Creative Outlier Air True Wireless sweatproof earbuds review

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REVIEW – When you think of Creative, you think of quality speakers at an affordable price or if you’ve been around for a while, you might think of Sound Blaster audio cards for PCs. But what about earbuds? It might just be me, but I haven’t associated the Creative brand with earbuds. But that’s about all to change. Let’s check out the new Creative Outlier Air TWS earbuds.

What is it?

The Outlier Air earbuds are truly wireless stereo (TWS) earbuds from Creative.

Hardware specs

5.6mm graphene driver diaphragm
Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX and AAC audio
IPX5 sweatproof
Playtime of up to 10hrs per charge and up to 30 hours total with charging case

What’s in the box?

  • Creative Outlier Air TWS earbuds
  • Charging / storage case
  • USB-C charging cable
  • 1 extra set of ear tips
  • Instructions

Design and features

The Creative Outlier Air earbuds store inside a small aluminum shelled storage case that doubles as a charger.

The charging case charges via USB-C (yay!) and has 4 LEDs on one end of the case that provide a quick way to check the battery charging status of the earbuds.

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The case slides open to reveal a drawer that holds each earbud in its own charging slot.

The inside surface of each earbud has electrical contacts that match up with contacts in the case. Just make sure they are seated correctly before closing the “drawer” so that they will make contact to charge.

The earbuds themselves have a matte black plastic shell with the Creative logo on one side and a large printed L or R on the inside surface of each bud so that you’ll know which ear they are supposed to fit in.

The outside surface of each earbud is a multi-function button that has an LED “halo” around it that glows red or blue depending on the status. The LED will throb red while charging and will throb blue while they are paired and sometimes while they are in use.

Fit and comfort

Unlike many earbuds that I’ve reviewed in the past, the Creative Outlier Air earbuds only come with one extra set of ear tips and for some really strange reason, the ear tips are all the same size. This can be a problem for people that have problems getting earbuds to fit in their ears as there aren’t different sizes of ear tips included to customize the fit.

The Outlier Airs fit my ears pretty well… at least for my left ear. My right ear canal is shaped slightly different, so more often than not, I have trouble with the fit for that ear. For that reason, I wasn’t surprised when I had trouble with the right Outlier Air earbud falling out of my ear if I was moving around a lot, like while working out. Sometimes it would dislodge from my ear causing the sound quality to diminish and sometimes the earbud would completely fall out of my ear.

Even though I have problems with the right earbud falling out occasionally, the fit is comfortable and I am able to wear them for extended (an hour or so) periods of time with little discomfort.

Note that my experience with the fit of these earbuds might not match yours as everyone has differently shaped ears.

Pairing and functionality

Pairing the Creative Outlier Air earbuds with my Huawei P30 Pro was a simple task. When I opened the charging case drawer, one of the buds started flashing alternating red and blue to let me know that they were in pairing mode. From there you just choose the earbud with the red/blue flashing LED in the Bluetooth devices list and pair it. You do not have to pair BOTH earbuds individually. Just one.

The only trick is that you have to decide which bud to make the primary earbud. The primary earbud is the one that you remove from the case first. Why does it matter? It matters because you can put the secondary earbud back in the case and still continue to use the primary earbud in your ear. It’s a great little way to get double the playback time out of the earbuds if you like to leave one ear open to hear what’s going on around you while still enjoying music.

To control the earbuds as far as answering calls, ending calls, play/pause, skipping tracks, adjusting volume, and using a voice assistant, you have to use the buttons on the earbuds. Let me just say that I hate using buttons on the outside of earbuds. Having to press a physical button means you have to push the earbud farther in your ear to activate that button. The buttons on the Outlier Air earbuds are pretty stuff, so pressing them is not comfortable at all.

Just like I want all new earbuds to start using USB-C for charging, I want all new earbuds to start featuring touch controls instead of physical buttons. Yes, the buttons work fine as long as you remember which one does what function and what you need to do to get that function, like single press, double press, hold, etc. But yeah, not a fan of physical buttons. Nuff said on that topic.

Sound quality for music, video, and calls

When it comes to sound quality, I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed listening to music with the Creative Outlier Air earbuds. I paired them with my Huawei P30 Pro which has Dolby Atmos and they sounded great listening to my favorite tunes using Spotify and other streaming apps.

There was a good amount of bass (sometimes a little too much), warmth, and clarity. Compared to other earbuds I’ve reviewed recently, I would say that the Outlier Airs are in the lead for the best sounding buds for music.

As for watching video while using the Outlier earbuds, I’m happy to report that there are no video syncing issues when using the with YouTube and Netflix. What you see and what you hear is synced perfectly in the video.

Both earbuds have a built-in microphone for calls and smart assistant functions. You can also hear audio out of both earbuds while on a call.

People on the other end of the conversation said that I sounded fine and I heard no comments asking if I was talking to them from down in a well. On my side of the call, I was glad to have audio from both ears but I still had that in my head type of experience while talking. I also noticed that while people on the other end talked, there was a weird scratchy/static noise in the background. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is worth mentioning.

I’m also happy to report that I didn’t notice any problems with either earbud cutting out or losing connection with the other bud. Everything about the Outlier Air earbuds is rock solid.

What I like

  • Great audio quality for music and good for calls
  • No video syncing issues
  • Long battery life
  • USB-C charging

What needs to be improved

  • Add touch controls instead of a physical button

Final thoughts

I thought I’d ended my quest for the perfect pair of wireless earbuds when I reviewed the TicPods Free earbuds. I loved the fit and comfort and especially the touch controls of those earbuds, but the video sync delay issues eventually dethroned them as my favorites after I reviewed the Mavin Air-X earbuds. And now the Creative Outlier Air TWS earbuds have dethroned the Mavin Air-X earbuds to become my favorite TWS earbuds.

The Creative Outlier Air earbuds have better battery life, better sound, and you can’t beat the price at around $80. If you’re looking for your next favorite pair of TWS earbuds, you must check out the Outlier Airs.

Price: $79.99
Where to buy: Creative
Source: The sample for this review was provided by Creative.

29 thoughts on “Creative Outlier Air True Wireless sweatproof earbuds review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Douglas Forrester

    Good review. It is amazing how quickly prices have dropped on true wireless earbuds. I guess competition is a good thing!

  3. Hey there, great review, and very quick given how new these earbuds are!
    One question I’ve yet to find an answer for: is there any way to enable a sort of “transparency mode”, where you hear the outside world? I find it invaluable when running or cycling.

  4. Lazar Prodanović

    Old, depreciated, bad and expensive. Creative is still an outsider and lagging behind. Why AptX (lo latency especially) is good enough for video syncing delay not to show it simple ain’t high quality. By the looks of review this thing lacks support for both Sony (android standard now) and Huawei lo completely audio codecs used for BT audio which bring much better quality. I don’t really feel to express any judgement of my own on subjective judgment about audio quality expressed by the review author. If the driver’s audio quality is indeed good it will be a easy task for Creative to repair the things up pairing them with up to date DAC – AMP and BT 5 LE transceiver solutions starting up from 2$ Realtek solutions to $20 really high quality one’s. But I think we will never really know that & doubt they are really that good to start with.

  5. Thanks so much for you review! Well, maybe not! I just added these Creative Outlier Air’s to my collection – so I have purchased 5 headphones in the last two weeks… I am a addict and so I now have nine pairs of Truly Wireless Headphones –
    2 coming from Indiegogo (BASE: The First Long Lasting True Wireless Earbuds)
    1 Jabra Active Elite 65t
    2 Pairs of Air pods
    1 Sol Amp Air 2
    1 Anker Liberty
    and now the Creative Outlier Air

    Those complement my 50 + wireless and wired headphones. I’m an audiophile and collect amps and headphones, too.

    1. David, hence out of all your True Wireless Earbuds collection, which has the best sound quality ? And why is that so ?

  6. I’m feeling a little underwhelmed by the Creative Outlier Airs that have just been delivered to my home in the UK. The buttons are really stiff and it’s not pleasant pushing the earbuds further into the ear canal. Worse, the functions to change the volume or tracks just don’t work. And why just the single set of tips? They need a rethink and mine are being returned as faulty.

    1. David, I agree with your comments about the buttons. I bet the functions aren’t faulty, it’s just that the buttons are too stiff to double press quickly enough for them to register the function.

  7. Hello Gadgeteer, I got the Creative Outlier over the weekend and tested it extensively. Haptics and workmanship very good. Sound for true wireless very good. However, one thing bothers me. I tested the TWS with an iphone 6. The minimum volume is still too loud for me and can not be fine tuned down. This makes the Creative Outlier Air for iphone users uninteresting, if you also want to hear quiet music. When testing with a Samsung Galaxy S9, the volume control is possible without any problems. Did you have the opportunity to test the TWS with an iphone?

  8. The connection between buds has been awful for me. The left but is constantly losing connection to the point where I want to throw them in the trash. I have 2 other pairs of cheap wireless buds I got on Amazon that do a better job than these.

    As long as you aren’t moving them maybe these are worth it. The sound quality is great and the battery life is impressive. The buttons are way too stiff and getting them in and out of the charging case is a real PITA. I’m returning mine

  9. DO NOT PURCHASE the Creative Labs Outlier Airs! I’m and audiophile and headphone collector. I have over 10 pairs of True Wireless In Ear Headphones including AirPods, Jabra Active 65t, Sol Amp Air 2.0, Anker Liberty Airs, Beats X, Plantronics, and Sony WH1000 MX3, and more. So, I am used to pairing Bluetooth 4 and 5 headphones. Out of the box, they could not pair properly. I tried and tried. I reset them and tried to pair with my iPhone X and iPad Pro. On all the devices I paired them with, I got intermittent signals. I tried to call Creative Labs. No humans in audio equipment. I emailed – no response after 4 days. Then I called corporate to complain. I got an email to reset them. Wow, hadn’t thought of that!!! So, I tried to chat. After the same run around about resetting them, it is clear they are defective out of the box. So, I requested cross shipping – they send me new unit and I return the old via a UPS tag. NO GO. I must return my pair and then they test it and send me another pair. I ordered and paid for these on 5/3 and got them on 5/18. Now on 5/22 they want me to go to UPS and send them back and wait weeks to get new ones. NO WAY! Horrible Customer Service!

      1. Thanks! Is that Susie?

        FYI, I am a Graduate Business Professor – among the classes I teach are Consumer Behavior, Marketing and Customer Experience. So, I get angry when a firm doesn’t deal with customers very well!

          1. Hey David, I was just talking with them and they are offering to pay for the return shipping on your defective earbuds and send you a new pair when they receive the faulty ones. That sure sounds fair to me since most companies I’ve worked with don’t offer cross shipping like you’ve mentioned. Good luck with the replacement. I’m still using the pair I reviewed and have no problems with pairing.

          2. UPDATE –
            After getting Creative Labs to cover shipping, I did receive them back. They are good – not great for sound. They isolate OK and upper and lower range are good. I think that the Jabra 65t & Active 65t’s are better. I would put them on par with the Sol Amp Air 2’s. They are very good for phone calls – the fidelity of incoming and outgoing voice is strong with these ones.
            In conclusion, they are a great value, but Creative Labs needs to focus on quality control and customer service!

  10. Many companies that are in tech don’t “cross-ship”. They perform what is called Return RMA.

    You send your bad device in. They log it and send you a new product.

    Pretty standard practice and nothing uncommon about it whatsoever.

    It’s a shame your device isn’t working and I hope you get it resolved, BUT, This is a really standard business practice and definitely not out of the norm especially in the era of mail and product scamming.

    1. Thanks for the thoughts, Geoffe! You are correct about RMAs, as a Marketing Professor and Customer Service expert, if the product is DOA, I recommend to my clients that they cover cross shipping. DOA is different than other times in the lifecycle of product defects.

  11. Just purchased a pair of outlier air and so far I’m more than pleased with the performance! However, when making a call, mine are flashing blue which I think is annoying. The earbuds do so in a different pace as well. Does anyone else experience this?

      1. Haha, walked past a mirror ;). Are they supposed to flash blue like that when making a call or is it a “malfunction”?

  12. I just got these 2 days ago, and I must say, the sound quality is very good. I tried the Bang Olufsen E8s and these sound better. However, they are defective. Right earbud keeps losing the signal. I contacted Creative and they told me to re-pair them by switching the primary earbud from left to right. I did and then the left earbud started dropping and losing sound. I’m having the same problem today. They’ve offered to replace them, but I’m thinking of going straight to refund. I got these to replace my first generation AirPods, which, although they sound much worse than these, have never had a similar problem in more than 2 years of use. There’s not much of a point in better sound if it’s not consistent.

    1. sounds like my exact experience with these. I RMA’d them and have a new pair but they are not holding a connection either. It boggles the mind how all of these tech reviewers don’t seem to have this problem though I wonder if they are actually using them out and about or just in an office type situation.

      Here’s a scenario I can always make the buds lose connection. Have the phone in back pocket and move my head left to right…almost 90% of the time the “slave” bud will lose connection.

      I may just keep these for the office as I do really like the way they sound and the battery life is great for all day listening. They will not be my main pair until they figure out the connection issues. Hopefully that can be done via firmware update but I doubt it.

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