Creative's Outlier true wireless headphones are known for their excellent battery life and affordable pricing. The latest Creative Outlier Pro adds good hybrid active noise cancellation (ANC) and further improves the battery life. But these upgrades seem to have come at a cost. The Pro is larger and heavier than the previous model, while the headphones' default sound signature isn't my cup of tea. Nevertheless, the Pro is still a good deal for its features and performance at just over S$100.
- 10mm drivers
- IPX5 sweatproof
- Bluetooth 5.2
- 15 hours of playtime per charge, 60 hours in total
Compared to the previous Outlier Air V3, the Outlier Pro is chunkier and heavier. The earbuds stick out more prominently from my ears and are less comfortable to wear. But the Pro's bulky design has resulted in a larger surface area for the touch controls, making it easier for users to tap them. You can also customise the controls using the Creative app (for iOS and Android). This is particularly important to me as the default volume controls require a long tap. But more often than not, this action ends up pushing the earbuds deeper into my ear. Thus, I appreciate being able to change this to a double or triple tap.
By default, double-tapping the left earbud cycles through the noise controls. The hybrid ANC, which uses the integrated feedforward and feedback microphones on each earbud, is one of the more effective implementations I have tried at this price range. It significantly reduces ambient noise and is a clear upgrade over the noise reduction offered by the Air V3. However, you can expect to feel some pressure in the ears with ANC enabled. On the other hand, I'm not a fan of the ambient mode feature, which uses the microphones to pick up sounds from your surroundings. I can hear a hissing sound with Ambient Mode enabled. The sounds that get picked up also come across as artificial and louder than expected.
The bass from the Outlier Pro is strong, but not overwhelming. However, the trebles seem less pronounced and the mids can get lost in the midst. I also find myself more easily fatigued by the Pro compared to the older V3, which has a more airy, brighter sound. Overall, the Pro sounds more enclosed and claustrophobic than the V3. Perhaps the V3's bulk also contribute — subconsciously — to my impression of its “weighty” sound. In short, I prefer the V3 over the Pro. But of course, you can always tweak the sound using the app's equalizer. Sidenote: The Bluetooth wireless connection is solid with considerable range, though like previous models, there's no support for aptX.
Battery life is outstanding. With ANC enabled, the Pro lasted 13hr 10min at 50% volume while streaming music. You can replenish the case wirelessly (Qi compatible) or through its USB-C charging port. Creative says a 10-min charge is good enough for two hours of playback. The charging case, though, is relatively bulky — it's slightly larger than the V3's case. All things considered, the Creative Outlier Pro is definitely worth its S$109 asking price. Sure, it's a bit more expensive than the V3, but you do get proper ANC and improved battery life. As for its sound signature, that's subjective, after all. Get it now from the Creative Online Store.
Note: Review set provided by Creative.
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