Accessory Review: Creative Outlier Air Wireless Earbuds – The Game Changer
It was a hot summer morning. I and my friend, a copy of Counter-Strike 1.6 each in hand, were slowly scanning shelves of our local Careffour Supermarket, in search of standalone PC microphones to go with the game. And with little money left, as we were both 7 and 9 years old respectively, we could both only afford the cheapest microphone in the store, which coincidentally was made by Creative. Ever since, I’ve been associating the brand with affordable, yet solid products. But never in my mind would I imagine that the company that was selling its wares for quite literal nickels and dimes, would ever release anything worthy of mainstream, high end market. But now, nearly 17 years later, I’ve been proven wrong. As Creative’s Outlier Air Wireless Earbuds, are anything but low end.
Before we get into specifics in terms of quality, it is important to outline what Creative Outlier Air is, or rather are. They are completely wireless in-ear air buds, which are as cyberpunk as it gets. As both their futuristic, Detroit: Beyond Human-like design, and contemporary materials, result in a product which is quite literally out of time – and in the best way possible. Below this paragraph, you can find all the specifications of this rather impressive piece of kit:
- Immensely impressive, 30 hour battery life.
- Graphene Diaphragm, which results in an borderline unnoticeable weight of the buds
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Qualcomm aptX, which significantly improves the quality of audio output
- Dual voice calls
- IPX5 sweat-proof protection, which allows you to use your outliers in high temperatures, and during strenuous physical activity.
- Siri and Google Assistant support
As you can see, the above specs of Creative’s newest earbuds are quite impressive, to say the least. However, there is a catch to the 30-hour battery life. As the earbuds, can in-fact operate for 30 hours, without having to be plugged to an outlet. But the buds themselves only carry a 10-hour charge, whereas the case, in which they come, carries the additional 20-hours. But it takes only two mere hours to charge the Outlier Airs to full. But even if you remove the carry case/charging case out of the picture, the Outlier Airs still outlast the vast majority of its competition as other wireless earbuds, such as BeatsX, only last up-to 8-hours.
No matter how you look at it, the battery life of Outlier Airs is truly a thing to behold. And yes, they do in-fact last the advertised 30-hours, as quite literally, with watch in hand, I made sure that they work as advertised. Another thing that I’d like to highlight is the solid, and concrete feel of the earbuds. As despite of their meagre, borderline unnoticeable weight, they are incredibly solid. The case itself, despite of its rather large size, is just as light, as it weighs just over 50 grams. However, unlike the earbuds, it does feature some moving parts, and therefore it can feel quite rickety at times. As the sliding insert, which holds the charging dock, does move around the outer case. But no matter how hard you push it, or rattle it around, it does stay in place, and I highly doubt that it will ever disconnect out of its own accord. The physical quality of Outlier Airs, is truly exceptional. But as great as the buds are in their execution and design, they are even better when it comes to their ease of use, and most importantly the audio quality.
Most wireless earbuds can be a hassle to pair with your audio device. However, the Creative Outlier Air Wireless Earbuds, pretty much pair themselves. As all you have to do to pair them with your device, is simply hold the outer button, which is masked underneath the grapheme shell, for three seconds, and then select either of the buds on the screen of your mobile phone, or tablet. Once you have paired one of the buds, you do not have to repeat the entirety of the process, as the second one bud is paired, a notification will appear on your screen asking if you want to pair the other – and yes, you do want to pair the other earbud.
Pairing of Outlier Airs takes literal seconds. However, the earbuds are not supported by any of the modern consoles, so if you want to use your buds with your PlayStation 4, or Xbox One, you will have to purchase a third party dongle, as otherwise you’ll console will inform you that the device which you are trying to pair is not supported by neither the hardware or the software. And considering that Push-Start is mainly a gaming site, this may come to some of you as quite a bummer. But Bluetooth dongles can be purchased these days for literal spare change, so in the end it is a little inconvenient, but it is not the end of the world.
Besides my brand new Creative Outlier Airs, I also own a pair of BeatsX, and the biggest difference between the two, is that the first gives you complete control over the device to which it is paired. This means that unlike some wireless headsets or earbuds, like BeatsX for example, Creative Outlier Air Earbuds are truly hands free. As they allow you to control the volume, fast-forward or rewind the songs, skip songs and other audio, pause the current audio, answer calls, and activate your digital assistant of choice. So if you’re on your morning run, on your way to work, or even lounging on the sofa, you don’t even have to think about your phone or tablet, as Creative Outlier Air Earbuds give you complete control over the audio features of the paired device. Now that we have covered Outliers back to front, and all around – it is time to talk about sound. And oh boy, let me tell you, in that particular department Outliers are second to none – especially not at their price point.
When testing Creative’s Outlier Airs, I’ve listened to everything. From Jerry Reed and Townes Van Zandt, through The Clash, Slayer, and Pantera, all the way down to Tiesto, Headhunterz, and Macky Gee. And I have to say that no matter the genre, whether it’s Folk, Trash, or Trance, the quality of sound if of the utmost excellence. I have owned a lot of headphones, headsets, and earbuds over the years, from Skullcandy, through JBL and Sony, all the way up to Bose. I have owned, and heard it all. And the only earphones which I could compare Outlier Airs to are Bose Quitecomfort 20s. But those are not just wired, but also cost more than twice as much as Outliers.
What makes Creative Outliers truly great is the range of sound which they provide. As the quality of sound is maintained at all times no matter how far you jump from one song to the next. And whether it is “Gratitude” by Beastie Boys, “Scars on the Crucifix” by Deicide, or even “The Gambler” by Kenny Rogers, you will never be disappointed. But that being said, the Outliers do have a rather noticeable base amplification, so they are at their best when listening to songs such as “King Nothing” by Metallica, or “Sonic Empire” by Members of Mayday.
To wrap it up, all that really has to be said about Creative Outlier Air Earbuds, is that they are truly second to none, and especially for the price of £74.99. The price point is quite baffling, as considering the quality of the product, Creative could have easily charged well over £100, and it would still be worth it. Even if they were to charge £150, which is double of the current entry point, Outliers would still be £150 cheaper than the BOSE alternative, QuietControl 30 – which is not just bulkier and heavier, but also doesn’t offer an on-the-go charging solution. And if you are in the market for wireless earphones, then there is simply no other option than the Creative Outlier Air, as they are cheaper, and simply better than all the other available alternatives, and now after spending some time with what technically is a casual product, I’d love to have a look and listen at one of Creative’s gaming headsets *wink, wink* *nudge, nudge*.
Score: Stone Cold 10/10