Creative Technology launches the Outlier Pro, the successor of the true-wireless earbuds with the suffix Gold that were already released in 2020. From a technical point of view, they are clearly positioned above the manufacturer’s inexpensive Air V3. The in-ear headphones are supposed to score with strong active noise cancellation (ANC) and up to 60 hours of battery life. But can they also convince in terms of sound? Our Creative Outlier Pro review clarifies that and much more.
|Maximum operating range||12m (without obstacle)|
|Battery life||Up to 15hrs, up to 60hrs total with charging case; (varies depending on volume level and audio content)|
|Charge Time||2 hrs (for headphones); 3 hrs (for charging case via USB-C)|
|Size charging case (W x H x D)||75 mm x 30 mm x 45 mm|
|Weight||87 g (charging case & earbud); 7 g per earbud|
|Main features||Transparent mode; Active noise cancellation (ANC); Super X-Fi|
|Price||€ 65.99 *|
Creative Outlier Pro review: what’s included
The new Creative Outlier Pro come in a compact, primarily white cardboard box complete with black lettering, which provides information on the outside about the key features of the manufacturer’s new top-of-the-line TWS model.
After opening the magnetic lid, we immediately see the Earbuds, which are placed above the Laseuti in the packaging. Below the duo, we then find the rest of the scope of delivery, which consists of a 30 cm long USB-A to USB-C charging cable, a small bag with two additional pairs of Ear Tips in sizes S and L, as well as the obligatory instructions and safety notes.
Design and workmanship
The first thing that catches the eye in the Creative Outlier Pro review is the unusual charging case. Instead of a typical pill-shaped case, the manufacturer here relies on an elongated, rounded case that is remotely reminiscent of a powerbank or e-cigarette battery carrier.
The charging case is 75 mm long, 30 mm high and 45 mm deep, but it fits quite well in a pocket due to its unusual shape. Purely visually, the case looks very appealing with its shiny silver surface (called “Metallic Umber”). The manufacturer’s logo is printed on the front, while the back is kept in matte black. The same goes for the sides: One of them shows the logo of the Super X-Fi technology, while the other side has the USB-C port for charging, as well as three LEDs including the designation for the charging status of the left and right Earbuds, as well as the case itself, printed on it.
Opening the case is also interesting. We push the case’s inner workings to the left by pressing on the right side, so that both Earbuds can be charged. Thus, there is no classic folding mechanism.
The Outlier Pro Earbuds themselves present themselves on the sides and back in matching colors to the top of the charging case, while the touch-sensitive top is set off in glossy black. A white circle indicates the touch controls. Below that is a status LED, and above that is one of the (altogether six installed) microphones for external noise.
The in-ear headphones have a teardrop shape, which we already know from other models of the manufacturer and which looks a bit like the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro. On the inside, we find the magnetic charging contacts, as well as an inscription with the name of the respective side.
Workmanship of the Creative Outlier Pro
While the design of the charging case and earbuds looks classy and sleek, the Creative Outlier Pro have to make their first concessions when it comes to build quality. This already starts with the case, which looks a bit rickety when opened. Especially in the area of the sliding mechanism. The Earbuds themselves leave a good impression, but they are not free of flaws.
The gaps between the two components are a bit too big and it looks like the two parts are not completely parallel to each other. In addition, the touch-sensitive exterior is very susceptible to fingerprints, so the Earbuds do not look as new as they should when they are first used. Otherwise, there is nothing to complain about in terms of workmanship.
Wearing comfort of the Creative Outlier Pro
We were particularly pleased with the wearing comfort of the earbuds in the Creative Outlier Pro test. With a weight of around 7 grams per pair of in-ear headphones, they are a bit heavier than most of the competition, but they also sit comfortably in the ear over the long term.
The buds are inserted into the ear and then twisted into the ear cup. This guarantees a secure fit, which is supposed to withstand even fast movements during sports. We can confirm this in the practical test: Even when jogging, the Outlier Pro sit firmly in the ear and do not slip. Even after several hours, nothing pinches or squeezes, and since the earbuds only protrude minimally over the ear, you can also wear them comfortably under a cap.
Features and battery life
For the comparatively low, non-binding retail price of around 90 euros, the Creative Outlier Pro bring out the big guns. The Earbuds transmit wirelessly in the modern Bluetooth 5.2 standard and thus enable a range of 10 meters to the audio source according to the manufacturer’s specifications, which we were able to exceed by almost two meters during the test.
Thanks to IPX5 certification, rain and sweat should not harm the in-ears, but you should better not wear them for swimming or showering. The audio codecs SBC and AAC, on the other hand, are only standard, and the same applies to the frequency band from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Unfortunately, the Outlier Pro does not support high-resolution codecs.
Three omnidirectional microphones per earbud (100 Hz to 10,000 Hz frequency) are offered, as well as support for Google Assistant and Siri voice assistants. Pairing with the respective audio source also works reliably and quickly.
Battery life of the Creative Outlier Pro
We were pleasantly surprised by the Creative Outlier Pro’s battery life, which the manufacturer also advertises as a unique selling point. The maximum runtime in combination with the charging case and earbuds is supposed to be 60 hours, whereas the in-ears themselves are supposed to last for about 15 hours. However, both rates are only valid when we deactivated ANC and transparency mode.
We can also largely confirm the two mentioned rates in the practical test. However, the battery runtime drops to around 12.5 hours with the ANC function enabled, which is still a really excellent rate. That is almost three times as long as the AirPods Pro (our review), for example, and twice as long as the runtime of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds (our review). Thus, the Outlier Pro are a real continuous runner. However, the charging process of the case including the Earbuds takes a comparatively long time of about three hours. Charging can also be done wirelessly via the Qi standard.
Operating the Creative Outlier Pro
The Creative Outlier Pro are operated via the touch-sensitive outer sides, with different commands being triggered for audio control, calls and system functions on both sides.
Once you have internalized all the commands, the operation is quite easy. Strangely, however, the manufacturer does without inputs that are triggered by touching the touch surfaces once. Thus, the operation is largely done via double and triple taps, as well as holding down.
For example, a double tap on the left lets us switch between the sound modes (ANC, transparency and normal), while the same command on the right pauses or resumes playback. Three taps on the left activates the voice assistant, while on the right this switches to the next song – jumping back to the previous track, however, is not possible.
Plus point in the operation: the TWS headphones act in the touch control depending on the current mode. If music is playing in the background, we can change the volume by holding down for 3 seconds. If the music is paused, the same command activates the Bluetooth pairing mode. Switching modes is seamless and very precise. The operating concept is convincing.
Audio quality, ANC and microphones
From a sonic point of view, the Creative Outlier Pro get down to business in a spirited manner. Creative relies here on 10 mm drivers with graphene coating, which map the usual frequency band from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. The manufacturer promises “more clarity and increased bass”.
We can confirm the latter after just a few seconds with the Earbuds in our ears, because the bass tones in particular are extremely present and have a lot of punch. Nevertheless, especially the low bass proves to be clearly defined and precise, which is very pleasing for electronic music.
Fortunately, the mids and trebles also reach a really good level. Voice reproduction is clear and dynamic, which also makes the Outlier Pro suitable for listening to podcasts. The problematic trebles of the previous generation, which tended to overdrive at high volumes, are also a thing of the past. Even at maximum volume, high frequencies are not reproduced sibilantly. The somewhat unattractive peaks have also been toned down considerably, although they are still slightly present. However, if we turn the volume down minimally, this malus is omitted.
In terms of sound, the Creative Outlier Pro with the present bass are thus primarily designed for listening fun, and the headphones indeed offer that. However, friends of a neutral sound image will only have limited joy with the Earbuds.
ANC and transparency mode
The Outlier Pro’s ANC mode also presents itself as really good, filtering out monotone noises and low frequencies in particular excellently. Voices and traffic noise, as well as typing on the keyboard, are only attenuated – but that is also relatively strong.
The ANC function can only be turned on and off on the earbuds themselves. In combination with one (of two) companion apps, the active noise cancellation can be fine-tuned in a total of five levels.
The same applies to the transparency mode (called ambient mode here), which can also be adjusted in five stages via the app. It amplifies voices and ambient noise, but cannot completely convince because the distortion in the sound is too high. The result no longer has much in common with a realistic representation of voices and traffic noises, which other headphones manage much better.
Microphone quality of the Creative Outlier Pro
The quality of the built-in microphones is also on a really good level, considering the price. This is especially true in quiet environments, where the user’s own voice is transmitted clearly and dynamically. However, when the ambient noise gets louder, it can overpower the voice a bit, which leads to a choppy reproduction and thus to a poorer intelligibility. For indoor calling, however, the Creative Outlier Pro deliver really good quality.
App connectivity: Creative App and SXFI App
As mentioned earlier, the Creative Outlier Pro draws on a total of two companion apps that are available for free download on Android and iOS. In the Creative app, for example, there is the option to perform firmware updates, while the sound can be adjusted with the help of countless equalizer presets.
Not only classic modes like Music, Movie, Rpck or Dance can be found here, but also special game modes (Apex Legends, Call of Duty, MOBA, Rocket League and many more). The app also informs us about the battery status of both Earbuds and lets us fine-tune ANC and transparency mode separately. Another practical feature is the option to customize the touch controls according to your preferences and to reassign all commands.
This is joined by the SXFI app, which is supposed to provide a very personal sound experience thanks to Super X-Fi headphone holography. First point of criticism: The app cannot even be used without registration. Once registered, the user then has to take pictures of the left and right ear, as well as the head, in order to provide a personalized sound. This is relatively difficult to do alone and does not really improve the sound, at least when listening to music.
This is supposed to create a virtual surround sound for movies and games, but the improvement is hardly worth mentioning here as well. Especially since the sound enhancement only applies to locally stored music – streaming content from Spotify and co does not benefit from Super X-Fi.
Summary on the Creative Outlier Pro
The Creative Outlier Pro TWS earbuds surprised me positively in the test. The outstanding battery life and the high wearing comfort stand out positively. However, the comparatively inexpensive in-ear headphones also make a good impression in terms of sound. Especially in combination with the extensive equalizer within the app. An effective ANC and an intuitive, precise operation round off the overall package.
However, we have to criticize the build quality, which cannot quite keep up with other headphones in the same price range. The quite penetrating smell of the headphones is also a bit annoying. Especially if you should be sensitive to it. The advantages of SXFI support do not offer any significant added value, especially since they are hidden behind a questionable registration requirement including biometric data storage. All in all, the Creative Outlier Pro deliver a convincing overall package that makes the headphones a real price-performance tip.