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Creative Zen Air Pro review: Not so Pro

Our Rating :
£69.99 from
Price when reviewed : £60
inc. VAT

The Pro may be the most advanced entry in Creative’s Zen Air series but there are plenty of more capable wireless earbuds available


  • Extensive audio customisation
  • LE audio support
  • Appealing price


  • Ineffective noise cancelling
  • App issues
  • Lacking a USP

The Creative Zen Air Pro joined the Singaporean manufacturer’s roster of true wireless earbuds at the tail end of 2023 and are the most expensive entry in its Zen Air range.

They’re still relatively cheap by noise-cancelling earbuds standards, however, and offer decent specifications for the money alongside various customisation options.

But those impressive specs aren’t reflected in their performance, with sub-par active noise cancellation, unremarkable audio quality and issues with the companion app leaving them looking a little amateurish.

Creative Zen Air Pro review: What do you get for the money?

You can pick up the Zen Air Pro for £60, which is a fiver more than the Zen Air Plus they launched alongside and pricier than the original Zen Air (£40) and Zen Air Dot (£30). There’s just one colourway available – white – and Creative includes three sets of silicone eartips to help you achieve a comfortable and secure in-ear fit.

Bluetooth connectivity comes courtesy of version 5.3 and there’s support for the LC3 and LC3+ codecs in addition to SBC and AAC. The buds weigh 5.3g apiece, are IPX5 water resistant and offer nine hours of battery life, a figure that drops to six hours if you engage active noise cancellation. The 41g charging case, which supports both USB-C and wireless charging, takes total playtime to 33 hours without ANC (22 hours with it).

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to affordable noise-cancelling alternatives, with Sony’s WF-C700N (£88), the JBL Tune Flex (£59) and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds FE (£79) all worth considering depending on your needs and smartphone operating system. The Zen Air Pro also face competition from within their own stable, with the five-star rated Pro model (RRP £85) now priced at £50.

READ NEXT: Best noise-cancelling earbuds

Creative Zen Air Pro review: What do we like about them?

The Creative Zen Air Pro don’t weigh a great deal but have quite chunky main drums and these filled my ears in a way that blocked out external sound and isolated what I was listening to effectively.

The buds also proved comfortable during long listening sessions; their fit is relatively shallow and this prevented too much pressure from being applied to my tragus. The Pro are superior to the Zen Air Plus in this regard, but it’s worth noting that the bulky nature of the earbud housings may still prove an issue for those with small ears.

Connectivity is commendable, with the Zen Air Pro offering support for LE Audio codecs LC3 and LC3+ as well as the standard SBC and AAC options. These are a boon to lower bit-rate audio sources but you’ll need a compatible device to make use of them. Smartphones that support LE Audio include the Samsung Galaxy S23 and Google Pixel 8, and I used the latter to put the buds through their paces.

The default sound profile is fairly neutral and should keep most people happy across a variety of genres. Voice-led audio was handled particularly well, with dialogue reproduced clearly and naturally. I would still recommend dipping into the Creative app and engaging the in-app equaliser, however.

Doing so (without making any adjustments to the frequency curve) immediately changes how the Zen Air Pro sound. This is unusual – typically, you need to adjust a band or two to notice an impact – but I wasn’t complaining as the impact on sound quality was positive. Presence was increased across the board, low frequencies were slightly heartier and there was greater sparkle in the upper registers.

The range of audio customisation options available in the Creative app is impressive, too. There are loads of EQ presets – twelve for music, one for films and 30 for gaming, including profiles tuned for specific titles like The Witcher 3 – plus a ten-band graphic equaliser. I’ve used more impactful equaliser settings but they all alter the default tuning in a meaningful enough way and the sheer range of options is worthy of praise. 

Touch controls are also pleasingly customisable. You’re free to choose which commands are assigned to double and triple taps, with the only fixed controls being the long presses that govern volume adjustment. Few low-cost earbuds offer that level of control personalisation, meaning the Zen Air Pro score well in that department.

They also score points for supporting Bluetooth multipoint, which is no guarantee at this price. I’ve come to rely on this feature for convenient switching between my laptop and smartphone and it works well here, albeit with a slight delay.

Creative Zen Air Pro review: What could be improved?

My issues with the Zen Air Pro range from minor annoyances to shortcomings that limit their appeal quite considerably.

Falling into the latter category is their noise cancellation. With ANC on, there’s only the slightest perceivable difference in the attenuation of external sound. When standing next to a main road, I had to push volume above 70% to hear the podcast I was listening to clearly, while the tannoy system on an otherwise quiet train made comprehending the same podcast impossible. 

Compared with options like the EarFun Air Pro 3 (£90) and Anker Soundcore P3 (£60), the Zen Air Pro struggle to put a meaningful dent in environmental distractions. Furthermore, in quieter conditions, it became apparent that the ANC produces an audible hiss. Once I was aware of it, I found it very grating.

Microphone quality is also average. Creative says the buds use AI-powered algorithms to reduce the impact of external sound on calls but I didn’t feel this worked well, with background noise intruding regularly and affecting the clarity of my voice. Other areas of disappointment included the touch controls, which while customisable, proved unreliable, and the absence of wear detection – a common and very handy feature.

I had some issues with the app, too. There were a couple of occasions when the earbuds would connect and disconnect from the app repeatedly, and installing firmware updates proved problematic. It would tell me there was an update available and that it was downloading but it wouldn’t progress beyond 0%. Restarting the app rectified these issues but they were frustrating hiccups that soured my overall experience. 

Similarly, I found it difficult to take the Zen Air Pro out of their case. Their plastic body is extremely smooth, making it tricky to get a purchase on the housings and prise them out. I resorted to either moistening my fingers for additional grip or grabbing the silicone eartips and these methods worked fine but this level of effort shouldn’t be necessary to extract the buds from their case.

READ NEXT: Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones

Creative Zen Air Pro review: Should you buy them?

If it’s a straight shootout between the new Creative Zen Air Plus and Zen Air Pro, it’s worth paying the extra tenner for the Pro. They sound better, are more comfortable and their noise cancellation is slightly more effective, too. They’ve also got longer battery life, improved water resistance and support LC3+.

I would encourage you to shop around, however, as there are plenty of earbuds offering a superior all-round package. Options like the EarFun Air Pro 3, Anker Soundcore P3 and Creative’s own Outlier Pro are more capable options, especially where noise cancellation is concerned, while the Sony WF-C700N and Samsung Galaxy Buds FE are also strong performers in this price bracket.

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