Creative are well known for their great PC audio solutions, but does that translate into a good set of Bluetooth earphones?
In the box
- Included with the outliner is
- A small carry pouch
- The charging cable
- A set of S,M,L silicone eartips
- One pair of earfins
- One pair of secure tips
- A shirt clip
- The documents
So not exactly the most included accessories, but they do come with everything you need for being on the go or going to the gym. I will say though that the accessories are all well made and feel very good quality. The only minute issue is the carry pouch, it feels a little cheap in comparison to the quality of the rest of the accessories. But even with that, its still a good inclusion that all earphones like should come with.
Design and Build
The Outlier One are a very nice looking pair of earphones. Again like many other earphones I’ve tested they go with a stealthy Black finish with a few minor accents of Grey. They are very clean, but like I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, a splash of White or another minute colour accent would be a nice break from the stealth look. I totally understand why they keep them clean, but they little to really stand out. However if you do want a more colourful set of these, they offer the Outlier Sports which come in a few different colour options. Unfortunately they are more expensive, but they also have beefed up specs too.
The build quality of the Outlier One is good, they utilise a solid plastic housing that feels very solid. A metal housing would have added to the premium feeling, but that would come with an extra cost to us the buyer. Plus when the right type of plastic is used, there is no issue with it at all and Creative haven’t scrimped and they’ve used some good quality plastic in the construction.
Round the back of the housing is a nice design feature that I was expecting to house a set of magnets to be used to clip them together. But this is a feature that was not there, its a bit of wonder to why as I’ve seen the feature implemented on cheaper earphones. Its a shame too as it does make a big difference in keeping them secure around your neck when not in use. Its not a deal breaker, but it would have been nice to have the feature.
The front of the housing is normally a feature I don’t cover but here I am making an exception as the Outlier feature something I have yet to encounter. This feature is essentially a guide to allow you to easily install the earfins and it keeps them in place more securely. It works too.
Onto the cable now and its a flat style tangle free which I do prefer and coming in at 0.5m, its a good length too. Its plenty thick and feels good. Some strain relief is lacking around the top section and the remote which could possibly be an issue later in their life. But positively, I have yet to see any reports of cable failure which is promising and it may be an non issue.
The remote now and its good. Its plastic but very solid and doesn’t have anything I can fault (in terms of quality) The buttons are slightly raised off the soft touch surface which by the way feels great when using it and although they aren’t the most tactile I’ve ever used, they are fairly responsive. They do have one issue which is none build related and that will be covered in the “In use” section of this review.
There is also a micro USB port on the side and its actually nice to use. Creative have obviously been doing there homework and seen that the little pull tab is frustrating, so they’ve ditched that and used a small cutout instead. Its so much less fiddly than the pull tab and it makes them less of a hassle to charge.
Overall the design and build is good. They look clean, unfussy and match that with an impressive build.
This is a bit of a issue for me with the Outlier. The included tips are well made, but they are a little on the large side and a bit hard too. I prefer more squishy silicone tips whereas these are more rigid. The outer walls of the tips are very thick too, so if you have small inner ears, these may not fit you that well or you’d have to resort to using third party tips.
Its the same story for the earfins too, they are again well made, actually some of the best I’ve seen. But they are just too hard and caused me some discomfort. The other set included are more comfortable but I didn’t find them that secure and they slipped out on occasion.
So for me they caused a fair amount of discomfort and I found that I couldn’t wear them all that long before needing to remove them to have a break.
This was a mixed bag, some of the Outliers features work great and others have issue. One great thing about the Outlier is their IPX4 certification that means they can get wet but not be submerged. This was fortunate as I get caught out in the rain on more than one occasion and usually I’d have to remove my regular earphones or headphones, but with these, you can keep on wearing them.
The Bluetooth is solid too, they use Bluetooth 4.1 that has an operating frequency of 2.4GHz and it performed without fault. I managed to easily achieve the 10m range with no problem, that was with clear line of sight. But even when leaving my room with them on, the connection was stable and only cutout when I left my house via the front door. So I’m impressed.
Call quality is good too and the mic is one of the best I’ve ever used on a set of earphones at this price point. Its of course not on par with my LG G6 but its good. The calls I made were clear and I could hear everything being said. Its frequency range is 100Hz to 10kHz and it has a sensitivity of 42dBV/Pa. This means that it doesn’t capture the low end to well but the rest of the range is clear and for phone calls, that is what matters.
Onto my issue with using these and that was when jogging. The culprit is the buttons on the remote. These are a little difficult to press in the middle of exercise as they are only ever so slightly raised from the body. If they were a bit more prominent then this might not have been an issue. It is however fine if you are just walking, but when running its hard to accurately press them.
Battery life for the Outlier One is a big redeeming feature. They have a quoted time of up to 9.5 hours use. My testing revealed a time of 9 hours 18 minutes at 65% volume. Not quite the full 9.5 but still mighty impressive. Consider that the industry standard at this price point is 7 hours and my testing you gets me around 6, then the 9+ hours these deliver is brilliant and will see you through a fair few sessions at the gym.
Charge time is stated to be anywhere between 2 to 3 hours and again my testing revealed these numbers were nearly spot on. Via my Anker Powerport 5 they charged in 2 hours 16 minutes. So not the quickest but considering you get up to 9 hours and maybe more, that is a good trade off.
Of course these times will vary depending on your usage and how you charge them.
Noise isolation and Leak
The Outlier again score well here. Because the tips are so large they block out most of your inner ear and thus reduce any noise escaping or creeping in. My usual public transport test was passed with ease and these offer some of the best Isolation I’ve experienced at the price. Usually earphones like this block out all the noises buses have to offer at 65%+, the Outlier managed that feat at 50% volume. So there was no audible background noise at all. The only time I did hear anything was when the tracks were changing and there was no music, but even then the isolation was impressive. So I thought I’d turn it up a notch and brave the bus at school out time. The Outlier again did not disappoint and although I did have to increase the volume, they did still block out all the misbehavior happening around me.
Leak is very well handled too, again thanks to the seal they create they barely leak a whisper and on public transport at safe listening volumes, your not going to bother anyone. The library test was also passed too and you can easily get away with listening to them at around 60%. But again your experience will vary as you may not get an identical experience to what I got.
Is mostly impressive but with one issue. The small problem is some very noticeable hiss in the audio. This can be noticed to around 20% volume and after that its inaudible. But its still there nevertheless.
Onto the actual sound now and these are capable of getting loud and they keep distortion well in check too. The bass is impressive, its boomy, punchy, deep and powerful. Bass lovers will be pretty impressed and won’t be left needing more. Its pretty clear too which is surprising given how potent it is. My only issue is at times it can be a touch much (for me), but as a whole the bass is good and if you love genres that like to pump bass, these are good to get. Now if you’re not a fan of bass don’t worry, these don’t pump the bass all the time and only emphasizes it when the bassline or kick drum calls for it. A good example of this is Rag N Bone mans Human. The bass isn’t over heavy in the track but it does have a prominent kick drum that is given purpose, but it doesn’t overwhelm.
Mids are nicely clear, detail is good for the price and sound separation is solid. It doesn’t sound like a mess, like some do and its all handled very nicely. Tone is nice too as it not brash or harsh on the higher end. Nor is it overly cool so it sounds lifeless. Creative have done a nice balance and its a nice blend of the two. Soundstage does suffer a little, but that is a general drawback of earphones as a whole. I will say that it is more spacious than some thanks to the wider nozzles and bigger opening.
Vocals are great too, again to the man Rag N Bone man and the vocals produced by the Outlier are fairly capable of delivering what he can. They have plenty of power and presence, the tonal quality is nice and natural too. Its very clear and because they do have that little bass bias it gives off a bit of extra depth to the tone. Female vocals sound equally nice too.
Overall these are impressive and even with the slight bass bias they still perform great across the board. They suit modern genres better than the classics but for the target audience that is perfect. One thing I will say is that these need to be driven a bit louder as seem to perform better at around 65% plus. Under this they are still good, but at around that, they are better.
As an overall package the Outlier One are very good. They are nicely designed, well made, have great battery life, perform excellently for both isolation and leak, have an IPX4 rating and sound very good. They do have few drawbacks like the comfort, lack of accessories, the remote in use and the audible hiss. But those are things I could easily live with to get what these are offering. Yes the comfort is the big hurdle and maybe for you too, but swapping out the eartips does help with that and yes its a little extra cost but well worth it for the overall experience.
So should you pay the £35 for them. I would say yes. If you want some great sounding, well made and nice looking earphones that last for ages these are well worth it. They’re great for getting you pumped for a morning run as well a session at the gym and they’re even good for commuters too who want to block out external noises. Yes they have some issues, but so does every other pair and if you can live with them, these are a great buy.
Pick up the improved sports model here via Amazon UK
Creative Outlier Sports Lightweight Bluetooth Headphone – Green