Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
6.8
Mixed Usage
7.0
Critical Listening
7.1
Commute/Travel
8.1
Sports/Fitness
7.0
Office
5.5
TV
4.6
Gaming
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Truly Wireless
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Creative Outlier Air are decent sounding truly wireless headphones that have a very bulky design. They are quite comfortable, but people with smaller ears might feel too much pressure being put inside the ear. The overall build quality of the headphones and case are good and feel sturdy. These headphones offer about 8 hours of continuous playback time, which is quite high for a truly wireless design. Unfortunately, they don’t block out much ambient noise in the lower end frequencies, like the sound of a bus engine, and won’t be the best option for commuting. Nevertheless, they offer great overall value if you don’t mind pushing the buds deeper into your ear when using their controls.

Test Results
Design 7.8
Sound 6.9
Isolation 6.8
Microphone 4.9
Active Features 5.9
Connectivity 2.8
Pros
  • Portable, breathable and stable for sports.
  • Well-built design.
  • Good battery life for truly wireless earbuds.
Cons
  • Poor microphone performance.
  • Very high latency.
  • Lack of customization via software support.

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Black Outlier Air
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com
7.8

Design

The Creative Outlier Air are well-designed truly wireless headphones. They are fairly comfortable for in-ears, but their control buttons are hard to press; this means you need to push the buds inside your ear canal to register commands, which is painful, especially with hold-button commands like volume control. On the upside, they are well-built, although bulky, and like most truly wireless in-ears, they are portable, breathable, and stable enough for sports.

Style

The Outlier Air are pretty bulky truly wireless in-ears that protrude quite a bit out of the ears. The buds’ body is made out of slightly glossy plastic while the button is matte. There’s an LED light circle surrounding the buttons for information regarding battery level or during the pairing procedure.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.02 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0 lbs

The Creative Outlier Air are decently comfortable. Even if their design is rather bulky and quite similar to the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless, you can find a decent fit with the right tip options. However, they only come with one extra tip size, which is quite disappointing. On the upside, the tips don’t go very deep inside the ear, but their design might put pressure on your inner ear. Unfortunately, their control scheme buttons are hard to press, and you’ll need to push the buds into your ear to register a command, which gets annoying and can even hurt. If you think two tip options might not be enough for you, take a look at the truly wireless Sabbat E12.

7.2 Controls
Ease of use : Decent
Feedback : Decent
Call/Music Control : Yes
Volume Control : Yes
Microphone Control : No
Channel Mixing
:
N/A
Noise Canceling Control : N/A
Talk-Through
:
N/A
Additional Buttons : Voice enabled controls

Each bud has a single button and is fairly easy to use. You can play/pause with a single press on both buds, skip tracks with a double tap on the right earbud, or go back with the left earbud. You can also control the volume by pressing and holding the buttons; the left bud reduces volume and the right one raises it. However, you can only adjust the volume one notch at a time, since holding down the button for too long after the audio cue will make the headphones enter pairing mode, which is frustrating. Also, the buttons are fairly stiff and hard to press, which means you have to push the buds even further inside your ears, which can be painful, especially when controlling the volume.

9.2 Breathability
Avg.Temp.Difference : 0.8 C

Like most in-ear headphones, the Outlier Air don’t trap heat inside your ears, even if they are quite bulky. You shouldn’t notice a big temperature difference when wearing these when working out and won’t sweat more than usual. This makes them a decent option for physical activity and working out.

9.4 Portability
L : 1.5 "
W : 1.2 "
H : 1.2 "
Volume : 2 Cu. Inches
Transmitter required : N/A

Since they are truly wireless headphones, the Outlier Air are very portable and don’t take much space, although they are a bit bulkier than some other models. It's easy to carry the buds in your pockets, and they come with a nice case that is also very portable.

7.5 Case
Type : Hard case
L : 3.1 "
W : 1.8 "
H : 1.2 "
Volume : 7 Cu. Inches

The Outlier Air come with a nice hard charging case that protects them well against scratches, physical damage from falls, and light water exposure. The case has LED lights as battery indicators for the buds and the case, which is nice. The case has a nice sliding compartment like the JBL UA True Wireless Flash, which magnetically hold the buds in. The case can fit in most pockets, but isn’t the smallest we’ve measured.

7.5 Build Quality

The Creative Outlier Air are well-built truly wireless headphones, but their whole build is made out of plastic. The buds feel dense but don’t have the premium feel as the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. They should still survive a few accidental drops without too much damage. These headphones are also rated IPX5 for water resistance, but we can't confirm this as we don't test this internally. However, while the case looks to be aluminum or metal, it's plastic with a metallic finish, which is slightly disappointing. On the upside, it still feels sturdy and protects the headphones well.

8.0 Stability

If you manage to get a good seal with these headphones, they are very stable. They don’t move at all when shaking the head and the seal doesn’t break either. They are great to run or work out with, and their wireless design gets rid of the risk of getting a cable stuck or hooked on something.

Cable
Detachable : N/A
Length : N/A
Connection : N/A

As expected, these headphones don’t have an audio cable. They come with a short micro-USB charging cable.

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Headshots 1
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6.9

Sound

The Creative Outlier Air are decent sounding closed-back truly wireless headphones. Their bass is extended and powerful, their mid range is very good, and they have an even response in the treble range. However, their bass is slightly boomy and the mid range is a bit cluttered, resulting in thick-sounding vocals and lead instruments. Also, they can sound a bit sharp on already bright tracks due to an overemphasis in the treble range. Overall, these headphones will be better-suited for bass-heavy genres and might not be the best option for vocal-centric music.

8.2 Bass
Std. Err.
:
2.61 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
20.89 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-0.12 dB
Mid-Bass
:
1.85 dB
High-Bass
:
4.32 dB

The bass performance of the Outlier Air is very good. Their LFE (low-frequency extension) is down to 21Hz, which is great. Their low-bass performance follows our target curve accurately and will result in an adequate thump and rumble common to bass-heavy music genres. However, there’s a small overemphasis in the mid and high bass, which results in the overall bass sounding slightly boomy and muddy.

8.2 Mid
Std. Err.
:
2.37 dB
Low-Mid
:
2.1 dB
Mid-Mid
:
-2.41 dB
High-Mid
:
-1.82 dB

The mid-range performance is very good, but there is an 8dB tilt favoring lower frequencies. This will result in slightly thick sounding and cluttered vocals and lead instruments. Additionally, the small dip in mid-mid will nudge the vocals and leads to the back of the mix, but this won't be too audible.

8.1 Treble
Std. Err.
:
3.31 dB
Low-Treble
:
-0.77 dB
Mid-Treble
:
1.12 dB
High-Treble
:
-4.12 dB

The Outlier Air have a great treble range, too. The response before 6kHz is very even, but there is a noticeable bump around 7kHz and 10kHz. These will make sibilants (S and Ts) sound piercing and sharp, especially on already bright tracks.

9.9 Frequency Response Consistency
Avg. Std. Deviation
:
0.03 dB

The frequency response consistency is excellent. If the user can achieve a proper fit and an air-tight seal using the assortment of tips that come with the headphones, then they should be able to get consistent bass and treble delivery every time they use the headphones.

9.1 Imaging
Weighted Group Delay
:
0.17
Weighted Amplitude Mismatch
:
0.34
Weighted Frequency Mismatch
:
1.39
Weighted Phase Mismatch
:
2.69

The stereo imaging is excellent. Their weighted group delay is at 0.17, which is very low. The group delay graph also shows that the entire response is well below the audibility threshold. This ensures a tight bass and a transparent treble reproduction. Also, the L/R drivers of our test unit were well-matched in frequency, amplitude, and phase response. This is important for the accurate placement and localization of objects (voices, instruments, video game effects) in the stereo image. Note that these results are only valid for our unit and yours may perform differently.

1.5 Soundstage
PRTF Accuracy (Std. Dev.)
:
N/A
PRTF Size (Avg.)
:
N/A
PRTF Distance
:
N/A
Openness
:
4.4
Acoustic Space Excitation
:
0.7
Correlated Crosstalk
:
0.0 dB

The soundstage is poor. This is because creating an out-of-head and speaker-like soundstage is largely dependent on activating the resonances of the pinna (outer ear). The design of in-ears and earbuds is in such a way that fully bypasses the pinna and doesn't interact with it. Also, because these headphones have a closed-back enclosure, their soundstage won't be perceived to be as open as that of open-back earbuds like the Apple AirPods 2 2019, Google Pixel Buds, or the Bose SoundSport Free.

6.6 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
3.569
Weighted THD @ 100
:
21.427

The harmonic distortion of the Outlier Air is okay. The THD in the bass range is within good limits, but is fairly elevated afterwards, especially in the low-treble range. There are also a few spikes in THD which will make those frequencies a bit harsh and impure, which can get fatiguing after a while.

6.8

Isolation

The Creative Outlier Air have a passable isolation performance. They don’t block out much low-end noise like engine rumbles, which means they won’t be the best option for commuting. Nevertheless, they do a pretty good job at reducing work environment noise like ambient chatter or the A/C system. Additionally, thanks to their in-ear fit, they practically don’t leak, so you can manage to mask even more ambient noise by raising your listening volume without disturbing people surrounding you.

5.5 Noise Isolation
Isolation Audio
:
Overall Attenuation
:
-15.28 dB
Bass
:
-0.66 dB
Mid
:
-14.23 dB
Treble
:
-32.23 dB
Self-Noise
:
21.36 dB

These headphones have a sub-par noise isolation performance. Their fit doesn’t block much ambient noise and practically doesn’t do anything against lower frequencies like the rumbling of a bus engine, which means they won’t be ideal for commuting. On the upside, they isolate by about 14dB in the mid-range, which is good to reduce ambient chatter. In the treble range, responsible for sharp S and Ts and A/C fan noise, they achieved an isolation of 32dB, which is also good.

9.4 Leakage
Leakage Audio
:
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
24.85 dB

The leakage performance is excellent. The Outlier Air basically don’t leak, so there's no need to worry about disturbing people around with your music, even if you listen at very loud volumes. With the music at 100dB SPL, the leakage at 1 foot away averages at 25dB SPL and peaks at 35dB SPL, which is roughly as loud as a very calm room and way below the noise floor of an average office.

4.9

Microphone

Integrated
:
Yes
In-line
:
No
Boom
:
No
Detachable Boom
:
No

The Creative Outlier Air have a sub-par integrated microphone. In quiet environments, speech recorded or transmitted with this mic will sound thin and muffled. However, speech will still be decently understandable. In noisy situations, the mic will struggle to separate speech from ambient noise, even in moderately loud environments like a busy street.

6.5 Recording Quality
Recorded Speech
:
LFE
:
273.0 Hz
FR Std. Dev.
:
1.95 dB
HFE
:
3368.2 Hz
Weighted THD
:
6.365
Gain
:
6.49 dB

The integrated microphone of the Outlier Air, like most Bluetooth headphones, is just okay. The LFE (low-frequency extension) of 273Hz suggests that speech recorded/transmitted with this mic will sound rather thin. The HFE of 3.4kHz indicates that recorded speech will noticeably lack detail and presence. However, speech would still be decently intelligible in quiet environments.

3.2 Noise Handling
Speech + Pink Noise :
Speech + Subway Noise :
SpNR
:
3.33 dB

The integrated microphone is poor at noise handling. In our SpNR test, it achieved a speech-to-noise ratio of 3dB, indicating that they are best-suited for quiet environments. However, in moderate and loud environments, they will have difficulty separating speech from ambient noise.

5.9

Active Features

The Creative Outlier Air offer about 8 hours of continuous playback time with a single charge, which is decent and quite high for truly wireless in-ears. Their hard charging case provides two additional charges as well. Unfortunately, these headphones don’t have a dedicated companion app for customization options.

6.6 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
7.8 hrs
Charge Time
:
1.5 hrs
Power Saving Feature
:
No
Audio while charging
:
Yes
Passive Playback
:
No

We’ve measured just under 8 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is decent, but quite a lot for truly wireless in-ears. However, it's slightly under the advertised 10 hours, which is a bit disappointing. The case offers about 2 additional charges. Also, since the first bud that comes out of the case is the “master” bud, this means you can take out either of them and let the other one charge while listening to your music with one ear, which can be useful.

0 App Support
App Name : N/A
iOS : N/A
Android : N/A
Mac OS : N/A
Windows : N/A
Equalizer
:
N/A
ANC control
:
N/A
Mic Control : N/A
Room effects
:
N/A
Playback control
:
N/A
Button Mapping : N/A
Surround Sound : N/A

These headphones don’t have a dedicated companion app that allows customization options.

2.8

Connectivity

The Creative Outlier Air are straightforward truly wireless in-ears. They are Bluetooth 5.0 compatible and obviously can’t be used wired with an audio cable. Their wireless range is excellent, but unfortunately their latency is too high to use them for watching video content, even on apps that offer some sort of compensation. On the upside, they come with a nice charging case that gives you two additional charges.

6.0 Bluetooth
Bluetooth Version
:
5.0
Multi-Device Pairing
:
No
NFC Pairing
:
No

These truly wireless in-ears are Bluetooth compatible, and if your source supports Bluetooth 5.0, you might even get better results and a better overall performance than what we measured. However, these headphones don’t support NFC or multi-device pairing, which is unfortunate.

0 Wired
OS Compatibility
:
N/A
Analog Audio
:
N/A
USB Audio
:
N/A
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A

These headphones can’t be used with an audio cable.

2.1 Base/Dock
Type
:
Charging Case
Optical Input
:
No
Line In
:
No
Line Out
:
No
USB Input
:
No
RCA Input
:
No
PS4 Compatible
:
N/A
Xbox One Compatible
:
N/A
PC Compatible
:
N/A
Power Supply
:
USB
Dock Charging
:
Yes

The case that comes with the Creative Outlier Air acts as a charging dock that gives you about 2 additional charges for the headphones. The case can be recharged via a micro-USB cable, but unfortunately, that’s the only input it has.

9.0 Wireless Range
Obstructed Range
:
54 ft
Line of Sight Range
:
139 ft

These headphones have an excellent wireless range. You’ll be able to leave your Bluetooth source at one spot and move around in a small office or apartment without too many problems. These results may vary depending on your signal strength. Also, you may experience even better range than what we measured if your source is Bluetooth 5.0 compatible.

0 Latency
Default Latency
:
347 ms
aptX Latency
:
315 ms
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

The Creative Outlier Air have latency issues. With 347ms of delay, you will more than likely notice a delay between your audio and what you’re watching, which can become quite annoying even on apps that have some sort of compensation to reduce that delay. While the headphones do support the aptX codec, their latency is still quite high.

In the box

  • Creative Outlier Air earbuds
  • 2x tip options
  • Hard charging case
  • Micro-USB charging cable
  • Manuals

Compared to other Headphones

The Creative Outlier Air are decent truly wireless headphones but have a rather bulky design when compared to other similar products. While they offer decent overall performance and value, their control scheme is hard to use and makes you to push the buds inside your ears, which is painful and could be a deal-breaker for some. On the upside, they offer a good amount of continuous playback for truly wireless headphones. See our recommendations for the best true wireless headphones, the best wireless earbuds for working out, and the best earbuds and in-ears

Sabbat E12 True Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless are slightly better truly wireless headphones than the Sabbat E12 True Wireless. Their case is better-built and they have a better sound quality than the E12. The Outlier Air also have almost double the time of battery life than that of the E12, and they support the aptX codec. On the other hand, the Sabbat E12 come with more tip options, which is useful to find the best possible fit, and their case also supports wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Truly Wireless are better true wireless headphones than the Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless. They are very small and fit nicely into the ears, which is more comfortable than the bulky design of the Creatives. They also have a slightly more balanced sound profile and offer better isolation performance, on top of having customization options thanks to a companion app. On the other hand, the Creative Outlier Air have volume controls by default, but it's a pain to use efficiently. The Galaxy Buds don’t have that feature by default, but you can set it up inside their app.

Jabra Elite 65t Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Jabra Elite 65t Truly Wireless might be an overall better value than the Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless. They don’t have as many latency issues, they can connect simultaneously to two devices, they have a companion app that allows some customization, and their mic is better for calls in slightly noisy environments. Their fit is also better to passively isolate ambient noise. On the other hand, the Creative Outlier Air have a slightly better sound profile, but you can’t customize it to your liking. They also have a better case and feel a bit more comfortable than the very bulky Elite 65t.

Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless are slightly better mixed-usage earbuds than the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019 because of their closed-back design. Their sound profile is better and packs more bass, on top of offering volume control, although it's hard to use. On the other hand, the Apple are very comfortable if their one-size-fits-all design fits you well and they are very well-built, on top of offering a great total battery life thanks to their great case. However, you’ll get more continuous playback time with a single charge of the Creative Outlier Air.

RHA TrueConnect Truly Wireless
SEE PRICE
Amazon.com

The RHA TrueConnect Truly Wireless and the Creative Outlier Air Truly Wireless are two very similar performing headphones. The Creative Outlier Air have a better overall sound quality, but if you’re a fan of bass-heavy genres, the overemphasized low-end of the RHA will suit you better for thump and rumble. The main difference between the two headphones would be the superior noise isolation performance of the RHA TrueConnect, which makes them a better option if you want to use your headphones in public transit. Their design is also smaller and might suit most ears better. On the other hand, the Creative Outlier Air have longer single charge battery life.

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Conclusion

6.8 Mixed Usage

Acceptable for mixed usage. These headphones will be better-suited for sports due to their truly wireless design that is stable and breathable. Their sound quality isn’t the best, but they’ll satisfy fans of bass-heavy genres. They are quite bulky truly wireless headphones; their fit doesn’t isolate that much noise, which won’t be ideal for public transit, but they can be efficient for a work environment. They shouldn’t be used for watching TV or gaming because of their very high latency, which will give you a delay between your audio and video.

7.0 Critical Listening

Decent for critical listening. While the in-ear fit might not be ideal for critical listening, the Creative Outlier Air have a decent sound profile with a well-balanced and fairly even response. However, their bass is a bit boomy, which results in thick and cluttered vocals and lead instruments. They also sound a bit sharp and piercing, especially on already bright tracks. Unfortunately, their fit might also not be the most comfortable for long listening sessions and they don’t have a dedicated app with an EQ to customize their sound to your liking.

7.1 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting. Even if these headphones don’t have the bass noise isolation against the deep rumbles of an engine, they can be a convenient option when commuting. Thanks to their portable design and great battery life for truly wireless in-ears, they are easy to carry around for long trips and rides. However, we don’t suggest taking calls with these headphones while you’re traveling, as the mic doesn’t handle noise well.

8.1 Sports/Fitness

Great for sports. Like most truly wireless headphones, the Creative Outlier Air are very portable and won’t make you sweat more than usual when working out while wearing them. Also, their bulky design feels secure inside the ear and will be suitable for running without a problem. They are also rated IPX5 for water resistance, but we don't test this internally.

7.0 Office

Decent for the office. While they don’t isolate well in the bass range, they do a pretty good job at blocking work environment noise like ambient chatter and A/C noise. The in-ear fit might not be ideal for long listening sessions, but on the upside, their battery life will allow you to use them for about 8 hours before needing a charge, which is good for truly wireless headphones. Unfortunately, they don’t support multi-device pairing.

5.5 TV

Sub-par for watching TV. These headphones are fairly comfortable for in-ears and their wireless design will make them suitable to watch from your couch, but unfortunately, they shouldn’t be used for watching video content as you’ll notice an important delay between audio and video due to their latency issues. This will get frustrating rather quickly if you notice it.

4.6 Gaming

Poor for gaming. The Creative Outlier Air shouldn’t be used for gaming. Their latency is too high and their microphone is sub-par for online multiplayer games. They also can’t be customized like some gaming headsets.

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