Creative Zen Hybrid, review: headphones with active noise cancellation

These headphones have two connection modes: we can use them wirelessly thanks to their connection Bluetooth 5.0 that gives us an effective range of up to 10 meters away and that, according to the manufacturer, gives us up to 27 hours of autonomy (even with ANC activated), or we can use them with the included cable with a 3.5 mm minijack connection, which makes them compatible with virtually any audio device, including consoles.

According to Creative, these headphones are capable of cancel up to 95% of ambient noise, so of course they would be ideal to have your “Zen moment” anywhere, even if you are on a train with a lot of background noise. In addition, since the ANC can be activated and deactivated with the press of a button, you can also be listening to your music but being aware of what is happening around you at all times in a simple way.

In addition to the 4 microphones dedicated to ANC technology, these Zen Hybrids also incorporate a microphone with an omnidirectional pattern on the right ear cup, a noise-canceling microphone to be able to have clear conversations anywhere and without inconvenience.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that these headphones are also compatible with SXFI technology that allows for personalized spatial audio, easily configurable with the SXFI application that we have seen on previous occasions.

Unboxing and external analysis

The Creative Zen Hybrid ANC come packed in a small soft colored cardboard box, on the main face of which we can see an image of the headphones accompanied by their outstanding features in the form of an icon.

On the back we find a sketch showing us its main functions, leaving additional information on the sides that includes the technical specifications and the contents of the package.

Inside the box, we find a plastic bag containing several pamphlets (instruction manual, etc.) and two cables: one is USB-C to USB-A to charge the battery and the other is the connection of analog audio through 3.5 mm minijack connectors, one of them angled for greater comfort.

Creative Zen Hybrid Accessories

The headphones themselves come inside this carrying bag, something to be thankful for since they are wireless and foldable headphones, they are designed to be carried from one place to another constantly, and in this way we can do so while protecting their integrity.

Creative Zen Hybrid packaging

Here we finally have the Creative Zen Hybrid, which come completely folded to take up as little space as possible. That the headphones can be folded in this way will already give you an idea of ​​how the ear cups can be adjusted to adapt to the size and shape of all types of heads and ears.

Creative Zen Hybrid

In the following image you can see that, once unfolded, they have the shape of conventional headphones. Of course, the earmuffs are relatively small because, remember, their design is supra-aural and not circumaural.

Creative Zen Hybrid

The ear cups can be rotated 90 degrees to one side, but only about 15 degrees to the other, so be careful when folding them not to force the rotation to the wrong side.

Creative Zen Hybrid

In the following image you can see all the ports and controls of these headphones. In one of the earmuffs we have the USB-C charging connector, while in the opposite we have the on/off buttons, volume control, ANC, the microphone (to speak), LED status indicators and the cable connector minijack.

Creative Zen Hybrid

The earmuffs have quite soft pads covered in very soft synthetic leather, pleasant to the touch and that do not rub at all when you put them on your ears. As you can see, each earphone is identified by its side (L for Left, for the left, and R for Right, for the right).

The top of the headband also has a cushion insert so the weight of the headphones won’t be felt on your head. Additionally, for a better fit the headband can also be extended to accommodate larger head sizes.

Finally, to highlight a detail (perhaps vanity on the part of Creative) that looks quite good, and that is that in both earmuffs they have arranged the name of the headphones in copper, but also their characteristics such as hybrid active noise cancellation.

Creative Zen Hybrid

Having seen the headphones, we are going to test them to see how they behave.

Testing the Creative Zen Hybrid

We have to admit that, despite not being big fans of headphones with a supra-aural design, these Zen Hybrid are quite comfortable from minute 1, and since they weigh almost nothing and how they fit perfectly to the shape and size of the head and ears, in a couple of minutes after you put them on you almost forget you are wearing them.

Creative Zen Hybrid

From the moment you put them on your head, and even before you even turn them on, you already notice that they isolate quite well from ambient noise, and this is something that will be complemented once the ANC technology comes into operation. In general, they are very comfortable even when you wear them on the move and/or for several hours at a time, they do not cause too much discomfort because they do not press too much on the ears and, even so, they stay well fixed in their position (going back to when you use them , for example, while you are walking). Of course, they are not sports headphones and they are not suitable for running with them on, since in this case they will move position.

Now let’s talk about sound quality, an area where Creative has almost always managed to excel for good. The sound in the Zen Hybrid is not just correct, it is almost spectacular: the base equalization is perfect, the sound of the music is not distorted at all and it provides very crisp and clear mid and high sounds, with powerful bass that makes you enjoy your music with all of the law. We have not found any drawbacks or deficiencies, the audio is sincerely sublime, without clearly being Hi-Res sound.

As for the operation of ANC technology, we have to say that Creative has managed to almost sublimate it in these headphones, because it really shows a lot. To give you a real example, while we have been testing them they were installing an air conditioner on the ground floor, generating a lot of noise with the drill (but a noise that made the table vibrate). When we put on the Zen Hybrid and activate the ANC mode, that noise completely disappeared, both because of the active noise cancellation and the isolation of the headphones themselves and because of the little that could sneak in, which was masked by the music itself. A 10 in this aspect, the operation is spectacular.

Finally, we have to talk about communications. The Bluetooth connection is very stable and clear, there is no distortion of any kind as is desirable. Of course, the microphone that the headphones incorporate is omnidirectional and, despite having noise cancellation, it is integrated into one of the earmuffs, which means that when we talk to other people, some ambient noise does sneak in. All in all, communications can be carried out clearly and smoothly, certainly much better than with an in-ear headset with a built-in microphone.

Conclusion and verdict

Creative is a brand that has always stood out in the field of audio, and with these Zen Hybrids it has taken this to its maximum expression, impeccably implementing a system of active noise cancellation which really works, allowing us to enjoy music without distractions even when there is a lot of ambient noise around us.

With remarkable audio quality in every way, these headphones provide up to 27 hours of autonomy with enviable ergonomics that allow them to be used non-stop for hours on end without feeling tired, making them ideal for people who want to isolate themselves from external noise while they enjoy their music wherever they are.

Creative Zen Hybrid

For all these reasons, we consider that these Creative Zen Hybrid ANC deserve our Gold award, as well as our recommendation for both their performance and their design.

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