Creative SXFI Carrier soundbar review: A complete, compact home theatre experience
One of the most powerful fuss-free upgrades for your TV audio
Ultimately, it bears reminding that the SXFI Carrier is still a soundbar and no true replacement for a full home theatre system. This fact is painfully obvious in certain instances where the device fell short of expectations.
But perhaps those expectations were too high to begin with. The SXFI Carrier punches well above its weight for a device of its size, and pairs that with unique Super X-Fi features that take the experience up a notch.
And Creative managed to deliver all of that without an overly expensive price tag. Remember how much the Sonic Carrier retails for? The SXFI Carrier is basically a reworked version of that S$8,000 soundbar that is going for just S$1,499.
That’s not to say you should absolutely rush out to buy one now, at least not before considering that the competition has to offer.
For one, a few hundred bucks more investment can get you a more complete set-up that includes rear wireless speakers, such as the LG SP11RA or the Samsung HW-Q950A soundbars.
These will likely produce audio that’s closer to a true home theatre set-up because dedicated physical speakers are present to better steer positional audio and tackle multi-channel audio accurately. Not only that, these contenders offer several additional niceties to boot.
The Samsung unit, for example, features Q-Symphony, which enables the soundbar to work in sync with that built into your Samsung TV, ostensibly producing even more immersive sound. It also has NFC for one-touch pairing, and supports Apple AirPlay directly.
LG, on the other hand, talks up its soundbar’s compatibility with LG televisions’ AI processors to produce clearer and more consistent sound and is keen to highlight its partnership with British audio brand Meridian, who brought their high-performance audio solutions over to the Korean soundbar.
And if you like your soundbars with a little smart in them, you’ll find these offerings, as well as other brands like Bose and Sonos with Google Assistant built-in. Let’s not forget many of these contenders are also Wi-Fi capable products, meaning they can hook up to other speaker offerings within the brand’s ecosystem to control multi-room audio needs, hand-off audio to different speakers within the home and more importantly use your home Wi-Fi to stream audio rather than use your phone’s fixed range Bluetooth range.
As such, while I think Creative does have a winner on its hands, it doesn’t quite check all the boxes of what you might expect of a modern soundbar today. Fortunately, the Creative SXFI Carrier is priced less than the mentioned competitors. If you desire the extra creature comfort features offered by other brands or prefer one that can manage true multi-channel audio with wireless rear speakers, the Creative SXFI unit is difficult to recommend because it won't fulfil that criteria.
Ultimately, the SXFI Carrier is a soundbar that focuses on audio delivery and works great in most circumstances, fares well on content/audio genre that most people will listen to (i.e., not ideal for musicals, symphonies, classical and other non-mainstream genres), a fantastic upgrade over your TV’s built-in speakers, and is suitable for consumers looking forward to a good performer at a decent price point that isn’t overly large or lengthy.
Last, but not least, don’t forget that this is an SXFI-enabled product, so you’re in for an overdrive experience on your wired headphones (or wirelessly through the optional Creative SXFI Theater headphones), something that no other soundbar can offer. Is it S$1,499 worthy? Perhaps if it was bundled with the SXFI Theater headphones to complete the full experience out of the box, but otherwise, it is definitely a strong contender to any soundbar solution at its price point once you set your expectations on what you want out of your soundbar sound system.
For those who are excited to jump into the SXFI soundbar bandwagon, you can purchase one right now through the Creative Store (at their Jurong office and audition it at the same time) or click away to place your order online.