Creative Super X-Fi was unveiled in 2018 and I had the privilege of attending the media launch event and listening to Sim Wong Hoo share his overwhelming passion for the SXFI technology which he believed would change the way people listen to headphones. He strongly advocated this holographic audio experience, and for the next 2 years, products came out slow. There is the SXFI Amp which allows any 3.5mm headphones to listen to Super X-Fi head-mapping format. There are also SXFI Air, SXFI Theater, and the immensely popular SXFI Outlier Gold, but mostly for its value-for-money true wireless earbuds than the SXFI compatibility.
Today, Creative finally announced SXFI Trio, an SXFI product that would hopefully get more consumers to embrace Super X-Fi and experience the benefits of audio holography. The SXFI Trio retails for S$199.
Watch the unboxing video to find out what’s in the package.
The Kevlar cable delivers great durability and strength but they create microphonics, i.e. cable rubbing sounds that transmit to the ears.
It’s interesting that Creative included a silicone case instead of the usual fabric. I’m not a fan of the silicone material as they attract dust and have the tendency to break down after years.
It’s good that Creative included a wide range of ear tip sizes to cater to all ear sizes. Also included is a tiny USB-A to USB-C adapter, as well as a detachable clip.
SXFI Amp + Aurvana Trio
The SXFI Trio is essentially made up of SXFI Amp (SS$219) and Aurvana Trio (S$199). Based on price alone, it’s easy to conclude that the SXFI Trio offers an exceedingly value for money. The Aurvana Trio is Creative top-line in-ear headphones, so the premium audio quality is assured.
Here are some technical differences between the SXFI Trio and SXFI Amp + Aurvana Trio combined.
- 100 dB SNR (vs. 120 dB on SXFI Amp)
- 0.008% IMD (vs. 0.0022% on SXFI Amp)
- 8 – 30,000 Hz (vs. 5 – 40,000 Hz on Aurvana Trio)
- The SXFI module on the SXFI Trio is 40% smaller than the SXFI Amp
- Unknown DAC on the SXFI Trio (vs. AKM AK4377 on the SXFI Amp)
- Non-detachable cable (vs. MMCX on the Aurvana Trio)
The earbuds seems identical with Aurvana Trio, with same shape and same triple hybrid drivers specs, except for some design material differences. The eartips on the new SXFI Trio has a larger diameter compared to the Aurvana Trio. The grilles are also slightly different.
While the specs for the separate SXFI Amp and Aurvana Trio are better, they do not adversely affect the overall quality of the SXFI Trio, though I can hear some differences in the frequency tuning.
What is Super X-Fi?
I wrote a lengthy explanation on SXFI during my review of the SXFI Amp which you can read here. Basically, SXFI uses computational audio to recreate the listening experience of a multi-speaker system, and delivers the same expansive natural experience – depth, detail, realism, and spaciousness – in headphones. What you will experience is as if the sound is coming from in front of you, outside the ears, instead of from the ear speakers next to your ears.
To start using, you need to follow a few simple steps to do head and ear mapping using the SXFI App. For existing SXI owners, just start the app and it will sync the profile to the SXFI Trio, as well as updating firmware, if any.
Riding on top of my impressions of the Aurvana Trio (which you can read here), the SXFI Trio has a slightly different tuning, even though the drivers are supposedly identical. It is probably due to the different digital-to-analog converter (DAC) used resulting in a different tuning. From what I hear, the SXFI Trio sound a little brighter at the treble and a little less filling at the bass. I played around the software EQ and this is the compensation I needed to match the SXFI Trio to the Aurvana Trio.
For those unfamiliar with Aurvana Trio, the SXFI Trio delivers strong treble details but well-controlled sibilance. It might sound a little too cooked if the track has very pushy treble, but testing with all the reference tracks I listened to, they manage really well. Bass is not too overwhelming and does not drown you, but it delivers the boom that balances the powerful treble. You need to ensure good eartip seal to ensure the bass is tight and forthcoming. The SXFI Trio goes really well with Classical and instrumental tracks thanks to its sparkling treble and sufficiently strong bass presence.
The Super X-Fi Experience
After connecting the SXFI Trio to the SXFI App for the first time, the app will upload the head mapping profile, and thereafter you can use the earphones with any device and toggle the SXFI Mode. With SXFI Mode enabled, the sound staging projects out towards the front with a tinge of echo, as if in a room. To enjoy SXFI Mode, you should not try to switch back and forth to try to compare the sound quality. It doesn’t work that way, because naturally we all will find the non-SXFI mode a lot more detailed and intimate. It is through using the SXFI mode exclusively would you realise the effectiveness of SXFI mode and how it changes the way you listen to audio over earphones.
Like all SXFI products, SXFI Trio supports up to 7.1 channel audio, so if you plug it to your PC, you will get even better multi-channel experience. I also highly recommend using the SXFI mode when making calls or telecommuting, because the audio is projected out of the head, it feels less fatiguing listening to other parties, especially in large groups.
I find that generally in SXFI mode, the mid-treble gets too intense while the mid-bass lacks the fullness. Like other reviews on the SXFI products, I had to manually adjust the EQ by reducing the mid-treble and increasing mid-bass so that it sounds closer to what I would like to experience on a multi-speaker sound system.
Among all the SXFI products launched so far, the SXFI Trio is something that I would use it more often than the rest. Why not the rest? The SXFI Air does not have a sound signature that I enjoy using at lengths, while the SXFI Outlier Gold uses software decoding which degrades the audio quality. The SXFI Amp is most versatile and best quality but the module is relatively large and cumbersome to use with existing headphones.
The SXFI Trio is integrated into the brilliant Aurvana Trio drivers which I currently use extensively, so it’s very convenient to use. The USB-C audio standard has proliferated the Android smartphone industry, so anyone with an Android smartphone can use the SXFI Trio. Finally, even if you do not fancy the SXFI mode, you can still enjoy excellent 24-bit digital audio over USB-C. At S$199, the SXFI Trio provides exceptional price value and I highly recommend them to everyone as a starter to appreciating the Super X-Fi experience by Creative.