The Creative brand is best known in the PC world for offering speaker kits and other multimedia accessories, but we’re presenting it not so much next to a TV as to a monitor. However, Creative has been offering the SXFI Carrier soundbar for months now, which comes with a wireless subwoofer that is designed to accompany the TV in an attempt to get all the quintessential sound. For its first home theater aimed at the widest possible audience, the manufacturer offers a Dolby Atmos-compatible kit. We were able to try this for a while; here are our impressions.
Creative Operator SXFI
Type: Soundbar 5.1.2
Opinion ON-mag: (4/5)
Price at the time of testing: 1000 €
>>> FIND ALL OUR TESTS IN OUR GUIDES AS WELL ASONLINE MAGAZINES
The Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar has a rather discreet design with a plastic finish that combines matte and glossy shades, but always black. Its width is 88 cm, which allows you to place a 50-inch TV or even a little more. Its height is 7.6 cm, which, from our point of view, is the last limit so as not to interfere with the infrared port of the TV, which will be located at the back. Consider depth 12.8 cm and weight 3.6 kg.
On top, it is equipped with six rubber buttons that allow you to control it in total. Please note that there is a mini-LED that indicates the operating status, but is bright enough that there may be slight visual discomfort when watching a TV program in the dark. The display offers multiple characters, scrolling as needed. You can modulate the display intensity in high, medium or off mode.
On the front of the soundbar, you can see the front speaker right in the center for the voices. This is a broadband HP, but in size it is more like a tweeter. Next to it is a headphone port, which people who are nearby will appreciate. The top surface of the soundbar is matte to avoid the reflection of the image produced by the TV. However, we can notice that the light is absorbed by the gaps in the grilles that hide the two vertical speakers. They are slightly tilted forward. The effect is quite pleasing to the eye. There are two more speakers on the front, and two more (oval-shaped this time) have beveled ends to achieve side effects.
The subwoofer is relatively large. It measures 22.5 cm wide, 45 cm high and 43 cm deep. It has a large bass reflex port on the front, and a 25cm woofer is mounted on the right side behind soundproof fabric. The box weighs 13 kg.
The Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar has a fairly wide connectivity as you can count on two HDMI 2.1 inputs and an HDMI eARC output to restore audio from your TV. HDMI connectors can transmit Ultra HD signals at 120 frames per second. It also has an additional 3.5mm analog audio input, a wired subwoofer output (why not), and a digital optical audio input. There is also a USB-C connector for directly connecting a computer to the device and using it as an external sound card. Also note the presence of a USB-A port that allows you to connect a USB dongle for the Creative SXFI Theater headset, which is offered as a gift with the soundbar. There is no Wi-Fi here, but a wireless connection via Bluetooth is possible.
The Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar comes with a fairly ergonomic and compact infrared remote control, but no backlight. There is direct access to the sources, as well as to adjust the bass level. We appreciate the “i” key, which gives information about the audio format being used, the audio level, and the selected audio mode. There are also six customizable keys that allow you to recall saved settings.
To set up, you need to go through the Creative app available for Android or iOS devices. From there, and via Bluetooth, you can start the calibration phase and make some adjustments. Be careful, calibration is done manually, which means you have to estimate the distances as best as possible, even if you have to measure them yourself to get the best results.
Listening, wide soundstage and high power
Creative announces its 5.1.2-channel system with a total output of 250W for the soundbar and 200W for the subwoofer. The volumetric run goes up to 50, but from 10-12 it’s already good. After 20 the sound becomes too loud.
During our tests to be completely transparent, especially when simply watching DTT programs on the TV, an HDMI connection is established between the TV and the panel, we noticed slight clicks when changing channels, which is a little annoying. The soundbar offers several listening modes. Neutral mode offers a sound that’s too muffled for our tastes and a soundstage that isn’t wide at all. The ultra-wide mode is supposed to expand the scene, but we ended up expecting more. However, it must be admitted that in this mode, virtualized audio has good side effects. We found that the Cinema mode for films provided very good sound distribution in the space. Also, sounds are raised high enough to sound like they’re coming from the screen rather than the soundbar itself. Thus, in Movie mode, the sound becomes wider and more detailed, without forgetting about the accuracy and height. We also note the possibility of choosing a night mode for softer listening without giving up dialogues. They are also very crisp, especially in Movie mode. The Creative SXFI Carrier system is ultimately very coherent, especially between the soundbar and subwoofer, which work very well together. The sound is full and the system is relevant for adding sound to a fairly large room. We appreciate the ceiling and side effects.
For purely musical listening, the system is also relatively well balanced, and we appreciate being able to place various instruments in the scene with our eyes closed.
A quick note about the Creative SXFI Theater headphones that come with the soundbar. Through a USB dongle connected behind the panel, it uses a dedicated channel. Quite light and comfortable to wear, these headphones have good passive sound isolation and an overall quite satisfactory sound, again giving the impression of a fairly wide soundstage.
The Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar with subwoofer delivers particularly balanced sound with enough power for most living rooms. If it is compatible with Dolby Atmos, we regret that it does not support DTS, as is the case with more expensive competitor models. We appreciate the ceiling and side effects, as well as the overall ergonomics in general. We recommend it more for watching movies than listening purely to audio, especially as it lacks Wi-Fi for streaming or even multi-room listening with other speakers connected.
Soundbar Creative SXFI Carrier by ON-mag
Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar official photos
Screenshots of creative applications
>>> SEE ALSO: ALL OUR SOUNDBAR TESTING
- Type: soundbar, 5.1.2 channel subwoofer
- Soundbar Speakers: 5 full-range front and side, 2 full-range in-ceiling
- Total Power: 450W RMS
- Decoding: Dolby Digital, PCM, Dolby Atmos
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.2, 1x HDMI ARC, 2x HDMI inputs, 1x optical digital audio input, 1x analog mini-jack audio input, 1x USB-C, 1x auxiliary output
- Standby power consumption: 0.5 W
- Rod dimensions (WxDxH): 880 x 128 x 76 mm
- Rod weight: 3.6 kg
- Box dimensions (WxDxH): 225 x 430 x 450 mm
- Box weight: 12.8 kg
- Price : 1000 €
- Products webpage: creative
Other articles you might be interested in are on ON-mag and the rest of the web.