Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar review: Dolby Atmos with added Super X-Fi

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(Pocket-lint) - The Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar bundle includes a wireless subwoofer and is susceptible of decoding Dolby Atmos object-based situation dependable - on with Creative's ain Super X-Fi virtual situation exertion for erstwhile listening via wired headphones.

The soundbar is intelligibly aimed astatine the location amusement market, and portion there's nary DTS:X object-based decoding you bash get HDMI 2.1 with future-proofing enactment for each kinds of features - specified arsenic 8K solution (when that's a thing), 120 frames-per-second precocious frame-rate (HFR), HDR10+ precocious dynamic range, and more.

But with nary further enlargement options - it's 5.1.2 channels successful total, you can't adhd further speakers - and a lacking of features, including nary Wi-Fi connectivity oregon truthful dependable assistants, tin Creative's offering basal up to the competition?

Design

  • Soundbar: 880 x 76 x 128mm; 3.6kg
  • Subwoofer: 225 x 450 x 430mm; 12.8kg

The Creative SXFI Carrier keeps things simple, with a compact main portion that's finished successful black. The sides are angled to accommodate the width speakers, determination are besides 3 speakers firing forwards, and 2 much aiming upwards to bounce sounds disconnected the ceiling to make the overhead channels.

There's a abstracted grille for the dedicated centre speaker, with a show connected the right, and a 3.5mm headphone jack connected the left. Above the centre talker you'll find controls for powerfulness on/off, measurement up and down, root selection, mode selection, and the Super X-Fi setting.

The included subwoofer uses a side-firing 10-inch operator with a larboard astatine the front, and Creative claims it tin get down to 25Hz - which is immoderate sub-audible rumbling goodness. The sub matches the main soundbar portion aesthetically, and there's a full of 450W of amplification (250W allocated to the soundbar, a further 200W driving the sub).

Connections and control

  • 2x HDMI input; HDMI output with eARC
  • Optical integer audio; 3.5mm; USB
  • Bluetooth 5.0 (A2DP)

The Creative SXFI Carrier houses its connections successful a recessed country astatine the rear. It's a decent selection: determination are 2 HDMI inputs and an HDMI output, each are HDMI 2.1, meaning enactment for eARC connected the output (enhanced Audio Return Channel), on with HDCP 2.3 (the hand-shake to guarantee assorted integer rights don't origin issues), enactment for 8K/4K resolutions, gaming goodness from VRR (variable refresh rate) and ALLM (auto low-latency mode), HDR10+ and Dolby Vision precocious dynamic scope passthrough.

There's besides an optical integer input, a 3.5mm analogue input, a USB-C audio input, and an SXFI-enabled USB-A output. Sadly there's nary Wi-Fi, but determination is Bluetooth 5.0 for a wireless connection. While the soundbar and subwoofer arsenic designed to link wirelessly, there's besides a 3.5mm jack connected some for a wired transportation if necessary.

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The ample included distant power fits comfortably successful the hand, making it casual to use. It has each the buttons you'll need, including power, mute, and the inputs. There's besides playback, volume, and the paper button, positive you tin set the bass and crook connected the Super X-Fi headphone feature. Finally, determination are six customisable buttons astatine the bottommost which are setup utilizing the mobile app.

The Creative mobile app for iOS and Android offers each the controls, setup options, and a calibration process to afloat optimise the placement and settings of the soundbar and subwoofer. It besides has precocious settings for custom-mapping buttons for distant control, subwoofer bass adjustment, car standby, show brightness, further input/output setup and firmware updates.

Features

  • 5.1.2-channel configuration
  • 450W built-in amplification
  • Dolby Atmos decoding
  • SuperWide technology
  • Super X-Fi Headphone Holography

The Creative SXFI Carrier's main diagnostic is its quality to decode Dolby Atmos and present it with genuine immersion acknowledgment to a 5.1.2-channel talker layout. These speakers were developed successful conjunction with Dolby, and usage innovative acoustic concepts designed to propulsion the show limits and capableness of a compact soundbar erstwhile it comes to three-dimensional audio.

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All 7 speakers and sub person their ain integer awesome processor-controlled amp. Creative has included its proprietary SuperWide technology, designed to grow the soundstage of stereo contented to nutrient a sonic acquisition that's overmuch bigger than the soundbar's compact dimensions. 

While the Carrier doesn't enactment DTS:X, the world is this format is progressively unimportant successful the look of Dolby's dominance erstwhile it comes to streaming audio. There's enactment for hi-res audio up to 24-bit 192kHz, but this is constricted to carnal connections due to the fact that there's nary Wi-Fi. As a result, there's besides nary Apple AirPlay oregon Google Chromecast support, and nary astute assistants enactment either. 

Creative

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The different large diagnostic connected the Carrier is Creative's Super X-Fi Headphone Holography technology. This recreates the soundstage of a situation talker strategy utilizing headphones, and applies artificial quality processing to personalise it for a earthy listening experience. Super X-Fi supports Dolby Atmos, and works with immoderate headphones via the 3.5mm jack connected the beforehand of the Carrier (for the champion results Creative recommends utilizing its low-latency wireless SXFI Theatre headphones). The results are alternatively impressive.

Sound quality

The Creative SXFI Carrier is casual to setup, chiefly acknowledgment to the fantabulous distant app. This lays everything retired successful a elemental fashion, and includes an optimisation diagnostic wherever you input the existent distances from the saccharine spot to the soundbar and subwoofer, arsenic good arsenic the ceiling height.

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The Carrier tin beryllium stand- oregon wall-mounted, conscionable marque definite nary of the speakers are blocked. In addition, erstwhile it comes to the overhead effects, a debased reflective ceiling volition present the champion results. Then each you request to bash is link your display, positive immoderate sources, and you're bully to go.

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The archetypal happening you announcement is that contempt the Carrier's comparatively compact dimensions, it produces a earnestly large soundstage. The side-firing speakers springiness it width, portion the up-firers are precise effectual astatine creating sounds overhead. Stick connected a movie similar Midway with its highly assertive Atmos soundtrack, and you'll person planes efficaciously buzzing each astir the room.

The transportation is understandably front-heavy owed to the deficiency of immoderate rear speakers, and unluckily there's nary upgrade way to adhd them, but it remains an awesome performance. The dedicated centre talker ensures dialog remains wide and focused connected the screen, portion the subwoofer with its large 10-inch operator digs heavy and produces a coagulated and highly visceral instauration of bass.

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The upshot of each this is simply a soundbar that's susceptible of handling immoderate you're watching, whether it's a TV amusement oregon a movie. It's besides large for gaming, allowing you to bask an immersive sonic experience. The Carrier is besides decent performer with music, though the SuperWide diagnostic tends to muddy the consciousness of stereo imaging and is champion avoided here.

Verdict

The Creative SXFI Carrier is an awesome soundbar from a institution much usually associated with machine accessories. It delivers a soundstage that's considerably bigger than its compact dimensions, portion the 10-inch subwoofer produces immoderate earnestly heavy bass.

The Dolby Atmos decoding is excellent, with a noticeable overhead beingness and precise placement of dependable effects. Dialogue is wide and focused, portion the SuperWide tech gives a much expansive soundstage crossed the beforehand of the room.

The HDMI 2.1 connections are a bully touch, providing the Carrier with a grade of future-proofing, portion setup is casual - particularly with the fantabulous Bluetooth distant app. Only the deficiency of Wi-Fi disappoints, and means there's besides nary enactment for AirPlay, Chromecast, oregon astute assistants.

So whether you're watching TV, enjoying a movie, oregon gaming, this soundbar is guaranteed to enactment a grin connected your face. The Super X-Fi headphone holography tech is besides impressive, scanning your ears to make a personalised virtual situation acquisition with everything from stereo to Atmos. This diagnostic helps it basal out, but there's escaping that there's a batch of adjacent much feature-packed contention to consider.

Also consider

Sonos

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Sonos Arc

An evident alternative, besides offering Dolby Atmos but not DTS:X. Along with the Sonos ecosystem, you get Wi-Fi, AirPlay 2, country correction, and built-in Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. There's nary subwoofer included, but you tin adhd one, positive determination are optional rear speakers for a afloat (if alternatively expensive) existent 5.1.2-channel system.

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Samsung

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Samsung HW-Q800A

This soundbar delivers a 3.1.2-channel strategy with an 8-inch wireless sub for a akin asking price. There's Atmos and DTS:X support, on with Wi-Fi, built-in Amazon Alexa, eARC, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ passthrough, and AirPlay 2. That's hard to contend.

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Writing by Steve Withers. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 20 September 2021.

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