- Brand: Creative
- Battery Life: Up to 15 hours on earbuds, up to 60 hours on carry case
- Bluetooth: 5.2
- Additional Tips: 4
- Noise Cancellation: Yes
- Charging Case: Yes
- Codecs: SBC, AAC
- Drivers: 10mm graphene-coated dynamic
- IP rating: IPX5
- Wireless charging: Qi
- Microphones: 6
- Weight: 7.2g/0.25oz per bud
- Outstanding battery life
- Excellent ANC
- Comfortable design
- Good overall sound quality
- Companion app useful
- Some may find buds heavier than expected
- SXFI only works with offline music
- No wear detection
Creative is one of the most enduring names in audio hardware. Its latest earbuds, the Creative Outlier Pro, tick all the right boxes, such as top-tier active noise cancellation and exceptional battery life. To boot, they come with brilliant audio quality.
Furthermore, they are comfortable, quick to charge, and are priced extremely competitively versus other earbuds with similar specs. So, read on to find out what we loved about the Creative Outlier Pro true wireless earbuds in our hands-on review.
Creative Outlier Pro Style and Comfort
The Creative Outlier Pro has a relatively standardized earbud design. They are oval-shaped and have a sort of deep bronze, offset brown color with a slightly metallic finish, with the same metallic finish present on the case. The Creative website reliably informs me that the official name is “Metallic Umber,” but you get what I mean. It’s a standard color, which is okay, but you might prefer the option to have something in all black or white. Unfortunately, the option isn’t there yet, but perhaps with later iterations, Creative will offer different color schemes.
The earbuds themselves weigh 7.2g/0.25oz each, which, compared to other earbuds, is definitely on the heavy side of things. For example, Apple’s AirPods weigh 4g/0.14oz, while Anker’s Soundcore Life P3 buds weigh 4.8g/017oz. However, once you put the Creative Outlier Pro earbuds into your ears, you don’t notice the additional weight. The design of the earbuds is balanced enough that when you put them in, it offers support around the ear, meaning the additional weight doesn’t cause unnecessary discomfort.
What you will find, however, is that the earbuds do tend to protrude more from your ear than you might be used to with a slightly smaller design. If you are especially conscious of your earbuds sticking out or you want something slightly sleeker, the Creative Outlier Pro might not be the best option for you. Despite that, the Creative Outlier Pro’s overall style is good.
The additional bulk of the earbud housing itself is home to the 10mm graphene-coated dynamic drivers and the additional tech for Creative’s SXFI technology (which enables 3D audio on the earbuds), so the additional bulk isn’t just for style.
In the box, you will also find three sets of ear tips, which, as ever, you should switch out and try to find the best ear tip fit for your ear. Making a consistent and solid seal with your ear is the optimal way to experience music and other audio types, so switch them out and make sure you find the right tip.
Creative Outlier Pro Case and Battery Life
The Creative Outlier Pro case itself is interesting. It uses the same long and cylindrical design as previous Creative Outlier earbuds, which instead of flipping over from the top, actually slide out to the side. It’s primarily designed for right-handed people as the logo is that way round, but obviously, you can use it with your left hand.
You’ll find the magnetic locking mechanism is reasonably strong, but if you hold it and shake it, the sliding mechanism will unleash. You could use it to flick your earbuds out with style, but when it’s in your bag or in your pocket, it won’t slide out. However, with the size of the Creative Outlier Pro case, it probably won’t fit into your pocket, especially if you’re wearing a tight pair of jeans or a suit, for instance. You’re not going to slip this case into your pocket and forget about it. It’s not necessarily something I would go for usually, as something smaller is preferable, but the style of the case itself is fine.
The case is home to the Creative Outlier Pro’s extensive battery life, which gives you up to 60 hours of playback with ANC switched off, falling to upwards of 40 hours with ANC switched on. Overall, that puts the Creative Outlier Pro way up there in terms of battery life. Comparable earbuds, such as the Beats Powerbeats 4 wireless buds provide around 15 hours of playback but cost nearly $60 to $70 more. Another similar set is the JVC HA-XC90T earbuds that again cost around $60 to $70 more and deliver up to 15 hours of playback.
What this means is that overall, considering the cost of the Creative Outlier Pro buds (retailing for around $90 at the time of review), you are getting easily one of the best performing earbuds in terms of battery life for the money, almost incomparable to most other similarly priced earbuds.
You could take a look at the Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 buds that retail for a similar price but offer 10 hours of playback (although you will get up to 80 hours of playback from the charging carry case with those). But overall, the battery life of the Creative Outlier Pro is one of its best features and sets it apart from other earbuds at this price point.
With substantial battery life, you expect the battery charging time to be equal. And indeed, the Creative Outlier Pro takes between two to three hours to reach a full charge depending on if you’re using a wired or wireless connection. As with most earbuds, it has a fast-charging function that delivers around two hours of playback on a rapid 10-minute charge.
Creative Outlier Pro Connectivity and Codecs
The Creative Outlier Pro uses Bluetooth 5.2, enabling superfast pairing between the earbuds and your device. As soon as you open the Creative Outlier Pro carry case, it will automatically reconnect to the previously connected device or any device previously connected that is seeking to pair and does so almost instantaneously. And once it is paired, the Creative Outlier Pro connection remains strong.
One thing to note is that although the Creative Outlier Pro buds do use Bluetooth 5.2, they do not have multi-point support, meaning you can only connect to one device at a time. It’s not a huge oversight, and it’s not something that most people will miss in terms of features, but it is worth noting.
Something else to note is that the Creative Outlier Pro earbuds use the SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs. These are the standard audio Bluetooth codecs that you expect to find with almost every set of wireless earbuds. Those looking for a higher audio playback quality will note that they don’t use something like aptX or aptX Adaptive. Those two audio codecs offer higher resolution streaming and better efficiency at lower bit rates, but overall, the SBC and AAC Bluetooth audio codecs work fine, carrying my music with clarity.
Long-time Creative Outlier users will note the loss of aptX from previous versions like the Outlier Air V2, and considering these are the “Pro” version. It does seem like more advanced Bluetooth codecs should be available.
Creative Outlier Sound Quality and ANC
So, on to the big question: how do the Creative Outlier Pro true wireless earbuds sound?
We know from previous outings with Creative’s earbuds to expect a good, well-balanced sound full of rich tones. And the Creative Outlier Pros are no different from this; the overall soundstage is bright and roomy, and the bass is well placed but not overstated. It doesn’t disturb the rest of the listening experience.
One thing you might note is that the treble and top-end can be a little bit little short at times. It doesn’t always come through as clearly as it might do, but I didn’t find it overly disturbing when listening to tracks with fast punchy horn sections or high tempo dance music. It’s balanced out through a mid-range with enough room for individual instruments and other aspects of the mid-range to shine through without issue.
If you crank the volume up, though, you begin to experience some distortion and crackling. However, given that that makes it extremely loud, you are unlikely to be listening to music or other audio sources through the Creative Outlier Pro at this volume level for any period.
The overall sound quality of these earbuds is good, though the sound profile probably won’t suit everyone. It’s tuned towards the bassier side of things, so if you’re looking for something with a natural, balanced sound, you should probably look elsewhere. One thing I did find is that the balance of the Creative Outlier Pro buds is good for spoken word. I listened to several podcasts while using the earbuds, and they all sounded clean and precise, with each word coming through with excellent accuracy, making listening to them a joy.
Of course, the other thing you can do (which you can read more about in the following section) is enable the Creative SXFI app, but as you will read, it’s only available for locally stored audio and doesn’t work with audio streaming services. Furthermore, if you’re unhappy with the sound of the Creative Outlier Pro, you can use the Creative companion app to change the EQ settings.
Creative Outlier Pro ANC
Active noise cancellation is an important feature, and the Creative Outlier Pro active noise cancellation is simply put, brilliant. When you consider the price that these earbuds retail for and some of the other options on the market at this price point, you have to say that the Creative Outlier Pro offers excellent value.
Testing the Creative Outlier Pro ANC versus an airline white noise video reveals that it blocks out a good proportion of noise. There will always be some noise leakage because it’s a very high-pitched sound, but versus most day-to-day sounds you will encounter, the Outlier Pro ANC will spare those interruptions when you are trying to concentrate. The ambient noise mode does a decent job. I’m not personally a fan of ambient noise modes, regardless of how good they are. But if you do require an ambient noise mode, it works perfectly well with minimal feedback.
Customize the Creative Outlier Pro EQ and Try SFXI 3D Audio
The Creative App is available for both iOS and Android devices. Once you download and install the companion app, you can create a custom EQ suited to your listening preferences or choose from one of the many integrated EQ options. Interestingly, you’ll also find EQ settings for popular games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, and Rocket League, or more general game-focused EQs for MOBAs, FPS, RPGs, and so on. It’s a nice touch, for sure.
The Creative App houses the hybrid ANC settings you can use to manually change the strength of the active noise cancellation, switching from level one for minimal ANC to level five for maximum strength. You can also adjust the ambient mode level within the active noise cancellation settings. The ambient mode allows noise to pass through the microphones, keeping you in touch with your surroundings when wearing the earbuds. The ambient mode level can also be set from a minimum of level one to a maximum of level five.
Also in the Creative Outlier Pro companion app, you will find the option to customize the touch controls. There’s a range of different options you can choose between two presses, three presses, long haul presses, and so on. The Creative Outlier Pro also has an option for Low Latency Mode, which reduces Bluetooth transmission time lag for synchronized audio and video. This option is handy if you are watching something on a video streaming service and the audio isn’t syncing up with the video properly.
The final thing to note with the Creative Outlier Pro is that you can also use SXFI, Creative’s integrated spatial audio experience that provides 3D sound. However, the integration doesn’t work with music streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music or YouTube, and so on. The only files you can use with SXFI (a separate app to the Creative App, available for iOS and Android) are local music files downloaded to your device. Now, that can become an issue for those who rely heavily on all music streaming apps instead of keeping a music collection downloaded on their device.
When it’s up and running, it makes a difference in the audio quality and can certainly boost the quality you experience.
Should You Buy the Creative Outlier Pro Earbuds?
Now, are the Creative Outlier Pro true wireless earbuds with hybrid ANC worth your hard-earned money?
The Creative Outlier Pro currently retails for $89.99, and for that money, you will struggle to find better ANC. The active noise cancellation on these earbuds is exceptional for the price, beating out many of its more expensive competitors.
Another major plus point for the Outlier Pro buds is the battery life. The 15 hours of playback you get from the buds is exceptional and, again, versus other earbuds at this price point and other options that cost way more. When you consider the addition of the carry case, which adds another chunk of hours to the overall playback time, the wireless charging, IPX5 water resistance, and excellent sound, it’s clear that Creative has delivered another brilliant set of true wireless earbuds. So, are the Creative Outlier Pro buds worth the 90 bucks they’re currently retailing for?
I would say absolutely, yes.
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