphones came from Creative about 15 years ago… I was still in high school at the time. Recently, I received a pair of new headphones from Creative and got a chance to try out the Zen Hybrid. I can tell you now that my journey with the headphones has been very smooth and full of surprises. We hope this review helped you find out if these are the next headphones for you.
I kept scratching my head trying to figure out what was in the parcel when it arrived a few weeks ago. I couldn’t believe they managed to pack headphones and other accessories into such a compact package.
What’s in the box:
- Creative Zen Hybrid Wireless Headphone with ANC
- Nice storage bag
- USB cable (0.8m / 2.64ft for charging only)
- 3.5 mm (1.2 m / 3.94 ft) AUX-in cable
- Quick Start Guides
- friendly thank you card
The foldable design is widely used in headphones due to the advantage of space saving and great convenience that people can carry when they go out. Creative Zen Hybrid weighs 271 grams which should be considered relatively standard for wireless headphones; The storage bag that comes with the headset contributes a little to the overall weight. This makes Zen Hybrid easy to store and carry.
The headphones have excellent battery life with up to 27 hours of playback time when active noise cancellation is enabled (and 37 hours when the feature is turned off). This result is far superior to that of many other brands of competing products. Interestingly, it feels that approximately 60% of the noise is reduced by the cushions around the ears, and the ANC will take care of another 30% of the noise. You don’t really get “extremely good” performance when you’re trying to effectively reduce noise, however, and I haven’t had the “airplane ear” issue I usually have when using other ANC-equipped headphones like the WH-1000XM3.
When wearing the Zen Hybrid, its button layout and operating logic have won my heart. Maybe it’s just me, but I found it annoying to learn new ways when using headphones manufactured by different brands. Well, maybe we don’t need all brands to have one standard way to control music, but I’d prefer not to spend time on this when using a new product. As we can see in the image, Creative has placed four physical buttons on the right side of the headphones for Vol Up/Down, Power and ANC.
I’m so glad I don’t have to learn any new ways to change the volume or go to the next/previous song when wearing the Zen Hybrid. The feeling of being able to get the results you want with your intuition is amazing. Below is a partial screenshot from the “How to Control” user guide. In short, most of the features can be achieved with a single or long press of the physical button.
If we take a closer look at it, there is a small “bump” on the Vol + and Power buttons that are designed to help the user easily locate the buttons without visual attention. A simple change can make a big difference. Kudos to creativity!
In terms of wireless connectivity, the Zen Hybrid has a Bluetooth 5.0 chip built right into it that theoretically supports a range of connections up to 240 meters / 800 feet. I never had any connection issues during daily use, except for one time when I left the phone in the bedroom and walked into the office. Given that this house is 60 years old with double brick walls, it was perfectly acceptable to break the connection once in a while in this case.
Creative Zen Hybrid is a pair of headphones approved for use with the Super X-Fi profile. This technology recreates the sound stage of a set of headphone amplifiers and enhances the experience by utilizing computational sound and complex algorithms for better immersion. Using the headphones alone works well, but if you want to get the most out of these headphones, I highly recommend trying the SXFI app; It makes a huge difference in the sound in your ears.
When you launch the app for the first time, it will prompt you to start the head and ear mapping process. This is to customize the sound and create a personalized audio hologram just for you. However, keep in mind that the SXFI app only plays music from your local storage, which means that this custom audio experience will be inactive when using any other media players like Spotify and Youtube.
Super X-Fi includes five equalizer presets and a custom equalizer option. When choosing a certified device, be sure to select the Zen Hybrid, and not any other devices. If the wrong device is selected, it will likely result in an unsatisfactory audio experience. Don’t ask me how I know 🙂
I’ve been using SXFI’s recommended music app throughout the review just to experience the headphones’ best sound quality. The Zen Hybrid is driven by two 40mm Neodymium drivers, ensuring thick bass delivery. The dynamic drivers are battery friendly and I personally think that’s one of the reasons why the Zen Hybrid offers such long battery usage on a single charge. Powerful bass and crispy treble are best performed by turning on SXFI Effects in the app. Interestingly enough, the algorithm appears to modify sounds in an unexpected way. It is overridden when improving clarity and I personally prefer turning off the algorithm for certain types. As a result, I am very satisfied with what the Zen Hybrid brings to my ears, especially for music with more mids and bass.
- Excellent battery life
- Compact and foldable design
- cute travel bag
- Ease of control
- SXFI works on local music only
- Missing codecs – aptX, aptX HD, LDAC
Currently, Creative Zen Hybrid is available at $159.95 from Official Store. There is a 40% discount when you sign up for newsletters, bringing the total to $95.57. Black costs slightly more than white after the discount, which settles at $104.57. For wireless headphones with decent ANC functionality, exceptional battery life and made by a popular brand, this would be a good buy in my opinion. In this price range, the Zen Hybrid stands out from the crowd thanks to Creative’s efforts. I would recommend these headphones to people who have a passion for music or just want to experience a personalized audio experience with reliable ANC at an affordable price.
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