Creative recently launched their lightest and smallest True Wireless Earbuds, the Creative Sensemore Air. What sets these apart is the claims that the Sensemore technology can serve as a hearing amplifier that helps boost surrounding sounds.
With thanks to Creative, we get to take the Sensemore Air for a spin.
Creative has gone with a compact clamshell design for the Sensemore Air, measuring in at 67.7 x 47 x 31.8mm (LxWxH). It is a good portable size to pocket and feels quite light. A quick peak at the specifications puts the entire unit at just 48.4g. Everything is made from lightweight plastic and it does look and feel it.
Opening up the clamshell though, the buds themselves with the LED ring is a very futuristic look and sets the Sensemore Air apart from the crowd.
As would be expected, they come with spare sizes of silicon ear tips so you have the option of three different sizes to find one that matches your needs.
The package comes with a note to say they need to be charged first, so don’t expect to be able to hit the ground running. Charging didn’t take too long as it probably didn’t start from empty (and I was using USB-C). But by the time dinner and dishes were done, the charging LEDs were off.
When I was reviewing the Creative Zen Hybrid, I used the SXFI app to control the audio for that headset. The manual for Sensemore Air refers to the Creative app instead, although it is worth noting that the SXFI app does work here as well but with less options. More on that later.
Pairing was simple. When the earbuds are in pairing mode, the LED ring flashes red and blue. Whilst my phone picked up the connection fairly quickly each time, I have noticed that it takes longer for it to show up as connected in the Creative app.
I am a fan of the SXFI capabilities of the Creative product lines, but let’s start with the headline act here – Sensemore Mode.
The marketing says “Designed to improve hearing, our innovative Sensemore technology boosts vocals and amplifies sound waves, ensuring that each and every sound can be heard louder. In turn, this allows you to communicate and listen to conversations effortlessly, in both quiet and busy environments. As a bonus, when set to a higher intensity, it could even benefit folks with mild hearing deficiencies. Experience a new level of audio clarity and stay connected anytime, anywhere!”
This follows a trend to increase the amplification of voices so the user can hear conversations clearer whilst cutting out background noise. Sensemore at it’s heart is a mode to …. well … I suppose act as a hearing aid to amplify sounds. There are definitely pros and cons to it.
With the Sensemore mode on, you can become hyper aware of every noise around you. Sensemore mode is essentially an audio repeater, it is indiscriminate in amplifying the sounds it picks up. I imagine that is how Superman feels with his super hearing. Every sound feels closer, louder, more distinct. Me typing away at the keyboard, the rustling of the garbage bag in the kitchen when someone throws rubbish away, Tapioca’s bell on his collar as he moves around.
If you are going for a walk in the nature, you could boost the sounds of nature as a way to relax. Or pick up when those pesky mozzies are buzzing around for blood.
There are 5 levels of Sensemore mode, at the minimum level I would describe it as on par with what Jabra markets as HearThrough – sound is passed through from the background. Going up the levels to maximum, there is a hiss from boosting the background sound and something like my keyboard is really clicky, much more than reality and sounds like I have put my ear right next to the keys as I type away.
I think to our Chief Unboxing Officer who gets overwhelmed when there is too much noise and too loud, Sensemore in a normal environment for me would cause him distress in a very short time. The great thing is, you can turn it off by double-tap on the left earbud to enable ANC mode, and all the noises magically fades away.
How is the Active Noise Cancelling on the Sensemore Air? It is not aggressive and as a result does not clip the audio quality to the degree other brands can do. It works to reduce ambient noise to a comfortable level.
On the box, Creative makes a mention of 6mm bio-cellulose drivers in the Sensemore Air. So what is it?
Bio-cellulose is an organic compound grown using certain types of bacteria. It is a renewable resource that is biodegradable and have great acoustic properties. This material is lightweight but with a stiff fibre construct, making it ideal in this application.
Creative has done a decent job here with good overall control of the narrative and presents the sound for middle-of-the-road clarity. The sound stage is broad and by and large the separation of instruments is clear. Despite the warmth of the bass, I feel there is an overall coolness to the sound, and on occasion it leaves me a little wanting. However with a bit of tweaking on the EQ, you can overcome these “flaws” on the default profile and make your music sweet.
Codec support is limited to AAC and SBC, there is no support for AptX here.
Creative claims a 10 hours battery life on a single charge, and the case will provide an additional 25 hours. This is of course, with Sensemore, ANC and Ambient mode off. If you have one of those modes on, there is a penalty of about 2 hours. Taking it in with a grain of salt, you are still looking at a good 6+ hours of usage which isn’t too shabby.
A 10 minutes charge will give 2 hours of play time.
You have the option of charging via USB-C, alternatively the case is Qi-compatible.
There are three indicators on the front of the case – the outer two are indicators for each earbud, and the center is for the case. Battery level goes with the very logical and universal traffic light system. Glowing red means it is charging and solid green is fully charged.
Opening up the case though, the LED ring will glow red when the buds are charging.
The Creative Sensemore Air is IPX5 rated. That is protection against low pressure water stream from any angle. Splashes and light rain is fine, but don’t take them swimming.
Using the app, you can switch between Ambient Mode or Sensemore Mode. This is handy as you Sensemore mode may get too distracting or intense for some people or situations. Ambient mode allows you to stay aware of your surroundings, Sensemore is an augmentation.
There are a few, are they deal breakers? Not really I don’t think for most of them. But there is one particular one that is more annoying to me than others.
I have had a few occasions where the earbuds didn’t power up after being taken out of the case, in particular the right side. I have had to pop them back in the case and take them back out.
On the same note, I have had on at least two occasions where the buds either didn’t sit in the case properly, or perhaps the eargels were turned inside out preventing the earbuds from turning off. So when I grabbed my phone to answer a call, they were directed to the Sensemore Air in the case and hilarity didn’t really ensure.
One thing I really didn’t like is the voice feedback when I first put the earbuds in. They in sequence tell me they are “powering on”, “Bluetooth connected” and “Battery level [high / medium / low]”, in both ears. And if I pulled them out one after another, then I get the message on each earbud but staggered. I can’t find a way to turn that off, and it gives me that status at every start up, even if I am trying to answer a call.
The buttons are touch sensitive. I prefer something with feedback but that is a personal preference.
There is a lot to like about the Creative Sensemore Air. They have packed a lot of technology in – Sensemore, SXFI, IPX5, ANC, multi-point and decent battery life – into a decent pair of earbuds at an attractive price point of AUD$134.95.
For people who might need a little help with hearing, but doesn’t want or need a hearing aid? This is a discreet way of giving yourself a hand … or ear. Still looking for a last minute Christmas gift idea? These are definitely worth considering.
Wearing Style: In-ear
Product Type: True Wireless
Water Resistance (IP Rating): IPX5
Operating Temperature: 0–45°C
Dimensions: Earbuds (per earbud): 26.7 x 21.2 x 24.5 mm / 1.1 x 0.8 x 1.0 inches, Charging Case: 67.7 x 47.0 x 31.8 mm / 2.7 x 1.9 x 1.3 inches
Weight: (Per Earbud) 5.2g / 0.18 oz, Charging Case: 38g (1.34 oz)
Cable Length (End-to-end): 0.22m / 0.72 ft
Battery Type and Life: (Per earbud) Rechargeable Lithium-ion Polymer Battery x 1 – 60 mAh ((Charging case) Rechargeable Lithium-ion Polymer Battery x 1 – 400 mAh)
Up to 35 hours total (ANC / Ambient Mode / Sensemore Mode off)
Up to 27 hours total (ANC / Ambient Mode / Sensemore Mode on)
Up to 10 hours per charge (ANC / Ambient Mode / Sensemore Mode off)
Up to 8 hours per charge (ANC / Ambient Mode / Sensemore Mode on)
Charging Type: USB-C, Wireless Charging, Qi-compatible
Microphone: Frequency Response: 100–10,000 Hz
Sensitivity @ 1 kHz: – 38 dBV/Pa
Type: Omni-directional x 2 (per earbud)
Voice Assistant: Siri, Google Assistant
Driver Type: Bio-cellulose x 2
Driver Size: 6 mm (0.24″)
Frequency Response: 20–20,000 Hz
Bluetooth Version: 5.2
Profiles: (HFP) Hands-free Profile, (A2DP) Advanced Audio Distribution Profile, (AVRCP) Audio / Video Remote Control Profile
Operating Frequency: 2402–2480 MHz
Operating Range: Up to 10m / 33 ft*, *Up to 10m / 33 ft measured in open space. Walls and structures may affect range of device.
Technology: Ambient Mode, Active Noise Cancellation, Sensemore Mode
Voice Assistant: Yes
Noise Control: Yes
Type: Customizable Touch Control
Software: Creative app