- Support for AAC and aptX codecs
- Bluetooth 5
- IPX5 water-resistant
- Battery life
- Tight buttons
- Mediocre noise isolation
Whether your phone has a 3.5mm headphone jack or not, I’m sure you’ve been eyeing wireless headphones. Even if you’re an advocate of superior sound quality, there’s no denying the convenience of Bluetooth models when it comes to listening to music or podcasts on the go. Many wireless models have entered the market recently. Can they compete with the Creative Outlier Air, and will it be a profitable purchase?
Who is the Creative Outlier Air for?
Creative Outlier Air is made for people who don’t want to be tied to a wire when they leave the house. They have the best battery life of any fully wireless headphones we’ve tested and can last for almost a full day. IPX5 protection can withstand tough sports training or unexpected rainfall.
Outlier Air impressions
The headphones and cases are lightweight and compact, making them ideal for carrying in your pocket or purse.
Inside each earphone is one dynamic driver with a diaphragm of 5.6 mm. Creative claims that the membrane is made of graphene, although I think that the graphene is only sputtering. But even if this is just a sputtering, the technology can significantly improve the sound to find out a little later.
Outlier Air supports mono mode. This is when only one earphone works. The second can be in the case. This option is convenient when you need to talk on the phone or when you need to hear everything around you.
The case is sweat- and splash-proof, and the model is IPX5 certified. In them, without fear of the safety of working capacity, you can train or run in the pouring rain. You cannot swim in headphones.
Before storing them in the case, make sure they are dry to avoid accidental short-circuiting while charging the batteries.
The only downside to the Creative Outlier Air I found was the overly tight music and talk buttons. The buttons are located on the cases, and you have to apply a noticeable effort to press. You can get used to it, but for what purpose it was done is a mystery.
Creative Outlier Air: Battery life
When testing the continuous run time, we were extremely surprised by the tenacity of the headphones. They were able to work an impressive 7 hours and 38 minutes without needing to recharge. This is a record. No other headphones of this form factor can come close to this value.
The capacity of its own battery is 60 mAh, the capacity of the battery in the case is 380 mAh. The case provides two additional charge cycles, which brings us an incredible 22 hours of battery life.
A full charge cycle takes 2 hours using the USB-C cable.
Creative Outlier Air: Wireless connection
The first pairing process is unusual; first, you need to remove both earphones from the case simultaneously. On one of them, the LED will start to work, alternately red and blue. At this time, 2 devices will appear in the phone menu: Creative Outlier L and Creative Outlier R. You need to select the earpiece that is blinking now – it will become the main one. Subsequently, you can change their roles.
They are equipped with a wireless Bluetooth 5 module and confidently receive a signal at a distance of up to 10 meters in an office environment with many interference and partitions.
Three codecs are supported: SBC, AAC, and aptX. This is great news, as for iOS devices, the AAC codec will be the best choice, while Android aptX will be the best choice.
Provided you connect via AAC or aptX codec, there is no desync between sound and picture when watching videos on YouTube or movies on NetFlix.
Creative Outlier Air: Microphone quality
If I jump straight to the conclusion, yes, the Outlier Air microphones (there are 2 of them) do a good job of transmitting voice during a telephone call.
The timbre and clarity of the voice is good, though not perfect. The graph shows that the sensitivity drops noticeably below 160 Hz, which will make a low male voice less impressive and deep, but it will remain recognizable.
I tried to record my voice against the background of a working air purifier and fan. Although their work was heard on the recording, their volume decreased noticeably compared to what I heard with my ears in the real world. Therefore, I can state that the voice from extraneous noise is slightly filtered.
Outlier Air sound quality
The headphones sound very curious. Despite the noticeable emphasis on low frequencies, they manage to play in detail and even sonorous while perfectly conveying the stage’s depth and the panorama of the sound.
If you look at the frequency response graph, you can see that low frequencies sound louder than the mid-frequency range by about 10 dB, which means that the sound at a frequency of 10 Hz will be 2 times louder than the sound at 1800 Hz.
There is noticeable masking of some details in the middle frequencies with bass. It suppresses them under certain circumstances.
The hump on the graph in the 8000 Hz region perfectly works out the feeling of purity and detail of the sound. When listening, it seems that the music is full of details and nuances. This is a good calibration of the drivers. However, this is an illusion for the audiophile, albeit a very clever one.
And, as I already mentioned, Outlier Air builds the width of the soundstage well. Thanks to this, the sound seems alive and voluminous. Even the enhanced bass cannot spoil the pleasant acoustic picture.
Conclusion: Should you buy Creative Outlier Air?
Creative Outlier Air is a bargain no matter how you look at it. They have good sound quality, high-quality microphones, record battery life, support for AAC and aptX codecs, and are also protected from water.
The more I list the merits, the more clearly I understand that these are some of the best contenders for a purchase if you want fully wireless headphones at a reasonable cost.
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- Apple AirPods with Charging Case: A Complete Review $128.98
- Bose SoundSport Free Truly Wireless Sport Headphones: A Complete Review $199.00