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Sound Blaster EVO ZX Wireless Headset
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Average Customer Review:
( 33 customer reviews )
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14 of 14 found the following review helpful:
Why get THIS? Why not other headphones?Jul 13, 2014
By Engr. Jay Mendoza
TL;DR │ If you're in the market for a pair of wired or wireless supra-aural⁽ⁿ⁰⁾ (on-ear) headphones, look at this headset. If you want a set with great audio quality, consider this headset. If a lot of connectivity options and compatibility⁽ⁿ¹⁾ are important, try this headset. If a dedicated sound processor is something that appeals to you, GET THIS FREAKING HEADSET. Sound Blaster is Sound Blaster, there is no explaining it. This is a steal at $100, worth it at $150, but expensive at $250 (MSRP). I got this new for around $110 here in Amazon, I suggest you try to do the same.
⁽ⁿ⁰⁾ See NOTE ON FIT near the bottom of the review. I see it more as a hybrid supra /circumaural.
⁽ⁿ¹⁾ Connect it anywhere wired via an analog cable (3.5mm), to a PC using USB, or wirelessly to any device that have Bluetooth; it even has an option to pair using NFC.
UPDATE: I just discovered that this headset can connect to multiple devices simultaneously. In my case, I tried connecting both through USB (Computer) AND Bluetooth (ANDROID). I am not saying that this is fully supported, but it works. And I LOVE it. Adding one star for that.
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Choose ONE: this OR that. Choose wireless OR wired, analog OR digital, PC or mobile. This is what headphones manufacturers tell us. Could it not be, "choose ALL"? I want wired AND wireless, analog AND digital, PC AND mobile. Well, Creative has the answer to that: the Sound Blaster EVO series.
And so, I bought the Sound Blaster EVO Zx.
WHAT I LIKE │ + │
+ As mentioned, tons of connection option: 3.5mm 4-conductor TRRS analog cable (stereo plus mic), Bluetooth (through NFC or classic pairing), or USB for simultaneous audio and charging.
+ On-board Sound Blaster Axx is decent.
+ On-board memory! Save your profiles in the headphones and use it wherever you connect it to.
+ It has 3 profiles: music, movies, gaming.
+ Foldable design for easy storage (compared to the ZxR's non-foldable design).
+ Scroll wheel for volume controls. FINALLY!
+ Even with its awkward fit, it is still comfortable.
+ The design actually looks great in person. It looks cheaper in the pictures.
+ Modular design. Because this is wireless, the cables are removable AND replaceable. Cables break more often than people think, and being able to replace it with any generic cables is just wonderful. I can even replace it with better or superior cables, like longer or shorter ones, and even braided or flat types.
WHAT I DON'T LIKE │ × │
× The microphone and "CrystalVoice" enhancement are OK at best.
× Awkward fit. May or may not put pressure on your ears.
× They left out the splitter cable and power adapter available for the ZxR.
× For its intended price point, the cables should have been braided, or cloth jacketed.
PACKAGE │ ✓ ✗ │
✓ Sound Blaster Evo ZxR
✓ Carrying pouch
✓ USB 2.0 Cable (A Male to Micro B) = 1.8m (5.91ft)
✓ 3.5mm audio cable - TRRS, 4 pole jack (L,R, Mic, Ground) = 1.2m (3.94ft)
✓ Instructions and warranty. That is all.
✗ No audio splitter adapter (4 pole plug to Stereo AND Microphone plugs).
✗ No USB power adapter, for those who want one.
WHY NOT SOUND BLASTER EVO ZxR?
→ The price - cheapest you can find is $250. MSRP is $300.
→ There is a very bad design flaw that makes it break very easily (read the product's reviews).
→ The only "real" addition is the bigger 50mm driver.
→ Noise cancellation and pass-through are only useful for the ZxR's full circumaural (around ear) style.
WHY NOT THE AURVANA SERIES?
→ There is NO Sound Blaster, obviously.
→ More importantly, there is no support for microphone passive mode through the analog cable. For some reason, Creative chose to ditch the feature to use it as an analog headset. What this means is that it does not support TRRS 4-pole plugs (stereo plus microphone) which are commonly found in mobile devices. Thus, it could not also be split into a separate stereo and microphone cables (for PC, usually).
If you are looking for a gaming headset to be used purely on a desktop, I suggest you buy the Sound Blaster Recon3D Omega Wireless headset. You'll get a dedicated, external USB sound card with that, which you can also hook to a speaker (or another headset, like in my trial, my new EVO Zx).
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The following portion answers many potential questions. If you do not need explanation of how it works, skip to the bottom of review (to the VERDICT).
A NOTE ON THE SOUND BLASTER
It is a misconception that the EVO Zx/ZxR have an on board Core3D processor (particularly, a Z-series, because of its name). What it has is an Axx1 processor usually found on the Axx Series of speakers. This processor powers the SBX Pro. SBX Pro is the "enhancer" of sound, like a collection of software that runs on Windows, Mac OS, Android, or iOS.
Think of it like this...
Loudspeaker ↔ Axx ↔ USB/Bluetooth ↔ SBX Pro ↔ Source (Win/Mac/Android/iOS)
And if you are using analog connection (no power):
Loudspeaker ↔ Analog cable ← Source (phone/tablet/PC/sound card/etc.)
· · ·
⁽ⁿ¹⁾ EXPLANATION OF CONNECTIVITY OPTIONS
ANALOG CABLE (3.5mm). Connecting it via cable offers the lowest quality out of the box, because there is no software enhancement (SBX Pro). This is however, important. Any audiophile will tell you that nothing beats a dedicated, full-sized sound card. Dedicated sound cards universally accepts analog signal - usually through a separate microphone and stereo cable (in such case, a splitter should be used). But even though you do not have a dedicated sound card, this is still useful as ordinary but quality headphones, in case the battery runs out. This does not consume power, and thus, SBX Pro is not used.
USB. Connecting it to USB offers the best quality out of the box. Theoretical Bluetooth lag is absent. It also charges the device at the same time. It can only be connected to a PC/Mac if USB is used. This mode uses power which makes SBX Pro enhancements possible (because it powers the Axx processor).
BLUETOOTH: Connecting it via Bluetooth offers the best compatibility. PC, Mac, and other mobile devices accept Bluetooth connection. The same could be same for the analog cable. However, one advantage of Bluetooth is that it is powered through the battery, and transmits digital signal. This means it could be used to utilize the SBX Pro software and Axx processor.
NFC: Technically, NFC is not a connection method. It is used to INITIALIZE connection to Bluetooth. You can just use NFC instead of digging through menus trying to pair to a Bluetooth device. This is only useful if your device has NFC (most Android devices have it), or if you use an NFC tranceiver.
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⁽ⁿ⁰⁾ A NOTE ON THE FIT
Technically, these are supra-aural (on-ear) headphones. It rests on the top of your upper ear and your earlobes. I have average-sized ears. If you have a smaller ear, you might be able to fit this in, as a full circumaural (around-the ear) headphones. The front and rear part of the ear cups while worn, rests on my head, not my ears. Even the half top of the ear cups do, OR I could put the upper part of my ear in, and it rests only on my earlobe, which makes it somewhat a hybrid. I think Creative intended this to be circumaural, but I can't fully put my ears inside. Regardless, it feels light and comfortable.
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VERDICT: I highly recommend this product IF and ONLY IF you can get it cheap.
★★★★☆ | 4 stars out of 5. I have researched this product before purchasing, so I know what I was getting. I cannot give it 5 stars simply because its MSRP is too expensive. Another reason is that it is somewhat struggling with identity crisis (supra vs circumaural). I would have given it 3 stars, but the addition of the on-board memory surprised me quire pleasantly.
UPDATE: Added one star because I can actually use this simultaneously on my tablet AND Windows PC.
NEW VERDICT: ★★★★★ | 5 stars out of 5. Because reasons! :)
Questions? Hit the comments!
This review is for the Sound Blaster EVO Zx.
3 of 3 found the following review helpful:
AmazingOct 03, 2013
By Pen Name
This headset, people complain that it sounds to bassey and plans when they put it on. What people don't understand is that the settings such as the equalizer working with the sound chip inside is what makes it superior to other headsets. Of course it's not going to sound like you think it should sound as soon as you get it. You have to use the crystalizer and eq settings to bring out the sound that you want. And i so have several headsets and earbuds with eq settings on my phone but compared to these headphones, let's put it this way, even with all my fancy settings I put on any headphones I have, they are still shit compared to these. You will not regret these headphones. And btw I hate over the ear headphones because compared to earbuds, I can hear more sounds, so I never took a liking to them. But with this headset, I can hear FAR more sounds in my music than with my earbuds. Because of the fact that it not only has a audio processor chip inside, it can griffin RECREATE THE FULL DAMN AUDIO SPECTRUM!!!!!!!!!! These are the ones I will use for now on. I will burn my earbuds, they are worthless now.
2 of 2 found the following review helpful:
Much Better Than ExpectedJun 20, 2014
I must say, these headphones are better than what I expected. I like the multiple connections, usb, Bluetooth, and analog cable. I am more impressed by the ability to program the headphones, meaning I can make them sound balanced or make them boom. This can be done when the headphones are connected via usb. Once you get the sound that you want, you can unplug them and go. The headphones will remember the last settings used such as music mode, movie mode or game mode, and the custom tweaks that were made. When on the go, I set them to music mode, then custom tweak the EQ, turn off surround and bass, and set the crystalizer. I must say, the sound is very good. NFC pairing is a breeze and I am able to connect these to multiple devices at the same time. Making and receiving calls are very good and clear once you enable clear voice on them. I also have the EVO wireless, which can not be programmed, and the usb version, and I will be getting rid those as the EVO ZX are now my goto headphones on the go. The styling is good and the ear cushions will vary as they show being hand made, but are comfy depending on your ear size. I wish they came with a hard carrying case as the soft pouch will not do much for transportation and protection. Battery has lasted a full day use and when you run out of juice, just plug in the audio cable.
These are not for the audiophile, but are a bargain once you know how to tweak them. The built in audio processor is what set them apart from the rest and is unique. Virtual surround is what I always feel is a gimmick with any brand, but can be a little useful when playing games. Creative has done a good job with these, though they could have done a little better when compared to their Aurvana brand,especially when the prices are somewhat equal. But since I bought them on sale, I can't complain.
If you buy them, don't complain about what they are not. Get them because of the versatility of the headphones. All in all, I like them as they go with me when I'm on the go, and the compliments I get as far as styling and sound. If Creative were to give these better audio drivers with a wider frequency range, then they would be on to something. There is the Evo ZXR with larger diameter drivers, the same frequency range (20-20,000 Hz),talk through mode, and ANC (Active Noise Cancelling), but I do not see paying $100 more for 3 so called extras. For the average person, I believe that the Evo Zx will be more than enough.
P.S. When connected to Bluetooth to the computer, the control panel software will not recognize the headphones. You must connect using usb in order to manage the headphones. If you have an Iphone or Android device, there is an app that can be downloaded to manage the EVO Zx/Zxr via Bluetooth. Wish Creative would create a WP8 app as I have a windows phone. But nonetheless, once I program the headphones to my liking, they sound very good.(Be sure to update the firmware on these. It will resolve some issues about sound and bluetooth connections as some reviewers have complained about.)
6 of 8 found the following review helpful:
Sound Blaster EVO Zx compare and contrast reviewNov 19, 2013
By Galaxy Note 10.1
I've been using my Sound Blaster EVO Zx for a while now and my impressions on it are, well, okay. The headphones I'm comparing the Zx to are the Logitech UE6000, Skullcandy Aviator, and Skullcandy Mixmaster. Both the Logitech and Aviator are 40 mm drivers, and the Mixmaster is a 50 mm driver, but enough of the that and on to the review. First impressions were, wow these look way smaller in person. Pictures and box art make it seem large for some reason. I imagined them to be about the same size as my Mix Master but they're in fact the smallest 40 mm pair I now own. At first I thought these were on ear headphones. The ear cups are rather small and takes some getting used to so those with large ears may find this either uncomfortable or don't fit evenly or at all. My Mix Master use the same design, a circular design, but are large enough to surround my ears w/out irritation or much adjusting. The memory foam surrounding the circumference of the cups are nice and soft providing much support. The headband is made of the same cushion as well, creating a solid fit. The ear cups swivel and do have a limited range of maneuverability, which provides more than enough adjustability to ensure a comfortable position. Battery life is okay, it stated 8 hrs of play but that's probably under optimal conditions, i.e. solid Bluetooth connection w/out interference and settings not at max. I've found the battery life to last around 6 hrs playing music nonstop after a full charge. On the other hand most people probably wouldn't play wirelessly for 6 hrs straight so 6 hrs is ample time for most people listening to music. The great thing about these headphones are its features. The options of connectivity make it versatile for whatever your needs are. The Sound Blaster App is still very glitchy. Even when the headset is connected to my tablet (Galaxy Note 10.1) or my phone (Motorola Razor M) it sometimes does not recognize that it's connected. I would be playing music on the headset from my tablet or phone via bluetooth and the app doesn't recognize its own product even when it's connected and playing music. The features in the app itself are okay. The app does come with its own equalizer and special settings, such as: crystal voice, SBX aka custom settings for different situations (music, movies, gaming), battery life monitor, and a voice changer app. Undoubtedly, the best feature of this headset is the wireless play. I've found that it maintains solid connection from about 20 feet away or 6.7 meters past several rooms and other obstructions. This connection would have been better if it used a more current type of Bluetooth instead of 2.0 which isn't as energy efficient as higher versions or have the bandwidth. 3.0 would have reduced lag and interruptions in playback plus enhance battery life. For the price paid, it should've been implemented.
Now, on to sound quality, the part most people would probably be interested in. These headsets are, okay. I had high hopes for them, perhaps too high. Sound Blaster is known for audio and audio processing in the computer and gaming world, so I thought their headsets would be an awesome addition to my collection; seeing how well Logitech did with their UE line and they are a computer and gaming company also. What most people don't realize, or seem to even test, are the headphones with all features turned OFF. What I was looking for was bare bones quality. It wouldn't be fair to pit my other headphones against something with so many audio features when they don't have audio processing power like the Zx has. With all features turned OFF, these headphones were my weakest set: Surround sound OFF, EQ OFF, SBX OFF. Basically anything that allows for better audio quality OFF. With the features turned ON and adjusted correctly, they produce crisp clear notes and good bass. Bass could be tighter and have more of an impact. It's a soft bass feel, nothing like the sound of my Logitech which has immersive bass, or my Mix Master, which have hard hitting and compact bass. It still sounds good reguardless. Mids are alright, vocals and background instruments aren't as defined unless you play with settings. Sound stage is determined by the EQ settings. With db set to 0 and all settings OFF, sound stage is broad but muddy. EQ ON is a must for these headphones. Highs are also determined by the EQ, Crystal Sound, and Surround Sound. They can get very very high, almost painfully high, like being too close to a tweeter, so I advise using Crystal sound with highs on EQ in balance with each other. Overall, music quality is good with the audio enhancement settings ON and set to the users listening preference, nothing WOW about them, but does everything well and within its capabilities w/out going overboard in specific areas. Yes, I'm looking at you Beats and your overpowering muddy bass but hey, to each their own.
Microphone on this headset could have been better. Testing them out on my PC, I sounded like well...the sound quality wasn't very good. I also own a Skullcandy SLYR gaming headset, made by Astro, to compare mic quality with, as well as a Motorola S-11 Flex HD Bluetooth earbud and Jabra Extreme 2 Bluetooth Headset. The Zx is my worst sounding pair when it comes to voice sound quality. Some may think, oh it's not fair comparing the SLYR since it has a boom mic, well the S-11 and Extreme 2 don't have booms and deliver better voice audio quality.
For those beginning the headphone game, these may sound like the best pair they've ever listened to because they were the ONLY pair they've listened to. They aren't bad headphones, audio is good and build is above average. The Sound Blaster app, when it works, is okay. The same results can be achieved through other secondary EQ apps. I've turned off the sound blaster app and ran a secondary app, sound quality is pretty much the same, and yes I'm using uncompressed files with 64 bit processing as a baseline test. Verdict? If you're looking for something portable, mobile (wireless), lightweight, sturdy, and have good audio quality and stylish; these my friend, are the pair for you. If you're looking for something portable, mobile, lightweight, and have good audio and voice quality, cost less than half the price and has a 5 hr play with full charge in 15 mins, I recommend the S-11 Flex HD. If you really want a pair of headphones that are well worth the coin dropped on it, Audio-Technica ATH-M50. If you can find one around $150 like I did, then I suggest the Skullcandy Mix Master. At $150 the price to quality ratio is well worth it. If you want an excellent audio player then Neutron is right up your alley. High levels of audio customization including DSP, dither, eq of course, pitch and tempo (if you're into that kind of thing), processing modes, etc. As for sound leakage... it leaks pretty badly for being a closed headset. Oh and I forgot to mention. Because it's bluetooth 2.0 it does have a tendency to cut out from time to time. Reminds me of when CD's skip
1 of 1 found the following review helpful:
Awesome with cables, not that good wirelesslyOct 16, 2014
By Tarek Assem
Well this is not a long review but I will point out some points.
Build (8/10) : It feels a little bit weak but it is not bad.
Comfort (8/10): It is not designed for long sessions, especially if you ear eyeglasses.
Music Quality (9/10): The application provided by Creative works really good with the SBX Processor, you are exposed to add and alter the quality of everything you will need. However, it does not provide that high-end music quality but it works great.
Movies & Gaming sound Quality (10/10): Nothing to mention but it is perfect, in my own point of view, in both movies and gaming especially with the Surround ability.
Mic (9/10): I tried it on my iPhone, Skype, vent and TeamSpeak on Macbook and also on my PS4. People were able to hear me loud and clear with no problems.
Wireless (6/10): Actually it was disappointing to me. When using it wirelessly via Bluetooth, sometimes it lags during a call or during a music session. Although the headset and the connected device were right next to each others.
So to sum up, this product is awesome for its low price and when using cables. But SOMETIMES it may disappoint you in wireless mode.
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