As a wireless over-ear headphone featuring ANC noise cancellation and SXFI READY certification, the Creative Zen Hybrid’s performance is acceptable. The lightweight design is matched with a variety of folding methods, which can make it comfortable to wear and easy to store.
Creative Zen Hybrid specs and features:
- Bluetooth 5.0 with AAC
- 27-37 hours playback of per charge (ANC ON/OFF)
- Dual mode connection (wireless and wired)
- Support hybrid ANC noise cancellation
- 40mm full frequency drive unit
- $99 – Check latest price on Amazon US, Amazon Germany or other Amazon countries
The earmuffs of the Creative Zen Hybrid are oval over-ear design, so even users who wear glasses don’t have to worry about the earmuffs fighting with the glasses frame. The ear cups are very soft and made of plush synthetic leatherette. The wearing comfort is very good, it fits closely to the face and there is no foreign body feeling at all. The head beam part is also wrapped in leather, which is not as soft as the earmuff material, but the comfort and texture are also good.
In addition to distinguishing left and right by the L/R logo inside the earmuff, it can also be distinguished according to the button position of the headphone. The charging interface is on the left headphone, and the volume button, power button (bluetooth pairing), 3.5mm headphone interface and ANC button are all on the right headphone.
The Creative Zen Hybrid folds very flexibly, it can be folded flat, half-folded or more compactly folded (the earmuffs can be rotated 90°) for easy carrying on the go. The head beam of the headphone has a relatively large movable range, and the headphone can be folded, or the rotation angle of the headphone unit can also improve the wearing comfort.
The retractable headband is made of reinforced steel material, with moderate damping, and it is not laborious to push and pull. Numbers are engraved on the surface of the retractable headband, and the length of the head beam can be customized according to each person’s head size to suit different head shapes.
Sound Quality & SXFI
The Creative Zen Hybrid is equipped with a 40mm neodymium magnetic drive unit, uses Bluetooth 5.0 technology, and supports SBC and AAC encoding formats. The bluetooth connection speed and stability are relatively good, and there will be no disconnection or jank within 10 meters.
In terms of sound, the Creative Zen Hybrid adopts a tuning style that is more inclined to Europe and the United States. The tri-frequency distribution is relatively uniform, and the sound is atmospheric, loose, and pays attention to the overall sound presentation.
Sound quality is generally good, with excellent resolution across the entire frequency range. In particular, the performance of the midrange is surprisingly good, the vocals sound clear and layered, and the instruments have a good surround for the vocals.
The brightness of the high frequency is moderate, and the extension ability is also very good. There is no noticeable glitch even when playing at relatively high volume. The strength and rebound speed of the low frequency are good, but the density is slightly insufficient, and it is mainly concentrated in the middle of the low frequency, and the quantity sense of the ultra low frequency is extremely limited. Overall, the Creative Zen Hybrid does a pretty good job of presenting most styles of music. Only when presenting EDM and some Hip-hop music that emphasizes ultra-low frequency, it will be a bit inadequate.
The Creative Zen Hybrid also supports Super X-Fi technology. The user’s face and ears are photographed through the SXFI App, and the AI algorithm is used for 3D modeling, and then the stereo audio is 3D processed according to the head and ear model, so that the user hears the sound as if it came from the surround sound system.
However, compared with the SXFI series of headphones including SXFI Theater, SXFI Air, and SXFI Gamer, Creative Zen Hybrid does not have built-in SXFI UltraDSP and cannot directly process audio through hardware. The SXFI sound effect can only be turned on when using the SXFI App to play local music. The actual effect is close to DTS Headphone X and Dolby Atmos for Headphones, which is quite different from the immersive feeling of SXFI series headphones after hardware processing.
Comfort & Noise Cancellation & Battery Life
At 271g, the Creative Zen Hybrid isn’t too heavy in over-ear headphones. In addition, the head beam is relatively wide, and the clamping force of the earmuffs on both sides is also very uniform. When wearing, the weight of the entire headphone is evenly distributed on the head, and the overall comfort is not bad.
The Creative Zen Hybrid is equipped with a hybrid ANC function with front and rear bidirectional feedback. We can turn it on and off through the ANC button on the right headphone. The measured noise cancellation effect is at the mid-range level among the headphones I have experienced, which can eliminate more than 90% of low-frequency noise and attenuate mid- and high-frequency noise to a certain extent.
When using it on the subway, I can hardly hear the noise generated by the subway operation, and the voices of other passengers talking loudly have become much softer. Overall, the noise cancellation capability of the Creative Zen Hybrid is worthy of its price, basically reaching the level of the Mixcder E10 and Panasonic RP-HD605N, but there is still a big gap compared to the Bose QuietComfort 45.
At the same time, the Creative Zen Hybrid also supports ambient mode, and when it is turned on, we can clearly hear the sound in the environment. Compared to the transparency mode of most headphones, including the Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro, the ambient mode of the Creative Zen Hybrid sounds more natural from the outside.
In addition, the headphone also comes with a noise cancellation microphone, which can be used to make calls or hold online conferences. The sound quality and clarity of the microphone are good.
The battery life of the Creative Zen Hybrid is 27 hours with ANC turned on and 37 hours with ANC turned off. The battery life in actual use will also depend on objective factors such as playback volume. I used it for only a week after I got to the headphone. The average listening time per day is 2-3 hours, and the ANC state is kept turned on, and there is no low battery prompt yet. The headphone also supports fast charging, and it can be used for about 5 hours after charging for 5 minutes.