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Sound Blaster EVO ZXR Wireless ANC Headset
|Average Customer Rating:
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Average Customer Review:
( 86 customer reviews )
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60 of 62 found the following review helpful:
Good audio, ANC could be better at sub-frequencies. Bad stress point design!Nov 14, 2013
By Robert Joy
VERY IMPORTANT: See UPDATE 2 & 3 below!!!!
Let me preface this review by saying, unlike most others here I am an audiophile (actually a professional musician at one point in my life and have done audio engineering and composing for myself and others). I've also been a electrical engineer and currently work as a software engineer so I am very savvy about electronic products.
I've been looking around for some decent ANC BT headphones I can leave on my head most of the day while I work and because I've had pretty good experiences with Creative products in the past I decided to give these headphones a try.
The headphones are comfortable to wear. I wore them for a good part of a day and never felt any pain or distress. My ears did get a little bit sweaty but in all fairness it was somewhat warm here so that was a factor.
Audio quality 4/5:
Since I am an audiophile I tend to be very critical of audio quality (See UPDATE 1 below). I listened to a variety of music (classical, rock, jazz) and the sound quality is good. There is an emphasis on the low end. I turned off all the extra processing and listened to a few pieces of music. The low end was more prominent than I'm used to. I'm not going to say it's bad, it's just louder than what I would consider normal. The good news is there is a built-in graphic equalizer that can be used to reduce the low end to the desired level.
I have not tried many of the audio features yet but I will update this review as I encounter those.
ANC 4/5 (Revised):
This was one of the main reasons I purchased these as I live near a rather noisy street. The headphones do a decent job, however, when reading "Advanced Active Noise Cancellation" as part of the spec I envisioned the ANC would be VERY good, probably better than most other headphones on the market. Not quite as good as I expected. The ANC is fairly good, however, the really low end (rumble, sub frequency such as a semi truck tires smashing into a pothole and hip-hop thumpers) is not as good as it could be. Higher frequencies generally are not handled well by ANC systems so I wasn't expecting much here although there was some cancellation.
I own some much cheaper (~$120) non-BT JVC headphones I bought many years ago that are way better at ANC with the sub frequencies. So I do know what good ANC sounds like and these are not what I would call "Advanced". Decent would be accurate.
The other problem here is if you want to use these headphones for ANC only while not listening to music or some other source (See NOTE 1 below for update), the battery conservation system kicks in after about 5-10 minutes (haven't timed it) and turns the headphones off. Obviously, this can be very annoying. Creative needs to consider this in any updates they make to these headphones. A way to turn off power saving mode or possibly the headphones could say "Shutting down in 10 seconds" at which time you could press any button to reset the timer. Right now all you get is a beep signal telling you that the headphones are being turned off. There is no time to push any buttons to attempt to reset a timer.
Build quality 1/5 (see UPDATE 2 below):
The hardware design looks pretty solid and well thought out. All plastic design but the red portion looks like it is a light weight metal. Just overall nicely done and looks good too. Button placement is good. USB and audio jack placement is clean and logical.
I was able to pair the headphones with my Samsung Galaxy Note 2. I installed their app and was able control various audio settings of the headphones and check the battery level. I was also able to play music via BT and the sound quality was good. I tried to dual pair the BT with my PC. It was able to see the headphones but was not actually able to pair with the PC. This was a bit disappointing as I was hopeful of using this with my PC as well.
Worked as expected. I was able to connect to the PC and listen to audio from the computer via USB.
Windows 8.1 0/5:
I have Windows 8.1 on my main computer. Unfortunately, as of this writing Creative has apparently NO drivers for 8.1. So I am unable to install the control software. When I try to install I get the error: "Setup is unable to detect a supported product on your system". This error makes no sense actually. I get this whether the headphones USB is plugged in or not. On Creatives website they indicate the drivers will be available, if I'm reading this right, at the end of Jan 2014. What's amazing to me is that Creative didn't release this product with 8.1 support right out of the chute.
While the headphones are not perfect, I do plan to keep them. They address most of my needs but not all. Hopefully Creative will roll out some updates that will improve things. Or maybe one of their support folks will read this post and tell us how to resolve some of these issues. Stay tuned for updates.
!!!!! UPDATE 1
If the headphones are actively paired with a BT device then the power saving mode does NOT turn on. You can run ANC forever in this case.
The audio quality is actually quite good. I've been listening to some symphonic pieces and the range of the music is handled very nicely.
More updates soon ....
!!!!!!! UPDATE 2 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WARNING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After using the headphones infrequently for 1.5 months the ear cup mount piece where it's connected to the headband literally snapped. All 3 screw points broke. This is a stress point when you put the headphones on and take them off. You are spreading the headphones apart. One generally holds the 2 ear cups to do this, putting a lot of stress on these tiny plastic mounts. The design here is very very bad (yes, I do know what I'm talking about. I've been an Engineer for nearly 40 years and know a lot about mechanical design).
I contacted Creative to ask if they were going to redesign this or possibly provide metal parts to replace this plastic parts. The response I got was "no". I told them that if there was not going to be a redesign or the parts were not going to be replaced with metal versions then I wanted a refund. I'm awaiting their response. Right now I am recommending that NOBODY buy these headphones or any Creative headphone that uses this design which essentially rules out the whole EVO product line. The mechanical design where stress points are NOT involved is decent but at these stress points it's horribly bad if done with plastic (metal would work as it is much stronger). These headphones are guaranteed to break. I only used these headphones about a dozen times over that 1.5 month period.
!!!!!!! UPDATE 3 !!!!!!!!
Creative told me to return the headphones to Amazon which I plan to do. For $300, the mechanical design should be solid and it's not even close. Once again, unless Creative redesigns the stress point mount pieces or starts using metal parts here these headphones are guaranteed to break. I hope they take my comments to heart. The product has a lot of potential.
7 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Major design flaws, but great connectivity.Jan 21, 2014
By Giovanni Glass
The connectivity of these headphones are ahead of any headphones.
1. NFC pairing. Pairing to Android is fast and easy.
2. Noise cancelling
3. Bluetooth with Apt-X CD quality when connected to supporting Bluetooth devices
4. A control app on PC and Android. It tells you battery life, settings and configuration.
5. USB connectivity that also charges. Thick cable. Use your headphones like a sound card to the PC.
6. Sound environments.
7. Voice morphing.
1. The joint between the ear cup and metal band is connected by a piece of black plastic and 3 screws. This is the weakest point of failure.
2. The suction between the ear and ear cup can be strong and you can hear and feel the suction when you press buttons against the ear cup.
3. The 3.5mm, 4 pole TRS audio cable is thin and not competitive with other headsets in this price range. It's broken into two cables. One for connecting to a PC with a mic and audio out. One for daisy chaining this cable to a phone.
Suggestions for improvement.
1. Use thicker 3.5mm audio cables.
2. Fix the 3 screw plastic joint by using metal or something sturdier. People with big heads will break the joint easily when they spread open the headset.
3. Change the headphones to circumaural instead of supra-aural. I find that I can't wear these headphones for long periods. The pressure against my ears is painful after an hour or so.
4. Put some air vents to prevent a vacuum between my ear drums and the ear cups.
12 of 14 found the following review helpful:
Great bluetooth headphones for Music, but what about wireless gaming?Oct 26, 2013
Been toying with these for hours now and here's my honest opinion...
1. Pairs nicely with my Samsung Galaxy S4 and Asus USB BT400 PC adapter over bluetooth.
2. Over bluetooth, I'm surprised at how loud you can get these headphones without losing quality. Don't forget there's a volume control on the side!
2. Compared to my Audio Technica ATH-M50, the EVO ZxR has more bass, which I was hoping for.
3. The sound stage of these headphones are great. Compared to the ATH-M50, the sound emits at a much closer proximity.
4. The noise cancelling feature is decent at blocking out my PC fan noise, but could be better.
5. Headphones are light enough. It's hard to believe there's a battery in there.
6. Headphones are comfortable enough.
7. Not sure if it depends on the bluetooth devices used, but my phone was upstairs and I could still listen to my music downstairs, so range is a plus!
8. These headphones really shine when watching movies.
1. These headphones are labeled as wireless gaming headphones, but they don't output sound while gaming on PC over bluetooth? This is a big upset...
2. There may be a possible issue with the SoundBlaster EVO controller app for PC. If you have bluetooth enabled with the USB cord plugged in, the app seems to throw the bluescreen of death and restarts my PC ever time I click through the settings.
3. Did not come with a USB bluetooth adapter for PC use. Not a prob for laptop users I guess...
4. Did not come with bundled software. Had to download it, which must be inconvenient for those without internet...
5. There's a sound control app for android use and for wired USB use on PC, but no support for bluetooth use on PC?
7. Don't plan on using these corded much, but the 3.5mm and USB cables should be longer.
Will keep this review updated... stay tuned...
4 of 4 found the following review helpful:
Right headpiece broke 2 weeks after opening the boxDec 06, 2013
By Tim Dederick
I love listening to my music, and this was a tempting purchase. The sound is great, and the looks are even greater. The Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) paled in comparison to BOSE. I did like the 'Movie' profile sound-settings (aka "Dialog Plus"). I was able to watch a movie on my iPad in a noisy restaurant, and still hear the spoken dialogue clearly. The headset was very comfortable to wear.
A few suggestions to the Creative Engineers, which can probably be done with merely a firmware updates. Since this headphone is such an eye-candy, allow for the red/blue LED's in the earpiece to flicker in response to the sound-levels (like a beat-strobe, user-selectable for on/off). The turn-on/turn-off sound one hears while wearing this could use a modern updated sound like a pleasant chime, instead of something akin to an old Apple II computer booting-up.
I was disheartened to find the headset broke on what is otherwise an aesthetically-pleasing headset. The right-earpiece bracket broke from the headband. Upon closer inspection, there are only three tiny screws that go into three tiny plastic posts, to join the earpiece together with the headband. The bracket design looks substandard considering the stress of merely wearing this on one's head. As I see with the others, this appears to be a common problem.
There was another user-review on this same site (Amazon) that mentioned a scratchy/noisy bluetooth connection. Creative did respond promptly in the post advising to open a case with Creative. My own two-cents is that I've seen this before if one's phone has never been 'rebooted' in a long while. There are other apps on smartphones, that over time, start to interfere with the quality of your connection. Someone I know with an Android phone, had this problem with his bluetooth set. Rebooting his phone made the problem go away. It's most likely not the headset, it's your phone being distracted by something running astray under the hood.
I'd give 5 stars if this weakness didn't happen to turn the headset into a paperweight just days after opening it. The engineers made some effort to have a strong metal pivot and steel headband, only to succumb to an achilles-heel with the flimsy plastic bracket adjoining the two together. Even if Creative-Labs offers to replace it, what good would it do if it's going to break again in the same spot days later?
6 of 7 found the following review helpful:
Right headpiece broke off after 1.5 months of use!Dec 01, 2013
By Jacob B
I was looking for a 'switchblade' of headsets - something I can use for gaming, watching movies on the iPad, listening to music while mowing my lawn and conference calls for work. I figured that for $300 I will be buying just that and also something that will last a very long time, so I bought this headset as soon as it came out. Seems like this product was rushed out the door before holidays with little attention to detail.
- Excellent gaming headset, I was able to hear enemies walking up behind me in BF4 and it definitely gave me an edge
- Bluetooth flawlessly paired up with my android phone, wife's iPhone, iPad mini, iPad2
- Sound Blaster software is fantastic with 3 presets for gaming, music & movies, fits anything I needed so far
- Voice crystalizer is a gimmick but it was fun at first for prank calling friends while speaking as elf, woman, demon, etc
- USB cord is sturdy and was long enough for me
- Excellent battery life
- Music, movie, gaming sound is superb
- Mike is not in your face
- No mute button! There are pause/skip/forward buttons, but no mute button?!?
- No automatic power off mechanism. If you forget to turn the headphones off, they will drain the battery until they eventually die (I guess it's a pseudo power off mechanism)
- Noise cancellation is a joke, it'll partially block out the hum of my PC or the fan in the room, but it's quiet useless really.
- Noise canceling mike is a joke. I tested these while driving in a car with windows closed, people could hear the road noise. People could hear dog barking, kids yelling, wife yelling in the background when on conference calls.
- Over the ear headphones without noise canceling do not block out as much sound as my cheap $30 gaming headset
- While connected via USB to PC and answering a call via bluetooth, the PC sound would turn off and I would only hear my phone call. I was able to get both USB & bluetooth to work at the same time, but inconstantly.
- The connector that holds the earpiece to the band is made of cheap plastic. Everything else is metal and appears to be sturdy, but this definitely a weak spot that will eventually break. Mine broke after 1.5 month of heavy but careful use, I pulled the headset off my head and the plastic connector just snapped off. Creative has been plagued by these issues with their other cheaper gaming headsets(you can find reviews with a bit of googling) and I'm shocked it wasn't fixed for this version.
All in all, I actually liked this headset very much and tried to make it work while overlooking some of the nit-picky stuff I listed in the cons. But the headpiece breaking off was the straw that broke the camels back and I will be returning these (thanks amazon!) since I don't expect the replacement to last much longer. Not going to chase the fantasy of the all purpose headset so I'll buy a wired gaming headset for under $100 and a usb in ear headset for conference calls, working out & watching movies on iPad, and will probably have some $$$ left over.
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